An hour east of San Antonio you’ll find Gonzales, home to the iconic “Come and Take It” slogan. The saying was born out of the firing of the first shot for Texas independence — and a battle over a small cannon where 18 brave Gonzales residents dared Santa Anna’s army to “come and take it.”
The town’s 49 original blocks and seven public squares, laid out in the shape of a Greek cross, formed the original inner town that's adjacent to the historic avenues that now form the Texas History Museum District.
In the district you’ll find plenty of museums, historic homes, and historic markers amidst a thriving downtown that maintains its turn-of-the-century architecture. Fun fact: This happened to make it the perfect locale for filming the final season premiere of AMC’s The Son.
Beyond the historic district, head out to a nine-hole golf course located along the banks of the Guadalupe River or check out hundreds of acres of parks with plenty of kayaking, canoeing, and swimming opportunities on the river. And be sure not to miss the renowned antique shops and barbecue joints.
Here are seven more ways to enjoy your stay in Gonzales.
1. At the Gonzales Memorial Museum, one of only nine built during the Centennial Celebration of 1936, you can see the actual cannon that started it all. Don't miss the Buck Winn murals in the south wing that depict early Texas life in detail. The building itself is an elegant Art Deco structure with two exhibition wings, a 500-seat amphitheater, and a reflecting pool.
2. Throughout the year, Gonzales has a free concert series with live music and family fun in Historic Independence Square. Come July, it’s capped off by a big Star Spangled Spectacular fireworks celebration on the Fourth.
3. Touring through the Gonzales County Jail Museum is an eerie and interesting experience. The jail held prisoners from 1885 to 1974, and you can still tour the dungeon, the jailor’s quarters, the "women and lunatics" cell, and the indoor gallows.
4. Step back into history and spin straw or make butter at the the Gonzales Pioneer Village Living History Center. Often referred to as "The Village," it hosts a collection of 1800s and early-1900s houses and buildings.
5. You can follow rodeo cowboys and cowgirls at the J.B. Wells Arena, which hosts many events throughout the year, including bull riding, cutting horse events, team ropings, barrel races, 4-H play days, junior high and high school rodeos, stock shows, cattle sales, tractor pulls, concerts, and more.
6. The beautiful, 270-acre Palmetto State Park is aptly named for the tropical dwarf palmettos which grow in abundance within the park. It’s a beautiful setting for an easy hike or bike ride through the tropical vegetation. Check out the Civilian Conservation Corps-built pavilion that still welcomes families today.
7. Save the dates for the Come and Take It Celebration in October and the Winterfest Celebration in December. Come and Take It, Gonzales' premier, long-standing celebration for nearly 70 years, features live music, a parade, carnival, and reenactments, while the Winterfest festivities include a historic homes tour and a lighted parade.
See more of what Gonzales has to offer for your next Texas getaway here.