Chet Garner stands with his hands in the shape of a heart in front of a Texas-shaped sculpture

© Todd White Stills and Motion

Brady, a small Hill Country town smack dab in the middle of the state, claims to be the genuine “Heart of Texas.” I can believe it; Brady is exactly what you’d want our collective heart to be—full of friendly folks, country music, piles of barbecue, and plenty of stars at night.

 

Geographic Center of Texas

I’m not sure how anybody finds the “center” of something as oddly shaped as Texas, but a group of surveyors did just that and noted the spot in 1963 with a marker on US 377, about 20 miles north of town. Though the actual point is on private property, its energy radiates for miles. I’ve been told if you come on a night when the stars are biggest and brightest, the ghost of Sam Houston will visit. Whether or not that’s true, the marker is a must-see.

Historic Square

This small-town square is full of shops and remnants of the past. Don’t miss taking a selfie with the “Heart of Texas” statue on the courthouse lawn. Step into Evridges Furniture to ogle 40,000 square feet of décor, including the largest spiral staircase and stained-glass dome in Central Texas. Finally, the curiosities at D and J’s Good Ole Days store include everything from prosthetic eyes to taxidermied blowfish for sale.

Heart of Texas Museum­

Located inside the old jail, this historic museum offers a creepy yet cool way to walk through the county’s history and see criminal evidence as artifacts, like the tip of a finger bitten off in a jailhouse brawl. The bottom floor is packed with stories, but save time to walk through the iron cells on the upper floors. They sure made me happy to have my freedom. Behind the jail is the Curtis Field control tower and a large military exhibit that stands as a tribute to the 10,000 pilots who were trained for combat in Brady during World War II.

Mac’s Bar-B-Q

Brady loves its barbecue, especially around Labor Day when it hosts the World Championship BBQ Goat Cookoff. The barbecue at Mac’s will hit the spot any time of year and sometimes includes smoked goat meat as a special. The moist brisket and tangy sauce are incredible, as are the burgers and chicken-fried steak. You could say it’s “baaaaaaaaaad” to the bone—as bad as my jokes.

Country Music Museum

At the center of many Texans’ hearts is a love for country music. That’s certainly true for Tracy Pitcox, who started as a country radio DJ and now curates one of the nation’s best collections of country music memorabilia. This museum displays mementos from over 125 country music stars, including Bob Wills’ fiddle, Merle Haggard’s shirt, and George Strait’s hat. My favorite artifact was Jim Reeves’ tour bus, “Big Blue,” with an all-blue interior and wood paneling. It made me realize that I definitely need a “Big Daytrippin’” bus of my own.

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 Brady episode visit thedaytripper.com.
Follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @chettripper.

From the May 2021 issue
The July 2021 cover of Texas Highways Magazine, "Hill Country Oasis"


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