Whenever I see or hear the name Nacogdoches it always makes me think of nachos. Yummm…
This little college town located in central southeast Texas got it’s name from the Nacogdoche tribe of Caddo Indians that inhabited the site 10,000 years ago. As the oldest town in Texas, Nacogdoches is rich with history, famous Texans, and beautiful flowers. I took a day trip to explore this lovely town and was pleasantly surprised.
My first stop was the Sterne-Hoya House Museum and Library. It was built in 1830 by Texas Revolution Leader Adolphus Sterne, then was later bought by the van der Hoya family and eventually gifted to the city in 1958. This free museum contains several rooms, including a Texas history library and one of the earliest wine cellars in Texas ?
Side note: It also contains several creepy dolls in the attic.
I really like this museum because it’s tucked away on a quiet street, but is right around the corner from downtown. The grounds are beautiful and there’s a yard with a gazebo and lots of room for kids to play.
Next, I made the quick drive over to historic Zion Hill Baptist Church ⛪️ (the cute church at the top of this post) and Oak Grove Cemetery, which are situated on the same lot. Zion Hill was home to one of the oldest African American Baptist congregations in Texas. The congregation formed in 1878 and Zion Hill was built in 1914 by famed architect Diedrich Rulfs. The church is currently vacant and undergoing extensive interior restoration.
Oak Grove Cemetery was originally called “American Cemetery” and is filled with historical Texas figures, particularly those vital to the Texas Declaration of Independence. It’s also notable for being the resting place of numerous soldiers, former slaves, one of Texas’ early millionaires, a poet, Adolphus Sterne (of the Sterne-Hoya Museum) and the architect of Zion Hill Baptist Church.
After wandering the grounds of the cemetery, I scooted over to the Durst-Taylor Historic House and Gardens, located right next to the main drag of downtown. The house was built circa 1835 and is the second oldest building in Nacogdoches. It was home to many businessman, bankers, and political leaders such as Thomas J. Rusk. This museum is free as well and has a very nice visitor’s center where you can learn about the history of the home and the area.
I was starting to get pretty hungry at this point, but first I decided to drive around downtown and see the sights. The main downtown area is small and full of cute shops and municipal buildings.
Several blocks north of downtown is Stephen F. Austin State University, which was founded as a teacher’s college in 1923. On campus is the Stone Fort Museum, which is a 1936 replica of a structure originally built circa 1779 by Nacogdoches militia commander Antonio Gil Y’Barbo. It was used for many purposes, mostly business and government, but never actually as a fort despite it’s name. This museum is also free to visitors, but finding a parking spot on campus can be tricky ?
By this point I was pretty much starving and I needed sustenance to continue my explorations. I did some research before I went on my trip to see what restaurants were around and which ones had vegetarian/vegan options. I decided to try Newk’s Eatery. They had a full menu plus a salad bar, and it was in a convenient location. I ended up getting the Vegetarian Club Sandwich, which was full of portobello mushroom steaks – my favorite! Since I’m not a huge fan of bell peppers, they substituted avocado and fully won over my heart ❤️ I also got a Greek salad. Both items were deeeeelicious and filling.
After eating lunch, I fought through the urge to take a nap in my car and instead went to the nearby SFA Pineywoods Native Plant Center.
They have an event house and a garden center, and there’s a nice little boardwalk that takes you over to the start of a nature trail. I really wanted to check out the trail but it was getting late in the day and I still had lots to see.
I headed back to the SFA campus and parked by the soccer fields, then made the short walk over to the SFA Arboretum ? ?
These gardens are beautifully tended and contain not just trees and flowers, but veggies like kale and collard greens!
Walk down past the fountain and the greenhouse and you get to a shady area with trails and sculptures, which lots of the college students utilize for jogging and strolling.
Cross the bridge and you’ve suddenly entered into the Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden, a very shady lot of various trails taking you past all sorts of azalea bushes that are equally breathtaking ?
This is Texas’ largest azalea garden, with over 7,000 azaleas! I only got to explore part of the garden because it was already 5 pm and I had to make the 2 hour drive back to Beaumont. But it was awesome!
Right outside of Nacogdoches I took the wrong exit on the highway and had to turn around, which worked out perfectly, because I got to stop and look at the abandoned Redland Drive-In Theatre from the early 1950’s.
Such a fun day filled some of my favorite things: history, museums, nature, yummy plant based food, flowers, and sunshine! ? ? ? ? ?
(Btw since when is there a chipmunk emoji? I’m delighted!)
I would definitely recommend checking out this adorable town if you’re ever passing through. The coolest part? It was all free except for my lunch ?
Nacogdoches, not just a town that sounds like nachos. That’s my slogan and I’m sticking to it!