Palestine, TX Small Town Charm on a Budget

Palestine (pronounced Pah-less-teen), Texas is a quaint town in East Texas with a population of 18,000.  The small town atmosphere draws visitors from near and far.  

What kind of accommodations are available in Palestine, Texas? 

Hampton Inn & Suites
Hotel/Motel: I would recommend the Hampton Inn & Suites ($125/night) located at 2700 South Loop 256 Palestine, Texas. The rooms are clean & comfortable.  The indoor pool is nice for year round fun. The breakfast was fabulously FREE. The staff were friendly and welcoming. You are near Walmart, Walgreens, & CVS as well as restaurants.  

Bed & Breakfast: 
Sabor a Pasion Country House & Bistro is a secluded retreat that will refresh your tired spirit and body. It is located a few miles north of Palestine at 110 Anderson County Road 406 Palestine, Texas 75803. Chef Simon will prepare a breakfast unlike any you have experienced. Reservations are also available at Restaurant Aubergine for lunch or dinner.  If you are looking to get away from it all and enjoy the beauty of East Texas, Sabor a Pasion is an excellent choice!

Campsite Texas State Railroad  Palestine
I would recommend the Texas State Railroad Palestine Campsites  ($12/night) located on Highway 84 East just 3 miles from Loop 256. There are no full service hookup sites but there is running water for each site.  You also have a dump station on site. The campsites are level and in a quiet setting. There is a playground nearby. You  can also hike a short 1/2 mile hiking trail that has a pond. Our son enjoyed riding his bicycle around the camp loop.  We liked that we could sit at our campsite and watch him ride the full loop. You are not able to make reservations.  Campsites are available on a first come first serve basis. 

Lakeview Methodist Conference Center:
Lakeview Methodist Conference Center
Would you like to get away from it all and experience the great outdoors?  Lakeview is a camp setting offering facilities for groups from 2 to 1,100 people. There are 1,300 acres of wooded land, 3 lakes, & rolling hills that you and your family can enjoy.  Lakeview offers fishing, swimming, hiking, basketball courts, volleyball courts, putt putt golf, biking, & a ropes course just to name a few. The area is located south of Palestine on Texas Highway 294.  Cost ranges from $45 - $250 per night double occupancy. Day use fees are $5 per person. If you visit the Palestine area you do not want to miss Lakeview Methodist Conference Center.

Where is a good place to eat?

Rumps BBQ: 120 Farm-To-Market Rd 3328, Palestine, TX 75803
About 15 minutes west of Palestine located in what some might call "the middle of nowhere" you will find one fantastic restaurant! While Rumps specializes in BBQ they also offer fantastic sides & some great fried catfish. If you are in the area I highly recommend making the drive to Rumps for great food offered by fabulous servers & staff. (average meal cost $10)

Red Fire Grille: 400 North Queen Street Palestine, Texas 
Before I begin my review of Red Fire Grille, I want to preface it with the following. Yes, I know this blog is for families who want to travel on a budget. HOWEVER, Red Fire Grille is one of the best restaurants I have ever eaten at and therefore cannot be left from my post. Chef Chrisitan Mailloux prepares a revolving menu that inspires visitors to return time and again. When we visited Red Fire Grille I had the cooked to perfection New York Strip and my husband had the crab cakes which were artfully flavored. (average meal cost is $28) 

Giovanni's Italian Restaurant: 2027 West Oak Palestine, Texas
Giovanni's is quality Italian food that comes in portions big enough to share. If you are looking for an Italian meal or just a pizza, you will not be disappointed at Giovanni's. I highly recommend the chicken aristocrat. (average meal cost is $12)

Oxbox Bakery & Antiques: 215 East Crawford Street Palestine, Texas
No visit to Palestine is complete without stopping in for some of the best pie (I like chocolate) you will ever eat! Oxbow Bakery is located in historic Old Town Palestine.  After you finish your pie, walk it off as you visit other shops in the area. 

Eilenberger Bakery: 512 North John Street Palestine, Texas
This bakery first opened in 1898 and has become legendary near and far.  Featured in Southern Living magazine as one of the best bakeries in the south, you do not want to miss this treat when visiting Palestine. Try the gooey bars - you will not be disappointed.

What is there to do in Palestine, Texas?

Texas State Railroad
Texas State Railroad Steam Engine
The Texas State Railroad offers rides on a steam engine through beautiful East Texas. The rides depart from the Palestine or the Rusk depot depending on the day you choose to visit. The cost for coach or open air is $32 for adults & $20 for children for coach class. The Texas State Railroad offers special train rides throughout the year such as The Polar Express among others.  The Polar Express is a perfect way to get into the spirit of Christmas & the city of Palestine has festive activities taking place during this time as well. 

Davey Dogwood Park
Davey Dogwood Park
This 254 acre park on the north side of Palestine at 900 North Link Street is best seen during the spring during Palestine's Dogwood Festival. Drive through this beautiful park the last two weekends in March.

Enjoy a Small Town Festival: 
Palestine hosts two festivals each year, Texas Dogwood Trails Festival and the Hot Pepper Festival. The Texas Dogwood Trails Festival takes place the last two weekends in March & the first weekend in April - during the height of dogwood trees blooming. The Hot Pepper Festival takes place the last Saturday in October and features live bands, pepper eating contests, Dogwood Jamboree, & good ol' small town charm. Palestine is also a great place to visit during the Christmas holidays. In addition to the Polar Express, Palestine also offers a Christmas parade, Santa's Magical workshop, & Ice Fest.  

Enjoy a scenic drive:

  • FM 322 south to Texas State Highway 294.  Take a right on Texas State Highway 294 and travel past Lakeview Methodist Conference Center (400 PR 6036 Palestine, TX). I highly recommend visiting Lakeview at least for 1/2 a day if not longer. After leaving Lakeview take a right on Texas State Highway 294 and travel approximately 3 miles and turn right onto FM 1990. FM 1990 will take you back into Palestine.
  • Texas State Highway 19 north to Athens, Texas (approximately 35 miles) is another beautiful drive. In Athens visit the Texas Fresh Water Fishery.  Your kids will love fishing in the pond, the dive show, the tram tour, hiking, and learning about the hatchery. Cost $5.50 adults & $3.50 for kids aged 4-12. Plan to spend at least 1/2 day here.
    Texas Freshwater Fishery Athens, Texas
  • Texas State Highway 155 north to Tyler, Texas (approximately 47 miles). See my post for Tyler, Texas for more information on this beautiful city.