Gladewater, TX is a quaint and friendly little town in eastern Texas. The town has less than 7,000 residents, and started out before the 1930s when a wildcat well stuck liquid gold in the center of what is now Gladewater Downtown. But despite its serendipitous beginnings and sparse population, it has definitely earned its title as the “Antique Capital of East Texas” with the greatest number of antique stores per capita in the area.
Downtown Gladewater is very pedestrian-friendly, with all the stores in close proximity. Visitors are immediately drawn to the towering Gladewater Discovery Well, a historical monument like so many other in East Texas, speaking to how oil-rich fields in the region brought prosperity to the area. Unfortunately, the current well is a stand-in donated by Texaco in 1987. The original well used in Gladewater was actually made of wood, and operations had ceased by 1957.
Then came antique stores in the 1990s. The Gladewater Antique Mall, purported to be the oldest of all the antique stores, has been in operation for over three decades, and boasts nine dealers who specialize in various types of antiques – a lot of them primitives hand-built for daily use.
Across the street is Antiques II, another antique mall specializing in smaller items, such as glassware and pottery. There is also Round-Up Antique Mall, which carries a more eclectic mix of antiques, allowing the avid antique collector more Other than malls, Main Street also supports many boutique-size antique dealers – Decorate Ornate, Byrd’s Nest, R&S Clocks & More, and Yesterday’s Treasures – to name a few.
For a bite to eat, stroll down further to the corner of Main Street and Tyler Road to check out Rolling Smokes BBQ for some of the best BBQ in the area. If you’re looking for some authentic Tex-Mex, then there’s two popular joints – Tele’s Mexican a little further down from Rolling Smokes, and Guadalupe’s on the other end of main street.
Visitors interested in the history of Gladewater should also check out the Gladewater Museum, where they have an Elvis display, and other mementos from the town’s lengthy history. The museum is also conveniently located just off of Main Street.
After lunch, saunter over to Mrs. Lee’s Daffodil Gardens for some bright, sunny fields full of generous daffodil blooms. The gardens were started by Mr. and Mrs. Lee, the former of which made a fortune during the oil boom and purchased the large plot of land where the garden sits today. After Mr. Lee died, Mrs. Lee, enamored of the beautiful scenery on the thousand-plus acre lot, imported an entire boxcar load of daffodil bulbs from Holland and planted them all across the grounds. There is also a 5-acre lake and 3-acre pond hidden amidst the daffodil plots, and makes for a wonderful place to snap some Instagram-worthy pictures. The gardens are only open two months out of the year, and can expect up to 6,000 visitors – a must-visit if you’re lucky enough to be in the area when it’s open.
For visitors with extra time and are not afraid of heights, there is a full-service skydiving center located near the Gladewater Municipal Airport. Skydive East Texas employs highly-trained professional skydiving instructors, so they can even teach you if you are looking to skydive alone. It is the only skydiving facility in East Texas, so head on over to their website to book your ticket directly without going through other agencies.
Next time you’re in the neighborhood to hunt for antiques, wax nostalgic about the history of the oil-boom, or looking to jump out from a moving plane, stay with us at Antique Capital RV Park when you come to Gladewater. We’re only a couple of miles from Main Street, which is just a 5-minute short drive!