TEXAS' OWN UTOPIA
Utopia: the perfect society. Loosely translated from the Greek, the word itself means “no place” or “not a place,” in essence, a society too good to really exist. Though the word was coined by Sir Thomas More in 1516, the concept of a Utopian society dates all the way back to Plato's Republic, written around 375 BC.
What is a utopia, then? In the literary and historical sense, it's a societal arrangement as close to perfection as can be created by human beings. Every aspect of that society—economic, political, social, class, creative, scientific, and so forth—is advanced and balanced in so perfect a way that everything hums along without conflict or error. Sound impossible? You're probably right; in most mentions of utopias in literature, they were used more as a warning than an ideal; such a balance would have been so delicate that it would have been destined to fail, human nature being what it was, and is.
Texas has its own Utopia, nestled in the state's breathtaking Hill Country region in Ulvalde County—and though an academic utopia may be impossible to achieve, the people of Utopia, Texas have done a fine job creating a setting that suits folks just fine—and that goes for the friendly reception they roll out to their visitors, too.
Even though Utopia, Texas' town motto is “An Ideally, Perfect Place,” there's no real indication that the area was settled with being a true utopia in mind. Indeed, it was founded as Waresville, named after Captain William Ware, a retired soldier of the Texas Revolution who settled there in the early 1850s. (The area's oldest cemetery is still called “Waresville Cemetery.”) In the 1880s, the settlement was briefly renamed Montana—until it was discovered there was already an incorporated community by that name in Texas. Fine, the citizens of the time said. We'll call it Utopia. Now the city's claim to fame—and to its name—is the naturally-utopian setting in the wooded area of the Hill Country surrounding it.
For a town with a total population of around 227, there's more to take in around Utopia than a casual passer-by might imagine. Backroads Reservations is proud to present this rundown of major highlights and events in the Utopia area, complete with links to more detailed information.
The Sabinal Canyon Museum (named for the river that flows near Utopia) offers exhibits that showcase the history of Utopia and the surrounding countryside. Every March, the museum has a Celebrate Texas event, commemorating Texas' Independence Day. For more information, check out their Facebook page.
With its location in Texas' prime ranching country, it comes as no surprise that Utopia stages its own first-class rodeo. Sorry, did we say one? How about several? The Utopia Ranch Rodeo is held the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend; their CPRA Rodeo is held the latter weekends of the month of June, and they hold an Open Rodeo the final weekend of June. All the festivities are capped off with a Fourth of July celebration In Utopia Park. For information on all these events and more, visit the Utopia Community Park web page.
Utopiafest is a family-friendly concert experience held every September. Hosted at Reveille Peak Ranch in nearby Burnet, this celebration also carries Utopia's name and spirit. With two main stages, hiking, mountain biking, craft vendors, disc golf, and a whole other array of activities scheduled, there's something for everyone at Utopiafest!
Every November, the Utopia Arts and Crafts Fall Fair is held in Utopia's Town Square. With live music and local food vendors to top off the experience, this fair features dozens of booths of wares from the area's most creative artisans. Up-to-date information on this event is available on the official Utopia Arts and Crafts Fall Fair Facebook page.
No visit to Utopia is complete—at least in a culinary sense—without a visit to the Laurel Tree. Multi-course gourmet meals are available every Saturday, for lunch and dinner. Here's something you won't find just anywhere; they also have tree house dining available, in a dining room custom built by Pete Nelson, whose “Treehouse Masters” was a featured program on the Animal Planet network. Please keep in mind the Laurel Tree is by reservation only, and the suggested dress code is dressy casual.
For a more down-home Texas dining experience, heaps of hospitality are being served at the Lost Maples Cafe! Hearty and filling country fare is on the menu here—and there's vegetarian-friendly items, as well. They're open seven days a week, to cowboys and city-slickers alike!
As you're strolling around Utopia, keep in mind that the 2011 sports drama Seven Days in Utopia, starring Robert Duvall, was shot there, the town's locations serving as the inspiration for the book “Golf's Sacred Journey: Seven Days at the Links of Utopia,” which in turn inspired the movie. The Utopia-Riveroaks Golf Course there adds genuine local flavor to the film.
Utopia is a small town with big surprises, and Backroads Reservations has the most beautiful and scenic rentals in the area to maximize your experience. Check our listings for the most comfortable and enhancing places to stay during your visit, with the greatest views of Texas' Hill Country region, any time of the year!