What Are the Most Famous Main Streets in Texas?

One thing that makes US municipalities distinctly American is the “Main Street” – a term denoting the main thoroughfare in a city or town and usually located within a central business district (CBD) or functioning on its own. Traditionally, “Main Street” consists of small office buildings, banks, retail shops, restaurants, cafés, museums, theaters, and other commercial establishments. This is where all the business, entertainment, festivals, and socializing happen. It’s the center of the action of a city or town.

Texas, being a big Southern state, is certainly not bereft of famous Main Streets, each of which has its own distinct character and history. If you plan to have an epic Texan holiday, you may not want to miss going downtown in each of these cities, just to name a few.

Austin

Congress Avenue in downtown Austin

Downtown Austin is a bustling center of commerce, fun and entertainment, cuisine, history, and arts and culture. It’s full of rich and vibrant neighborhoods.

The Uptown/Arts District, bordered by the Texas State Capitol to the east, is home to historic government buildings and a Starbucks branch that’s often full of customers. The Congress Avenue Historic District has a plethora of more prominent historical buildings, as well as restaurants, museums, and hotels. If you crave some luxury, the Market District will be your next destination – it has a number of lively bars and restaurants and high-rise residential buildings. But if you’re a shopaholic and a fashionista at the same time, the 2nd District is the best place to go with its excellent line of local boutiques and trendy fashion shops. Catch some live music and other cultural events at the Red River District. 

As the name implies, the Entertainment District may be the most iconic (or some say most notorious) neighborhood in downtown Austin. At night, it comes alive with open bars offering entertainment, loud music, and cheap booze to patrons. This district is also home to the historic Driskill Hotel, built in 1886, with its beautiful Romanesque Revival architecture. The Rainey Street District, tucked away just outside of downtown, was once a purely residential area. Now, it’s a popular place for bar-hoppers as most houses there have been converted to hip bars and trendy restaurants and cafés. You can also see pedicabs, a familiar sight in Austin, plying the roads of this district, especially during weekend nights and festivals. Hop aboard one of these pedicabs and experience a different kind of “road trip” in Austin!

Dallas

Main Street Garden in Dallas, TX

If you’re looking for some more character in your Dallas visit after admiring at its modern skyscrapers, stroll down the Main Street District to have a taste of history and small-town charm within this modern megacity.

The Main Street District has a long history as the heart of Dallas. Thanks to extensive urban renovations, most of the historical buildings have been restored to its old glory. They now house several retail shops and boutiques, cafés and restaurants, bars and nightlife spots, and other establishments. One good example is the Kirby Building, a 17-story skyscraper built in 1912, was left to neglect during the economic crash in the 1980s. Thankfully, it was resurrected, restored, and converted from an office building to a residential building.

The Main Street District also has museums and parks, including the more recent AT&T Discovery District, an interactive high-tech park with live jazz concerts, live stream shows, and world-class restaurants.

Fredericksburg 

Chris Litherland Fredericksburg, TX

Fredericksburg’s famous Main Street is the center of action of this quaint little town. If you’re a shopaholic in particular, head to Fredericksburg’s downtown. It has more than 150 retail stores and boutiques along with restaurants, cafés, entertainment centers, art galleries, nightlife spots, and a handful of lodging options (most of them are located in the more tranquil recesses of the city). 

For added convenience to the visitors, there are public restrooms – at Pioneer Museum, Markplatz (the Market Square), and the visitor information center.

However, parking has often been a challenge, especially during busy days. Besides, as in most downtowns, businesses in Fredericksburg close at 5:00 daily (with a few exceptions), so be sure to plan ahead.

As the name implies, Fredericksburg is steeped in German history, so you can really see and feel the city’s German heritage. The Main Street is just utterly adorable, dotted with authentic German shops and restaurants. Check out some of the beer steins at the Grasshopper and browse through books about German-Texan immigration at the Pioneer Museum Store. For authentic German cuisine, try the Altdorf Restaurant and Biergarten and the Auslander Restaurant and Biergarten, or sample some German-style lagers at the Fredericksburg Brewing Company.

Houston

METRORail in Houston

The Main Street Square, in downtown Houston, is located between two light rail stations in the 900 and 1100 blocks of Main Street. It is a car-free, pedestrian-only promenade with lots of small parks and plazas that are also spread throughout downtown.

Its most famous landmark is the METRORail and fountain water jets. The trams run through a 250-foot-long, eight-inch-deep reflective pool, which emits thirteen jets of water arc. It’s a cool sight especially when the trains pass through the fountains.

Apart from the Main Street Square, downtown Houston is also home to other attractions such as the Houston Aquarium, Hobby Center for Performing Arts, Bayou Place, and interesting museums and attractions like the Houston Police Museum and the Heritage Society Museum. The Church of Beer (yes, there’s such a thing!), located at the St. Arnold brewery premises, allows guests to sample their beer in a serene and unusual church-like atmosphere.

San Antonio

San Antonio River Walk

San Antonio’s downtown holds a historical and cultural significance that is dear to its residents. The town was founded by Spanish explorers on the feast day of Saint Anthony de Padua in 1691. In 1718, Franciscan priests founded the Mision San Antonio de Valero, popularly known as the Alamo, which is now one of the popular historical attractions in the US.

Most tourists and residents consider the River Walk as San Antonio’s “Main Street.” The walk is 15 miles long and runs through the downtown area alongside the meandering San Antonio River for about five miles. It is another popular tourist attraction that is quite akin to the Amsterdam canals. It is lined with cafés and restaurants and evokes a genuine cosmopolitan atmosphere. The River Walk is a great place to do lots of leisurely activities. Stroll around, take photos, hop aboard one of the electrically-powered boats gliding through the canals, have an enjoyable al fresco dine-in or coffee at the terraces, or even tie the knot at the aptly named Marriage Island.