About 75 miles northeast of Longview, Sulphur Springs sits approximately halfway between Dallas and Texarkana on the north side of Interstate 30. The drive to Sulphur Springs is one of the prettiest in East Texas – the terrain is just breathtaking with rolling hills and endless trees, quaint farms and small towns.
As you approach Sulphur Springs from the south, many of the businesses along the interstate are like those you see in any other town. The downtown, however, is a different story altogether. Meticulously maintained with a large number of restaurants, bars and shops to choose from, a trip to Sulphur Springs is definitely worth the drive.
TO EAT & DRINK
I hit Sulphur Springs just before lunchtime and loved having a wide array of restaurant options to choose from downtown. The streets around the square are chock full of interesting eateries with inviting storefronts – and the best part, in my opinion, is that all are unique, local businesses.
I decided to have lunch at The Magic Scoop General Store. The gal who took my order told me that everything on the menu is made from scratch on site including a whopping 24 flavors of homemade ice cream. There are daily sandwich and soup specials, and breakfast is served all day long. True to its name, the seating area has the feel of a mercantile, complete with a wide variety of games to pass the time while waiting for the meal crafted especially for you. My lunch was delicious; I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I had scrambled eggs and bacon for lunch, follow up by … ICE CREAM! Y’all, the ice cream at The Magic Scoop is pure heaven on the tongue. It makes the entire trip worthwhile. In fact, I plan to make future trips to Sulphur Springs JUST for ice cream at The Magic Scoop. The flavor offerings range from standard vanilla and chocolate to super interesting – Kentucky Bourbon Vanilla, Apple Pie. I settled on Salty Caramel, which was by far the best salted caramel ice cream I’ve tried (I’m a connoisseur of that particular flavor).
If you are a pizza lover, look no further than Arturo’s Wood Fired Pizza Gallery. Also off the square downtown, Arturo’s offers a wide variety of pies from traditional pepperoni to Korean BBQ chicken, all in a historic setting. The pizzas come out with a perfectly cooked crust that one man said compares to those crafted in Naples, the originator of pizza. That’s quite a compliment! Locals say that the best bet is to start your meal off with an order of the cheesy bread with a side of marinara.
Just to the east of the historic downtown area – and really just the second block east of the square – sits Lyndsay’s Plates + Provisions. This sweet restaurant has an inviting front deck and a menu full of mouthwatering combinations. The menu is adjusted seasonally, but during my visit sandwich selections included chicken with bacon apple jam and cheddar as well as a sweet potato apple soup topped with bleu cheese and walnuts.
Finally, Phinesse Farms Winery, a local vineyard, has a storefront in downtown Sulphur Springs. The winery offers tastings and sales of its 16 wines ranging from sweet table and dessert port wines to dry reds and whites. Also of note, Phinesse Farms produces muscadine powder ground from the skins and seeds of muscadine grapes. Research has shown that this natural supplement provides a significant dose of antioxidants – may be worth a try!
Believe it or not, one of Sulphur Springs’ most notable attractions is its public restrooms. Yes, you read that right. It turns out that Sulphur Springs is home to the only see-through public restrooms in the country. Conveniently located right on the square, the two free-standing stalls are handicap accessible and completely see through – from the inside out, anyway. These unique restrooms are clad in one way mirrors from floor to ceiling; the user has a fabulous 360 degree view out, but nobody can see in.
Aside from the restrooms, Sulphur Springs’ square is lovely place to spend some time. The veterans memorial on the west side is at the same time impressive and soothing with its infinity waterfall and eternal flame. The Hopkins County Courthouse towers just to the north of the memorial. The rest of the square is lined with mosaic-topped tables and wicker chairs that practically beg you to take a seat and watch a game of giant-size chess or checkers (which can also be observed from inside the restrooms – ha!).
Also downtown is the restored Main Street Theatre, home to Sulphur Springs’ own Community Players, Inc., which has been providing outstanding entertainment for 35 years. The upcoming production of “The Women of Lockerbie” is a show that tells the story of a mother whose son perished in Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland and her interactions with the local women of the Scottish community and their mission to turn an act of hate into an act of love. Show dates are Feb. 23-25 and March 2-4.
Venture just outside downtown to the Southwest Dairy Museum & Education Center to see the state-of-the-art exhibits housed in a 10,000-square-foot facility built of white stone in typical dairy farm style. The attached silo is a conference room, and the entrance is flanked by two giant cows – one Jersey, one Holstein. Interesting displays showing how a cow turns the grass it eats into milk and how milk was kept cold prior to refrigeration makes you realize how little you (or maybe just I) know about milk. The highlight of the visit is The Creamery, an authentic 1940s soda fountain that serves old-fashioned malts, milkshakes and other ice cream treats as well as lunch.
One of the coolest stores in Sulphur Springs is a shop called The Bookworm Box, which is a most unique kind of bookstore. The Bookworm Box started as an autographed book subscription cooked up by New York Times best-selling author Colleen Hoover and her family in 2015. Signed copies of books are donated by authors to The Bookworm Box; the store uses the donated books to fulfill its monthly subscription box service as well as provide inventory for the retail store. All profits – after overhead expenses – are donated to charity. Since its inception, The Bookworm Box has donated more than $850,000 to those in need. Pretty awesome.
I also paid a visit to a shop called Everything Unique, located directly across from the giant chess set on the square. The store hand an excellent selection of home décor, kitchen goods, hilarious cocktail napkins – a place you could get lost in for a while! I found several children’s books that I’m sure will be a hit with my twin second grade boys (the books are all about bodily functions).
The Oaks Bed & Breakfast is a short walk from the downtown scene and offers the only unique accommodations in Sulphur Springs. The home was originally built in the 1930s by the Ashcroft family of Sulphur Springs. It changed hands several times before falling into disrepair. Acquired by a couple who are natives of Sulphur Springs wishing to raise their five children in a smaller town, the home underwent a year-long renovation beginning in early 2016. The result is lovely and tasteful. Three bedrooms include en suite bathrooms and a freshly prepared breakfast is served daily to overnight guests.