This charming community 150 mi/240 km east of Dallas was once the leading center of commerce and transportation for the state, thanks to its location near the Red River. But the river's course changed, and today Jefferson is best-known for its lovely old homes (many of them bed-and-breakfasts), its antiques markets and its proximity to Lake o' the Pines State Park (great fishing and scenery). Be sure to visit the Atalanta, a restored railroad car once owned by Gilded Age moneyman Jay Gould, and the Excelsior House, a lovely hotel where Ulysses S. Grant and Oscar Wilde both stayed ( On the first weekend in May, Jefferson holds its "historical pilgrimage," when several of the restored homes are open to the public.

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