Jefferson boasts a fascinating history as a bustling riverport and major commercial center during the mid-1800s. It served as a vital trading hub for steamboats along the Big Cypress Bayou, transporting goods and people to and from the region.
The city takes great pride in preserving its architectural heritage. Many buildings in Jefferson have been lovingly restored, maintaining their original character and adding to the city’s unique charm. Walking through the streets feels like stepping into a bygone era, with each building telling its own story.
Check out the best 10 things you can do in Jefferson, TX:
1. Explore Jefferson Historical District
Walking down the streets is free for everyone. Take a walk in the Jefferson Historical District to admire the beautifully preserved 19th-century buildings.
While you are here you can stop from time to time to browse the charming shops, antique stores, and art galleries that showcase local craftsmanship and unique finds.
2. Visit Jefferson General Store
If you already started your visit from downtown, then the Jefferson General Store is at least an interesting place for a stop. This store holds a special history that dates back to the late 1800s. Originally established as a general mercantile store, it served as a vital hub for the local community and travelers passing through Jefferson, selling essential goods and supplies to residents and was a gathering place for exchanging news.
Now, the Jefferson General Store stands as a testament to the town’s heritage and a nostalgic reminder of days gone by. Its vintage storefront and interior decor evoke a sense of nostalgia.
3. Take a Historic Home Tour
If you want to know the real stories of the city, then I recommend you take a guided tour of the city’s historic homes. While you hear stories of the past, you can marvel at the architectural details of iconic houses such as the Singleton House and the Sterne Fountain House, both located within the historical district.
4. Attend a Ghost Walk or Historic Tour
This town garnered a reputation for being a town with numerous ghost stories and paranormal legends. There are numerous ghost stories you can here in Jefferson, but one that stands out is at The Excelsior House Hotel.
The story goes that Amelia was a young woman who lived in the Excelsior House during the mid-1800s. She was engaged to be married to a Confederate soldier who went off to fight in the Civil War but never returned. Amelia was left heartbroken and devastated by his loss.
It is said that Amelia’s spirit still lingers in the Excelsior House, searching for her lost love. Many guests have reported encounters with a ghostly apparition believed to be Amelia. She is often described as a young woman in a flowing dress, sometimes seen near the staircase or in the hallways of the hotel.
5. Explore Jefferson Carnegie Library
Located in downtown Jefferson like most of the main attractions in this city, the library was constructed in 1907 with the support of a grant from the Carnegie Corporation, a philanthropic organization established by industrialist Andrew Carnegie.
The building is a remarkable example of the Classical Revival architectural style, characterized by its grand columns, symmetrical design, and elegant proportions you can enter and visit for free.
6. Visit Jefferson Historical Museum
This museum is another must-visit destination for tourists interested in the town’s history. With an architecture reflects the Federal-style design that was popular during the period in which the building was originally constructed, it is a testament to the town’s architectural heritage.
What you can see here includes clothing, vintage photographs, historical documents, and other items that offer insights into daily life, culture, and significant events that shaped Jefferson throughout the years.
7. Go visit Big Cypress Bayou
If you are in Jefferson you should not miss this place for anything in the world! The peaceful environment at the Big Cypress Bayou gives the opportunity for a riverboat cruise on the river that passed through the city of Jefferson.
If you are not into a boat you can simply take a walk on the wood trail and stop along the day to enjoy the relaxing sounds of the trees and water.
8. Enjoy Outdoor Recreation at Caddo Lake
Depending on the days you have here, another relaxing thing you can do while you stop in Jefferson, TX is to take a short drive from Jefferson to Caddo Lake which is approximately 15 minutes by car.
Some people come here for Lake fishing as this place has an abundant fish population. The lake is home to various species, including largemouth bass, catfish, crappie, and sunfish. Fishing enthusiasts can cast their lines from boats or along the shoreline to try their luck and enjoy a peaceful day on the water.
9. Attend Jefferson Civil War Days Festival
One festival you can attend if you visit in May is the Jefferson Civil War Days. The festival offers the opportunity to feel like you have stepped back in time and experience the sights, sounds, and stories of this pivotal period in American history. People wear clothing from that particular time, ride horses, and show how the Civil War Days actually were. This is a great history lesson to learn about the past.
You can read more about it and see actual photos from the festival on this website.
10. Enjoy the pleasure of a glass of wine at Enoch’s Wine & Coffee House
What better way to relax on an afternoon than sipping some wine together with a delicious plate of food? Here you can have small bites along with your wine.
This place is actually a cellar, so if you are a wine connoisseur you could do a wine tasting. just make sure you ask the staff and they will be more than happy to assist you.