Texas Travel

City Spotlight: Longview

By Chet Garner 11.18.19

Longview, Texas, got its name when a railroad surveyor stood up and said, “Wow, that’s a long view.”

This very literal name is warranted. The tall trees and rolling hills of Longview make it a beautiful corner of the world. It’s nestled near the northeast corner of Texas. Don’t call it East Texas, or the locals will correct you. It’s northeast Texas.

Like most old railroad towns, life sprouted up around the depots and waterspouts of railway expansion. Today, the downtown is still expanding and enlivening. Here are a few can’t-miss spots when you travel to Longview.

Photo by Todd White

Tuscan Pig Italian Kitchen

Tuscan Pig Italian Kitchen is not just any Italian restaurant. It’s a story of the American dream. A couple who started at the farmers market making lasagna and tiramisu got so popular that they’d sell out every time. Eventually, locals helped them generate funds for a brick and mortar restaurant. The husband is an Italian immigrant, and now he and his wife are making the most amazing Italian food in Longview.

Bodacious Bar-B-Q

You may not expect it, but Longview has one of the absolute best barbecue joints on the planet. It’s a chain, but don’t be fooled by that. The East Texas Bodacious Bar-B-Q chain started in the ’60s, and it’s blown up since the son-in-law of the founder took over and revamped it. He’s one of these totally intense pitmasters who has studied the art of barbecue and pretty much perfected it. He cooks his brisket for 24 hours minimum. He plays with barbecue, so you get inventions like burnt-end boudin, taco-night sausage, and al pastor pork-belly burnt ends. Just off-the-charts good.

Photo by Todd White

Gregg County Historical Museum

This museum tells all kinds of stories. Longview used to have a minor league baseball team called the Cannibals. Why? I do not know. But you can learn all about them here. The museum also has revolvers from one of the top-five Wild West shootouts, in which more than 200 bullets were fired, and a huge collection of Caddo Indian pottery. It’s a really well-done rural county museum.

LeTourneau University Museum

R.G. LeTourneau was basically the Thomas Edison of heavy equipment. He was a small-town Texas transplant (born in Vermont) who invented equipment that changed the world. Some 70% of equipment used to win World War II was invented by him — equipment that allowed us to repair bases, build roads, etc. There’s one piece of equipment that’s a historic landmark, so whatever land it sits on becomes a historic landmark; if they move it from one side of campus to another, the landmark moves. It must be one of the only mobile historic landmarks in the world. There’s a museum dedicated to him on the campus of the university named after him.

Photo by Todd White

Thomas Falls Outdoor Adventures & Event Center

Stan Thomas had a big piece of land, so he started building on it. The rest is history. Today, visitors can explore a crooked house, waterslides that take up the side of a hill with black tarps, ziplines, paddleboats and kayaks, a mud run, a waterfall slide, a water trampoline, a ropes course, a floating military wall climb, a raft race, a floating barrel cross, and more. He’s made obstacle courses where you have to jump from floating platform to floating platform on the lakes out there. It is wild.

Photo by Todd White

Balloon Adventures USA

Longview is known as the balloon-racing capital of Texas. Every year, they blow up hot air balloons and race them across east Texas for the Great Texas Balloon Race. Evidently, it’s one of the most lucrative races you can win in the country. There’s one guy there that’s been racing for decades. He’s a doctor — Dr. Bill Bussey. He’ll take you up for a ride and scare you by flying as close to the treetops as he possibly can. We were pulling pine needles off the tops of pine trees as we flew by them.

Explore more of Texas with The Daytripper here.

© 2019 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance