If you find yourself in Cleburne, Texas, for the weekend, you’re in
luck. This little town is home to quirky museums, charming shopping
districts, and architectural marvels. The city is named after the late
Confederate General Patrick Cleburne who was so successful in his
military defeats that he was nicknamed “Stonewall of the West.” While
you may not complete everything on this guide’s list, it’s definitely
worth a try. Here is your 36-hour weekend guide to the best-kept secret
Friday: See the Local Sights
- Begin your adventure by going on an architectural tour at Johnson County Courthouse along with Lake Pat Cleburne. Notice the prairie-style architecture—an
iconic design linked to architecture greats like Frank Lloyd Wright and
Louis Sullivan. Completed in 1913, this is the sixth and final
courthouse to stand at this location. Inside you’ll see the interior of the
four-story clock tower with its beautiful skylight, framed in stained
- Next stop, is the Plaza Theatre Company at Dudley Hall. On Friday
evenings, chances are you’ll be able to catch classic performance
pieces, from “The Secret Garden,” to “Mary Poppins,” to “You’re a Good
Man Charlie Brown.” Many of the theater’s plays are kid-friendly,
allowing families to enjoy classic stories passed on for generations.
Saturday: Cleburne Hot Spots
Start your day with a bit of true small-town Texas living with breakfast at R&K Cafe II.
The restaurant may not look like much from the outside, but a menu of
hearty chicken fried steaks and a staff that imbues true Southern
hospitality make the experience well worth it.
After fresh eggs, pancakes, grits, and bacon, it’s time to embark on
your next adventure. Cleburne has a handful of museums reflecting its
heritage and history. Browse through the exhibits at
Chisholm Trail Museum and Big Bear Native American Museum to see artifacts of teepees, headdresses, and weapons wielded by the
indigenous people. The artifacts are so highly desirable that The
Smithsonian competed to acquire the pieces that were donated to the Johnson County
Heritage Foundation. While there, explore the
outdoor museum where several replica buildings are set up to show
visitors what life looked like back in the Wild West. You will come
across a working blacksmith shop, the original Wardville Courthouse, a one-room schoolhouse, and more. Docents are available for tours.
Hit one more museum before your lunch break: Gone With the Wind Remembered Museum on Second Street. Museum owner Vicky Lynn Rogers was so obsessed with
the story penned by Margaret Mitchell that she collected every
Gone With the Wind memorabilia item she could find over the course of 30 years. Her
collection got so large that people suggested she open a museum. Hence,
the birth of Gone With the Wind Remembered. Browse through thousands of
rare and hard-to-find items including over 600 dolls of Scarlett O’Hara,
an armchair used in the film, and original props from the set. You
don’t have to be a diehard fan of this Civil War romance to appreciate
As lunchtime rolls around, there are several places to choose from in Cleburne. Get your Tex-Mex comfort foods at Chica Blanca Fresh Cafe located in a saloon-like building where you can enjoy homemade soups or
bite into a Madre Chicken Salad Wrap. Looking for something more
gourmet? Visit the charming Purple Turnip, serving quiches, salmon
burgers, and grilled fish. For those with a hankering for Mexican food,
you’re in for a real treat:
La Cima Mexican Cuisine
will satisfy that craving with a wide range of flavors from south of
the border. And, for something truly unusual, try Burger Bar. Located in
a 10x14 building, (yes, you read that right), the entire restaurant is
the size of a walk-in closet. As you can see, not everything in Texas is
bigger, but don’t let its size fool you. This place is longstanding
(almost 70 years) and the pride and joy of Cleburne’s hamburger
For the rest of your day in Cleburne, do some shopping. You can find the latest designer brands from popular chains at Wright Plaza.
Lovers of all things vintage will want to stop by
Bus Depot Antiques and Market (you will recognize it by the mural of a bus, on the side of
the building). Expect to find vintage globes, typewriters and Victorian
jewelry at bargain prices, and make your friends jealous back at home.
Other shops of note include
The Castle Collection and The Shabby Shack.
When night falls, Songbird Live! is where the action is on a Saturday evening. It’s a fun spot to listen to great music —a perfect way to end the day.
Sunday: One Last Meal Before You Go
- On your final day in Cleburne, get a true Texan send-off at
Chaf-In Restaurant. It’s like having lunch at grandma’s, with
healthy servings of chicken fried steak, fried catfish, and more. The restaurant is also known for its for it's breakfast and has been in Cleburne for over 100 years.
Photo Courtesy of: Jessica Pounds