The small town of Ben Wheeler (population 450; https://benwheelertx.com) is really the vision of one man, Brooks Gremmels, who grew up here many years ago. He decided to save it from the tumbleweed-like fate of many small Texas towns by buying up as much property as he could and encouraging offbeat small businesses to locate here. So far it's been a success, with buildings being restored to a 1935 look and many cafes and boutiques opening. Various folk festivals are held through the year.
Eight miles southeast, Edom (population 370, http://visitedom.com) is another small town with hints of a greater past. Linking the pair is one of those two-lane rural Texas roads that are always interesting for a drive: FM 279, which meanders along through some fecund farms.
For more tips on where to find the best of this region, see www.countylinemagazine.com.