Located in Northeastern Texas, Longview is a thriving city with ample opportunities to mingle with the locals. Annual events draw people from around the world, keeping the Longview restaurant scene fresh and cultivating an easy hospitality marked by a friendly "howdy" and a big Texas grin. No wonder the popular country band Lonestar mentions Longview as a destination in the song “Long Lost Smile.”
Every July, crowds flock to Longview and look toward the skies. The normally laid-back town bustles with excitement during the Great Texas Balloon Race, a celebration started in 1978 as a kickoff for a shopping mall that has grown into a major competition for the world's hot air balloon pilots. Over the course of a weekend, visitors delight in the huge array of balloons and their variations in size, theme and design. In the evenings, balloons are illuminated, creating a magnificent and unforgettable display. The race is so much a part of Longview's identity that many city vehicles and area water towers feature hot air balloons as part of their logo design.
The race may be the most heavily attended event in town, but every season features a gathering worth a gander. Longview is fast becoming known for its Multicultural Festival, held in October. Developed by the city's unity and diversity committee, the event brings together cooking demonstrations, cultural exhibits, entertainment and art displays from more than 30 ethnicities. The large Latino population contributes an impressive traditional Mexican dance ensemble.
For antique collectors, or those who just want a few key pieces, the Zonta Antique Show and Sale in March is a key conclave of antique dealers from across the country. One of the most popular antique shows in the region, Zonta brings in visitors from across Texas, all looking for their next great find. Other seasonal Longview attractions include a Memorial Day motorcycle rally, Freeze Your Fanny bike ride and an open-air art festival in June that grows larger every year.
Visitors will delight in the rich green landscapes surrounding the city. Longview is best known for its abundant piney woods, but there are also long forested stretches of red cedar, honey locust, sweet gum, oaks and maples to see. Four lakes in the area present superb fishing opportunities, especially Caddo Lake, which satisfies those who love to hook bass, crappie and sunfish.
After a day of angling, balloon watching or antique buying, choose from one of many excellent Longview restaurants. Casual dining options abound, including the walk-up Texas Best Smokehouse, just off Interstate 20, and the sit-down Bodacious Barbeque, with locations across the city. Whether visitors are craving Cajun cuisine, Mexican specialties, or Asian culinary creations, they'll find them downtown and in the surrounding areas.
Cultural attractions in Longview include the artsy “spectator sports” of drama, dance and music. Take in a show by ArtsView Children's Theatre, Longview Ballet Theater or East Texas Symphonic Band. Venues range from the cozy Longview Community Center to the ultra-modern S. E. Belcher Jr. Chapel and Performance Center.