Girl's Getaway Weekend in Palestine
1Get the weekend started with a sampling of homegrown wine at Sweet Dreams Winery, located north of Palestine (you'll have to make a slight detour off of the highways onto country roads when driving in from Dallas). Founded in 2006 by a husband and wife team, the winery specializes in sweet varietals made from different types of local fruit. Wine tastings and live music from regional bands are offered on Fridays from 3 pm to 8 pm; check the calendar section of the website to confirm.
2Once in Palestine, drive by the Anderson County Courthouse (500 N. Church Street) for a look at its notable structure—or, if you get there before 5 pm, stop for a peek inside. Italian craftsmen helped create the stunning neoclassical building, which features a double spiral staircase and stained glass panels in the dome.
3Enjoy dinner at Red Fire Grille, set in the historic Redlands hotel. Opened in late 2012, and decorated with white leather chairs and vintage-style wallpaper, Red Fire Grille operates under chef Christian Mailloux, formerly of The Lenox Club, in Massachusetts. Mailloux's regional American dishes include jumbo crab cakes, snapper with collard greens, and lavender crème brûlee.
1 After breakfast at your hotel, get an overview of Palestine's history at the Museum for East Texas Culture, set in a unique, 1916 Tudor-Gothic-style brick building that once housed a high school. Wander through rooms detailing the area's railroad history, early-20th-century education, antique medical equipment, and even—in the basement—an original historic cabin. A gallery on the top floor showcases the works of local artists.
2 Palestine's downtown is also called New Town—even though most of the brick buildings are from the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Explore the streets between Spring, Queen, Sycamore and Crawford Streets, which now feature dozens of unique shops and antique stores. Standouts include Duncan Depot Antiques (106 W. Main St.), Old Magnolia Mercantile (120 W. Oak St.), and Star of Texas Antiques (107 W. Oak St.) At Texas Art Depot (301 W. Oak St.), you'll find two floors of art, topped by a wine tasting room; try a glass of the house "Granny Muffin" blend (trust us).
3 Pause for a bite at Oxbow Bakery, an antiques and vintage store-slash-cafe in Old Town. The hype surrounds the drool-inducing roster of scratch-made pies. Choose from flavors like lemon icebox, pineapple cream, chocolate pecan, and traditional buttermilk. And if you're in the mood for a heartier plate, drive southeast toward Loop Road for a slab of ribs at Bishop's Brisket House. (200 S. Loop 256, Palestine TX 75801, in the Palestine Mall)
4 You've seen the new, now explore the old. Once the town's agricultural center, dotted with mills and barns, Old Town's restored buildings now house shops, restaurants, and even a live music venue. Stroll around the compact area, which also contains a creek and Saw Mill Hollow Park, where some of the Dogwood Trails festivities take place. If the post-lunch pie wasn't enough, head to The Cuckoo's Nest (213 E. Crawford St.; (903) 391-0285), a "cupcakerie" serving treats like root beer cupcakes, as well as ice cream.
5 Work off the sweets with a walk through Davey Dogwood Park. Set just north of town, the 200-acre park is home to meadows, streams, rolling hills, and forests showcasing the beauty of East Texas and the Piney Woods. The park is one of the featured sites of the annual Dogwood Trails Festival taking place in late-March and early-April.
6 Once home to the Denby Furniture Store, in the mid-1900's, a downtown building on the National Historic Registry now houses the gourmet Denby's Restaurant, overseen by a Cordon Bleu-trained chef. Depending on your mood, dine on classics like chicken-fried steak and corn fritters in the casual bar area, or step it up to prime rib and bacon-wrapped scallops in the elegant dining room.
7 Finish the night with live music in Old Town. Set along the creek, Shelton Gin showcases live bands on Friday and Saturday nights (and acoustic musicians during the week.) Also on Fridays and Saturdays in Old Town: keep your eyes peeled for Palestine's first mobile food truck, Fork in the Road, which serves gourmet tacos until 2 am.
1Join locals for breakfast at Bird's Egg Cafe, a casual, homey diner cooking up hearty classics like waffles, bacon and eggs, and biscuits and gravy. The place gets packed with the post-church crowd on Sundays, so come in before noon to snag a table.
2Post-breakfast, say goodbye to Palestine with a drive around its historic districts (Historical Driving Tour Guides are available at the Visitor Center; 825 Spring Street; (800) 659-3484.) There are four National Historic Registry-designated areas in town, and most of the buildings in those neighborhoods are from the 1870s to 1920s. You've already seen Downtown and Old Town, so this morning, do a drive around some of the residential areas to spy stately Victorian, Queen Anne, and Greek Revival mansions, traditional prairie-style homes, and Craftsman bungalows.
3One the way back to Dallas, stop at Texas Vineyards & Smokehaus, makers of homegrown Syrah, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, and Riesling wines. Tours of the grounds, which include a tasting room, lavender fields, and vineyards, are offered between 12 pm and 7 pm on Sundays; call ahead to reserve a spot.