I Love This Place: Georgetown, Texas

When we were sipping drinks in a German village pub, near the end of our school year around the world, Kyle and I realized that we both felt like we should move our family back to the Central Texas area. There was one caveat:

As much as it’s possible, let’s make it Georgetown.

I’ve loved this little town a few miles north of Austin ever since I was a kid and all my dance recitals were at Southwestern University, the oldest university in Texas. It felt like a breath of fresh air, driving into a quaint, slower, older town from the strip center-peppered suburbia of Northwest Austin where I was raised.

And while we both liked the idea of living near Austin for a variety of reasons, we didn’t really want to live in Austin (traffic and housing prices topped the list). We were open to a few small towns, but Georgetown was always our first choice.

We were beyond thrilled and floored when we were able to move here, into a dilapidated fixer-upper right in the Old Town neighborhood. (Honestly, this house was the main reason we were able to move here, with old cottages in need of love sitting next door to gorgeous old mansions hinting at life from another era.)

Market Day – the second Saturday of each month

On the weekend, our neighborhood sees visitors from all over the area; people come here to get away from the city, to shop at the regular Town Square-hosted markets, or to check out an event. When friends and family come to visit us, they usually remark, “It feels like a breath of fresh air — like the valve was released on my stress levels and I can finally slow down.”

Several years into living here, we still feel exactly the same. Here’s some of my favorite highlights of the Old Town district of Georgetown, Texas.

On the most obvious landmark in town:

Georgetown is a county seat, so the courthouse sits prominently in the middle of the Town Square — there are signs proudly boasting it as a “Main Street City,” frequently winning the Best Town Square in Texas. Cue the Gilmore Girls theme song.

On a favorite place to eat out with the family:

We rarely drive to eat out anymore, since there are so many restaurants in walking distance (which can be dangerous to the budget!). Sometimes we’ll walk along the San Gabriel River and cross over the bridge on Blue Hole to Hat Creek for burgers (though Burger University, on the Square, has the best sweet potato fries on the planet).

We’ll also sometimes order pizza from 600 Degrees, walk the five blocks to pick it up (Kyle likes to go a few minutes early to grab a beer at the bar), then enjoy it at home during a family movie night.

Once or twice a year, we’ll walk to Monument Cafe for breakfast out — they’ve got fantastic pancakes, hashes, and homemade jams, and walking through the front doors feels like entering a diner from another era.

On a great date night in Georgetown:

Our favorite restaurant in the neighborhood

I don’t know if it’s because of us or our kids getting older; I guess it’s a bit of both (basically: our current life stage)… These days, our favorite date nights involve making an easy dinner for our kids and letting them watch a movie together at home while the two of us walk to a beloved neighborhood restaurant.

Blue Corn tops the list — we love sitting outside on their back deck, and I usually order one of their daily drink specials and pair it with their insane blue crab-stuffed chicken.

If we only want to be out an hour, sometimes we’ll grab a quick drink on the rooftop bar at Uptown Social. The drinks are honestly nothing special, but you’ve got quite a view of the historic district, and it’s lovely during sunset.

El Mon’s courtyard, perfect for evening drinks

Our favorite date spot in the neighborhood is El Monumento. The food and drinks are ridiculously good (and interior Mexican, vs. the usual Tex-Mex found in Central Texas), the view of Blue Hole is tranquil (if you can get a seat on their deck), and the architecture of the whole building is a stunning work of art.

Their margaritas are like slushies: they hand-crank the shaved ice like you see at fairs for snow cones. Delicious.

Oh, and if you’ve got time, order a decaf French press of coffee for two and sip it in the courtyard — I usually drink my coffee black, but their whipped cream that comes on the side is so heavenly, I indulge.

On spending a solo morning or afternoon here:

This neighborhood is a great area to spend by yourself. I’d start at 309 Coffee, the newest coffee shop in the area (it’s literally 200 steps from our front porch — we counted!), and get either a pour-over or a lavender latte.

I’d then walk to the Square and slowly browse the secondhand or antique shops (don’t forget East 6th Relics & Antiques on the way), or maybe take a yoga class at either Moksha or Brave Vira.

After that, I’d wander the Georgetown Public Library (it recently won the National Medal for Museum & Library Service) — you may just find me at one of their desks, working.

Or, you could walk the other direction and go for a dip in Blue Hole — the best time of year is late spring to early summer.

Then, I’d finish off with a salad or pastry at Sweet Lemon Kitchen, an old house they’ve turned into a lovely spot for breakfast and lunch. Bring a journal and book, and sit on their patio under a shade tree.

On family walks:

If our kids seem punchy and the weather is nice, we’ll go on a post-dinner neighborhood walk. I love looking at all the historic houses, but the kids love it when we pop in to All Things Kids and get a scoop of ice cream (my current favorite is Texas Honey Whiskey).

It’s also a battery-free toy store.

Occasionally on our walks we’ll wander over to the (free!) Williamson County Museum and see what the latest exhibit is… If it’s your first time there, you can also snag a photo with Three-Legged Willie.

The neighborhood also has a great Bark Park, some of Ginny’s favorite six acres in the town, so we’ll frequently head that direction on our walks. On the way there, we sometimes catch a Little League baseball game in action.

On small-town events and fun holidays in the neighborhood:

Christmas Stroll on the Square

Twice a year we have a parade go past our house — one is to kick off the Christmas Stroll on the Square; the other is to kick off the Poppy Festival, which is in just a few weeks. Poppies bloom all over the place during the spring, so this weekend event is basically an excuse for live music, food trucks, artisan booths, and wine tasting.

Old Town is also a great neighborhood for trick-or-treating — Main Street is hopping with families who’ve driven in from all over.

On the people:

I think my favorite thing about Georgetown, overall, is the attitude of its residents. People here are friendly but not obnoxious; proud of their town but not pretentious.

It’s a combination of the older crowd who’s been here for generations, mixed with newer couples who’ve recently moved here to start a family (at a neighborhood Christmas party I met a couple who just moved here from Manhattan, after hearing so many glowing reviews about the town).

The Palace Theater, founded in 1925 — still with great community theater

It’s artistic — Finn’s taken some fabulous art classes at the Georgetown Art Center; local art is displayed all throughout the Square — but it’s an accessible, for-the-people style of art.

There’s an openness to bringing in new businesses while still holding dear to preserving Georgetown’s historic beauty.

(Our neighbor across the street is part of launching Lark & Owl, the newest neighborhood bookstore, behind Monument Cafe, and I cannot be more excited about this.)

Whenever Kyle and I sit on our rocking chairs on our front porch to listen to the live music coming from 309 or the Square, like we’re 94 years old, we’ll often remark that we may once more live in other countries, or we may travel again for an extended period of time… but we’re pretty sure we’ll keep our little house in Georgetown.

It really is a delightful home base, a great place to raise kids, and a fun way to spend a weekend. I love this place.

Other great places in Georgetown’s Old Town district and central area:

p.s. Other highlights from our I Love This Place series: Asheville; Chattanooga; Beirut; Nozawa Onsen, Japan; and of course, Austin.

Also, listen to the podcast episode about this post.

Reading Time:

6 minutes

 

 

 

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16 Comments

  1. Kendra

    We relocated to Cedar Park (soon moving out to Liberty Hill) from Southern California in 2016 and immediately fell in love with Georgetown. We regularly hang out there as a family (full disclosure: I always have my eyes peeled for a Tsh sighting when we are there, hasn’t happened yet) and it’s the first place we bring out of town guests, even before heading to downtown Austin. It is truly one of the most magical, charming towns I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. What a gift to live on the Square! I don’t have the patience for a fixer upper, but do dream of living in old town myself one day.

    Reply
    • Tsh Oxenreider

      How fun, Kendra! If you ever do see me, PLEASE say hi and introduce yourself! I’d love that. xoxo

      Reply
      • Kendra

        I definitely will!

        Reply
  2. Morgan Blair

    Considered moving there myself! It’s eccentric and magical yet wholesome and comforting all at the same time.

    Reply
    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Yes, those are all great words for it!

      Reply
  3. Lori

    Georgetown is a lovely town. We enjoyed a few hours in your town last summer. If you haven’t visit McKinney (just a few hours north of you), you should come check us out. We’re pretty proud of our “Gilmore Girls” downtown too.

    Reply
    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Yes, I’ve heard good things about McKinney!

      Reply
  4. Brooke Gallagher

    Hi! I stumbled upon this article while searching for some packing tips. My toddler son, 11 year old daughter and I are going to be visiting lots of places for a couple of months on our way back to Texas after living in Germany for 2 years! We are looking at moving back to Cedar Park (we lived there for a few months before moving to Germany) but now after seeing this article, Georgetown is sounding more like what we’re are looking for. So similar to the lifestyle we have here in Germany. It feels very serendipitous finding this. I was wondering though, how do you like the schools there? It is high on our list of importance making sure our kids are in great schools. Love this article! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Hi Brooke! I definitely feel like we’re living more like we did overseas here in G’town — at least compared to anywhere else we’ve lived in the U.S. So I think you should at least consider it + check it out when you’re back across the pond… Schools really depend on each neighborhood (obviously, like in most places), but for security reasons for my kids, I don’t want to go into too much detail right here on the public internet. If you want to email hello@theartofsimple.net with a quick reminder question, someone on my team will forward me your email and I can answer you there. Hope that’s helpful!

      Reply
    • Denise

      I worked in Georgetown for many years. I love the town, but I live in Cedar Park. Why, because of the Sun City population. A very demanding group of people. Did you mention this community of elders with a sense of entitlement? Many who work in the service industry can tell you more about this crowd. I provided services for this population on a dsily basis, so i did not want to live in the same town. I guess society has changed us all over the decades.
      Housing is not necessarily cheaper in Georgetown either. Rent is about the same as Cedar Park and Austin, with the exception of downtown Austin.
      Grocery shopping at the HEB on Williams drive can be a nightmare, not to mention navigating theparking lot. Georgetown has grown exponentially over the years and has lost it’s small town feel. I have lived in Austin, Cedar Park, and I did live in Georgetown for a couple of years 2000-2002. That was before the growth explosion.

      Reply
  5. Jennifer Kirchoff

    I’m a fellow resident of Georgetown (and true Austinite) and couldn’t agree more with everything you said! We moved here when I was in high school in the 90s to escape the growing of Austin and I hated it. Yet after going away for college and meeting my husband I told him we had to move back because “it’s the prettiest town in Texas!” We live a little outside of town on a few acres but make our way to the square for dinner and dates weekly. Thanks for shining light on our beautiful town 😊

    Reply
  6. Bethany

    So fun! Somehow your descriptions remind me a bit of Newberg, Oregon — the proximity to the big city (Portland, instead of Georgetown’s Austin), the food (Newberg gets farm to table/wine country perks), the university feeling (George Fox’s main campus)…the really fun vintage stores (Velour on 1st Street is the best!). I grew up across the river from Newberg in an even smaller town (St. Paul), and now that I live in Portland, I see so many of those wonderful charms just beyond my city. It’s reassuring to know these little city treasures are out there. Counting down the weeks until our Texas visit this fall!

    Reply
  7. Crystal

    Last year we moved about 13 minutes west of Georgetown, between GT and Liberty Hill, and we love it so much! Thanks for sharing some of your favorite spots….there’s so many we haven’t tried yet!

    Reply
  8. Joan

    I live in Austin-central. It used to be north Austin but not anymore.😜. Too many people moving here! Traffic is terrible. But my grands live here and I love my church to which we live very close. I always cringe when I hear people touting great things about this and surrounding areas as I know that means more people moving here. 😜. You make Georgetown sound so quaint and wonderful but be careful that you don’t encourage hordes of newcomers!😂🤣

    Reply
  9. Jane

    I’ve lived in Georgetown for over 20 years and man, have I seen it change over that time! Sitting in traffic the other day I asked myself, “Where did all of these people come from?”. I’ve lived in five different houses in Georgetown (one in Old Town) and now we are just outside of town near Walburg (which is a cute little town in it’s own right). I miss the small town we moved to in 1996, but Georgetown will most likely always be our home base. You’ve definitely captured what is right and good about Georgetown and why it has grown so quickly the last few years.

    Reply
  10. Marisa

    Hi Tsh – first time commenter and a new reader/listener of yours (discovered you through the Sorta Awesome podcast and only started listening just a few months ago.) I heard you talk about going out for easy dates in your “small town” in Episode 182 and thought “huh, that’s really neat, I wonder where she lives?” Funny thing is that I’m a San Francisco, CA native and resident, and Georgetown, TX is literally the only “small town” in America I’ve ever gotten to know. My dad (who grew up in San Francisco and lived in this area virtually all his life) and my stepmom (who grew up in small town Texas) bought a home in the Sun City community over a decade ago, and we’ve been visiting with them every so often ever since then. I’m so sorry to read the earlier comment about Sun City residents, but I can absolutely understand where the writer is coming from, especially as I live in an incredibly expensive, congested city and in a neighborhood that wrestles with gentrification. (Yes, that H-E-B parking lot is crowded, even by my standards!) I hope that Sun City residents find better ways to engage with and become Georgetown locals and neighbors of all generations and walks of life.

    I’ve visited some of the local businesses you mention in this post – I actually shopped at All Things Kids last month with my stepmom, picking out birthday gifts for my daughter – and the size and scope of the Georgetown Public Library is incredible! (The children’s space is the size of my local branch library here in San Francisco!) I’ve run the Cupid’s Chase on one occasion when we’ve been visiting, which was a neat way to explore the area around the square. I haven’t made it to a Poppy Festival yet but someday we’ll build a family vacation around it!

    Anyway, to longtime Georgetown residents and those who make it a great place to visit, just wanted to express my appreciation for your hospitality.

    Reply

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