If you plan on relocating to cities with a rural, small-town vibe, close-knit communities, and football, then read this article to know some cities similar to Dillon, TX.
Dillon, Texas doesn’t boast much more than Locust trees and Bermuda grass these days, but once it tried to be a small town thanks to Frank Dillon. Mr. Dillon built a blacksmith’s shop, kiln, and store in the 1890s, eventually running a post office out of his store. Unfortunately, now all you are likely to find 30 miles east of Miller Grove is the ghost town that was once the community of Dillon.
Unlike the real-life community, interest in Dillon, Texas only continues to grow thanks to the tv show Friday Night Lights, set in the fictional version of this city that never was.
If you’re interested in visiting or relocating to cities like the tv version of Dillon, you’re in luck. We’ve put together a list of 15 great destinations that share a rural, small-town vibe, close-knit community, and love of all things football.
1. Austin, Texas
You can still visit Friday Night Lights’ East Dillon Practice Field, Ray’s BBQ, Grandma Saracen’s House, the Riggins Brothers House, the Taylor’s house, and Garrity Motors. That’s because these film locations are all actually located in Austin, Texas.
Austin may be home to over 950,000 people, but it has somehow kept the small-town feel alive. Laidback and friendly residents make Texas’s capital a must-visit for music, nature, and art lovers alike. It’s no wonder hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to ATX for annual events like SXSW.
Austin’s leading industries include clean energy tech, advanced manufacturing, and IT if you’re looking to relocate. The cost of living is higher than the national average, with a median housing price at almost double the national average. If you plan on staying a night in Austin Texas will go around $60 – $450.
2. Pflugerville, Texas
Not all of Friday Night Lights was filmed in Austin. Nearby Pflugerville also played a big role. As a matter of fact, the football games were filmed at Pflugerville High School’s Kuempel Stadium.
If you’re wondering if this Austin suburb has as much appeal as its larger neighbor, just take a look at the sheer number of parks, natural landmarks, and family things to do. Pflugerville is worth a visit if you love the outdoors.
This Texas community of 61,737 has an economy based on retail trade, healthcare, and science and tech. The cost of living is pretty close to the national average, but being so close to Austin means that real estate prices are still high. Hotel rooms in this town range from $73 to $145 a night, which pretty much covers the average cost of a hotel across the country.
3. Odessa, Texas
Odessa, Texas high school football team, the Permian Panthers, were the original inspiration for Friday Night Lights. When you look past the quirky clash of cultures (stone henge replica we’re looking at you) to the people, you’ll find a diverse community of 119,702 that welcomes newcomers with open arms. There’s nothing that makes a big town feel small like real, everyday friendly folks.
Odessa visitors can enjoy fishing, disc golf, hiking, biking, and even skateboarding. There is no shortage of indoor entertainment either with galleries and theaters galore.
This Texas town continues to grow thanks to a strong oil and gas production economy. Both the cost of living and median home price is very affordable compared to national and state averages. Its hotel room for a night also goes with average prices and that’s between $50 – $160.
4. Prattville, Alabama
According to the Alabama Tourism Department, in Prattville, you “come for the sporting events and stay for the post-game celebrations because Alabama is home to champions.” High school football fans can watch the Prattville Lions play at the 10,000 person capacity Stanley-Jensen stadium. The city is planning $10 million in renovations to the stadium, so you know this is a community that values its players and football experience.
Getting into football, however, doesn’t mean getting out of Alabama’s beautiful scenery or away from history. The 37,781 residents of Prattville have access to Autauga Creek Walk, the 100,000 square foot Prattville Pickers antique mall, and Cooter’s Pond Park See, Pick and Eat Nut Grove.
The largest industries in Prattville are manufacturing, healthcare, and public administration. Unemployment rates are less than half the national average, and both the cost of living and housing prices are below average. Price Range if you choose to stay the night: $87 – $263.
5. West Monroe, Louisiana
West Monroe, Louisiana, is another even smaller town with a big high school football stadium. After upcoming renovations, Rebel Stadium-Don Shows Field will go from seating 8,000 to 13,000 Rebel fans. Once you realize that the entire population of West Monroe barely tops 13,000, there aren’t many doubts about the level of Rebel Mania in this Louisiana community.
The hustle and bustle around ball game culture in West Monroe was even slated to become an ESPN 2 TV show called Varsity Inc.
Visitors to West Monroe will find more than a great high school football team, however. A history of 8 state football titles and 17 district championships is impressive, but so is the largest shopping mall in Northern Louisiana, more than 100 locally-owned restaurants, craft beer, and local vineyards.
The local economy is based on healthcare, retail trade, and tourism. The cost of living and median home price are below average for both the nation and the state of Louisiana. Hotel rooms goest around $70 – $170 for a night.
6. Hoover, Alabama
High school football in Hoover, Alabama, has its own history with TV. The MTV TV series Two-A-Days documented the lives of 2005 Hoover Buccaneers players. According to the team’s Twitter account, ”Hoover U” is the winner of 13 Alabama state football titles and is home to America’s most-watched and followed high school football program.
Although a population of 92,606 makes Hoover larger than many of the other cities on this list like Dillon, Texas, it’s still only about one-tenth as large as Austin. Fortunately, there is still plenty to see and do in Hoover.
Talk ball at Gabriel’s Sports Café. Explore nature’s beauty in Aldridge Garden’s 30 acres of shade or the 250-acre Moss Rock nature preserve.
You can also give back to the community while taking care of a little retail therapy at Riverchase Galleria, the city’s leading employment provider. Hoover has very low unemployment, an average cost of living, and a median home price higher than both the national and Alabama state average. A room for the night goes with average prices as well, it’s between $60 – $370.
7. Shiner, Texas
The Shiner Comanches are currently on a thirty-game winning streak and won their first-ever back-to-back state championship in 2021. We won’t blame you if this small-town football team’s big record isn’t the reason you’re familiar with Shiner, Texas.
This southeastern Texas destination is also famous as the home of Spoetzl Brewery, the producers of Shiner Bock beer. If you visit Shiner in search of craft beer and culture, make sure not to miss Antiques, Art, and Beer – offering over 250 beers and 190 different wines.
The largest local industries in Shiner are manufacturing, education, and healthcare. The cost of living and median home price are below average in this Texas town of 2,192. A night at Shiner, Texas goes about $75 – $175.
8. Sheridan, Indiana
The “Winningest high school football coach in Indiana” Bud Wright has been coaching the Sheridan Blackhawks for 55 years. The town of Sheridan calls him an icon and a legend and has honored him with an exhibit of community-donated memorabilia at the Sheridan Historical Society Museum along South Main Street.
Nine state football championships are quite the legacy, obviously built with the support of this tight-knit Indiana town of 3,000. Visitors to Sheridan will find that there’s more than a Friday night game to remember the area by, however.
The Blackhawk Winery & Vineyard is family-owned and family-friendly. Stuckey Farm Orchard and Cider Mill lets you pick from 27 different varieties of apples and 4,000 trees in addition to cider, honey, jellies, and the “plumpest pumpkins you’ve ever seen.” If that doesn’t say rural town fun, we don’t know what does.
The area’s economy is built on retail trade, healthcare, and manufacturing. Although the cost of living and the median home price is lower in Sheridan than in the rest of the country, both are slightly higher than average for Indiana. If you come to visit Sheridan, Indiana and plan to stay the night, rooms cost around $75 – $190.
9. Robbinsville, North Carolina
The friendly little town of Robbinsville, NC, highlights their high school football team, the Black Knights, right on their official homepage. The team holds the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) record for the most football state championships – 14 victories so far.
This quaint North Carolina locale of just 620 residents has been featured in films like The Fugitive (1993) and a Walk in the Woods (2015), and we’re not surprised. Located at the foot of the Great Smokey Mountains, Robbinsville visitors can stroll along forested trails, kayak across beautiful lakes, and fish quiet, unspoiled streams.
Major local industries include retail trade, construction, and tourism. The cost of living and median home prices are low in Robbinsville compared with national and North Carolina averages. Hotel prices go between $80 – $200.
Price Range Per Night: $81 – $199
10. Pinetop-Lakeside, Arizona
Close-knit and quaint? The Facebook page for the home of the Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets is full of rotary club students of the month, senior food drives, and community events for all seasons.
Sitting up at 7,000 feet, the community of Pinetop-Lakeside is 4,030 strong and offers tourists a wide range of outdoor activities in the White Mountains of Arizona. With the world’s largest Ponderosa Pine forest, Pinetop-Lakeside is a popular summer resort and second home location with the locals too.
Top industries in the area are healthcare, retail trade, and education. The cost of living is average, but the median home prices in this area and the rest of Arizona are higher than average for the nation. With it’s summer resort a night at Pinetop-Lakeside goes around $90 – $220.
11. Eunice, New Mexico
The city of Eunice, New Mexico, has a motto “Friendly people. Proud town.” With 15 state championships to show off, the Eunice Cardinals high school football team has given their community of 2,922 plenty to be proud of.
Eunice is just minutes from southern New Mexico tourist attractions like Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Hobbs’ high desert beauty and Hispanic culture, and Roswell (for any UFO enthusiasts out there).
The largest local industries include mining, quarries, and oil and gas production. Costs of living and median home prices in Eunice are low compared to both the rest of the nation and the average for New Mexico. A night in a hotel goes $35 – $115 which is a reasonable price.
12. Strawn, Texas
Strawn may be tiny when viewed on a map of Central Texas, but this city of 653 proves that you can’t judge dedication by population. In true Friday Night Light spirit, the town’s tiny Greyhound football team was featured in a CBS series called Texas 6.
If you’re looking for things to do in or near Strawn, you won’t want to miss the newest state park in Texas, Palo Pinto Mountains State Park, or 18,000-acre Possum Kingdom Lake. According to the city’s official website, the area’s natural attractions make it a hunter’s paradise.
Agriculture, fishing, forestry, and hunting are among the area’s top industries. Strawn has a very low cost of living and median home price compared to Texas and national averages. Hotel cost $45 – $95 if you do plan on staying the night at Strawn Texas.
13. Mayfield, Kentucky
Mayfield is the home of the 12-time Kentucky state football champs, the Cardinals. The rural western Kentucky city of 10, 017 is dedicated to supporting neighbors and local businesses.
Visitors to Mayfield city can see and enjoy this community’s efforts at Cartwright Grove, a locally recreated 1800s western town. The historic Ice House Gallery exhibits local and regional art and handcraft. For a little more Western Kentucky beauty, visit nearby Fancy Farm Vineyard & Winery.
Healthcare and retail are Mayfield’s top industries. Low unemployment rates, a low cost of living, and lower than the average median home price also make Mayfield an attractive place to live. Booking a hotel for a night will cost from $90 – $180
14. Bluefield, West Virginia
Parades, Christmas, festivals, community fireworks – the 9,658 residents of “Nature’s Air-Conditioned City” sure like to come together. 11-time West Virginia state football champs, the Bluefield Beavers, have a countdown to next season running on their homepage and an active Facebook community offering support. Just one more way this town shows its ties to football and each other.
If no-frills, laidback leisure, and food prepared to southern perfection are your kinds of adjectives, then Bluefield should be on your list of places to visit in West Virginia. Where else can you find duck-bacon wontons or chicken waffle nachos after riding on a miniature locomotive after all?
Like many other rural communities and small towns on our list of cities like Dillon, top local industries include retail trade, healthcare, and education. The cost of living and median home price are low compared to both West Virginia and national averages. The cost of hotel per night goes around $50 – $177 which is a good price.
15. Lincolnton, Georgia
The website dedicated to Lincolnton’s high school footballers – the Red Devils – shows how much fun this Georgia town of 1,480 has with its team. Along with checking out photos and newspaper clippings, you can download the team song as a ringtone, view a “Hall of Heroes,” browse game-related stories, and chuckle at the list of “You Might Be A Red Devil Fan If” statements.
Camping, watersports, and hunting are the main attractions along “Georgia’s Freshwater Coast.” Along with 1,200 miles of scenic coastline, you can visit more than 160 historic buildings in Lincoln County.
Construction, healthcare, and retail are Lincolnton’s primary industries. Unemployment rates, costs of living, and median home price are all low in Lincolnton compared to the rest of Georgia and the nation. If you plan to have a one-night visit the hotel might go around $67 – $118.