Once a sleepy small town an hour north of Austin, Georgetown, Texas has experienced immense growth as the suburbs continue their sprawl away from Austin. Somehow, despite the growth, Georgetown has managed to maintain that charm and friendliness small-town Texas is known for.
A good part of the reason Georgetown has retained its character and homey environs is because of its gorgeous town square. In fact, many locals and visitors have declared that downtown Georgetown is “The Most Beautiful Town Square in Texas.”
After spending several days in this wonderful town, it would be hard to argue against that declaration. Add in the refreshing Blue Hole, the intriguing black holes of the Inner Space Caverns, great shops, wineries and tantalizing food. With all it has going for it, Georgetown, Texas is worthy of its reputation as a great getaway destination.
In addition to the neoclassical Williamson County Courthouse as its centerpiece, there are many other architectural beauties around town square. The onion domed spiral of the old limestone Masonic Lodge is a signature feature of the Square. Once a drugstore, a post office, and a furniture store, the building now houses Gumbo’s, a favorite local bar and eatery. The gingerbread detailing of the 1891 Mileham Building is striking at 708 Austin Avenue. The stone work and Corinthian columns on the Farmers State Bank are also an incredible sight.
For those interested in history, the Williamson County Museum and more than 20 historical markers surround the Square. Tour the courthouse and browse through this 1911 gem. See the statue and plaque that commemorate District Attorney Dan Moody’s fight against the Ku Klux Klan in the famous 1923 trials. And don’t miss the statue of 3-Legged Willie outside the museum.
The Blue Hole and Lake Georgetown
No small town in Texas is complete without some place to cool down during the sweltering summer months. Georgetown’s answers are The Blue Hole and Georgetown Lake. The Blue Hole is convenient to downtown, located just five blocks north of the Square west of Austin Avenue. People of all ages flock to this urban oasis, where there are safe areas for younger children and non-swimmers, as well as deeper areas for swimming, kayaking or canoeing. This area of the San Gabriel River offers a great view of the limestone bluffs that border the lagoon on its north side. Just a few minutes from downtown, Lake Georgetown is a 1,200-acre lake that offers boating, skiing, fishing, camping and hiking trails.
Inner Space Caverns
When the Texas Highway Department was drilling core samples in the spring of 1963 in preparation for the construction of a section of Interstate 35, the drill bit suddenly hit nothing but empty space. After drilling forty feet down through solid limestone, drillers had entered one of the caverns that had lain forever hidden beneath the surface.
Opened to the public in 1966, Inner Space Caverns has welcomed hundreds of thousands of wide eyed visitors to its deep black holes. The Adventure Tour is the most popular tour at the caverns, with a trained guide taking visitors through a well-lit pathway through this underground marvel. Tours start every 20 – 30 minutes, and no reservations are required. Tickets are $12.95 for children and $20.95 for adults. More adventurous visitors can tackle the Hidden Passages Tour or the more physically demanding 3 ½ – 4-hour Wild Cave Tour. Inner Space Caverns are conveniently located at 4200 Frontage Road I-35 South.
Georgetown Texas Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center
The Sheraton Georgetown Hotel and Conference Center is a gorgeous new facility that opened in the summer of 2016. Set on the banks of the San Gabriel River, this 222-room hotel is the perfect place to base your visit to Georgetown. Join friends and colleagues in the modern and stylish lobby at Jack’s Lounge. Or have a bite to eat in the restaurant. Then head out to the pool to soak in the sun and splash in the refreshing pool. Not in the mood for a swim? Visit any of the many nearby attractions.
In addition to servicing individual travelers, couples, and families, the Sheraton is the ideal hill country venue to host business meetings, reunions, conventions and other events. With several meeting rooms and the large San Gabriel Ballroom, the Sheraton can accommodate large groups with full services. Even though The Sheraton is tucked away in its own little corner of the hill country, it is conveniently located just off I-35 with lots of places for shopping and eating nearby.
Where to Eat in Georgetown
Georgetown is home to numerous dining options, from burgers and pizza to fine dining. The Monument Café is a Georgetown institution, feeding locals and visitors since 1995, when Rusty Winkstern, a New York farmboy, opened the doors that spring. The café has been joined by El Monumento and the Monument Market over the years, ensuring that the Monument family of eateries can satisfy hungry diners any time of day or night.
The original Monument Café, located at 500 South Austin Avenue, serves only the freshest meats, seafood, and produce. They use mostly organic ingredients from the local area. The café serves hundreds of meals each day, taking pride in the quality of each and every meal. The café is open daily from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm. We arrived to the bustling restaurant for a Saturday morning breakfast. Although very busy, we were seated immediately. The waitress brought water and hot coffee right away, while we perused the tempting menu items and took in the tantalizing aromas.
My wife ordered the delicious Avocado Toast, scrambled eggs atop sourdough toast, with hand-mashed avocado, grilled tomato, caramelized onions, and sriracha sauce. I ordered the hearty Housemade Corned Beef Hash and Eggs, a tasty meal with two fried eggs over the corned beef with crispy potatoes, caramelized onions, and poblano peppers.
For our “breakfast dessert” we shared a delicious cinnamon raisin pancake, which was a great ending to our meal. In addition to the extensive breakfast menu, the Monument Café serves lunch. Their lunch menu offers a good selection of sandwiches, burgers, chicken dishes, seafood and salads available until 3:00 pm.
The Monument Market and El Monumento
After breakfast, we browsed through the intriguing Monument Market, located adjacent to the Monument Café. The market has a nice selection of fresh, locally produced products. They are only available when in season, are organic, natural, and unprocessed. Included in the wide variety of products are beef, chicken, seafood and eggs. In addition, they carry local produce and a variety of teas, coffees, Texas wines, artisanal beers and other local products. They also serve light breakfast or lunch.
Fueled by breakfast, we spent the morning at the Inner Space Caverns, working up our lunch appetite. After our wonderful experience at Monument Café, we were excited about trying their sister restaurant, El Monumento, for lunch. The restaurant overlooks The Blue Hole to the northwest, with plenty of outdoor and indoor seating. On weekends, El Monumento has a brunch available from 11:00 am until 2:00 pm. They reopen for late lunch and dinner at 3:00 pm. Hours are Sun-Thu: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm, and Fri-Sat: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm.
We went Saturday around 1:00 for the brunch buffet, and started with traditional breakfast items like pancakes and maple chipotle bacon. We followed with two types of green salads, grilled chicken with onions and peppers, seasoned ground beef, rice, charro and black beans, and housemade tortillas. A perfect finish was a selection of tres leches cake, strawberries with fresh whipped cream, brownies, and delicious cinnamon crisps.
For fine dining in Georgetown, look no further than Wildfire Restaurant on Austin Avenue, next door to The Palace Theater. My wife had one of the specials for the night, a tender white filet of seabass, served on a bed of greens and risotto. I had the delicious Macadamia Encrusted Jumbo Shrimp. The shrimp came with wild mushroom Arborio rice, sweet pepper snow peas, pineapple pico de gallo, and a tasty mango cocktail sauce. With both of us craving chocolate, dessert was a delicious chocolate cake with a sinfully sweet mousse and chunks of cheesecake.
72 Hours in Georgetown
Georgetown Texas is full of unique shops, including antiques, clothing, toys, and specialty items. There are also several wineries with storefronts in the Square, including Georgetown Winery and Grape Creek Vineyards. Both wineries have fun tastings and good wines, and often feature live entertainment. Beer lovers can check out Red Poppy Red or one of the other brews at the local family owned Rentsch Brewery.
We felt relaxed and re-energized after our stay in Georgetown. Less than an hour north of Austin, this friendly town with the most beautiful square in Texas is calling your name. So head on over to Georgetown. Take a dip in the Blue Hole and explore the black holes of the caverns. Shop and browse, and learn about the fascinating local history.
Enjoy some good casual home cooking or fine dining, catch a show at The Palace Theatre, and at night rest your head in the comfort of the Sheraton Resort. You may not want to leave!
Read about the Mesquite Creek Oufitters in Georgetown on MilesGeek.
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