Things to Do in Clifton TX: The Norwegian Capital of Texas

Clifton was first established by Norwegian settlers in 1854 and continued to grow through the end of the 19th century. The Texas oil boom contributed further to its growth, including the industrial growth that occurred across the entire state. Eventually, Clifton became the largest Norwegian colony in the southwest and was officially named the Norwegian Capital of Texas by the state legislature in 1997.

To this day, Clifton continues to preserve and celebrate its Norwegian heritage. Not only are a large percentage of the population of Norwegian descent, but you’ll find several original limestone buildings built when their ancestors first arrived, Norwegian artifacts at the Bosque County Museum, and so much more! The list of things to do in Clifton will definitely keep you busy!

@mycurlyadventures Exploring the Norwegian Capital of Texas! Have you ever planned a trip around a @Dairy Queen Texas stop? You end up finding the coolest towns with so many hidden treasures like Clifton, TX. We got to explore so many of the cool things while getting to try the new Spicy Patty Melt! Turns out Clifton is a major art town with famous artists you wouldn’t know lived here and more artists per capita than Santa Fe! What a gem! While there we got to: – Stay at the Cell Block, what was a small town jail – See the cute gnomes all around – Visit the cute bookstore of Tolstoy & – Grabbed the meltiest Dairy Queen spicy patty melt to enjoy at Walling Bend Park Fun fact! Did you know Texas is special when our Dairy Queen’s are only specifically Texas Dairy Queen’s (no other state has a Dairy Queen like that!)? #texas #DQTexas #NobodyButDQ #SpicyPattyMelt ♬ original sound – MyCurlyAdventures

Things to Do in Clifton: Glimpse Local Art

You wouldn’t think life in a town out in the middle of the Hill Country would have so much art integrated into it. However, Clifton is full of noteworthy artists and their work! It has also been named one of the top 100 small art communities in the nation twice and is one of the 51 named cultural districts in Texas!

The Seven, a group of seven artists that are well-known in town, each have their own unique and inspiring story documented inside the Bosque Museum. Additionally, it is full of pieces by local artists and home to the Bosque Museum founder’s childhood home: a preserved log cabin built in 1866.

The L. A. Thompson Gallery of Fine Art is a smaller art gallery in downtown Clifton with a constantly rotating selection of art pieces.

Paintings on a wall

Or Catch a Show

The Bosque Arts Center also hosts live performances, concerts, workshops, and even Bingo nights! March 31st, 2023, the center will host a casino night with an Elvis tribute performing the following night. Clifton also hosts annual events like Books on the Bosque, which includes a writing workshop led by a seasoned author, as well as the nationwide songwriting competition, the Texas Troubadour Songwriter Classic. Check the Bosque Arts Center’s website and Facebook to stay up to date on the latest events happening in Clifton.

Things to Do in Clifton: See a Movie

Don’t be fooled by the classic appearance of Cliftex Theatre. Although it has been in business since 1916, you can purchase tickets to any of today’s much anticipated movies. Inside, you’ll find the theater itself has been restored but its memorabilia have been preserved for your viewing pleasure on your way to your seat.

Exterior of Cliftex Theater

Things to Do in Clifton: Explore the Market at the Mill

Featuring an outdoor area, live music, food trucks, and a cute boutique, Market at the Mill is a charming spot reminiscent of the original Dansby Feed Mills, a cornerstone business in the 1930s. Follow their Facebook and be the first to hear about public events like Workout Wednesdays and seasonal celebrations!

Things to Do in Clifton: Walk Main Street

You may notice storefronts guarded by their own, unique troll cutouts along Main Street. Each one was created by notable artist, Megan Major, owner of the local store 219 Artisan Market.

Things to Do in Clifton: Enjoy a Romantic Dinner

Despite its size, Clifton is home to several tasty restaurants, including Olaf’s Restaurant and Bar. If you’re looking for an affordable, but romantic getaway, Olaf’s is a great spot for a romantic dinner. Their menu includes dishes such as filets, salmon, and rack of lamb. 

Things to Do in Clifton: Order Fresh Baked Goods

Housed in what was Clifton’s town pharmacy, Corner Drug Cafe is now a family-owned business selling fresh, scratch made meals that you can enjoy at breakfast, lunch, and dinner with an accompanying cup of coffee, glass of wine, or beer. If you stop in for anything, take one of their homemade pies or pastries to enjoy on the road. Fun fact: according to their website, it is the only place in Clifton you can get a cappuccino.

Despite the building’s long history, which dates back to the 1800s, you’ll still be able to enjoy its original Italian marble bar top, stools, stained glass bar back, and working soda fountain! Even better, you can find keto, gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan options as well! No need to make separate plans to accommodate dietary restrictions!

And Book a Room Upstairs

On the second floor of the historic Brooks Building, just above the Corner Drug Cafe, is the Screen Door Inn. This building has housed several businesses since the early 1900s, but this local bed and breakfast is the first business to inhabit the second floor in over 50 years! Much of the building’s original interior is still intact, even after its complete remodel in 2011.

The Screen Door Inn also features one-of-a-kind decor like refurbished claw-foot bathtubs, original wood floors and exposed brick walls, and a mirror that is at least 100 years old! Offering affordable prices and spacious, comfortable rooms, you might as well spend the night and make your list of things to do in Clifton that much longer! What’s even better is you’ll get to have a complimentary breakfast at the Corner Drug Cafe!

Things to Do in Clifton: Go Antiquing

Inside Olaf’s Restaurant is Bosque County Emporium. Featuring a variety of antiques, collectibles, books, crafts, art, and jewelry, there is something for everyone on your souvenir list (or for you, of course). You’ll also find art by Clifton artists!

You can also find a great selection of items at the Clifton Antique Mall.

Shelves of goods and racks of clothes

Things to Do in Clifton: Taste Texas Wine

Clifton is home to a flagship tasting room of Meridian, Texas’ Red Caboose Winery & Distillery. Their award-winning wines are made with sustainably grown, grapes that are processed using traditional methods to create small batch wines and liquors. The Red Caboose tasting room in Clifton offers sweet and dry wine tastings, along with small bites and regularly occurring live entertainment.

The estate itself also hosts tastings and events like their Fork & Cork events, complete with patio seating and live music, and their Grape Stomping Festival. Check their online schedule for the most accurate information.

Bushel of green grapes on the vine

Things to Do in Clifton: Make Art of Your Own

Channel your inner artist on your next trip to Clifton and visit Workshop 219, a local business that offers paint parties, art classes for all ages and levels of experience, as well as open studio time! See their website for a complete list.

Inside of Workshop 219

Things to Do in Clifton: Book a Night in Jail

Ordinarily, you would avoid spending the night in jail at all costs. However, the Cell Block Hotel in Clifton, Texas is the one jail you just might want to spend multiple nights in! It offers an unusual, but unique overnight stay with fun touches like two complimentary alcoholic libations that are inspired by the ruffians and drunks who were once locked up there. Read our review of where to stay in Clifton for more about the Cell Block Hotel.

Things to Do in Clifton: Find Refuge in a French Farmhouse

Just minutes from Clifton and located on 10 private acres, the Feather Glen Farmhouse features a main home (the Aviary) and an accompanying cottage (the Audubon). You’ll also discover a covered patio, fire pit, and the cutest, French inspired decor. It’s perfect for a girl’s trip or a romantic getaway!

Things to Do in Clifton: Shop for Souvenirs You’ll Actually Use

Lady Bugs in Clifton is filled with clothing for all ages, vintage items, refurbished furniture, gifts, and more! They even have a plus-size section! Pop in to see all the cool things the store has to offer and maybe you’ll find something you can’t live without. The best part about road tripping to Clifton: you’ll have plenty of trunk space!

Racks of clothing and shelves of accessories inside Lady Bugs

Things to Do in Clifton: Read a Book and Sip on Coffee

Tolstoy & Co. Bookshop is not only a charming, independent bookstore, but you’ll also find a coffee shop, lounge, study area, and a kid’s space if you’re traveling with the littles. Stop by and pick up a coffee to fuel you as you conquer your list of things to do in Clifton or stay awhile, do some reading, or accomplish a few computer tasks with their complimentary Wi-Fi.

Things to Do in Clifton: Visit a Park

Clifton City Park

Clifton City Park is a great place to visit if you’re looking for something to do in the sun or the little ones need to burn off some energy. This 20-acre park features a tennis court, swimming pool, dog park, river access, several historical structures, and a variety of playground equipment. During the 4th of July celebration, it’s the best place to catch the fireworks.

Walling Bend Park

One of the many parks that surround Whitney Lake, Walling Bend Park offers five, free overnight camping sites with covered picnic tables, a boat dock, and pit toilets. However, these are first-come, first-serve and they don’t have any hookups. There are also cliffs and a beach area where many visitors go to cliff jump.

Rock cliff overlooking a lake

Cockrell-Thiele Park

Here you’ll find a playground, which once served Clifton Elementary School, as well as a walking path.

Olsen Park

Enjoy a swimming pool, sand volleyball court, walking path, and tennis courts at Olsen Park. This is the only public pool in Bosque County, so call beforehand if you are visiting from out of town (it’s likely only available to residents of the county).

Dahl Park

At Dahl Park there is a basketball court, playground, picnic tables, and a walking path.

Things to Do in Clifton: Visit Art Alley

In downtown Clifton is Art Alley where you’ll find the prettiest, photo-worthy murals. It’s ultimately a walkable art space with perfect backgrounds for a free photoshoot.

Sign that says Art Alley and walls covered in bright murals

Things to Do in Clifton: See a Clifton Icon

The Clifton Whipple Truss Bridge is one of the few remaining bridges of its kind in Texas. A historical landmark, this particular bridge was built in 1884 and opened up a new travel path for resident of Bosque County over the North Bosque River, even when it flooded. You can also even access the river just past the bridge. 

And More Pieces of Bosque County History

The Clifton Auto Museum

The Clifton Classic Chassis Auto Museum and Golden Age Gallery of Art features 35 cars spanning from the 1940s to the 1980s including Corvettes, Thunderbirds, and many more! Inside is also the Clifton Memories Room, where you’ll find a collection of historical items from the Clifton and Bosque County community that date to the 1950s-1970s, as well as a large collection of glass art that date as far back as the Aztecs and Mayans. 

The Edwin Olsen Railroad Museum

The Santa Fe Railroad brought a lot of foot traffic into Clifton. However, after World War II ended, the Clifton train depot didn’t see as many visitors. Although it served other purposes later on, like housing the Clifton Police Department, today it tells the story of the Santa Fe Railroad through memorabilia. The museum is open the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month from 10am to 2pm with tours available upon request.

Seasonal Events in Clifton TX

The Clifton Rodeo

Despite its size, Clifton offers a rodeo of its own with a variety of competitions like roping and barrel racing, plus a parade and a carnival! The 72nd Annual Clifton Rodeo will take place June 8-10, 2023. Tickets can be purchased at the gate ($10 for adults and $5 for children under 12). See their website for more information.

The Bosque Arts Classic

Every year in September, the Bosque Arts Center hosts its annual Bosque Arts Classic, an international art festival where artists of all backgrounds come to showcase their masterpieces. From this visiting collection, the center chooses three pieces to permanently add to its collection. 


Every October, Clifton hosts its very own FallFest. You’ll find several activities along Main Street, including a local market with a BBQ and burger cookout, a 5K/1K event, a handmade quilt auction, a car and motorcycle show, free kid’s activities, and live entertainment. This year, the festivities will take place on October 21, 2023.

Things to Do Near Clifton TX

Valley Mills TX (14 minutes)

Go Stargazing

Every third Saturday of the month, the Paul & Jane Meyer Observatory welcomes the public for a free tour of the facility where you’ll have the chance to glimpse striking images captured by the Meyer telescope.

Valley Mills Vineyard

Book a Waco Wine Tour and one of your stops will be Valley Mills Vineyard. Stroll through their vineyard, grab a glass or a bottle to share, and enjoy the view of the rolling hills from their rooftop patio.

Meridian TX (17 minutes)

Watch a Free Outdoor Movie

The John A. Lomax Ampitheater holds a free, monthly, outdoor movie night with free concessions while supplies last. See their website for upcoming showings.

Explore Meridian State Park

Meridian State Park offers various overnight campsites, as well as fishing, hiking, wildlife, and single kayak rentals. Enjoy the shade of its iconic pavilion, which dates back to the state park’s creation in 1933 by a group of World War I veterans. See the Texas Parks & Wildlife website for more information.

Hico TX (33 minutes)

Make a stop at Silver Spur Winery in downtown Hico, stay in the cutest, themed airstreams at Off the Vine RV Park, and experience rock climbing like never before at Siloville, complete with ziplining, a bouldering course, and a Ninja Warrior course.

Whitney TX (36 minutes)

Visit Juniper Cove Winery for one of their many on-site events, like Thirsty Thursdays and live music. Hike, bike, fish, swim, and camp at Lake Whitney State Park. Looking to camp with littles? Mccown Valley Park has all the same recreational activities as Lake Whitney State Park, but with playground equipment!

Glen Rose TX (45 minutes)

Explore Dinosaur Valley State Park, go on safari at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, shop around downtown, and so much more in Glen Rose.

Lorena TX (49 minutes)

Country Spring Winery offers free tours, a tasting room with a fireplace, outdoor seating decorated with fairy lights, yard games, and space to roam the vineyard at your leisure. Keep in mind they are only open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 1PM to 7PM.

Waco TX (57 minutes)

Don’t underestimate all the fun you can have on your next Texas road trip and check our lists of things to do and where to eat in Waco.

Things to Do in Clifton TX: Final Thoughts

The Norwegian Capital of Texas is full of amazing art, history, food, and more to add to your list of things to do in Clifton. If you’re looking for a weekend getaway or perhaps some inspiration, a trip to Clifton is perfect for just that!