Today’s destination – Smithville Texas. One of the Central Texas railroad towns, it has charmed Hollywood with its turn of the century character of its neighborhoods and Main street.
A visit to Smithville and you will feel like you have been here before as two movies filmed here: 1998 Hope Floats with Sandra Bullock and 2008 Tree of Life with Brad Pitt. Established in 1827, the town flourished as one of the “railroad towns” in Texas when the rail system came to town in 1887. By the turn of the century the population was ~2,500.
The town today has under ~4,000 residents keeping its small town feel. Explore these small Texas towns for a glimpse into the past, a chance to meet and chat with local residents and understand the history and great stories of these communities.
Top Sites to See in Smithville
Where was Hope Floats filmed? Primarily in Smithville and the surrounding areas. The principal house used in the movie Hope Floats starring Sandra Bullock is the McCollum-Chapman-Trousdale House at 201 E. Eighth & Olive Street. The 1908 home was built in the Neoclassical style.
Around the corner and you can see where the Tree of Life was filmed. Drive down Burleson Street and you will see many of the houses seen in “Tree of Life” starring Brad Pitt. Many of the residents talk about the filming here which the entire community was involved in. The tree-lined neighborhoods north of Main street are a historic district which have 19th to mid 20th Century homes.
Visit the Gingerbread Man: Smitty is kind of a big deal around here in Smithville Texas. He was in the 2006 Guinness Book of World Records World’s Largest Gingerbread Man.
See the Smithville Railroad Depot – The trains still run daily.
The fictional Honey’s Diner façade was created for Hope Floats and stands vacant yet preserved. The building is permitted to re-open – so you may find a restaurant there soon.
Check out the old faded advertising Murals – Star Biscuit was painted specifically as a backdrop for Hope Floats.
There are a few antique shops and businesses along Main Street. Pop into any and you will be there for at least 30 minutes chatting with the owners. Small-town hospitality at its best. One of the store owners even showed me here home upstairs that had been renovated.
When I see a stream of locals hitting up a non-descript place not in the main tourist zone, I know its a best kept secret. Chow down at one of the best bar-b-que places in Texas: Zimmerhanzel’s. Try a sausage or brisket sandwich, add in potato salad and a drink and you will be out the door for $5. You are welcome – This is a secret dive for German meat and BBQ at it’s best.
Indulge yourself with Jack Daniel’s Chocolate Cream Pie at the Back Door Cafe. Back Door is another Hope Floats and Tree of Life filming location.
Sip a cold one at Huebel’s, the famous bier garden also in Hope Floats. You will see these bier gardens all over the German / Czech settled Central Texas towns.
Is Smithville Texas on your bucket list?
If you have been, tell us your tips and favorite adventures.
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