Texas Travel

City Spotlight: Graham

By Chet Garner 10.30.20

Just west of Fort Worth is a hidden sea of rolling hills that’s on par with the Texas Hill Country itself. It’s one of the most beautiful and underappreciated areas in all of Texas, made so by the Palo Pinto Mountains, Possum Kingdom Lake, and vibrant autumn colors that are often rare in our state. But buried away among this secret Western paradise is another hidden gem: Graham, Texas.

Graham is a quintessential small town that blends right into the hills and surrounding scenery. In fact, right off the main square is a path that leads up to Standpipe Mountain, where there’s a city park and an awesome view of the town and neighboring countryside. If you find yourself there (and you should), here are a few places to check out.

Graham DayTripper

Graham Downtown Square

Speaking of the square, it’s the largest downtown square in the entire country — according to the locals. It was a claim made long ago and no one has challenged them on it, but I’m inclined to believe it. Not only has it got a courthouse lawn and parking lot, but there are two other lanes and additional parking around that. Standing there, you can’t help but think that it’s four times the size it needs to be.

They’ve got some phenomenal restaurants on the square. I’d recommend starting with Marlene’s at The Big Chill for a Texas-sized breakfast. They make killer homemade bread and incredible omelets.

Another great eat on the square is Neri’s on the Square. What started out as a hardware store in the early 1900s has transformed into an upscale restaurant that serves soups, salads, sandwiches, and sirloin steaks. It’s an awesome lunch spot.

Before you leave town, you need to stop for dinner at Brother’s Smokehouse. It was started by two brothers who know how to make a great traditional Texas brisket. But the best thing on the menu? Steak. One of the brothers has worked at several steakhouses around Texas and has all but perfected his technique. It’s one of the best steaks you’ll find anywhere.

Graham DayTripper

A Cowboy’s Paradise

Have you ever seen “Lonesome Dove”? It’s a six-and-a-half-hourlong Western series from 1989 about two Texas Cattlemen who drive 3,000 head of cattle from Texas to Montana in the 1860s. The series is based on a novel by Larry McMurtry, who was born and raised north of Graham in Archer City. He took inspiration for his story from two 19th-century cattle kings whose adventure started in Graham.

To retrace their steps and get a glimpse into the old-fashioned cowboy days, check out the actual Goodnight-Loving Trail. It started at Fort Belknap, an old Army fort about 10 miles outside of town. They offer a really cool look back at the region’s history: You can see gunslinger’s gear, authentic Comanche bows and arrows, and all sorts of items that helped forge the Western frontier.

One of my favorite parts of Graham is Wildcatter Ranch, an 1,100-acre resort ranch along the Brazos River that’s a must-see for anyone who wants to play cowboy. You can go horseback ride along the Texas range where, at its peak, you get a 20-mile-wide view of the Brazos.

And for anyone who wants to live out “Lonesome Dove”, Wildcatter also offer Cattle-Driving 101. They take you out on horseback and actually let you drive cattle on their land. I haven’t found any other place in Texas that will actually let you work cattle — it’s magical. But, so is the secret, special town of Graham.

Explore more Texas towns with the Daytripper here.

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