Brick-paved roads, family-run businesses, cozy eateries, and revitalized buildings are among the charming images that come to mind when picturing quintessential Texas main streets. Here, boutiques, gift shops, and antiques stores draw visitors from across the state and sometimes the globe, whether for a pair of custom snakeskin boots such as those found on Exchange Avenue in Fort Worth, or a piece of hand-blown glass art from Main Street in Salado.
Gruene Road, Gruene
The triangular intersection of Gruene Road, Hunter Road, and New Braunfels Street make up the Gruene Historic District, an area flanked by the Guadalupe River. Many people come for music at Gruene Hall, but then they explore to find dozens of shops and boutiques offering antiques, pottery, souvenir T-shirts, local artwork, and gifts. At the Gruene General Store, a soda fountain offers root beer floats, hot cocoa, and homemade fudge. Anglers and other outdoors enthusiasts patronize Gruene Outfitters, a landmark for Hill Country fly-fishing gear, outdoor wear, and fly-fishing lessons. Save space in your bag to take home a jar of sweet and savory pickles from Fickle Pickles.
A multi-day visit is a must for one of the widest Main Streets in Texas, offering more than 150 individually owned shops, restaurants, art galleries, and wine-tasting rooms. Fredericksburg’s celebrated German heritage is evident by the prevalence of bratwurst and Bavarian pretzels, European imports and antiques, and “willkommen” signs hanging on shop doors. Visitors find a sprawling selection of home décor, pet supplies, vintage fashion, Western wear, handmade art, sporting goods, kitchen supplies, and wine accessories.
The Old West comes to life daily at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the Longhorns of the Fort Worth Herd mosey down Exchange Avenue in the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District. The mesmerizing sight is worth a pause from shopping for cowboy boots at Fincher’s White Front Western Wear (where materials range from cowhide leather to exotic skins like snake and alligator) or browsing the jewelry, belts, hats, and apparel at Maverick Fine Western Wear. Visitors also flock to the shops at Stockyards Station, which include a general store, hot-sauce retailer, leather trading company, spice and tea store, children’s gift shops, and a vintage record store.
The picturesque, palm tree-lined Jackson Street of downtown Harlingen’s historic business district, with its colorful murals and locally owned eateries featuring regional cuisine, has served as the South Texas city’s eclectic “main street” for more than a century. Antiques are a big draw here, especially at the popular Antique & Artisans Emporium, where nearly 20 vendors sell collectible toys, glassware, and vinyl records. When refueling is required, patrons can enjoy handmade shakes and ice cream sodas on red vinyl barstools at Ol’ D’s Soda Shop. An open-air market takes place the first Saturday of each month on Jackson, featuring more antiques purveyors, crafts, collectibles, and gifts.
Home to painters, glassblowers, sculptors, potters, and carvers, Salado has a creative spirit evident in many of its Main Street shops, boutiques, and galleries. At Classics on Main, works from featured artists include oil paintings, black-and-white photographs, and bowls made from native Texas wood. Salado Glassworks is a working glassblowing studio that doubles as a gallery and gift shop. “Blow your own” events give patrons a chance to experience the interactive art. The Shoppes on Main offer more than 25 boutiques featuring home goods, handbags, jewelry, pet toys, and kids’ gifts under one 5,000 square-foot roof.