Because of its rich history, there are so many things to do in Gonzales Tx. But unless you’ve studied Texas history, you might not be familiar with this Texas city.
Gonzales is a small town along US-90, about two hours west of Houston, just over an hour east of San Antonio, an hour south of Austin, and almost four hours south of Dallas. It was founded in 1837 and was the first Anglo-American settlement west of the Colorado River. It’s now home to about 10,000 people.
To fully understand why Gonzales is such an important place to visit, we’ll have to go over some brief Texas history. (It’s fascinating, I promise!)
The History of Gonzales
In 1831, Texas was under Mexican rule. The settlement of Gonzales was experiencing frequent raids by the Comanche tribe, and requested help from the government. Mexican troops were in short supply at the time, so instead of sending soldiers, Mexico lent the settlers of Gonzales a small cannon to help them fight back.
By 1835 however, Mexico was experiencing some political unrest and decided it might be a good idea to have Gonzales return the cannon. The response of the Gonzales settlers has since become the famous Gonzales motto and was responsible for initiating the first battle of the Texas Revolution. In short, they said, “Come and take it.”
Mexico indeed came and tried to take it, but the settlers of Gonzales had recruited help from nearby towns. The settlers voted to fight the Mexicans, and the 140 gathered Texians opened fire on the 100 Mexican soldiers. The Mexicans withdrew and the fight was over. This marked the first battle of what became the Texas Revolution.
If you visit present-day Gonzales, you’ll find ‘Come and Take it’ everywhere in the city. We even passed a laundromat called ‘Come and Wash It.’
With that bit of history in mind, here are some of the best things to do in Gonzales Tx.
Top Things To Do in Gonzales Tx
Gonzales Memorial Museum
The most famous exhibit at the Gonzales Memorial Museum is the “Come And Take It” cannon itself. You can view the original cannon that started it all, on display. According to the museum, it’s entirely authentic – the only thing not original is the wheelbase.
You’ll also find artifacts from various periods throughout Gonzales’ history, like old rifles, vintage clothing, household goods, medical supplies from the war, and archival photographs.
Just outside the museum, you’ll find a memorial to the Immortal 32, the 32 Gonzales citizens who answered the call of the Alamo defenders and marched off to what was ultimately their death.
The museum is free to enter.
414 Smith Street
Gonzales, TX 78629
Monday-Saturday – 10:00am to 12:00pm – 1:00pm to 5:00pm
Sunday- 1:00pm to 5:00pm
Gonzales County Jail Museum
The Gonzales County Jail Museum functioned as an actual jail from 1885 through 1975 when it was finally retired from use. The first floor of this museum contains the sheriff’s office, the holding cell, and the dungeon, and is free of charge to visit.
A tour of the second floor will cost you $2 and is well worth it. Upstairs is where you’ll find all the jail cells (which, according to my kids are cool, creepy, and sad all at the same time) and an old gallows.
We found it fascinating to see the cells, including the rough toilet and sink that required water to be brought up and poured in through a tank outside the cell in order to use.
Our kids were thoroughly creeped out by the story our guide told us. Legend has it that a man sentenced to hang protested his innocence to his last breath, saying that if he was indeed hanged unfairly, the courthouse clock would never again display the correct time. According to our guide, the clock indeed never again worked correctly.
Don’t forget to check out the cute photo opp right outside the museum.
414 St Lawrence Street
Gonzales, TX 78629
Monday-Friday – 8:00am to 5:00pm
Saturday – 9:00am to 4:00pm
Sunday – 1:00pm to 4:00pm
Visit their website here.
Pioneer Village Living History Center
The Pioneer Village Living History Center showcases what life was like in the 18-1900s. It features a collection of buildings that have been donated to the museum, dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Each building is meticulously furnished according to its period and contains authentic period artifacts. We saw real blacksmith tools, children’s toys, and even old printing machinery. One of the most fascinating things we saw was actual enlistment papers from a soldier enlisting in the army during the Civil War.
The village consists of a few different style houses and cabins, a blacksmith, saloon, opera house, broom shop, printing shop, and schoolhouse, to name a few, each of which you can enter and explore.
The best time to visit the Pioneer Village is during the Come And Take It celebration in early October. People show up in period costumes and there’s even a re-enactment of the historic battle.
2122 N St Joseph St
Gonzales, TX 78629
Tuesdsay – Sunday – 1:00pm to 5:00pm
Palmetto State Park
Just outside Gonzales is a beautiful state park. Named for the numerous dwarf palmettos growing under the trees, you’ll feel like you dropped into the tropics when you visit this park. There is an oxbow lake for swimming and paddling (rentals available), or if you’re feeling adventurous, make your way down to the San Marcos River for some river fun! The river is fairly fast flowing here, so be prepared – in the areas where the water is moving quickly, standing is difficult even in the shallow. Wear lifevests and keep an eye on your kids.
That being said, there are areas where the water is just ankle deep and is not rushing that fast so there is where to hang out if you don’t want to partake in what our family called ‘nature’s water slide’. There were plenty of people just sitting in the water, or sitting in chairs in the water, so don’t let the rushing water turn you off!
Historic Home Tour
Driving the streets of Gonzales, you’ll be in awe of the beautiful, historic homes that line the streets. There are actually signs that will direct you on a driving tour if you like, but even just driving to your destinations, you’ll see amazing historic homes.
Come And Take It Mural
Don’t forget to stop and get a picture in front of the Come And Take It Mural. Featuring the original Come And Take It flag design, as well as the current one, this mural also has a brief description of the history of the Come And Take It slogan.
Gonzales is one of the most historic towns in Texas and where the first shot was fired in the battle for Texas independence. The rich history of the city makes it incredibly exciting to explore. You can find out more about visiting Gonzales, including where to stay and eat, at the official Gonzales city website.
If you’re interested in Texas history and enjoy living history museums, you’ll also want to make sure to visit the Barrington Living History Farm in Washington-on-the-Brazos, another important site in Texas history.