Places to see

Historic downtown just outside Austin named one of Texas' great places

Historic downtown just outside Austin named one of Texas' great places

Downtown Bastrop
Downtown Bastrop has just nabbed a statewide honor. Photo courtesy of Bastrop Main Street Program

On your next trek from Austin to Houston, you might want to make a detour to downtown Bastrop, as the heart of the charming 200-year-old town has been named one of Texas' Great Neighborhoods.

The Texas chapter of the American Planning Association bestowed the honor upon Bastrop on April 1 through its Great Places in Texas program, which showcases areas that “exemplify exceptional character and highlight the role planners and planning play in creating communities of lasting value,” according to a statement. Downtown Bastrop joins five other outstanding Great Places in Texas honored in 2019.

“City leaders have done an incredible job protecting the historic character of downtown Bastrop while allowing compatible infill development through updated zoning regulations and a downtown strategic vision,” said Doug McDonald, AICP, APA-Texas chapter president, in a statement. “The natural environment of the Colorado River and the built environment of downtown are seamlessly integrated to create a unique sense of place for Bastrop residents.”

Just a 40-minute drive from Austin along Highway 71, downtown Bastrop charmingly blends rustic buildings and lively entertainment with its natural riverfront locale. 

"This 'historically hip' neighborhood is home to First Friday Art Walks, permanent art galleries, frequent live music, and textile sales," the association says. "The neighborhood’s wide sidewalks, narrow roads, bus route, and safe streets for bicyclists, all encourage passersby to enjoy the downtown Bastrop experience."

This is the third year of the statewide program, which is modeled from the American Planning Association’s ongoing Great Places in America program. The five other Great Places in Texas designees for 2019 are:

  • Great Neighborhood: Downtown Nacogdoches, Nacogdoches 
  • Great Street: Hill Country Mile, Boerne
  • Great Public Space: Discovery Green, Houston
  • Great Public Space: Levitt Pavilion, Arlington 
  • Great Public Space: San Jacinto Plaza, El Paso