Palestine Offers Curious Getaway Adventure
A caboose welcomes visitors to Palestine, an iconic symbol of the railroad town.
Photo by Dave Shultz
Palestine’s Historic Main Street District is 44 blocks long, starting at its Visitor Information Center, housed in a restored railroad depot at 825 West Spring Street, and ending at the historic Anderson County Courthouse, an impressive neoclassical structure built in 1914.
Start your day off with breakfast at the historic Eilenberger’s Bakery, 512 North John Street and a block from the Redlands Hotel. Just the interior of this 100-year-old building is a sweet treat, with original wooden ceiling fans and tin-tile ceiling. The bakery is known for its world-famous Texas fruitcake, Texas pecan cakes, and a variety of delicious cookies. It also serves breakfast and lunch.
If you’re a fan of South-of-the-Border fare, the historic district has two of the best taquerias for breakfast and lunch: Taqueria San Luis, 700 West Oak Street, and La Chaparra’s, 204 North Church Street.
Afterwards, stroll downtown to shop in some of the city’s antique stores, including Duncan Depot, located at 106 West Main Street in a beautifully restored 10,000-square-foot building, and Star of Texas Antiques, 107 West Oak Street, a real treat during the holidays when the two-story shop sparkles with Christmas trees and holiday decorations. Stop for lunch at Old Magnolia, 120 West Oak Street, a favorite of locals for great wraps, salads, and sandwiches set within a shopping venue featuring antique, vintage, and gift items. The city’s downtown also features a number of other boutiques, gift shops, and clothing stores.
The Texas Theatre is home to the Palestine Community Theatre with several shows throughout the year. Photo by Dave Shultz
For the railroad enthusiast, visit the Railroad Heritage Center, 808 West Oak Street, open Tuesday through Saturday. It features a large model train collection and railroad memorabilia. And for the art lover, take the Artracks Sculpture Tour, an annual juried exhibit featuring 18 outdoor sculptures throughout Palestine’s Main Street District. (Guided tour maps are available at the Redlands Hotel lobby or the Palestine Visitor Information Center.) The town’s historic Texas Theatre, 2742 West Crawford Street, features live plays and musicals throughout the year in a 1930s movie palace. Visit www.thetexastheater.com for performance schedule.
Just down the hill east of town on Crawford Street, find another great place to wet your whistle at the Pint and Barrel Drafthouse, featuring craft brews and delicious pub food. (Try the barbecue bacon fries with pulled pork or the BLT with cheddar poblano soup and fried green tomatoes). Afterwards, cross the street for some of the best pie in the state of Texas at Oxbow Bakery and look around Old Town Vintage & More for additional antique and vintage finds. Nearby is the new Wells Creek Crossing, featuring antiques and unique gift items as well as a great coffee shop, Cream and Coffee.
After a full day of shopping and eating, it’s time to kick back or boot scoot at the Shelton Gin, 310 East Crawford Street, featuring live music most Friday and Saturday nights.
Shelton Hall has stood the test of time and has live music now on Fridays and Saturdays. Photo by Dave Shultz
There are a number of notable spots to visit outside the historic district, too. The Museum of East Texas Culture, 400 South Micheaux Street, is located at the 22-acre Reagan Park in a Tudor-Gothic style, two-story brick building that was built as a school in 1916. The museum features numerous historical items on display that tell the early history of Palestine and Anderson County, including railroad memorabilia, an early 1900s school room and the Hudson Log Cabin, built in 1857 and displayed in the school gymnasium. The park features a large splash pad.
The Curious Museum, 1301 South Royall Street, is an exciting science, art, and technology hands-on museum. Based on the world-famous Exploratorium in San Francisco, the museum promotes creative and innovative thinking skills and is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
And no shopping experience is complete without a visit to Braly Builders Supply, 420 West Palestine Avenue, a fourth-generation owned hardware store located in the historic Rusk Elementary school building. In 2014, Braly’s received Ace Hardware’s “coolest store on the planet award” and in 2015, it received the “Texas Treasure” award from the State of Texas.
Last but not least, located four miles east of downtown off Texas 84, is one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions, the Texas State Railroad, featuring vintage steam and diesel locomotive rides along the rails between Palestine and Rusk. Check out its website at www.TexasStateRailroad.net for train schedules and special rides, including the popular Polar Express.
Note: Many Palestine businesses are open Thursday through Saturday, so be sure to check business hours before you visit.