Jefferson is a historic city located in Marion County in the state of Texas, USA. The city is a thriving centre of tourism, with lots of popular attractions. When visiting Jefferson, Texas, it feels as if you have travelled back in time to the 19th century. This was an era of wealth and prosperity in the area, complete with parasols and petticoats. Today Jefferson still reminds you of its past in the form of quaint antique shops, interesting museums, old transportation methods, and even ghost tours!
After you settle on where to stay in the city, read on to find out about the interesting things to do in Jefferson, Texas.
1. Jefferson Historical Museum
The first on the list of what to do in Jefferson, TX is to visit its own historical museum! Jefferson Historical Museum is actually a former post office and federal courthouse. The museum houses artifacts that relate to the history of Jefferson, as well as the wider area of Marion County.
There are four floors containing artifacts that will interest and intrigue every visitor. See fashion accessories from times gone by, exquisite Victorian porcelain, old furnishings, eye-catching artwork, antique guns, 19th-century kitchenware, and more!
Jefferson Historical Museum
Address: 223 W Austin St, Jefferson, TX 75657
Opening Hours: 9.30 am to 4.30 pm. Closed on Public Holidays
Admission: 5 & under - Free, Youth (6-12 yrs) - $3 USD, Teen (13-17 yrs) - $4 USD, Adult (18-61 yrs) - $7 USD, Senior Citizens (62 & up) - $5 USD
Website: Jefferson Historical Museum
2. Jefferson's own haunted tour at the Grove
The Grove in Jefferson, TX is also referred to as the Stilley-Young House, a historic home that was built in 1861. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is also a “Recorded Texas Historic Landmark”. This historic house has the dubious honour of allegedly being one of the most haunted places in Texas! Incidentally, the Grove has been featured in a TV series called “If Walls Could Talk”. It was also chosen to be among the top 12 most haunted houses in America and was additionally named as one of the 8 scariest places in Texas.
A tour of this reportedly haunted spot is an absolute must-do for people who are interested in the paranormal and supernatural. It’s definitely something a little less ordinary!
3. Oakwood Cemetery
While visiting a cemetery might not be something that immediately springs to mind when on vacation, Oakwood Cemetery is certainly very atmospheric and visiting it is one of the most haunted things to do in Jefferson. It contains some unique above-ground graves, as well as grand decorative monuments. The cemetery is the final resting place for many of Jefferson’s pioneers, as well as a large number of confederate soldiers. Some of the more famous graves belong to the outlaws of Bill Rose and Jesse Robinson, and the tragically-murdered Diamond Bessie.
The presence of the cemetery was recorded as early as 1872, in its present location of Oakwood. Over the years, more sections were added as needed and, in 1972, a surrounding fence was added that gave a defined look to the cemetery. Oakwood Cemetery was recognized as a Texas Historical Cemetery by the Texas Historical Commission in the year 2004.
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4. Jefferson's Museum of Measurement and Time
The Museum of Measurement and Time is a very interesting place, giving you a deeper insight into the history of measurement of space and time. Although a must for land surveyors, everyone is sure to appreciate the information provided by the museum. There is a huge collection of American horology-related items and clocks.
You can also find a collection of tools used to survey and divide land, as well as devices used for measuring, such as barometers, scales, and other meters and gauges. For fun, you can have a look at the vast and rather unusual collection of salt and pepper shakers! The museum operates as a not-for-profit organisation, open from Thursday to Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm, and on Sundays from 1 pm to 5 pm.
Museum of Measurement and Time
Address: 301 N Polk St, Jefferson, TX 75657
Opening Hours: Thursday to Saturday 10 am - 5 pm, Sunday 1 pm - 5 pm
Website: Museum of Measurement and Time
5. Atalanta, Jay Gould’s railroad car
The old railroad car named Atalanta once belonged to a 19th-century tycoon called Jay Gould. In the past, it was a display of affluence and a symbol of the tycoon’s vast wealth. The once-private parlour car is now on display on Austin Street. If you are in Jefferson, a trip on the railroad car is recommended. The tickets are pretty cheap, costing just 5 USD per person. You can get the tickets from the Excelsior House Hotel, which is just across the street. The entire tour lasts for about half an hour and the guide tells you about the story of the railroad car, how it was the re-birth of Jefferson, how Jefferson lost the train route, and also the story behind the richest train car.
6. Historic Jefferson Railway
The Historic Jefferson Railway, also referred to as the Jefferson and Cypress Bayou Railway, is a narrow gauge railroad in Jefferson. It is privately owned and therefore does not depend on any government funding. It is a fun ride to take, especially for people visiting with kids. The train traverses the thick forests of the Piney Woods. During the journey, you can see the location of Texas’s first artificial gas plant. Also, you can see where the sawmill and blast furnace remnants are located, as well as one of just a few remaining Confederate gunpowder storage buildings.
7. Scarlett O’Hardy’s Gone with the Wind Museum
Almost everyone is aware of the epic novel, Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell. While there are many fans of this story, one person took her liking to the next level and created a museum dedicated to the tale. Bobbie Hardy, the brain behind this museum, has put together things that will make you feel as though you are right in the story.
The 1,700-square-foot (158-square-metre) museum is entirely dedicated to Gone with the Wind, and it contains the largest private memorabilia collection from the famous tale.
Scarlett O’Hardy’s Gone with the Wind Museum
Address: 408 Taylor Street Jefferson, TX 75657
Opening Hours: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday 10 am to 5 pm or by appointment
Admission: Adults: $3 USD, 12 and under: $1 USD
8. Schluter House
Another reportedly haunted spot in Jefferson, there are several tales surrounding the “hauntedness” of Schluter House. It is said that between the years 1859 and 1863, the Schluters lost 4 of their children; this could be a reason it is purported to be haunted. Although not open to the public, you can probably view the attractive home from outside. It is located in the quiet neighbourhood of Jefferson near the Episcopal Church. It was built in the plantation-style, with tall columns that make the house look very beautiful.
9. Old Mill Antiques
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
One more haunted place to visit in Jefferson is Old Mill Antiques. Indeed, one of the highlights of the quaint little town of Jefferson is that it is a ghost town! It’s certainly very interesting and intriguing to say the least. Old Mill Antiques has lots of craft items as well as antiques, and you could probably find a treasure or two while exploring the shop. If you enjoy visiting flea markets or second-hand stores, this might interest you. And, not to forget its reputation for being haunted!
10. Historic Jefferson Ghost Walk
This is the most-requested tour by people visiting Jefferson. Privately guided by a local historian called Jodi Breckenridge, the ghost walk takes place every Friday and Saturday night at 8 pm, lasting for around an hour and a half. Journey through gloomy passageways and hear captivating tales of hauntings, tragic events, ethereal encounters, murders, and other dastardly deeds. Tickets cost 15 USD for adults and 8 USd for children aged between 6 and 11. Children under 6 years old are free. Tickets can be bought online or from the Sandwich Shoppe, which is also the departure point for the mesmerising ghost walk.
11. Jefferson General Store
When you enter Jefferson General Store, almost immediately, you will feel like a little kid opening presents on Christmas morning. The overwhelming burst of color, distressed and vintage decor, and funky lighting all tie the place together. The general store sells all kinds of candies and other novelty items imaginable to humans and is one of the most frequented places in Jefferson. Locals swear by their pecan pralines and insist that you must not leave the store without getting yourself some!
Jefferson General Store
Address: 113 E Austin St, Jefferson, TX 75657, United States
Website: Jefferson General Store
Opening hours: Sun - Thu: 9am - 6pm; Fri - Sat: 9am - 10pm
12. Turning Basin Riverboat Tours
If you feel like spending your afternoon in Jefferson with a quiet but worthwhile activity, consider cruising with Turning Basin Riverboat Tours. Bayous are eerily beautiful with their silent swamps and wooded surroundings, and Jefferson is no stranger to it. The tour will be of Big Cypress Bayou and is guided by experts in the area. Touring bayous may be one of the most uncommon water-related activities you can experience while on vacation, so don’t miss out on your chance to do so!
Turning Basin Riverboat Tours
Address: 200 Bayou Street, Jefferson, TX 75657, United State
Website: Turning Basin Riverboat Tours
13. Joseph's Riverport Barbecue
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
A trip to Texas is not complete without stuffing your face with some of the best barbecues in the world. Joseph’s Riverport Barbecue is Jefferson’s pride and joy when it comes to grilled food. A few of their must-try sandwiches are chopped brisket, pulled pork, and beef bacon cheddar melt. If that isn’t enough meat for your party, dare yourself to get some of their Meat by the Pound or River Pack options. Two pounds of meat and two-quart sides sound incredibly scrumptious, so try the Large Riverport Pack for a true-blue Texan barbecue experience!
Joseph's Riverport Barbecue
Address: 201 N Polk Street, Jefferson, TX 75657, United States
Website: Joseph’s Riverport Barbecue
Opening hours: Tue - Thu, Sun: 11am - 3pm; Fri - Sat: 11am - 5pm (closed on Mon)
14. Singleton's Virginia Cross House
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
Architecture enthusiasts out there should rejoice at the next stop on this list: Singleton’s Virginia Cross House! This exquisite home, located on the idyllic North Soda Street, features a Greek Revival architectural design and was built in 1859. The house is completely furnished with Renaissance and American Empire-style furniture and will be sure to transport you back in time. The Virginia Cross home is only a few minutes away from Jefferson’s Historic District, so you won’t have difficulty squeezing in a tour during your visit!
Singleton's Virginia Cross House
Address: 401 N Soda Street, Jefferson, TX 75657, United States
Website: Singleton’s Virginia Cross House
15. The KnightLight Tavern
After a long day of exploring the beautiful city of Jefferson, it is finally time to wind down and relax at one of its most popular hangout spots, The KnightLight Tavern. Staples of this bar are tacos, burgers, and steaks, and will surely satiate your hunger. Their appetizers or tapas alone are enough to get you salivating. You may be one of the lucky ones who get to witness live performers during your visit. Make sure to stop by The KnightLight Tavern to top your night off in Jefferson!
The KnightLight Tavern
Address: 202 N Walnut Street, Jefferson, TX 75657, United States
Website: The KnightLight Tavern
Opening hours: Tue - Fri: 5pm - 9pm; Sat: 12pm - 9pm (closed on Sun & Mon)
Start your haunted expedition in Jefferson!
All ghost hunters who have been looking for spine-chilling things to do, Jefferson is one of the most ideal places you can visit. Head to historical Jefferson, Texas, and quench your cultural (and ghost) thirst!
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