I never thought I’d move back to a small town like La Grange, but 10 years ago, I took the risk and have found it to be just quaint enough and just quirky enough to satisfy my taste for something outside of the box. This little town has attracted a number of Houston transplants, so there’s a demand for more refinement than one would usually expect in a town this size. Most Texas towns slowly dry up as transportation improvements move the highways to the outskirts of town. Their squares become ghost towns with a handful of banks and a crumbling courthouse, but somehow, La Grange managed to beat the bypass curse and flourish off the beaten path.
The December edition of Texas Highways is running a feature on La Grange, and it will certainly give the small town novice a good impression of what to expect here, but one really needs to spend time in this little community to really understand what it’s about. In many ways, the revival of shops on the square feels like any tourist burg in any bucolic setting. The latest boutique fashions are there for any discerning Houston transplant looking for something that feels like the big home they just left, but if one digs a little deeper, they’ll find it’s not the chic-ness of the shops, but the people who run them that make this little town special.
Give this some thought. La Grange is not a famous name because of the town, but because of the ZZ Top song. That song is about the Chicken Ranch which is better known to the world as “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.” Indeed. They’re singing about La Grange, Texas, and the new wave of residents are proud of that little bit of naughty history. One has to be a bit of a square peg to embrace country prostitution. The business people of La Grange run successful little business in a tucked away town because they don’t know the word, “failure.” It’s a supportive and joyful business community. That energy infects the Houston home shopper and amplifies the Texas friendly spirit.
Along with the friendly, more worldly population, the town is just beautiful. Live Oaks grow in the center of the streets. Cars slowly maneuver around them. The old houses are being restored one by one, so the neighborhoods are lovely. In the last few months, more and more people are riding their bicycles around town. It’s just too pretty to be in a car, and the streets are wide and quiet. Riding a bike also fits the social atmosphere because it’s so much easier to stop and chat on a bicycle. La Grange really does embody the mythical small town mystique. Even the school system is great, so once again, Houston folks want to be here to raise their children in a quality environment.
If tourism is a person’s only goal for La Grange, then there are numerous Bed and Breakfast accommodations that fit right in. Even Hampton Inn has come to town. The only real drawback to La Grange is a lack of really great restaurants. As popular as the community is for weekend get-a-ways, it seems odd that more fine dining establishments can’t survive. But maybe weekenders are looking for country food. Maybe that’s it. That being said, definitely try the bar-b-que at Prause’s on the square, but get there early! They sell out fast!