Gatesville's name was derived from the nearby old Fort Gates, and became the county seat when Coryell County was organized in 1854. Among its city parks, Faunt Le Roy Park along the Leon River offers picnicking, a fitness course, and camping. A local firm, Medical Plastics Lab, produces anatomically correct human parts; tours are available.
Camping facilities are available within walking distance of the downtown area. The Gatesville Chamber of Commerce is located in the restored Cotton Belt depot and has information and historical exhibits.