Jefferson, Texas

If you are itching to get out of town for a few days, consider heading east to historic Jefferson, Texas. It’s one charming town…especially at Christmas! Jefferson is a great weekend getaway with lots to see and do.

Back in the 1800s, the area became a main river port of entry to the West for products and immigrants. It was also a major shipping port for selling agricultural products. Cotton was king and brought to Jefferson from as far away as Dallas then sold in Jefferson and traveled on to merchants across America. Jefferson soon became a boomtown after the arrival of the steamboat. This was called the “Golden Era,” as Jefferson became a thriving steamboat port from 1845 until 1875. Unfortunately, the Army Corps of Engineers had to reduce the water level in Big Cypress Bayou, and steamboats could no longer navigate the waterway. As a result, it devastated the economy in Jefferson. This town suddenly ceased to be a prominent port city and commercial center. Fortunately, many of the mid-nineteenth century homes and buildings on the Historical Registry remain and are a treat to see.

Today, Jefferson is much smaller but still very beautiful. A unique event they have during the holidays is the Candlelight Tour of Homes. It’s considered among the top Christmas events in east Texas. We have enjoyed tours of lavishly-decorated residences. They reflect the grandeur of an elaborate past as you are greeted by tour guides dressed in period clothing and given a brief history of the home. Most of the Christmas decorations are over the top and all greenery is live. We learned so much fun history and were inspired with many holiday decorating ideas!

There are other special attractions in addition to visiting the historical homes. One of our favorites is the free “Enchanted Forest.” It’s a display of more than 125 lighted and decorated Christmas trees. Every tree has a theme and each is unique. This is quite a community effort that is magical to see and is sure to get you in the Christmas spirit!

In Jefferson, life moves a little bit more slowly than it does in the big city, which I love since I’m a small-town girl. So, plan to saunter around and take your time. There’re many gift and antique shops, even an old traditional general store!

Jefferson is known as the “Bed and Breakfast Capital of East Texas.” It’s the perfect place to unwind with countless charming bed and breakfasts and boutique hotels, including Texas landmarks that have hosted some of the most famous men and women in the world. Mr. and Mrs. George W. Bush have laid their heads at the luxurious House of the Seasons, a Victorian-style home built in 1872. We always stay at The Excelsior House Hotel, a famous landmark in Jefferson. It has welcomed its share of notable figures, including Ulysses S. Grant and Rutherford B. Hayes since its inception in the late 1850s. It is actually owned and operated by the local Garden Club and is the oldest hotel in continuous operation in Texas!

If you’re looking for a truly unique getaway that’s just a few hours away, Jefferson is hard to beat!

Learn more about places to stay and holiday activities by visiting