Smithville area offers southern hospitality for F1 visitors

SMITHVILLE, TEXAS | 45 minutes from Austin | Two hours from Houston or San Antonio

Map of the area between Austin, the Circuit of the Americas™, and Smithville:

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Smithville, Texas – At first it may seem like a quaint country town, serving as a lunch stop for travelers between Houston and Austin on Highway 71. However, the 3.5 square miles of Smithville, just an hour’s drive from Austin, contain a few surprises and even a Guinness World Record. This quirky town is hoping you’ll pay them a visit – and stay awhile – during November’s Formula 1™ races.

We’ve heard from many out-of-state travelers who expect everyone to be riding horses when they enter a small town in Texas – but in Smithville, it’s just as likely that to see a cast and crew on an active film set or a motorcycle rally take over Main Street. In fact, there have been at least 14 feature-length and short films, TV episodes, and commercials shot here since 1997, and it was named the first “Film Friendly” town in Texas. Maps and tours highlight the most recognizable sets from films such as “The Tree of Life” (Brad Pitt, Sean Penn), “Hope Floats” (Sandra Bullock, Harry Connick, Jr.) and “Doonby” (John Schneider).

Nearby nature preserves like the Lost Pine forests and the Colorado River envelop Smithville in a kind of forested countryside that’s hard to find elsewhere. Though much of the region just 3.5 miles away was badly damaged in 2011′s devastating wildfire,* Smithville’s buildings were not affected. The area relies on tourism activity to fund rebuilding efforts – so take a short drive visit one of the nearby golf courses before it’s time for dinner.

There are plenty of casual restaurants in Smithville, and you’ve got to try some real southern “comfort food” while in Texas. The Back Door Café is a new local favorite, and the quirky Pockets Grille displays much of the movie memorabilia from the films shot nearby.

Smithville is also host to many other types of races. This March, the town was a stop on the Texas Independence Relay, a 203-mile relay race from Bastrop to the Texas Coast. The nearby Rocky Hill Ranch has hosted duathlons, 24-hour bike races, and hardcore obstacle races.

Lodging

Hotels & Accommodations near the F1 track can be found in and around Smithville. Check back often for updated availability.

RV Parks: Toad Hollow | Bastrop River RV Park | Highway 71 RV Park
Camping, scenic drives, hiking: Buescher State Park | Bastrop State Park
Airport near the Circuit of the Americas: Smithville-Crawford Municipal Airport (84R)

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*A new documentary film, “The Fire,” tells the story of this massive wildfire through stories and emergency responder videos from within the destruction zone.

Photo Gallery: Quaint Main St. in Smithville conjures images of Wild-West cowboys in saloons and gambling dens, when in fact it’s more often a film set.

Check back often for updated Smithville-area hotel rates and availability.

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