5 Must Do Things Around Nacogdoches

Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden at Stephen F. Austin State University | Photo: Bruce Partain; courtesy of Visit Nacogdoches

In our Must Do Things Around Greater Houston series, we take a look at Houston’s vast array of communities, neighborhoods and destinations to bring you five fun, tasty, surprising and enticing, reasons you should give each one a visit.

In East Texas, the city of Nacogdoches bears the title of “oldest town in Texas,” with the earliest settlers being a local Caddo tribe who arrived in the area around 800 A.D. Over time, it went on to host nine different flags, including the Spanish, French, and American flags, among others.

Today, the small city is home to Stephen F. Austin State University, beautiful lakes, and the largest azalea garden in Texas.

Here are our picks for exploring this storied Lone Star gem:

5 Must Do Things Around Nacogdoches 

  • Get a taste of Nacogdoches history Start with a visit to the Charles Bright Visitor Center, located in the heart of historic downtown. From there, you can make a game plan to hit up storied spots like the Caddo Mounds, which hosts reconstructed sites of Caddo Indian dwellings and ceremonial areas just 26 miles west of present-day Nacogdoches; the charming Millard’s Crossing Historic Village; the historic Oak Grove Cemetery; and the Stone Fort Museum, which plans to reopen on the SFA campus.
  • Wonder at the beauty of Texas’ largest azalea gardenSitting south of Johnson Coliseum at Stephen F. Austin State University, the Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden is Texas’ largest azalea garden at 11 acres and rocking more than 7,000 azalea shaded by towering loblolly pines. Each season brings new colors to the gardens, so any time is a good time to visit. Click here for directions
  • Load up on in-season blueberries – Blueberry season and harvest runs roughly April to late September, and every summer, Nacogdoches hosts its annual blueberry festival, with food vendors and local businesses offering blueberry specials, pie eating contests, an arts market, Blueberry Hill Soda & Sweet Shoppe, and more at 200 East Main Street. If you can’t make the festival, check out the 10-acre farm, The Blueberry Place, which rocks two acres dedicated to three different varieties of blueberries: Tifblue, Climax and Bluebell. Click here for directions to The Blueberry Place.
  • Spend the day at Lake Nacogdoches – You’ll find Largemouth bass, Crappie, and Sunfish at this 2,210-acre lake, located west of the city. Pack a picnic and set up in West Side or East Side Park, hit the swimming area, go fishing, play disc golf, or take out a boat.
  • Unwind at a local watering hole Its name a reference to the Fredonia Rebellion and the Fredonia Republic (1826 -1827), Nacogdoches-born Fredonia Brewery is the area’s first micro-brewery, located in downtown. Hit the taproom and beer garden to sip flagship brews like the Banita Blonde or Pine Cove Porter, and check out its 2,400+ can collection that has been growing since 1959 (displayed in the taproom). Click here for directions. Live music venue Banita Creek Hall is another great place to let loose, rocking ice cold beer and a lineup of Country and Red Dirt music, plus the biggest dance floor in East Texas. Click here for directions.
Courtesy of Fredonia Brewery

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Brooke Viggiano is a food and lifestyle writer residing in Houston. When she's not contributing to publications like 365 Things to Do in Houston, Thrillist Houston and the Houston Press, she's on the hunt for the coolest happenings in the city. You can follow her musings on Twitter @BrookeViggiano .