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Meet on Main

Inspire conversation and community with an event near a charming Texas Main Street

By Amy Durham

Downtown Nacogdoches CREDIT Visit Nacogdoches
Aerial view of Nacogdoches || Courtesy of Visit Nacogdoches

Texas Main Streets are brimming with history and charm. Meetings and events held in these downtown districts have a historic feel that’s just right for sparking conversation and capturing the imagination of attendees. Planners can choose intimate spaces and boutique hotel accommodations in small towns or go from a historic Main Street daytime event to a luxury hotel experience in the heart of a city. Texas Downtown, an organization that helps towns to advocate, revitalize, and develop vibrant downtown districts, is on a mission to promote these vintage gems.

“Our historic Main Streets and downtowns evoke a sense of identity, preserving cultural heritage, and fostering community pride,” says Suzy Lawrence, executive director for Texas Downtown. “They offer a glimpse into the past, connect residents to their roots, and serve as vibrant hubs for localized business ecosystems that elevate economic impact for the district and community residents alike.”

Planning an event in a Main Street area gives a big boost to the local economy, and the friendly reception you will receive will show you just how much your presence means to the people who live there.

Character & Connection

The downtown district of a town or city is often where you see and experience the personality of an area. These parts of town are usually the oldest, and they carry the history of the community in their streets and buildings. Locals enjoy seeing the legacy of founders and some of the values that defined the early town continue to live on in preservation efforts.

To find this kind of engaging charm, look to smaller towns like Bastrop, which is a short 30-minute drive from the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Bastrop’s Main Street, part of Historic Downtown Bastrop, was named a Distinctive Destination by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and is rich with 19th-century buildings and grand Victorian mansions.

“Small towns are the next big thing for meetings, and with the Austin airport just a short drive away, [Bastrop is] a comfortable place to host meetings big and small,” says Ashton LaFuente, director of marketing for Visit Bastrop. “With activities that promote bonding, you will learn more about your co-workers and leave feeling connected to it all.”

The Bastrop Opera House offers auditorium space, and boutique hotels like the Pecan Street Inn provide cozy accommodations. For outdoor events, visit Eden East Farms, a sustainable urban farm with seating for 120 surrounded by greenery and rows of pecan trees. Nearby, the Hampton Inn and Suites Bastrop has 89 rooms and a 2,684-square-foot meeting room. If you need extra space, the Bastrop Convention & Exhibit Center offers 26,000 square feet of space for 750 attendees.

Bastrop’s Main Street runs along the shore of the Colorado River. Stop at the Bastrop County Museum and Visitor Center for a map to guide attendees who want to enjoy art galleries, boutiques, and live music at local pubs. Several downtown restaurants offer Texas comfort food: fried chicken and fried catfish.

If you’re looking for small-town charm far from the glaring lights of a city, stroll Main Street in the East Texas town of Nacogdoches, considered the oldest European-settled town in the state, since it was founded in 1779 by the Spanish. Red-brick streets from 1917 still pave the downtown square. “The town worked hard to keep the brick streets to retain the history and charm that Nacogdoches is known for,” says Ashley Morgan, interim director at Visit Nacogdoches. “We specialize in creativity, attractions, and Southern hospitality.”

The Fredonia Hotel & Convention Center in the walkable downtown area offers 109 rooms and 20,000 square feet of indoor meeting space. Overflow hotels and bed-and-breakfasts are also available in the area. Nacogdoches holds onto its vintage character with plentiful antiquing at multiple shops, including the local favorite Fortney House, a whimsical store in a historic home just a few blocks from Main Street. Parks are available for outdoor events, and smaller venues at two local wineries, a brewery, and a distillery are available for a lively atmosphere.

Texas meetings wouldn’t be complete without a taste of the Old West. Bandera, located an hour from the airport in San Antonio, is known as the Cowboy Capital of the World—and for good reason. “For starters, it is not uncommon to see horses along Bandera’s Main Street,” says Patricia Moore, executive director of Bandera County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Our visitors often use the word ‘authentic’ to describe it. If you are looking for a small- to medium-[size] meeting or event where the connectivity of the participants is paramount to the meeting’s success, Bandera’s setting and culture are ideal.”

The Best Western Plus on Main Street is a 46-room hotel with meeting space for up to 60 people. Make memorable swag bags at Bandera General Store, where you can find leather goods, locally made whiskey vanilla, and a Texas delicacy: pickled quail eggs. Attendees can get custom-made boots at Leather Bank by Collins and wear them to a local watering hole like Arkey Blue’s Silver Dollar, the oldest continuously running honky-tonk in Texas.

“Bandera is known for its honky-tonks and live music,” Moore says. One event highly recommended by the locals is the 11th Street Cowboy Bar’s Steak Night on Wednesdays. “You bring your own steak, grill it yourself around Texas-size barbecue pits,” Moore says. “The Cowboy Bar provides the sides and the music. Many a conversation have started
around those pits.”

Downtown Granbury || Courtesy of Visit Granbury

Modern Meets Vintage

Modern meetings sometimes need conveniences that aren’t found in smaller locations, so another option is to plan events on Main Streets in cities that offer both vintage charm and big-city services. “Historic Main Streets and downtowns offer unique ambience, blending modern amenities with cultural heritage,” Lawrence says.

Grapevine is a perfect example of this combination of new and old, bringing together luxury accommodations in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex with vintage Main Street character. Known as the Christmas Capital of Texas because of the holiday festivities along Main Street each year, Grapevine was settled during the time of the Republic of Texas, before Texas became a state.

“You can expect to enjoy our Southern hospitality and small-town vintage Texas charm,” says Elizabeth Schrack, director of communications at the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Grapevine’s Main Street District is so charming. You see these beautiful, historic buildings filled with locally owned boutiques and shops that you won’t find anywhere else.”

Dining options along Main Street range from Tex-Mex to French fare. “Harvest Hall, inside Grapevine Main Station, is a European-style food hall, event, and entertainment destination. It features seven chef-driven restaurants serving scratch-made global cuisines,” Schrack says. For hotel rooms, the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center is a five-minute drive away and recently completed renovations to meeting rooms in some 490,000 square feet of flexible meeting space. The nearby Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center will complete a multimillion-dollar renovation to its 395 rooms late this year.

Another Main Street with big-city access, Granbury sits on either side of the Brazos River southwest of Fort Worth. Voted USA Today’s Best Historic Small Town in America for three consecutive years starting in 2019, Granbury used Pearl Street as the main route through town until the 1930s. So, while technically not named Main, Pearl Street serves the same function as the historic Main Streets in other Texas communities: anchoring the town’s historic square.

Meetings in this quaint location can be outdoors at the Granbury Square Plaza, or, for a waterfront view, Lake Granbury Conference Center is just a few blocks away. “Lake Granbury Conference Center is an intimate setting able to meet the needs of 300 to 350 people right on the lake,” says Tammy Dooley, director of Granbury Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Participants can walk to the square, and there are multiple hotels near the convention center, where we have 20,000 square feet of meeting space.” For a smaller group experience, attendees can stay on the square at Hotel Lucy, a luxury hotel with meeting space for 50, or choose several bed-and-breakfasts in the district.

Main Street (credit Rhiannon Taylor) 039A8969
Fredericksburg’s historic Main Street || Photo by Rhiannon Taylor

Historic Heritage

Of course, one of the biggest draws for meetings on Main Streets is the living history. Walk through storied squares, take a ride on wood trolleys, and see historic landmarks at every turn. Main Streets in Texas are monuments to the legacy of the state and its early settlers.

Step into the past north of Austin in Georgetown’s historic downtown with some of the most breathtaking Victorian architecture in the state. From the onion dome of the Old Masonic Lodge to the Georgetown Art Center, you will see stone-front buildings to honor the past and sustainable landscaping practices with native plants to care for the future.

Parties up to 80 can meet at City Post, a restored historic post office, and Sweet Lemon Kitchen can seat 40 guests across three intimate dining spaces to enjoy conversation and from-scratch menus. Just a mile north of Main Street, you will find the Georgetown Event Center with space for 250 attendees. For larger events, the Sheraton Austin Georgetown Texas Hotel & Conference Center is a few minutes north on Interstate Highway 35 and offers 30,000 square feet of meeting space and 222 rooms.

Between Austin and San Antonio, one of the most popular Main Streets in the state has been around for 175 years. Fredericksburg, settled by German immigrants, retains its early heritage through German restaurants, gingerbread-style buildings, and Biergartens along Main. With more than 150 locally owned boutiques, shops, art galleries, restaurants, and tasting rooms, this long stretch of road offers meeting attendees plenty of entertainment—and plenty of steps for their daily fitness goal.

“Fredericksburg has been very intentional about preserving the history and heritage of Main Street from sign and paint ordinances, to not allowing chain stores in the seven-block National Historic District, to continuing to offer free parking to visitors,” says McKenzie Moellering, communications manager, Fredericksburg Convention and Visitor Bureau.

Open-air pavilions and green space are available for gathering at Marktplatz in the center of downtown. Lost Draw Cellars is one of the wineries in the area and offers tastings, live music, and event space. Nearby, the Pontotoc Vineyard Weingarten sits in a stone-walled courtyard next to a historic cottage, creating a casual atmosphere for local food and wine.

“There are several hotels and boutique inns that are group friendly and are within a short walking distance to Main Street,” Moellering says. “The Visitor Information Center, located one block off Main Street, is a great location for groups to gather, park, or take a shuttle to an off-site activity.” If local bed-and-breakfasts are too small, attendees can stay in the 55-room Hampton Inn & Suites Fredericksburg, just a short walk along Main.

Turns out, a meeting on Main Street in Texas offers a lot more than charm.