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Finding undiscovered places

Everything is bigger in Texas, even in its small towns
The red, white and blue are no more apparent than in the communities of Gruene and Fredericksburg, Texas, according to Suzie Glisson, director of Prime Time at the Jacksonville Savings Bank in Jacksonville, Illinois.

“We made our stops here during day trips out of San Antonio,” she said. “We were so tickled to experience the history of these classic small towns.”

In Gruene, nicknamed Texas’ Most Successful Ghost Town, Glisson and her gang visited Gruene Hall, Texas’ famous dance hall since 1878, where musicians such as George Strait and Lyle Lovett got their starts. Once the center of the community’s social life, the 6,000-square-foot venue survived the Depression, fire and other disasters. Today, it’s a bona fide Texas attraction in this town of 2,000 people.

“You can just imagine the cowboys and cowgirls dancing in this place,” said Glisson.

In nearby Fredericksburg, a community of just over 10,000 inhabitants, the National Museum of the Pacific War is an astounding complex that is dedicated to the Pacific Theater of World War II. Featuring the most complete exhibit on Pacific War history ever created, Glisson described this venue as “just a fantastic place to visit.”

The museum campus includes the Admiral Nimitz Museum, honoring campaign leader Chester Nimitz, and the Nimitz-class supercarriers, a line of nuclear-powered U.S. Navy aircraft carriers and the largest capital ships in the world; the George H.W. Bush Gallery, where media presentations, testimonials and artifacts such as a Japanese two-man submarine make for a high-impact experience; and the Pacific Combat Zone, a three-acre indoor and outdoor living-history venue that leads visitors through combat locations including the hangar deck of an aircraft carrier.

Additional highlights at the National Museum are the Japanese Garden of Peace, the Memorial Courtyard and the Plaza of Presidents.

With an eclectic summer music series on the grounds of Fredericksburg’s Pioneer Museum Complex, a venue that is testimony to the area’s German heritage, and 150 shops that boast crafters’ masterpieces from jewelry to wall art, this small town is a big destination.