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San Augustine is located in far East Texas, in a region called "The Piney Woods." This region is replete with large pines as you can see here. It's a beautiful part of Texas and great for exploring!
I'd like to share with you some wonderful places to visit in San Augustine and the surrounding areas!
Top Things To Do In San Augustine
Mission Dolores State Historic Site
Mission Dolores was a Spanish mission built in the 1700's. Today there are no above ground remains, but there is an Interpretive Center where you can explore the history of the site. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it's a great place to learn about the Native American experience with early European settlers in Texas.
There is also a nice campground, frisbee golf course and nice short walking trail on which dogs are allowed.
Part of the El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail runs through this area. El Camino Real (or The Royal Road) is a 2,500 mile trail which ran from colonial Mexico, through Texas, and into Louisiana.
From nps.gov: "The Spanish began using the trail in 1690, when Alonso de León, a Spanish explorer, crossed the Rio Grande heading to eastern Texas to establish missions. He followed routes previously used as Indian trails and trade routes."
You can visit the Lobanillo Swales, which shows the effect of travel over this area by thousands of people over many hundreds of years.
Ezekiel Cullen House
San Augustine has a number of historical homes. One of which is the Ezekiel Cullen House. From Daughters of the Republic of Texas: "Built in 1839 by noted architect Augustus Phelps, it eventually became the home of Judge Ezekiel Cullen, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Texas, and a member of the 3rd Congress."
The house contains paintings by San Augustine native S. Seymour Thomas, a renowned artist. You can tour the house by appointment only and more information on this historical home can be found at chron.com.
McMahan Chapel and Cemetery
McMahan Chapel is the oldest Protestant Church in Texas with a continuous history. It's a beautiful chapel, with lovely stained glass windows.
The church was established in 1833 and its first pastor was Littleton Fowler. When he died, he was buried under the pulpit (as per his request).
Across from the chapel is a beautiful cemetery, as well as Littleton Fowler Park. It's a small park in a beautiful setting with pines and a nice picnic area.
You will find the historic Lewis Hotel in East Texas. It is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark. From PreservationTexas.org: "The Lewis Railroad Hotel served African American railroad workers in the early 20th century as a boarding house....The circa 1870 building is one of the few remaining traces of the economic opportunities seized by African Americans in the face of segregation. The hotel not only provided a safe haven for black travelers through the area, but also served as a home for black men working on the railroad."
San Augustine County Jail and County Courthouse
The Courthouse area is in a square which is a gathering place for the community. A stroll around the square is a MUST when in San Augustine!
Towering Decks and Spikes!
Across from the Courthouse and Jail, you will find this structure. It is a Gothic creation by local carpenter Gary Brewer, who lives in the home. At the far right of the picture, there seems to be a Christ figure on a cross.
This is definitely worth a look and you cannot miss it! Texas Monthly did a feature on this building called: "For Years, an East Texas Carpenter Has Been Building a Gothic Contraption of Decks and Spikes in a Historic Square" which is a fascinating read. Apparently, not everyone in San Augustine is fond of Mr. Brewer's project. Have a look and decide for yourself! 🙂
The Patricia Huffman Smith NASA Remembering Columbia Museum
The Patricia Huffman Smith NASA Remembering Columbia Museum is in Hemphill, TX. Hemphill is approximately a thirty minute drive from San Augustine.
A visit to this museum is an absolute MUST when in this area. Columbia disintegrated upon reentry over East Texas on February 1, 2003. From NasaColumbiaMuseum.com: "The PHS Museum tour takes you on a journey through Columbia's first historical flight of STS-1 through its last mission of STS-107. It also provides a glimpse of the recovery of Columbia and the Crew of STS-107, along with the two who lost their lives in the recovery efforts. This museum has many items and artifacts from NASA and its contractors, the families of the crew of STS-107, as well as from other individuals."
Just down the street from the museum, across from the Dairy Queen, is a memorial to Columbia and her astronauts. Part of the amazing story of the tragedy of Columbia is how the people of tiny Hemphill, Texas, all came together to help with the search and rescue efforts. The story is both tragic and heartwarming, and a visit to this museum will bolster your faith in humanity.
Let's Take A Hike!
Hiking in the piney woods of East Texas is so wonderful and refreshing! If you are so inclined to hike, I want to recommend a hike in the Sabine National Forest. This forest is located in Hemphill, so it's nice to combine a visit to the NASA museum with a hike on the same day. 🚶🏽♀️
There is a 28 mile trail called "The Trail Between The Lakes" which we hiked while we were there. From fs.usda.gov the trail: "extends from Lakeview Recreation Area on Toledo Bend Reservoir to Highway 96 near Sam Rayburn Reservoir." Now we only hiked a portion of the trail (1.5 mile out and back) and it was lovely! The Forest Service states that hiking this trail is at its best in the early spring and fall, when it's most colorful. 🌼
There's also a rather large park in the area called "Pineland Park." which is very big for such a small city (population less than 1000!). Great place to walk the dog if your bff is with you!
If you're interested in some good ole Texas barbecue, try Hemphill BBQ in Hemphill, TX (I have linked to their Facebook page). We had their Chopped Beef Sandwich and Boudin Sausage (you are VERY close to Louisiana when in this area!) and they were really good!
Where To Stay
Last but definitely not least is a recommendation for an AMAZING home in San Augustine to stay during your visit.
This fantastic home was built in 1929. It's impeccably decorated, spacious, and extremely affordable. Dog friendly too (with the host's permission)! 😊
You can find the listing for this home on airbnb here.
Plan Your Visit Soon!
My hope is that you will plan a visit to San Augustine and far East Texas soon. There is so much history in the area so it's great for history buffs!
You will find peace and quiet and charm that only small towns can offer when visiting this area.
Never stop exploring and make everyday an adventure!
Some Other Places In Texas That Are Fun To Visit!