2020 changed our Art Adventures, but didn't eliminate them! The limitations simply motivated us to be more creative in how we experience and define creative travel and exploration. This "silver lining" in an unarguably dark year lead us to some wonderful discoveries in small town Texas travel!

Instead of publishing a gift guide this year, we wanted to highlight some of our favorite small, creative local businesses we were fortunate to find on our adventures.

Each business has eCommerce and/or shipping capabilities on its site, social channels or via email so you can gift to someone else or order for yourself from where you are! All are independently owned spots that we visited in-person or at local markets in 2020.

Mural at Art Gallery 211 in Athens, Texas.

Art Gallery 211. Athens, TX

This local art cooperative just off of Athens' downtown square offers paintings, sculpture, stained glass and other art by more than 40 local and regional artists.

Small handmade bowls at Becker Studios in downtown Lufkin, Texas.

Becker Art Studio. Lufkin, TX.

Becker Art Studios in downtown Lufkin is one of our favorite and most frequent stops for its colorful, affordable handmade pottery. It also offers paintings, sculpture, and a selection of jewelry and handcrafts. See their work and connect with them on Instagram and Facebook.

The Bosslight. Nacogdoches, Texas.

An independent book store in downtown Nacogdoches, The Bosslight also sells t-shirts and work by local East Texas artists. Their Facebook page showcases special offers, events and merchandise, and its new Patreon offers a fun way to support local, and exclusive insider perks! The Bosslight calls itself a "magical place for book and art lovers," which sounds like us and many others we know! Probably why we like it so much.

Elzner Farms, Jacksonville, Texas.

The family farm produces small batch, raw and unfiltered East Texas local honey and honey products like lip balm, lotion bars and beeswax wraps. And, if you're hit with some sweet inspiration, they also sell beekeeping supplies and large-scale starter sets.

Laura's Cheesecakes. Mount Pleasant, Texas.

Laura's Cheesecakes, Mount Pleasant, TX.

Laura's Cheesecakes was a delicious patio snack stop on one of our favorite 2020 holiday Art Adventures! The flavors were unique and sweet without being too heavy, and the location had a great sidewalk view of the Titus County courthouse and downtown Mount Pleasant people-watching. Since we enjoyed them so much and the shipping process was easy, we gifted our families with cheesecakes for Christmas!

The Top Knot, Henderson (inside Kelly B's On The Square), Longview (inside The 504 Vintage Marketplace) and Glen Rose, Texas (inside Wabi + Sabi.)

We discovered The Top Knot at the ETX Market in downtown Lufkin, and there are permanent locations across Texas in addition to regular market appearances. We loved the large selection of one-of-a-kind Kantha quilts and other unique handmade and home decor items, which were wonderfully warm and bright finds in a year that was mostly the opposite.

2020 made us be more intentional and creative in how we travel, "art adventure" and explore local businesses. While it wasn't expected, we believe that this shift has made us better visitors, enhanced our adventures, and enables us to more intentionally share our finds and help small businesses. If a business on this list seems like it could be a favorite new favorite find too, we encourage you to support it from wherever you are!

This colorful Marshalls sign is over La Vie, an independent store in Mount Pleasant, Texas..

Our recent art adventure took us through Mount Pleasant, Pittsburg, Linden, Caddo Lake/Uncertain and Marshall. It was a big day with lots to see and experience! This East Texas road trip travel guide shares our favorite stops.

Art Adventures:

We were charmed by Mount Pleasant's fun downtown storefront and outdoor decor. From eye-catching signage to interactive art (hello, red piano!) its town square has plenty of creative things to see.

Painted red piano in downtown Mount Pleasant, Texas..
Christmas decorations at Mill's Flowers and Gifts, Mount Pleasant, Texas.

Marshall also has a few interesting murals to see, including this one near Joe Pine coffee!

Pine Cone Mural at Joe Pine Coffee in Marshall, Texas..

Marshall's Michelson Museum of Art is closed through January 2021, but it has an interesting story and is worth going back to explore.

Snack Stops:

Laura's Cheesecake, marble brownie swirl. Mount Pleasant, Texas.

We always try to patronize local businesses on our art adventures (with the exception of Dairy Queen - a road trip non negotiable!) That includes restaurants, even when it means cheesecake for breakfast. We began the day at Laura's Cheesecake in downtown Mount Pleasant.

Pittsburgh Hot Links, Pittsburg, Texas.

We hit the famous Pittsburg Hot Links restaurant conveniently just before lunch time. If you're a meat-eater, it's pretty great and the hot link sandwiches, which we got, are easy to eat in the car or outdoors, although they do allow indoor dining.

Joe Pine, with its vibrant downtown location, colorful mural, and outdoor seating was a fun coffee stop to fuel us for the drive back to Dallas.

Independent Shopping:

We loved La Vie and its companion Christmas store in downtown Mount Pleasant. Marshall's downtown is home to The Weisman, and downtown Linden has plenty of antique stores to browse.

Other points of interest:

The two main focuses of this art adventure were Caddo Lake and photographing courthouses, a new project of ours since other types of art adventures are paused. But nature and architecture are art to us!

Caddo Lake, Uncertain, Texas.
The Harrison County Courthouse, Marshall, Texas.
The Cass County Courthouse, Linden, Texas.

Click here for our interactive East Texas road trip map!

We love to seek out and share art, in big cities and smaller towns off the beaten path! If you'd like to suggest our next destination or invite us to visit your town, please be in touch! Currently, we highlight outdoor and social distance-friendly travel experiences that many people can enjoy more safely and easily. Happy Art-Adventuring!

Texas Theater, Downtown Waxahachie.

Waxahachie is a small town just outside of Dallas, known for it's many Victorian "gingerbread" homes and vibrant town square centered around the beautiful Ellis County Courthouse.

Art Adventures:

Waxahachie's Webb Gallery is a must-stop. Filled with folk and outsider art, as well as handcrafts and antiques, this longstanding art space exhibits work that is as interesting as it is unique. (Currently open Saturdays and Sundays by appointment.)

Inside Webb Gallery, Waxahachie, Texas.

Downtown Waxahachie seems to have a mural around every corner! We really liked these:

Mural in downtown Waxahachie.
Bird mural in downtown Waxahachie.
Mural in downtown Waxahachie.

Don't miss taking a rainbow-whirl around the six-foot kaleidoscope sculpture, a popular Waxahachie public art piece by artists Eddie and Mary Elizabeth Phillips. It's at the corner of Main and College streets across from the courthouse.

Snack Stops:

Try Farm Luck Soda Fountain & Dry Goods for Italian sodas, floats and a pick-your-mix retro candy counter. White Rhino coffee offers coffee, tea and quick bites.

Interior sign at Farm Luck Soda Fountain & Dry Goods, Waxahachie.

Independent Shopping:

Meat Church, Waxahachie Texas.

Meat Church BBQ Supply is a fun place to stop for barbecue-themed shirts, caps and Coozies, as well as its own rubs and seasoning spice blends. Find your perfect creative souvenir at The Crafty Scrapper, a supply store for scrapbook aficionados and artists of many mediums. Downtown Waxahachie is also full of antique stores, perfect for finding a new favorite new-to-you art or decorative item.

Antique store robot in downtown Waxahachie.

Other points of interest:

Small and peaceful Lake Waxahachie is just a short drive from downtown!

Creative Travel Adventures Off the Beaten Path


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Site by Stephanie Khattak. Photos by James Khattak. Copyright K.Co Arts 2016-2021.