Texas Travel

City Spotlight: Spring

By Chet Garner 9.14.23

Spring is a little area within the Houston metroplex that feels like a small town trapped inside the sprawl of a big city. Technically it’s a “census-designated place” within Houston proper, not a town in its own right, but once you step into Old Town Spring, you’ll understand why the area merits its own daytrip.

Old Town Spring

Old Town Spring is the area’s shining star — it’s like a mix between a year-long farmers market and a perpetual street fair. The tiny mom-and-pop shops are always popping with visitors looking for Old Town restaurants, boutiques, specialty shops, and hidden gems. Trip down there on the weekend, and the streets will be bustling with pop-up food vendors, too.

While exploring Old Town Spring, grab a coffee from Trilogy Brew, located inside an old two-story warehouse. True to its name, all of their specialty coffees reference famous movie trilogies: try a Chaibacca, a Rivendell, or a Morpheus. And if you’re feeling the fairground vibe, there’s an awesome place called Loose Caboose. They’ve got a literal train caboose on-site and a full barbecue menu, but the real draw is their deep-fried gut bombs like fried Nutter Butters, Oreos, Oatmeal Creme Pies, and even Reese’s cups.

Another cool little place in Old Town Spring is Connie’s Bath Shack. Connie makes all of her own soaps, bath bombs, and perfumes. Her shop is easy to find — just look for the giant rubber duck on her roof. But that’s not the weirdest thing in town by a mile. Right down the road is The Doll Hospital, which is one of the few doll hospitals left in the country. It’s exactly what it sounds like: People bring in antique dolls to get repaired. The whole place is full of dismembered dolls, dolls hanging from the ceiling, and dolls in packages. It’s definitely worth a stop if you’re not too spooked out.

Spring Into Lunch

Speaking of spooky, one of the most fantastic restaurants in town is supposedly haunted. It’s called Wunsche Bros Cafe & Saloon and was built way back in 1902 right there on the railroad tracks. They serve up delicious (and I mean delicious) Southern-comfort food: fried catfish, chicken-fried steak, chocolate whiskey cake, and all the famous fixin’s. Just ignore any ghosts that might want to share your appetizer.

The other Old Town Spring must-try is CorkScrew BBQ. It’s regularly on the Texas Monthly Top 50 Barbecues list, and deservedly so. They started as a food truck, but their lines were way too long, so they moved into a brick-and-mortar place to accommodate hungry Houstonians. Get there early because the lines ain’t any shorter these days — there’s a guaranteed 30- to 45-minute-long line (if not longer) wrapping around the building, full of people looking for CorkScrew’s famous brisket. But it’s totally worth the wait.

Outdoors in Spring

Spring got its name because it’s not far from Spring Creek. The creek runs right through Pundt Park, which is a great spot to relax with your brisket, coffee, and whatever other Old Town goodies you picked up that day. If you go on a nice day, folks will be setting up lawn chairs and hanging out in the spring-fed creek. The creek has a sandy bottom, and the water’s surprisingly clear, so it’s a fantastic place to pass a few hours in the afternoon.

Another great outdoorsy spot in Spring is TGR Exotic Wildlife Ranch. Despite its name, you won’t find any tigers or big cats here, but it’s an incredible wildlife park where llamas and goats roam free. If you get a tour, you’ll also get to see porcupines, monkeys, aardvarks, and even capybaras. The most unique (and my favorite) thing at TGR is the sloth encounter, where they take you into a cage where sloths are just drooping lazily from the ceiling. You can feed them carrots and mangoes right out of your hand but watch out — these sloths are famous hat-thieves. If you’re wearing a cap, they’re gonna steal it. Very. Very. Slowly.

Explore more Texas towns with the Daytripper here.

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