11 Great Things to Do in Gainesville, TX

Like many people who have had a reason to traverse I-35 many times in their life, I’ve driven through Gainesville dozens, if not hundreds of times–but it took until I was an adult to finally stop to explore the best things to do in Gainesville, TX!

It’s too that bad I waited so long, though: whether you’re on a road trip and looking for a place to stretch your legs for a couple of hours or are planning a weekend getaway, there are plenty of interesting Gainesville attractions to keep you busy.

Here’s what to do in Gainesville, Texas!

historic buildings lined with shops, gainesville activities

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The Best Things to Do in Gainesville, TX

Stroll through Gainesville’s Courthouse Square. 

Pull into Gainesville’s Courthouse Square, and you may be surprised at how closely this beautiful place lies to I-35!

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As the seat of Cooke County, Gainesville boasts an impressive square, lined with bustling shops and restaurants.

We’re personally partial to the Red Fox Lounge, which makes great use of space by operating as a coffee shop in the morning and a wine bar in the evenings.

brick buildings in gainesville texas courthouse square with traffic lights in foreground

Learn some local history at the Morton Museum of Cooke County.

The 19th-century building housing this small county museum–especially its gorgeous stained glass skylight–is a Gainesville attraction in and of itself!

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For genealogy researchers and history buffs, the museum’s archives also hold plenty of interest.

The Morton Museum is also responsible for many beloved Gainseville events throughout the year, including the December Holiday Historic Home Tour when some of Gainesville’s most beautiful Victorian homes are opened to visitors.

museum of cooke county red brick building decorated with american flags, one of the best things to do gainesville tx

… and at the Santa Fe Depot Museum.

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There are historical artifacts from each of them on display at the Santa Fe Depot Museum in Gainesville, TX!

The museum has fairly limited hours (10:00 AM to 12:00 PM, Tuesday through Friday), but if you happen to be in town when it’s open, be sure to stop by.

side view of historic red brick santa fe depot in gainesville texas

Explore the sights at Leonard Park.

The centerpiece of relaxation in the city, exploring Leonard Park belongs on any list of what to do in Gainesville–especially for visitors who happen to be visiting Gainesville with kids!

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The Frank Buck Zoo and the Frankie Schmitz Express Train–a working 1/4 sized replica of a steam train–are cherished favorites of local children.

All standard park features, from shaded picnic tables to a playground, can also be found at Leonard Park.

sign reading "gainesville" with led light displays at the entrance to leonard park

Check into the Lancaster Manor Bed and Breakfast.

For those hoping to enjoy a romantic getaway in Gainesville or those who simply prefer to sleep surrounded by history, you can’t go wrong with a stay at the Lancaster Manor Bed and Breakfast while in Gainesville!

Housed in a Spanish Victorian mansion dating to 1886, each one of Lancaster Manor’s four rooms is a fantastic retreat in the heart of Gainesville.

Lancaster Manor gets rave reviews thanks to the gorgeous property, delicious food on offer, and prime location.

Check rates & book your stay at Lancaster Manor!

front facade of lancaster manor bed and breakfast, one of the best places to stay gainesville tx

Go wine tasting at nearby vineyards.

Gainesville may not be the first Texas town that comes to mind when you think about local vineyards, but there are plenty of beautiful places with delicious wines to choose from!

In the region dubbed the “North Texas Hill Country”, you won’t find a shortage of gorgeous vineyards in picturesque settings near Gainesville.

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A few popular options include Edge of the Lake Vineyard and Winery in Valley View, 4R Ranch Vineyards and Winery in Muenster, and Arche Winery and Vineyard in St. Jo.

… And those are barely scratching the surface!

Keep in mind that most wineries in this area are not open all week, so plan a weekend trip to Gainesville if you want to make the most of them.

five wine glasses set out in front of grapes growing in a vineyard

Snap photos with the curious brick chess statues along I-35.

If you’ve driven past Gainesville before, you’ve no doubt noticed the giant brick statues resembling chess pieces that stand, seemingly rather randomly, right off the highway.

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These statues are actually positioned at the entrance to a ranch–you can read more about the artist and how the statues came to be in Gainesville here–and there is plenty of room off the feeder to safely pull over and snap a photo with them!

After spending most of my life curious about them, I finally pulled over recently in order to see them for myself.

They’re incredibly tall up close!

brick chess knight statue in gainesville texas

Try the famous Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pies.

Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pies may technically be an Oklahoma food, rather than a Texas one, but they have something of a cult following in the region and are worth a taste!

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Picture the freshest, best-made fair food that you’ve ever eaten, and that’s Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pies.

They come in both sweet and savory flavors and are a crowd-pleasing road trip stop when visiting Gainesville, Texas.

hand holding a paper sleeve holding a fried pie, sleeve reads "original fried pie"

Stroll through lavender fields.

Did you know that Gainesville, Texas is home to its very own lavender farm?

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At Lavender Ridge Farms, you can enjoy a lavender cafe, beautiful gardens, and even cut your own lavender during the blooming season from roughly late May through July.

If you’re looking for unexpected activities in Gainesville over the summer, be sure not to miss a chance to visit Lavender Ridge Farms!

a woman's hands cutting a bunch of blooming lavender gainseville texas

Take your furry friend to the Dog Depot at Heritage Park.

If you’re visiting Gainesville on a Texas road trip and, like us, you have a dog along, you’ll be thrilled to know that Gainesville is home to a dog park where your fur friend can run around before loading back into the car!

The park is free to visit and has separate areas for small dogs and large dogs.

beagle laying in the grass at dog park with an orange ball

Stroll the Homegrown Hero Walking Trail.

This peaceful walking trail is lined with oak trees honoring local heroes and is a lovely place for a walk.

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You’ll also find a section honoring Medal of Honor recipients.

The trail project is still ongoing, and interested parties can apply for a tree to be planted in honor of a hero.

oak tree leaves red with fall foliage

Hop over to Oklahoma to enjoy some gambling.

Gainesville’s location near the northern border of Texas means that you don’t necessarily even have to stay in the Lone Star State when exploring Gainesville attractions!

The gigantic WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma, is only a 15-minute drive from downtown Gainesville and looks for all the world like it was plucked out of Vegas and placed magically on the Oklahoma plains.

close up of a roulette wheel in a casino with white ball rolling along it

Where to Stay in Gainesville

For something historic and memorable, you can’t go wrong with a stay at Lancaster Manor Bed and Breakfast when visiting Gainesville.

Looking for something a bit more modern?

The Holiday Inn Express located right next door to Leonard Park, and the Fairfield Inn & Suites located just a bit further north along I-35, also get excellent reviews and are well-positioned for enjoying the best activities in Gainesville.

Check rates & book your stay in Gainesville today!

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Where is Gainesville, Texas?

Gainesville, Texas is located right off of the I-35 corridor in North Texas, less than 10 miles south of the Texas/Oklahoma state line.

For that reason, exploring the best things to do in Gainesville, TX is easily combined with an I-35 road trip passing through the area!

4 photos of gainesville attractions, depot courthouse wine statue, black and red text on a white background reads "11 best things to do gainesville tx"

3 thoughts on “11 Great Things to Do in Gainesville, TX”

  1. You should get a new picture of the Depot Museum building they just painted a fantastic mural on it for the city.

    Also check out Moss & Metal that just opened around the corner!

  2. We are Harvest Host RVer’s and Kootz Brewing Company hosted us for the night. Really great food and staff. Quiet night after 9 pm.


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