Big small-town draw  //  Lake Granbury

Size: 8,310 acres  //   Drive time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Waterfront restrictions: No general waterfront restrictions (boat docks are permitted), although some subdivisions do have their own restrictions.

Lake-Granbury_4 TIME MACHINE: Lake Granbury offers a historic downtown square and 40 restaurants. Photo by Dave Shafer

Lake Granbury has more than just its water to draw in buyers. The well-known B&B town is a little more than half an hour from Fort Worth, has more than 40 restaurants, an opera house, drive-in movie theater, Barking Rocks winery, and a quaint historic square. Barking Rocks hosts a covered dish event the first Friday of every month (wine included, of course). The square hosts festivals. Residents go dock-hopping. People generally leave their houses and cars unlocked. “It’s that place,” says real estate agent Cathey Briscoe, who can walk to the square from her lakefront home.

That sense of community has kept housing prices stable throughout the recession. The only real slump in the market was 2009, Briscoe says. Even that year, prices didn’t really go down so much as properties stayed on the market longer. Waterfront homes top out at less than $2 million. About 40 percent of properties on Lake Granbury are second houses.

“People fall in love with Granbury and then buy lakefront property,” Briscoe says. She retired from a Fortune 500 company, and her husband, Jack, retired as a president at AT&T before they got into real estate. “It’s the fortysomethings that really come here. They’re looking to get away from the Metroplex but want to be close so they can drive down for the weekend. They get that small-town feel down here that they had when they were kids.”