Places to go and people to see

By Racey Burden | Published Saturday, March 24, 2018

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Not this weekend but next, I’ll be heading to Saint Jo on a special “Daytripper”-style assignment for the Messenger.

Racey Burden

I’m excited about it because I’ve never been to Saint Jo before, although I’ve heard the pizza at Ancient Ovens described as “heavenly” a number of times. Planning this trip got me thinking – how many places are within a day’s, or even weekend’s, drive from Decatur that I’ve never bothered to visit? What gems can you find in Northeast Texas?

I’ve made a brief list of my top “day trip” locations (most of which revolve around food):


You can of course drive to this great breakfast spot, but you can also come by plane – The Beacon Cafe is located right off the runway at Hicks, a small airfield near Saginaw. They even have tie-down spots right across the front door. They serve all-you-can-eat breakfast on weekends, and the make-your-own-omelet bar is to die for (don’t worry, they make the omelet, you just point out the ingredients). I’m also a huge fan of their coffee. If you have any interest in aviation, it’s a great place to eat while watching planes of every make and model taxi and takeoff.


This is actually only about 30 minutes from my house and firmly in Wise County, but it’s far enough away I don’t go there often. I know everyone loves the catfish night, but I’m here for the burgers and pie, which they serve for lunch. The old-time general store feel is a bonus.


The only reason I ever go to Nocona is for the lake, which is never too crowded, even in the summer months. But the last time I drove through, I noticed the remodel of the downtown. It’s impressive. The Horton Classic Car Museum was closed, but looking in the wall-to-wall windows was enough to make me want to come back and see the cars up close.


Right next door in Jack County, what gets me about this little town is how abandoned it feels – like our own local ghost town. If you want to feel spooked for no discernible reason, drive out to the cemetery at night. If you want to appreciate the history of the old spa town, go during the day so you can actually read the historical markers.


I have to end on another food note. If you don’t know what this, the premise is crazy – a fine dining restaurant inside a gas station in Watauga. Yes, the gas station is operational. You can fill up your car and then your stomach. The bread pudding is insanely good, and I don’t usually like bread pudding.

I’m no doubt missing a lot more “hidden” places nearby. Have any good day trip suggestions for me? Tweet me @raceyburden on Twitter.

Racey Burden is a Messenger reporter.

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