The boys and I were in desperate need of a little adventure. We had been cooped up in the house with various illnesses for too long, and we were finally well enough to venture out. We needed somewhere to run and roam, and we longed for something new. My husband and I listed off several parks but received a lack-luster response from the boys. Ah ha! I remembered hearing about J. Lorraine Ghost Town for years but never made the trip out to Manor to check it out. Today was the day! The kids were VERY excited about visiting this seemingly abandoned cowboy-era town.
We consulted the J. Lorraine Ghost Town website for info and directions, and we found details about their cafe open Friday – Sunday as well as karaoke, live music, and movie nights. The Ghost Town is often rented out for weddings, events, and even used for movie sets. It is a good idea to check online or call ahead first to make sure that it’s not closed for an event. When there aren’t scheduled events, the Ghost Town is open to the public for free.
We drove about 20 minutes from central Austin (12 miles), and came upon the Ghost Town with excited curiosity. We were the only people around as far as we could see, which gave this place an even more thrilling “ghosty” vibe. We could tell that the buildings did not exactly date back to cowboy days, but according to their Facebook page, J. Lorraine Ghost Town “is a re-created version of the original J. Lorraine that stood just a few miles from present day Manor, Texas. The town was a neutral territory for outlaws and lawmen alike until it was burned by outraged moral citizens from nearby.”
No matter if it was original or re-created, my kids thought it was amazing! We ran into each building pretending to be part of the community that could have once lived here. We got taken to Jail, we got rowdy playing the piano in the old Saloon, we held up the Bank like a bunch of hooligans, we picked out our favorite oddities in the General Store. We pretended to be plotting out official battles from the office in the Fort. It was terrific.
One of the kids’ favorite features on the property was the maze. I truly didn’t expect it to be such a difficult maze to walk through. We hit dead ends and went wrong directions. It probably took us over 20 minutes to make it through, and I can’t deny that I felt a teensy bit claustrophobic about it. But that didn’t stop me from doing it again at the kids’ pleading.
Good to know if you go…
- There is a bathroom on site.
- No pets allowed.
- No outside ice chests, drinks, beer, wine, or food are allowed.
- Be careful and cautious on play structures.
- Be respectful of items within the buildings. There are several decorative items inside many of the rooms (glass bottles, old knick-knacks, etc.) that aren’t meant for little hands to pick up and play with.
J. Lorraine Ghost Town
14219 Littig Road
Hours: Always open to explore, unless reserved. Check the website for event listing.
Grill Hours: Fri. 4-10pm, Sat. Noon-10pm, Sun. 12-6pm
More information: Call Melanie at 512-922-2683
Freelance web producer, Heidi Okla is mom to three boys (ages 3, 5, and 7), and can’t pass up any opportunity for fun family adventures. Browse her literacy-focused kids activities on her blog, Read ‘Em and Leap.