Northwest Texas Getaways: 5 Small Towns Perfect for a Weekend Trip

by | Oct 5, 2023 | Local, Vernon

The perfect vacation looks different for everyone. While some people might crave the excitement of white water rafting or scuba diving, others prefer the simple beauty and relaxing calm of hiking in state parks, buying fresh produce from small-town farmers markets and checking out local sights.

If you fall into the latter group, you might enjoy spending your next vacation in one of these 5 Northwest Texas small towns.

5 Small Northwest Texas Towns Perfect for a Weekend Trip

1. Vernon, Texas

We might be a little biased, but we think the best place to visit in Northwest Texas is our own beautiful town. Vernon has been around since 1880. It was originally called Eagle Flat (we wanted to pay homage to the original name when we chose to name our community Eagle Flats Village), but the name was changed to Vernon in 1881. In just a few years, Vernon became a bustling ranching town – and still is today.

Vernon Farmers Market

Vernon is still a busy farming and ranching town today. Our community members gather together to buy fresh, local produce from the Vernon Farmers Market all summer long.

The Vernon Farmers Market is open on Saturdays and Tuesdays during the summer.

Related: 5 Ways Seniors in Vernon, TX and Wilbarger County Can Stay Active

The Roy Orbison Aquatics Center

Vernon is the home of Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Roy Orbison and you’ll find a few places around town named for him. The newest is the Aquatics Center, which includes a pool, large water slide and splash pad for younger children.

The aquatics center is open 6 days a week, weather permitting. Admission is $5 and you can also rent out the clubhouse or tables for parties. You can find out more at or by calling city hall at 940-552-2581.

Pro tip: Don’t forget to check out the Instagram-worthy Roy Orbison mural while you’re here

The Red River Valley Museum

The Red River Valley Museum has four different galleries, so is sure to have something for everyone. 

The Berry Gallery exhibits range from prehistory to modern times. The Bond Gallery showcases a one-of-a-kind collection that features animals from all over the world. The Waggoner Gallery will tell you everything you could want to know about the history of the Waggoner Ranch, now the largest ranch under one fence in the U.S. Finally, the Wright Art Gallery will please the art lover in your life. It’s also where the museum hosts their annual art show.

Santa Rosa Roundup Parade and Rodeo

The annual Santa Rosa Roundup, which includes a parade as well as a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) rodeo, is a beloved event here in Vernon.

Summer’s Last Blast

Summer’s Last Blast, another annual event that’s popular with locals, features classic cars and includes a burnout contest, a show-n-shine pre-show, and an antique tractor and engine show. The grand finale is the Nostalgic Cruise Night, where you can watch gorgeous classic cars roam the street, accompanied by 50s, 60s, and 70s rock and roll hits.

2. Canyon, Texas

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

You know all about the Grand Canyon, but did you know that the country’s second largest canyon is right here in Texas? The “Grand Canyon of Texas” is at Palo Duro Canyon State Park in the aptly named Canyon, Texas. 

Panhandle Plains Historical Museum

Canyon is also home to the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum, which boasts a ton of interesting exhibits, including art, archaeology, paleontology, pioneer life and more. In addition to their permanent exhibits, they offer special exhibits. The current special exhibits include Georgia O’Keefe’s Cabinet of Curiosity, High Fashion to the High Plains, and former president Teddy Roosevelt’s favorite shotgun.

3. Quanah, Texas

Quanah, Texas is probably best-known for Copper Breaks State Park, a beautiful stretch of wilderness where you can hike, camp, fish, swim, boat, go horseback riding and more.

Are you hoping to get away from bright city lights and enjoy some stargazing? Copper Breaks is where you want to be. The International Dark Sky Association has designated Copper Breaks State Park as an International Dark Sky Park and the park offers monthly star parties from April through November, as well as other night sky programs throughout the year. 

4. Shamrock, Texas

Shamrock, Texas is a quaint little town in the Texas Panhandle that has a few cool spots worth seeing. 

Tower Station and U-Drop Inn Cafe

Get your kicks at the Tower Station and U-Drop Inn Cafe, located along historic Route 66. The structure, which was built in 1936 and still has its original Art Deco detailing, was designed to be three things in one – a gas station, café and retail store.

Today, the Tower Station and U-Drop Inn Cafe has been fully restored to its original glory, and is a visitor center, chamber of commerce office, and community center. Visitors are welcome. 

Pro tip: the building looks gorgeous at any time, but we recommend snapping a photo at night if you get the chance – it looks extra cool all lit up.

Shamrock Water Tower

A popular attraction is Shamrock’s water tower and accompanying mural. There are also several more historic buildings and structures in the area.

Shamrock’s Blarney Stone

A town named Shamrock has to practice some Irish customs, right? Shamrock is home to its own Blarney Stone, so if you don’t have the time to make it all the way to Ireland, you can get your gift of gab right here in Texas.

5. Wichita Falls, Texas

Castaway Cove Water Park

Wichita Falls is a little bigger than some of the other towns on this list, but still has that small-town feel. And being a little bigger can be good. In this case, it means that Wichita Falls is home to a water park.

Castaway Cove has plenty of fun themed attractions, including Shipwreck Beach (a tidal wave pool), Buccaneer Bay (the kid-friendly area with smaller slides, interactive water features and more) and several water slides, including the Pirate’s Plunge – which plummets riders into a 37-foot vertical free fall, accelerating up to a speed of 40 mph. 

The ‘Falls’ in ‘Wichita Falls’

Sadly, the original falls that the city was named for were destroyed by a flood in the 1800’s, but you can see the falls today – a man-made waterfall was constructed by the city as a replacement in 1987. 

The 54-foot-tall waterfall is multi-level and can be seen by passing motorists on I-44 as they cross the bridge over the Wichita River. The falls provides lots of photo opportunities, as well as the opportunity to take a short scenic hike (it’s about a one mile walk to the falls and back to the parking area). 

The falls are located in Lucy Park, a 178-acre regional park that includes a large pond area, hiking and biking trails, picnic tables, a swimming pool, basketball goals, volleyball courts and more.

We’d Love for You To Visit When You’re in Vernon

Planning a trip to Vernon? Please let us know how it goes. We’re proud of our little town and want to know if you love it as much as we do. Let us know what you liked best via our Facebook Page.

And if you or a family member are thinking about making the move to senior living, we hope that you’ll visit us while you’re here in Vernon. Eagle Flats Village is a new and better kind of assisted living. We do everything we can to help our community members to have a better quality of life, days they look forward to with excitement, and more independence than they had before.

Related: What makes a community “home”?

Meet our residents and find out why they love calling Eagle Flats Village home.

Schedule your visit and tour today.


5 Northwest Texas Small Towns Perfect for a Weekend Trip

Which one of these Texas towns are you most looking forward to visiting?

A field of Bluebonnets and unidentified orange Texas wildflowers



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