I made my first trip to Granbury a couple of years ago. My then boyfriend now husband asked me to come visit him and some friends. At the time, I had never heard of the place, but I went anyway. We had a fabulous time hanging out on Lake Granbury, boating and waterskiing. He took me to the lovely downtown square—I was surprised at how vibrant it was, full of people eating, shopping, and meandering. For a second, I thought I was walking down the main drag in Fredericksburg. In some ways, Granbury is a lot like Fredericksburg—it has myriad B&B’s, antiques shops, and quaint little stores full of things you probably don’t need. But the feel here is different. There are many good restaurants. There is a lake. There are more families, not as many shoppers. There are tons of things to do. Nearby Glen Rose, with its many offerings of outdoor activities, makes this area a great spot to get away for the weekend.

My husband, Kit, has known this for years. While he was growing up in Fort Worth, he had friends who had lake houses in Granbury (some still do), and he and his buddies would go to this little hamlet southwest of Fort Worth all the time. Aside from the main attraction, the lake, Granbury is home to one of the best-looking squares around. Here you will find stone buildings mixed in with redbrick structures surrounding the beautiful courthouse and its neat grounds. You’ll come across the theater that is home to Granbury Live, which produces nostalgic fifties-style music shows in addition to other performances. Next door is the Great Race Automotive Hall of Fame, which showcases classic cars. In addition to the Merry Heart Tea Room, the Downtown Store, and other novelty shops, you’ll find an abundance of good eating establishments. Be sure to order the delicious blueberry pancakes at the Nutshell. And do try to stop in at the Pearl Street Pasta House for dinner. Of course, no trip would be complete without a treat from Rinky-Tinks, a fifties-style soda fountain shop. Granbury also has an Opera House, which was built in 1886 and later closed in 1911. It opened its doors again in 1975 and has been showing live performances ever since.

Sure Granbury has a lot to offer, but you must drive about thirty minutes south to Glen Rose to fully understand this area’s charm—and what has made it such a hot spot. Like Granbury, Glen Rose has a downtown square with the usual trappings. But people don’t really go to Glen Rose to shop (at least not yet). The main attraction here is the great outdoors. This is dinosaur country, just in case you didn’t know. The big replica of a T-Rex at the entrance to Dinosaur Valley State Park should have given you a clue. In addition to hiking, camping, and biking, you can simply walk around and look for footprints. Big footprints. Sometimes they are difficult to see but that is because dinosaur tracks begin to erode as soon as they are exposed—and these have been around for some time. The Somervell County Museum displays fossils, dinosaur bones, and other artifacts from the area.

If dinosaurs aren’t your thing, then head over to Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. This place is quite spectacular. You can drive your car along a trail and view exotic animals up close (but be sure to go before or after the hottest part of the day, otherwise the animals will be out of view in the shade). I was frightened by the ostriches that approached our car so uninhibitedly. The giraffes were my favorite. I had no idea how big they really are—all it takes is one trying to put its head through the sunroof of your car to grasp the magnitude of their size. If you really want to go all out, you can camp overnight in tents (or if that is too primitive, you can stay in the lodge).

Not everything in Glen Rose is associated with animals—although most activities do involve nature in some capacity. Squaw Creek Park boasts 3,228 acres for fishing, boating, camping, and scuba diving. Adventurous types head to Big Rocks Park, at the intersection of the Paluxy and the Brazos rivers, to go kayaking, tubing, and canoeing. The Texas Amphitheater is a beautiful venue for The Promise, a fictional reenactment of the story of Jesus. There is actually a man-made moat—often incorporated into the show and referred to as the Red Sea or the Jordan River—that runs by the stage.

But believe me, Glen Rose is not entirely rustic. At places like Barnard Street Market you can find gourmet coffee and gelato. Lewis and Clark Cafe and Trading Company, which recently opened, serves New American cuisine, and there are many art galleries around town, especially on the square. There’s even a new fancy Best Western, for those who prefer beds to sleeping bags. The ultimate indulgence, though, is a stay at Rough Creek Lodge, about nine miles outside Glen Rose. Let it be known that there is nothing “rough” about this resort, which sits on a lake that just so happens to be perfect for fishing. A porch off the main dining room, which features a forty-foot limestone fireplace, is the perfect place to read a magazine or have a cocktail before dinner. The pool and spa provide a bit of cool relaxation. If an overnight stay is out of the question (the prices are remarkable), you could splurge for a romantic dinner: The food is fabulous and the vistas from your table are breathtaking.

For the obvious reasons, Glen Rose and Granbury have become the getaway refuge for Metroplexers (it has just taken the Dallas folks longer to find it). Even though I suspect this locale is definitely prime for a development explosion (a recently opened Chili’s in Granbury was an indicator), my husband still fancies the area (me too for that matter). There aren’t many places where you can get a gourmet meal almost within walking distance from a spot on the road where, for a dollar, you can help yourself to a dozen self-serve eggs (look for the white fridge). This place truly is splendid.