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Willkommen to Fredericksburg, Texas
Tips for Exploring the Texas Hill Country

Text and Photos By Sandra Scott

You gotta’ love a place where the first letters of the streets spell “All Welcome” in one direction and “Come Back” in the other. Everyone gets a big Texas welcome in Fredericksburg, Texas but the welcome might just be in German. Located in the heart of Texas Hill Country, Fredericksburg was settled by Germans and they have left their indelible mark. A little over an hour from either Austin or San Antonio, Fredericksburg and the surrounding area attract history buffs, shoppers, wine lovers, and people looking for a great place to spend a few days.

1. Willkommen: In 1846 the first wagon train of German settlers arrived bringing with them their language and culture establishing the unique town of Fredericksburg. They created a town where the streets are “wide enough for a team of oxen to turn around.” In the center is Marktplatz, home to an eight-sided landmark, the Vereins Kirche, which served as a church, fort, storehouse, meeting place, and is now a museum. Nearby is the Maibaum (maypole) with branches depicting historical vignettes. Stop by the Visitor Information Center conveniently located one block off Main Street at 302 East Austin Street, between North Lincoln and North Washington Streets, for a walking tour brochure.

2. Pioneer time: Wander around the Pioneer Museum complex to get the feel of Fredericksburg’s early days. The Kammiah Home grew from the original one-room structure built in 1849 to include kitchens, bedrooms, and outbuildings that remained in the family for nearly one hundred years. Visit the schoolhouse, smokehouse, bathhouse, and other buildings typical of the early years. www.pioneermuseum.com

3. Sunday Houses: Fredericksburg is designed for wandering. The tree-shrouded streets are lined with well-preserved houses. Of special interests are the Sunday Houses, many of which are now B&Bs. Most farm families had a Sunday House, a one-room dwelling in town. On Saturday morning they journeyed to town, took care of shopping and business, attended an evening dance or party, and spent the night in the Sunday house. On Sunday they attended church in the morning. While most returned home in the afternoon some attended Sunday school in the afternoon and spent a second night in town.

4. LBJ: Learn about the president whose character was molded by the Hill Country. The boy who crawled under the porch to listen to political discussions grew to achieve the nation's highest office. Explore the boyhood home, the ranch where Lyndon Baines Johnson spent his last years, and the family cemetery where he is buried under the trees. In the eulogy Billy Graham said, “…his roots go deep here on this spot in the Hill Country.” www.nps.gov/lyjo/, www.tpwd.state.tx.us

5. Another favorite son: One of the most respected leaders of the Pacific Campaign of World War II was Chester Nimitz, a hometown boy. The National Museum of the Pacific War started in the family hotel on Main Street to honor Nimitz and grew to honor all the heroes of the Pacific Campaign. From static displays to vivid recreations including “Island Assaults” and other events the war in the Pacific is explained in such fascinating detail that even the most learned WW II history buffs will learn something new. www.nimitz-museum.org/

6. Plenty to wine about: Wine is not the first libation people think of when they hear the word Texas, yet the climate and soil of the Texas Hill Country are ideal for raising grapes and the tradition of winemaking predates California's. Texas claims to have more native species of grapes than any other region on earth. On the wine tasting circuit visit Becker Vineyard to taste their award-winning wines and European-style Torre di Pietra with free music every Saturday. www.beckervineyards.com, www.texashillcountrywine.com

7. Lavender, peaches, and more: The diversity of shopping knows no bounds from gathering lavender at LLL Farms, to picking peaches in Vogel’s Orchards, to buying wild flower seeds at Wildseed Farms, to boutique shops to artist’s galleries. www.lllfarms.com, www.texaspeaches.com/vogel, www.wildseedfarms.com

8. Be enchanted: In sight of Enchanted Rock is a place of amazement and enchantment. Rebecca and Robert Trois have made their dreams a reality. Everything is unique from the vistas to the gourmet meals to the grotto swimming pool to the world’s largest collection of cap guns. The owner’s personal touches are everywhere. Trois Estate is a place that defies description but one that will be long remembered. www.troisestate.net

9. Rock it: When the sun starts to set the stores along Main Street begin to close until only the restaurants remain open, and while many of them offer entertainment when the weekend comes there is only one place for “Funtabulous Entertainment,” the Rock Box Theater. Celebrating Rock and Roll through the years, it will have “grandma dancin’, dad singin’, and the kids jumpin’.” www.rockboxtheater.com

10. Be somebody: Visitors won’t find Waylon and Willie strumming under the trees behind the general store/post office in Luckenbach but they will find a hearty welcome from Big Bo (aka Robert Kern), “Luckenbach’s World Ambassador,” who said he had his “first dance, first kiss, and first beer right here in Luckenbach’s dance hall.” In Luckenbach, only 20-minutes and a world away from the center of Fredericksburg, “everybody is somebody.” www.luckenbachtexas.com

So head to the hills, the Texas Hill Country that is, for adventure and relaxation. Climb Enchanted Rock, bike the back roads, visit a bat cave, shop ‘til you drop, then rejuvenate at the Fredericksburg Herb Farm’s Spa. For more information check www.fredericksburg-texas.com.

Favorite accommodations: Hundreds of B&Bs can be found in the well-maintained houses in the historic district including 202 B&B just a block from the Marktplatz. It is just one of over 100 places to stay offered by Gastehaus Schmidt Reservation Service, www.fbglodging.com. Or, fly in and stay at the Hanger Hotel, www.hangarhotel.com, located right on the runway.

Favorite dining: Restaurants abound including Navajo Grill offering Louisiana, Texas, Mexican regional cuisines and August E’s with a sophisticated European touch in an historic log building to rollicking Hondo’s on Main and Fredericksburg Brewing Company that serves Scotch Eggs and beer in growlers.

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