Hello, Hico

Why you should stop in Hico, whether or not it’s on your route.

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Historic downtown Hico.
Photo by Jordan Breal

Over the years, I’ve logged quite a few miles driving around Texas. And while there’s nothing like the thrill of setting off down a road I’ve never traveled before (and there are still plenty of those left), there are certain routes I’ve traversed so often I’ve memorized the gravel’s every hiccup. One such stretch lies between northwest Austin, where I live, and west Fort Worth, where I’m from. Although I-35 is a more direct shot (and does have its notable roadside stops), I much prefer the bucolic, mostly two-lane “back way,” the heart of which runs from 281, near Lampasas, up to 67, through Glen Rose. And no small reason for that is because I get to pass through Hico.

Situated at the crossroads of three highways (281, 6, and 220), the town is small enough (pop. 1500) to boast the motto “Where everybody is somebody,” but robust enough to draw attention as a mini six-man football mecca, as the host of the annual Texas Steak Cookoff, and as the longtime (and contentiously debated) hideout of Billy the Kid. Hico’s also got more than a few good places to stop and stretch your legs, fill your stomach, or empty your wallet, and when I passed through again last week, I happily did all three. Here, a few of my favorite spots.

Blue Star Trading Co.…for browsing the wares in the extensive showroom downstairs (everything from hunting gear to handmade pottery) and the historical documents and photographs (and original post office boxes!) on display upstairs.

History upstairs and shopping downstairs at the Blue Star Trading Co.
History upstairs and shopping downstairs at the Blue Star Trading Co.

Photos by Jordan Breal

Eis Ice Cream and Sandwiches…for sandwiches served on fresh bread from Sulak’s Czech Bakery and all manner of locally sourced snacks and sweets.

Lunch is served at Eis's.
Lunch is served at Eis’s.

Photo by Jordan Breal

Opera House Antiques…for treasures sourced from estate sales near and far by two dozen vendors in the town’s historic 1895 former opera house.

You can find just about everything you didn't know you needed at Opera House Antiques.
You can find just about everything you didn’t know you needed at Opera House Antiques.

Photo by Jordan Breal

Pecan Street Drink Shoppe…for made-in-Texas beverages and libations, whether you’re looking for bottled water (try the Crazy Water from Mineral Wells) or something stronger (grab a bottle of Garrison Brothers’s Cowboy Bourbon from Hye).

The Pecan Street Drink Shoppe quenches all manner of thirsts.
The Pecan Street Drink Shoppe quenches all manner of thirsts.

Sugar Moon Antiques…for a mix of finds old and new and an extensive line of women’s flax clothing.

I spied the door from an old Hico post office box, among other treasures, at Sugar Moon Antiques.
I spied the door from an old Hico post office box, among other treasures, at Sugar Moon Antiques.

Photos by Jordan Breal

Wiseman House Chocolates…for handmade truffles, beautiful bonbons, and better-than-Grandma’s almond toffee, which are so good they won’t all make it to your final destination.

It's a rare occasion when I don't stop at Wiseman House Chocolates.
It’s a rare occasion when I don’t stop at Wiseman House Chocolates.

Photos by Jordan Breal

And, if you decide to stay longer than an afternoon—which you well may do to explore Langston’s Crossing, the Bosque River dinosaur tracks, Dinosaur Valley State Park, and other nearby landmarks—consider checking in to the Upstairs Inn, a three-room hideaway above sister businesses Eis’s and the Drink Shoppe.

 

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  • Carol Tortorice Erickson

    We were there for a festival. A lot of nothing. Not worth the gas to get there. Most of the storefronts are abandoned.

    • Kenneth Augsburger

      You must have been it the wrong town. Hico’s storefronts are very much not abandoned. You must be referring to the Billy the kid western film festival. This was the first year for it. It will be Bigger and better next year .I encourage you to come visit us for the Texas steak cookoff and other events we have scheduled through out the year.I encourage everyone to come visit Hico Texas where everybody is somebody .And were on the tourist and historic maps for Texas

      • Carol Tortorice Erickson

        We were in the right town. Very disappointing turn out for the festival. Won’t be going back. Not much there.