The “most important town in the Trans-Pecos” has traded in its military bearing for a healthy dose of tourist appeal.
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1. HOTEL LIMPIA
A century ago, this historic hotel billed itself as “the best place to take your family for rest,” and so-called summer swallows still flock here to enjoy the cool West Texas nights. Book a Victorian-style room in the original pink limestone building or a suite in the twenties-era annex, which has a long, shaded porch, complete with two hammocks. And be sure to make reservations for the Blue Mountain Bistro, which serves entrées like mocha-crusted pork tenderloin and herb-roasted game hen and boasts the only bar in town. 101 Memorial Square, 800-662-5517, hotellimpia.com
2. JAVELINAS AND HOLLYHOCKS
The Hotel Limpia maintains two gift shops: a smaller one behind its restaurant that’s filled with jewelry, home decor items, and books about Texas and this larger, kid-friendly one across the street. There are toys and trinkets galore (think candy mustaches and wooden yo-yos) as well as adult “souvenirs,” such as Claus Porto shea butter soaps, Mexican Jalisco redware pottery from the twenties, and whimsical animals crafted out of scrap metal and polished stones. How much is that javelina in the window? For $43.95, he could be all yours. 107 State, 432-426-2236
3. FORT DAVIS DRUG STORE
Reopened in 2011 after a two-year hiatus, this spot is once again serving up limeades from the old-fashioned soda fountain that was installed back in 1950. Tourists and locals fill the booths at breakfast, lunch, and dinner to partake of favorites like Nana’s pancakes and ribeyes topped with roasted jalapeños. Venture upstairs to the art gallery to see Tim Roberts’ scratchboard etchings of borderland scenes and Caleb Jagger’s still-life photographs of chiles, eggs, and lotus blossoms. 113 State, 432-426-3118, fortdavisdrugstore.net
4. DAVIS MOUNTAINS BROOMS SHOP
There are 23 broom superstitions listed in the pamphlet Ron Cox hands out to visitors at his rustic workshop. Who knew it’s good luck to pick up a broom that’s lying on the floor? That’s reason enough to stock up on a few of the sweepers Cox fashions out of cedar, yucca, and cholla using a nineteenth-century machine made by Shakers. After watching him tie up a batch of broomcorn bristles, ask Cox to steer you toward the broom best suited to your domestic situation. 401 State, 432-426-3297, davismtbrooms.com
5. STONE VILLAGE MARKET
Even if you’re not staying in the Stone Village Tourist Camp, a motor court that dates to 1935, you can shop for comestibles at its answer to Whole Foods. After loading up on organic blood oranges and crushed-red-pepper beef jerky (made in nearby Alpine), grab something to drink (perhaps a chilled Topo Chico) and order sandwiches from the deli in the back. Then take your freshly made Lebanon bologna on sourdough, your quinoa salad, and your deviled eggs outside to enjoy a picnic lunch on the porch. 507 State, 432-426-2226, stonevillagetouristcamp.com
6. DAVIS MOUNTAINS NUT COMPANY
Brothers Gus and David Billing pride themselves on their pecans, which hail from Texas and are carefully selected, cleaned by hand, and marinated in flavored syrups before being roasted in the modest kitchen that you can peek into here. Though nine flavors are currently in rotation—including cinnamon toast, Key lime, and the best-selling vanilla almond—others are in development, so you may get a sneak preview of, say, the chocolate chipotle that David is still tweaking. Cowboy artist Wayne Baize has collaborated on one of the gift tins, which come in a variety of sizes and styles for all your nut-shipping needs. 610 State, 800-895-2101, allpecans.com
7. CUEVA DE LEON
Fajitas, burritos, hamburgers, and catfish are listed as the main attractions on the sign in front of this white adobe restaurant, which has been “serving fine Mexican food since 1976.” Inside, banana-yellow walls and vinyl tablecloths printed with brightly colored sombreros give the place a kitschy, festive feel (as does the blue Disco 200 jukebox), while the enthusiastically sauced enchiladas and heaping chalupas will give you a happily sated feeling. 611 State, 432-426-3801.
8. FORT DAVIS NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
For $3 you can get a textbook’s worth of history lessons as you spend a few hours roaming the grounds of this restored frontier fort. Established in 1854 to protect travelers and the settlers who were developing West Texas, it was home to troops off and on until 1891. Though many of the original structures are now ruins, several buildings have been refurbished and outfitted with 1880’s-era furniture. And yes, those are bugles you hear: a retreat parade is played three times every day. 101 Lt. Henry Flipper Dr., 432-426-3224, nps.gov/foda