You probably know Houston as a car-choked tangle of massive freeways and suburban sprawl, which is why finding the city’s pockets of peaceful walkability can be such a thrill. Topping the list of locals’ favorite places to walk around is Old Town Spring, a historic community just outside the city limits, where visitors can stroll up and down the leafy, gallery- and shop-lined streets, pop into a museum or two, listen to live music and other entertainment, and enjoy a more laid-back pace. Old Town Spring boasts a fascinating history and charming, throwback vibes—when you’re craving a (slightly) out-of-town adventure, this is a great place to check out.
Located just north of Houston, Old Town Spring is a former railroad hub turned into a quaint, walkable district brimming with cool shops, eateries, and art galleries. First occupied by the Orcoquisac Indians, Old Town Spring was populated by settlers in the 1800s who steadily began making their way to the area after Texas won its independence from Mexico; they continued to do so after 1845, once the state became part of the U.S. After the Civil War, “Camp Spring,” as it was known then, became a railroad hub of sorts. The town began to grow and flourish, gradually becoming home to an opera house, hotels, a bank, and more, in addition to several railroad lines. Today, hundreds of years after the town got its start, many original buildings still stand like the original jailhouse, the old Wunsche Bros. Saloon, and even the bank building (now Mallott’s Hardware) that’s rumored to have been robbed by none other than Bonnie and Clyde.
Where to Shop and Soak Up Culture
Visitors can peruse more than 150 shops in Old Town Spring, from antique stores and vintage clothing boutiques to arts and crafts shops. Some homegrown faves include Camille’s (an antique store chock-full of unique furniture and decor that you won’t find anywhere else), Crazy Mama’s (where you can create your own perfume or potion), German Gift House (where you can pick up all kinds of kitschy-cool German treasures), and The Spotted Pony (a super-fun vintage clothing & costume store that sells everything from pirate garb to steampunk wear). Of course, this is only scratching the surface, when it comes to shopping opportunities in Old Town Spring. You could easily spend an entire afternoon wandering in and out of the town’s eclectic array of local shops, many of which are located in restored, turn-of-the-century homes.
Also be sure to make time for the Spring Historical Museum, a delightful museum that delves into the history of the railroad and lumber industries that used to be the town's backbone. In addition, there are several places that offer wine and painting classes, knitting workshops, art walks, music and comedy performances, and more.
Where to Eat and Drink
Old Town Spring is home to a plethora of good restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, and even a few wineries.
- Try Vito’s Famous if you’re craving pizza (or a Philly cheesesteak)
- Rao’s Bakery & Coffee Cafe has some of the best gourmet sandwiches, breakfast, coffee, and desserts in town
- The Black Sheep Bistro boasts delicious, low-key bistro fare like salads and tapas.
- CorkScrew BBQ is the place to be when you’re in the mood for prime wood-smoked meat and is considered to be one of the best barbecue spots in the state.
- Envy Wine Room carries more than 200 boutique wines from all over the world (and a wide-ranging selection of beers), for those who’d prefer an adult beverage.
- And of course, a visit to Old Town Spring isn’t complete without stopping off at Puffabelly’s, a popular local haunt that’s occupied the town’s train depot for well over two decades (the beer-battered onion rings are a must).
Tips for Visitors
- Check out Old Town Spring’s Facebook page to find their lineup of annual festivals and events. The community hosts several events and festivals throughout the year, including the always-popular Texas Crawfish Festival, the Texas Wine and Art Festival, and the Texas Taco, Tequila, and Margarita Festival. Their multi-week holiday celebration, Home for the Holidays, runs from early November through Christmas and offers a host of festive fun—like a tree lighting ceremony, parades, wagon rides, and more. (Also, Old Town Christmas Tree Farm is a great place to pick up your holiday tree; and, it turns into a pumpkin patch in October.)
- Pay a visit to the Old Town Spring Visitors Bureau when you arrive, to get the lay of the land, pick up a map, and find out about any special events.
- Don’t miss out on one of Old Town Spring’s most notable attractions—a haunted ghost tour. The town is often cited as one of the most haunted places in Texas.