Cities Journal

Top 20 Small Cities In Texas


Almost everything about Texas is big. It is a big state, its cities are big, with big people live in big houses on big properties. When you go to restaurants in Texas, you get big portions and the biggest steaks you can imagine. We are not being nasty or anything, but even people in Texas seem to be a bit bigger than in the rest of the country.

However, as every real Texan will tell you, the true spirit of this big state is in its smaller cities and towns that have been around for a long time and where the atmosphere of a different America can still be felt in the air and in the ground. These are the places we are talking about today – the best small places in Texas.

1. Nacogdoches

Besides being a real handful to spell, Nacogdoches is also the oldest city in all of Texas, with a population of barely over 32,000. It is also the county seat of the Nacogdoches County and one very special little city.

It was originally a Spanish settlement, populated by mostly missionaries who were looking to baptize the Native American peoples living in the area at the time. It transitioned perfectly to an American city, blending its unique Spanish heritage with the hospitality for which the southern U.S. is famous for.

For a city of such a tiny size, Nacogdoches is sure packed with things to see, mostly historic monuments and sights of interest, such as the Oak Grove Cemetery, the Stone Fort, Old Stone Fort Museum, the Old University Building, Camp Tonkawa, Durst Taylor House and the Hotel Fredonia.

If you are visiting this gorgeous little city for the first time, your first stop should definitely be the Nacogdoches Historic Town Center and Visitors Center where you will be able to best plan out your stay.

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  • GoFaster58

    Full of red poppies? 99% of the poppies are on the east side of IH35 and you have to know where they are to find them. There’s really not that many. By the time of the Red Poppy Festival most of the poppies have faded away.
    GT is not made up of primarily retired people either. A lot of people have moved here from all parts of the nation for jobsin Austin. Georgetown is very diverse with people of all nationalities. Most of Sun City is not within the city limits.

  • Lindsey Moreno

    These people are on crack if they think Port Arthur is a good place to live. Sure if you want to end up in a ditch I guess.

  • Ashley Crawford

    This is my hometown! I’m in the military and I have a British husband. Every time we go home to visit he swears up and down that this is what he expects of small town America. It is welcoming, has great small events, a terrific high school, a great local government, and a train directly to Dallas’s diverse downtown.

  • Texas Native

    Most of these “small cities” are suburbs of the largest cities in the state – the only reason they’re “small” is due to their proximity to all the “big city” amenities that they don’t have to build for themselves. Not a very representative list of real “small city” Texas.

  • Redheaded Stepchild

    I don’t know who chose the photos for each of the named cities, but the deciders didn’t do anything to make the named cities look good. Sheesh.

  • shyhorse

    Baytown? Port Author? PLEASE! What about Nacogdoches or Jefferson! These to cities have more history and interest than all the cities mentioned combined!

  • booksbenji

    My Dear misinformed, delusional, high on THC friends, Baytown is on the east side of Houston , on the ship channel. Sugerland is in sw Harris county, way far from any body of water other than rice paddies & TDC&J farms & prisons. BTW< get a office in TEXASb that way you will not mistaken for dumb YANKEES!!!!!

  • booksbenji

    Baytown, Texas is found in the Gulf Coast region of Texas near Sugar Land. Y’all are just about 100 mile off base, pls next get a good compass & GOOD TEXAS MAP!!!!! Sugerland has only rice paddies, TDOJ&C prison farms was the all water is. Y’all can reach me @[email protected] or 432-312-1652. I was born in HARRIS County & Houston.

  • booksbenji

    Are yu’all deleting my posts???

  • txdar

    Port Arthur, really? You couldn’t PAY me to live in Port Arthur!

  • TexasHorseLady

    Um, no. Georgetown is NOT made up “primarily of retired people”, though Sun City is in Georgetown. Georgetown is a small Texas town, home of Southwestern University (one of the better universities of its size in the country), that has been around since the mid-1800’s and is home to a wide range of people – families, college students, single professionals, and, yes, some retired people. Someone didn’t do their homework. .

    • Tiffany W


  • Jeff White

    Rowlett? If you want a vanilla, generic, cookie cutter suburb, then this is your place. Not sure what criteria your writer was using, but there is nothing particularly special about Rowlett, Mansfield, DeSoto, Baytown or Port Arthur.

  • pixieme

    DeSoto is the “hood”. How it got the name All American I can’t begin to imagine. We all left because it’s not the kind of place to raise your kids.

  • Tiffany W

    Georgetown is NOT primarily retired people?? There was a lot of families there BEFORE Sun City and anyone from there would be insulted at calling Georgetown – AKA Sun City!!!

  • gfc14

    The Baytown area has a booming economy, lots of new businesses, well paying job growth and relatively low cost of living… DEAL WITH IT! :)

  • Clay

    They couldn’t have picked a worse picture to represent Port Arthur. Unless there are worse pictures to be taken of that place. How does Port Arthur make it over towns like Sugar Land or Schertz?

  • Michael Seale

    Baytown? Lived there (here) most of my life..and uh…it kinda sucks. Know why you only took a picture of the bridge? Because that’s how you leave!!’s the only half nice looking part. Just a little to the right and you would see what Baytown really is. Refineries/plants. Our mall is nearly dead and abandoned, our population has outgrown our streets, and anything we get new, eventually falls to what i call the “Baytown Curse”. It starts off awesome, then our people turn it to crap. Check out the theater in the mall for a prime example.

  • Byron Williams

    I like how my comment that was critical but by no means out of line or inappropriate was never approved by the moderated.

  • Csmith

    I am sure Baytown is larger than 450 acres since Baytown Exxon Refinery and BOP encompasses thousands of acres. Baytown is no where close to Sugar Land.

    Who would want to live in Port Arthur; no one based on the picture you posted.

  • Nancy Seibert

    Let`s talk about the small city of Silsbee, Texas 25 miles North of Beaumont and dying daily. It could be a wonderful little town but there is just no more pride in it as there used to be. I guess after the graduates from Silsbee High School graduated in the 60`s, they all left to make their fortunes elsewhere. I guess the most recent news or national event which included Silsbee was after Hurricane Rita when fox news Shepard Smith was in Beaumont, survived the night there with a trip to St. E Hospital with a bump on the head from a garbage can lid thrown by the storm, then when the storm was through he drove North to the outer limits of Silsbee and with the SILSBEE sign right there over his right shoulder called it SLIISBEE, Texas. Anyway, everything seems to be dying here instead of growing. Now I know a lot of people do not like growth and change but hey, I am proud of our town and want to see more of it renewed. Thank you! Now will someone please help this old lady off her soap box.

  • Joe Gutierrez

    The only good thing to come out of Port Arthur Texas was Janis Joplin.

  • Joe Gutierrez

    The best thing to come out of Port Arthur Texas was Janis Joplin.

  • Hicktorian

    I don’t know where you are from, but I am very embarrassed that the best they could come up with was a pic standing in a mechanic’ parking lot shooting a rail crossing. What about the Street of Ten Friends, the college, the “port”, ANYTHING!

  • Perceptions

    My comment was removed because I complained about the picture they chose for Cedar Park.

  • Pingback: DeSoto listed in best small cities in Texas | Chapel Hill HOA()

  • helen

    You must not have been there for a long time! The rice paddies/sugar beet fields are being covered with housing developments. [I’m not sure the prison farms have survived; as soon as all the “nice people” moved in, they wanted the farms out.]

    Baytown/Port Arthur is the source of Houston’s polluted atmosphere; the only way to enjoy them is to live in Victoria [or further away] on Exxon dividends!
    Better yet, Nacogdoches…lots of pine trees, a state university and the only drawback is that you have to learn to spell it.

  • OdinsAcolyte

    Nice little review if small Texas towns. I have been to almost all of them and lived in one of ’em for a spell.
    I used to love to go to Ft. Davis for the mountains and they had a wonderful music festival for a few years.
    I miss it so. I always wanted to live in the West Texas mountains (by the way the article needed to mention Alpine too!). There are so many other small towns too. So many blowing away in the wind. There are some beautiful towns located in what appear to be secret valleys. There are anomalies of nature too. You can spend your life in Texas and never see it all.

    • Tasogle

      Don’t forget Marathon the gateway to Big Bend NP and home of the Gage Hotel and the “Marathon to Marathon”. Best scenery ever for a run or a 3K walk.

      • OdinsAcolyte

        The entire region, including Marathon, has had my heart since I was three years old.

  • James

    Note the misspelling of the town’s name. It is Rockwall not Rockwell.

    • URKiddinMee

      Shhhh. That’ll make it easier for snowbirds to FIND!

  • James

    Correction. In 1837 Texas was a nation and not part of the United States until December 29, 1845.

    • jame

      I meant to say this applies to the post for Bastrop. The article said that Bastrop became part of the United States.

  • James

    While I cannot refute the claim that the first declaration of independence was signed at Goliad. As as student of Texas history virtually all my life, I have never heard this. Washington-on-the-Brazos is the site of the first effort to declare Texas independence from Mexico and there is a state park there that lays claim to the location of the site of the declaration of independence from Mexico. The two previous meeting which did not declare independence from Mexico but wanted statehood within Mexico took place near Goliad in San Felipe de Austin but not in Goliad.

  • Ed Stahl

    Well it is also reputed to have first airplane flown there! Powered by a large clock type spring! May be hard to find the information, But I read an article about it in the local newspaper in Fredericksburg! (Where I live).
    It has a picture of the aircraft in the air, taken by a reporter!!

  • Ed Stahl

    Marfa also famous for “Marfa lights” which are seen in area around Marfa (from a distancel still reputed to be unsolved!
    ……………. Sorry the article listed below was about Lukenbach (and first airplane)!

    • URKiddinMee

      When I was Scout master of a Midland troop, our Asst. Scout master was a surveyor for Texaco Pipeline Div. We spent several nights with the scouts calculating the distances of the lights we saw using transits and triangulation from a couple of points about 1.5 miles apart. Those that night were nearly 20 miles away. However, I’ve witnessed some personally which appeared to pop into and out of an arroyo VERY close by. A bit more exciting when one is out on that desert alone! 😎

  • Ed Stahl

    Fredericksburg,- home of Chester Nimitz & “pacific War museum” drawing visitors worldwide!

    The German there “was” normal German , – it is now just 150 years “without updating”! People from “modern Germany” have a very hard time understanding it!

  • nananell

    They left out a number of small towns that are neat. First is Granbury with lots of antique stores, etc and other attractions.

    The second is Clifton with it’s Norwegian/German heritage. It is the “Norwegian Capital of Texas” and has the Norwegian Christmas tour every year with tours of old homes, carriage rides, dancing in the street and a quilt show. This years entertainment is Dec 4th with the parade at 6:30 PM and then on Saturday the 5th all the rest of the program. Also, it is a vibrant art community with well known Western artists such as George Boutwell, Bruce Greene, and others. And a nice museum depicting the Norwegian heritage and soon to open a portion of the museum with an exhibit of German artifacts. It also has the oldest continually operating movie theater in Texas which was restored a few years ago. As I guess you have probably guessed, I live in Clifton. It’s a nice little town, clean, and home to a lot of retirees.

    • URKiddinMee

      I love a number of small towns in or near the Hill County. Dripping Springs, Wimberly, Fredericksburg, Marble Falls, New Braunfels (Great Oktoberfest Celebration) & its close neighbor, Gruene. (Home of oldest continuously operating Honky Tonk/Dance Hall in Texas, since 1878 )I also enjoy Smithville where “Hope Floats” was filmed. As with the towns actually in the Hill Country, it’s populated with really great, friendly people.

  • Billy Bayonnet

    GOLIAD massacre. Yes, it’s a sweet little town on the banks of the San Antonio River, but a hellish reminder of the cost of TEXAS INDEPENDENCE and why you Obama Federalist Outsiders need NOT apply!

    The Mexicans took the Texians back to Goliad, where they were held as prisoners at Fort Defiance (Presidio La Bahia). On Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836, Colonel Portilla had
    between 425 and 445 Texians marched out of Fort Defiance in three
    columns on the Bexar Road, San Patricio Road, and the Victoria Road,
    between two rows of Mexican soldiers; they were shot point blank killed,
    and any survivors were clubbed and knifed to death.[13][19]

    Forty Texians were unable to walk. Thirty-nine were killed inside the fort under the direction of Captain Carolino Huerta of the Tres Villas battalion, with Colonel Garay saving one, Dr. Jack Shackelford. Colonel Fannin was the last to be executed, after seeing his men
    executed. Age 32, he was taken by Mexican soldiers to the courtyard in
    front of the chapel, blindfolded, and seated in a chair (due to his leg
    wound from the battle). He made three requests: that his personal
    possessions be sent to his family, to be shot in the heart and not the
    face, and to be given a Christian burial. The soldiers took his belongings, shot him in the face, and burned his body along with the other Texians who died that day.
    The entire Texian force was killed, except for 28 men who feigned death and escaped. Among these was Herman Ehrenberg, who later wrote an account of the massacre. Another person who survived was William Lockhart Hunter.

  • Barrustio

    They also left out Seguin…named after the patriot Juan Seguin who was sent from the Alamo to get reinforcements from Sam Houston. Beautiful little town of about 30,000 with one of the lowest unemployment rates and double the national average in manufacturing jobs and a slew of musical talent in everything from Country to Blues to Tejano and Salsa. A must visit.

    • URKiddinMee

      Careful about divulging too many of the great little towns in Texas. Next thing you know I-35 will be jam packed with another Northern invasion of know it alls who want to tell us how much smarter they are and how we ought to be doing things like they did in the liberal states they fled.

      • Barrustio

        Seguin is on I-10 30 miles East of San Antonio and is already witnessing some of the traffic problems I just moved away from in Houston. I-35 is pretty busy but we are a bit ways from it, yet accessible. we are two and a half hours from Houston, 45 minutes from Austin, 30 minutes from San Marcos, Luling, Lockhart and San Antonio. It’s no wonder Komatsu, Mini-Grip, Caterpillar, Tyson Foods and many others are moving into it. Oh I forgot about the oil boom of the 80’s in Houston, perhaps I shouldn’t mention the fracking that is taking place nearby. The good thing about the people from the liberal states, in a small town quickly learn that they are not in a bastion of liberalism like Austin and Houston are becoming.

        • URKiddinMee

          Having been born in Ft. Worth, lived in Saginaw, Weatherford, San Marcos Midland and College Station, I am somewhat familiar with both the history and geography of my Native Land. Austin has been the leftist anus of Texas for years, due primarily to the abundance of tenured Alinskyites working hard to mold the minds of mush brained youth into rabid liiberals.

          Being a devout Texas Aggie, I developed a disdain for “Tea Sips” before I even fully understood the difference between liberals. Something about their smug, pseudo-intellectual, effete attitudes, I suppose. (Though in the early days of co-ed admittance to A&M it was nice that there was a bounty of beauties just 104 miles away in the UT sororities. )

          • Barrustio

            Yes many of those beauties were working at the “Ranch” nearby.

          • URKiddinMee

            I ALMOST brought up the Chicken Ranch but I feared that knowing too much about it might cause some to wonder how I knew. 😉

          • Barrustio

            I visited once…but only waited for my buddy to see his “girlfriend”.

          • URKiddinMee

            There are folks who STILL piss on Marvin Zindler’s grave for putting all those sweet girls out of work! 😉

            PS- Concerning your visit to LaGrange: That’s your story. Stick to it!

          • Barrustio

            My visit was solely for historical accuracy for posterity. The “waiting room” was very elegant, red drapery with gold trim and fringe…velvet couches and “love seats” with lion paw legs…refreshments were served and then the parade began. You always wanted to wait to see the end of the parade because it was usually the best part. I observed all this while waiting for my friend :-)

          • URKiddinMee

            They moved the Chicken Ranch “Headquarters” to North Dallas (Addison) about 20 or so years ago and started a restaurant in it. I moved away from my Native Country shortly afterwards so I don’t know whether it’s still in business. Some of the decor you mentioned was still there when I last dined there.

          • Barrustio

            Daaaamn…I was 19 when I went there and am 68 now. The.old memory is still working…can we say…”memorable”?

          • URKiddinMee

            I Googled the Chicken Ranch Restaurant to see of it was still open. Discovered that it only lasted 3 months. After foreclosure all of the memorabilia was auctioned off. Guess items are scattered among a number of Texas “Man Caves” today. 😉

          • Barrustio

            I guess the women didn’t want to go to a restaurant where their husbands may have gone before…unaccompanied. Or they didn’t like sitting on “potato chips”. :-)

          • URKiddinMee

            LOL! The same thought occurred to me immediately upon learning of the quick demise of the restaurant.

            BTW – In what part of God’s Country do you reside nowadays?

          • El Gato

            Used to work with a guy that went to A&M, but had to quit to come back to Arlington to take care of his mother. He transferred to UTA, but was always an Aggie at heart. He had first hand, or first something, experience with the Chicken Ranch.

            He also owned several machine guns, legally,with papers and everything. I fired his M2 Carbine, but he had a belt fed browning, converted to .308, as well.

          • URKiddinMee

            A bit of history for those too young to remember: UTA was originally North Texas Agricultural College and part of the A&M System. Name went to Arlington State College (still part of the A&M system) to Arlington State University to University of Texas at Arlington. Many back in the day were really pissed that they went from being Aggies to “Tea Sippers” with the stroke of a legislative pen! 😉

          • Sean

            “…Austin has been the leftist anus of Texas for years, due primarily to the abundance of tenured Alinskyites working hard to mold the minds of mush brained youth into rabid …liberals. Something about their smug, pseudo-intellectual, effete attitudes…”

            You sure like making assumptions and calling names. Your most three recent comments under your profile are you attacking others and name calling – and you have to scroll way down just to get to your name calling tirade here.

          • URKiddinMee

            First, it’s not an assumption but rather a conclusion after years of observation and personal experience.

            Next, why to you feel compelled to jump into what was obviously a long thread of conversation which, although public in posting, was between Barrustio and myself.

            Last, your hiding of your posting history is typical of many of the liberal trolls who lurk on these boards.Hell, if your liberal views are so wonderful, why not be proud of them instead of being a puzz?

            PS – Recent genetic studies have isolated a gene common in humans with a propensity for liberalism.(Google it and deal with it) They stopped short of calling it a defect, but that would be MY opinion.

          • Sean

            More of the same, like a scratch on a record or a cd that skips…

          • URKiddinMee

            Whatever. Have a nice day, anyway.

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