Things to Do in Gonzales, Texas

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Texas has so many small towns that are worth visiting, and Gonzales is one of them. If you’re familiar with Texas history, you may have heard or read about this city. This small town along the US-90, over an hour east of San Antonio, was the first Anglo-American settlement west of the Colorado River.

Here in Gonzales, Texas, you can visit a historic jail, see a cannon that fired the first shot during the Texas Revolution, and even go kayaking on an 11-mile-long Guadalupe River. It has a lot to offer, so if you’re in for new sights and new things to learn, you’re in for a treat in Gonzales!

But before we list down the things to do here, let’s go over Gonzales’s brief history to give you some background.

The Rich History of Gonzales, Texas

Gonzales, Texas, is not just another small town – it’s a place steeped in history, with stories that have shaped both the state and the nation. Established in 1825 as a Mexican land grant, it was named after Rafael Gonzales, the governor of Coahuila y Tejas.

Its Role in the Texas Revolution

Come And Take It Mural in a museum at Gonzales, Texas

One of the most compelling chapters in Gonzales’s history is its role in the Texas Revolution. Gonzales is famously known as the “Lexington of Texas” due to the pivotal Battle of Gonzales in 1835. This confrontation was sparked when Mexican forces demanded the return of a small cannon previously given to the settlers for defense against Native American raids. In a bold act of defiance, the settlers fashioned a flag emblazoned with the phrase “Come and Take It” and stood their ground, refusing to surrender the cannon. This battle marked the first military engagement of the Texas Revolution, igniting the fight for Texas independence from Mexico.

The bravery of the Gonzales settlers didn’t end with the Battle of Gonzales. When the Alamo was under siege in 1836, a call for reinforcements went out. A group of 32 men from Gonzales answered this desperate plea, knowing the dangers they faced. They became known as the “Immortal 32” for their courageous but ultimately tragic stand at the Alamo.

Preserving the Past

Today, Gonzales is a town that embraces its rich history while looking forward to the future. Many of its historic buildings have been lovingly preserved, providing a window into the past for visitors and residents alike. The Gonzales Memorial Museum, for example, houses artifacts and exhibits that tell the story of the town’s significant role in Texas history. Walking through the streets of Gonzales, you can almost hear the echoes of the past, from the courageous stand of the settlers to the bustling days of the cotton and cattle trade.

What to Do in Gonzales, Texas

Now that you know a little bit of history, here are some of the best things to do when visiting Gonzales, Texas:

1. Discover Texas history at the Gonzales Memorial Museum.

If you’re looking to dive deep into Texas history, the Gonzales Memorial Museum is a must-visit. Built to honor the brave Immortal 32, a group of volunteers from Gonzales who rushed to the defense of the Alamo, this museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the past. The Gonzales Memorial Museum is free to enter, making it an accessible and enriching experience for everyone. Here’s what you can see inside the museum:

Memorial for the Immortal 32

Just outside the museum, a solemn memorial honors the Immortal 32, the brave citizens of Gonzales who answered the Alamo defenders’ call for help and marched off to what would be their final stand.

When you step inside the Gonzales Memorial Museum, you’ll be greeted by a treasure trove of photographs and artifacts that tell the gripping story of the Immortal 32 and their significant role in Texas history.

The iconic “Come and Take It” cannon

One of the most compelling exhibits is the famous “Come and Take It” cannon. This very cannon sparked the Battle of Gonzales, marking the beginning of the Texas Revolution. The cannon, displayed with pride, is mostly original, with only the wheelbase having been replaced. Seeing this historical piece in person is like stepping back in time to those early, tumultuous days of the Texas Revolution.

A walk through time

Beyond the cannon, the museum houses an array of artifacts spanning various periods of Gonzales’ history. You’ll find everything from old rifles and vintage clothing to household goods and medical supplies from the war. The archival photographs provide a vivid look into the lives and times of Gonzales’ past residents.

Whether you’re a history buff or just looking to learn more about Texas’ storied past, this museum offers a unique and engaging experience.

Location: 414 Smith Street Gonzales, TX 78629

Hours:

  • Monday-Saturday: 10:00 am to 12:00 pm, 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm
  • Sunday: 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm

2. Explore the Gonzales County Jail Museum.

The Gonzales County Jail Museum is an essential stop for a unique glimpse into the past. Perched above downtown Gonzales, this three-story structure showcases the lives of those who served and those who were incarcerated within its walls.

Built in 1885 and functioning as a jail until 1975, the Gonzales County Jail Museum is rich with history. The first floor is free to visit, and it houses the sheriff’s office, a holding cell, and a dungeon. It’s a great starting point to learn about the day-to-day operations of the jail and see where law enforcement officers once worked. Besides these sights, you can find these in the museum:

The deputies and sheriffs

One of the most interesting displays features photographs of the deputies and sheriffs who served at the jail. These images offer a human connection to the past, allowing visitors to put faces to the names and stories that shaped the jail’s history.

The jail cells and artifacts

For just $2, you can venture to the second floor, where the jail cells are located. This area also includes an old gallows, adding an eerie yet intriguing aspect to the tour. You can see artifacts that belonged to the prisoners, as well as the rough toilet and sink that prisoners used, which required water to be poured in from outside the cell.

A haunting legend

An added layer of intrigue comes from the haunting legend shared by the museum guides. It’s said that a man sentenced to hang in the jail maintained his innocence to the very end. He proclaimed that if he was hanged unfairly, the courthouse clock would never display the correct time again. True to his word, the clock has reportedly never worked properly since. This spine-tingling story is sure to captivate visitors of all ages.

A photo opportunity

Before you leave, make sure to check out the cute photo op right outside the museum. It’s a fun way to capture your visit and remember the fascinating history you’ve explored.

Location: 414 St Lawrence Street Gonzales, TX 78629

Hours:

  • Monday-Friday: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
  • Saturday: 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • Sunday: 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

3. Discover the Pioneer Village.

The Pioneer Village Living History Center, located on the outskirts of Gonzales, is an outdoor museum offers a captivating look at life during the late 1800s and early 1900s. As you stroll through the village, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time. The meticulously preserved buildings have been donated and lovingly restored to reflect the era accurately.

Here’s what you can do here:

Explore authentic period buildings.

One of the highlights of your visit will be exploring the various buildings, each furnished with authentic period artifacts. Step into the saloon, where you can almost hear the lively conversations of patrons from yesteryear. Visit the blacksmith shop to see real blacksmith tools and imagine the clang of metal being shaped into tools and horseshoes. The cypress-sided building, still in use today for special events, stands as a testament to the enduring craftsmanship of the era.

Check out fascinating artifacts and demonstrations.

Inside each building, you’ll find fascinating artifacts that bring history to life. From children’s toys and old printing machinery to actual enlistment papers from a Civil War soldier, every item has a story to tell. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a live demonstration. Watching skilled reenactors showcase old-world skills like blacksmithing and broom-making adds an extra layer of authenticity and excitement to your visit.

Visit during special events and celebrations.

While the village is a treat to visit any time of year, it truly comes alive during the Come and Take It celebration in early October. During this event, the village is bustling with activity, and visitors can enjoy seeing people dressed in period costumes, reenactments of the historic battle, and other special festivities that celebrate Gonzales’ rich history.

Location: 2122 N St Joseph St Gonzales, TX 78629

Hours:

  • Tuesday – Sunday: 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm

4. Unwind at Palmetto State Park.

Nestled just outside Gonzales, Palmetto State Park is a lush, tropical haven waiting to be explored. Spanning over 270 acres, the park is bounded by the serene San Marcos River and features a picturesque 4-acre oxbow lake, perfect for a variety of water activities.

For those who love the water, the park provides ample opportunities for fun, such as:

  • Swimming
  • Fishing
  • Canoeing
  • Pedal Boating
  • Tubing

If you prefer a more relaxed pace, there are plenty of calmer spots with shallow, slow-moving water. These areas are perfect for wading, lounging, or even setting up a chair right in the water.

Beyond the water, Palmetto State Park offers a plethora of activities, such as:

  • Hiking and discovering the park’s diverse flora and fauna
  • Bird watching
  • Fishing
  • Camping
  • Canoeing
  • Pedal boating
  • Nature studies

Location: 78 Park Rd 11, Gonzales, TX 78629

5. Enjoy a day at Independence Park & Golf Course.

Looking for a fun and relaxing day out in Gonzales, Texas? Look no further than Independence Park & Golf Course. Located along the scenic Guadalupe River, this 22-acre park offers a charming 9-hole golf course surrounded by native pecan trees. Open seven days a week, it’s the perfect spot for both avid golfers and casual players looking to enjoy the great outdoors. Here’s what you can do here:

Play golf.

Independence Park’s golf course is designed with both beauty and challenge in mind. The fairways are wide and inviting, while the greens are immaculate and undulating, making for a delightful round of golf. The course features a few holes that present solid birdie opportunities even for the average golfer. With both par 5s under 500 yards, a longest par three at just 150 yards, and par 4s ranging from 285 to 360 yards, you’ll find plenty of chances to improve your score.

One of the best things about Independence Park’s golf course is the flexibility it offers. Pay once, and you can play all day. With two sets of tees, you can easily make it an 18-hole round if you’re up for the challenge. While carts are available, we highly recommend walking the course to fully appreciate the beautiful scenery along the Guadalupe River.

If you want to return often, Independence Park offers annual memberships. At just $185 for individuals and $240 for families, it’s a great deal for regular golfers. Enjoy unlimited access to the course and take advantage of this excellent facility whenever you like.

Take a picnic or a stroll along the riverbank.

Even if you’re not a golfer, Independence Park has something to offer. The clean, well-maintained environment is perfect for a picnic or a leisurely stroll along the riverbank. It’s a wonderful place to unwind and enjoy the natural beauty of Gonzales.

6. Shop in Downtown Gonzales.

Shopping is a must-do activity when visiting a new place, and Gonzales, Texas, offers a delightful selection of stores to satisfy your retail cravings. Whether you’re on the hunt for unique souvenirs, charming home décor, or vintage treasures, downtown Gonzales has something for everyone.

Go antique shopping at the Main Street Marketplace.

For those who love the charm of antiques, Main Street Marketplace is an excellent place to start. This store is packed with fascinating items from bygone eras, each with its own story to tell. You can spend hours exploring the diverse selection of antique furniture, vintage clothing, and quirky collectibles.

While you’re downtown, don’t miss the chance to explore other local shops that add to the unique shopping experience in Gonzales. The friendly shop owners are often more than happy to share the stories behind their goods and offer recommendations on what to see and do in Gonzales.

Enjoy the local flavor.

After a satisfying shopping spree, take some time to enjoy the local eateries and cafes scattered throughout downtown. Grab a coffee and a pastry, or settle in for a delicious meal at one of the cozy restaurants. The warm, welcoming atmosphere of Gonzales makes it easy to relax and soak in the small-town charm.

7. Take a historic home tour.

Driving through the streets of Gonzales, you’ll be captivated by the stunning historic homes that line the avenues. These beautifully preserved residences offer a glimpse into the town’s rich past. You can follow designated signs for a driving tour or simply enjoy the sights as you navigate to your destinations. Each home tells a story, and the architecture alone is enough to leave you in awe.

8. Take a picture of the “Come And Take It” mural.

Come and Take it flag

No visit to Gonzales would be complete without stopping by the Come And Take It Mural. This vibrant mural features both the original and current designs of the famous “Come And Take It” flag, a symbol of Texas’ fight for independence. The mural also includes a brief description of the history behind the slogan, making it a perfect photo opportunity and a quick history lesson rolled into one.

Conclusion

Gonzales, Texas, is a town with rich history and unique attractions. Every corner of Gonzales offers a glimpse into the past, inviting you to discover its charm and heritage. Plan your visit to this historic town and experience firsthand the legacy of Texas independence!

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