A man wearing an old-timey hat stands in front of an ornate building holding a bottle reading "Crazy Water"

Photo courtesy The Daytripper

The year 1880 was a momentous one for the town of Mineral Wells. It had been settled only three years prior, and early residents were already fed up with hauling water from the Brazos River 4 miles away. That’s when a well driller discovered an aquifer full of mineral-rich water underlying this sloping, timbered landscape. The rest is history. By the 1920s, the town was famous for its rejuvenating bathhouses and bottled mineral water, drawing celebrities such as Judy Garland and Clark Gable, along with the outlaws Bonnie and Clyde. Located an hour west of Fort Worth, the rural town’s economy is still underpinned by its rich natural resources. Soon Mineral Wells will have even more visitors; it’s only 30 minutes from the entrance to Palo Pinto Mountains State Park, which is set to open this year.

Famous Mineral Water Co.

Businessman Ed Dismuke founded this company in 1904 in the midst of the town’s mineral water rush. Back then there was a water vendor or bathhouse on practically every street corner, so competition was stiff. But the Famous Mineral Water Co. stood the test of time. It’s the only local water company still in business, distributing its product nationally and welcoming visitors to bathe in its mineral-rich waters.

Happy Days Diner

This downtown eatery transports diners back in time to the 1950s, when jukeboxes and soda jerks were en vogue. Era-appropriate décor covers the walls and the burgers come covered in guacamole, Fritos, or onion rings. I recommend The Trailboss Burger with bacon, jalapeños, and the diner’s signature hot sauce.


Lake Mineral Wells State Park & Trailway

This park just east of town offers fishing, swimming, and kayaking. Find the canyon known as Penitentiary Hollow, where rock climbers love to hang out. The canyon gets its name from the local legend that it was once a hideout for cattle rustlers. Hikers can tackle a trailway and railroad bed all 20 miles to nearby Weatherford.


Rickhouse Brewing

On the ground floor of the recently renovated Crazy Water Hotel there’s a brewery that imbues its product with mineral water. There’s live music three nights a week, and locals mingle with travelers at the bar. There, friendly bartenders serve flights of craft beer including a favorite of mine, the Flying Pig Pale Ale.


Taqueria La Estrella

Small town Mexican food doesn’t get much better than at Taqueria La Estrella, a local institution. Its menu carries the Tex-Mex staples, along with gorditas, menudo, and street tacos. If you find yourself in Mineral Wells midweek, show up to the taquería for Taco Loco Tuesday, when pastor and diced chicken tacos are only $2.75.


So whether you follow my footsteps or forge your own path, I hope to see you on the road.

Chet Garner is the host of The Daytripper® travel show on PBS.
To view the Mineral Wells episode, visit thedaytripper.com.
Follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @chettripper.

From the April 2024 issue

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