Fredericksburg, Texas by: Suz Pisano
Recognizing how much fun Nightwire had on our first visit to Texas, our quest to travel throughout the largest State in the Nation–The Lone Star State of Texas, continues. I can’t wait to tell you my about my travels to Texas Hill Country, the quaint and quite historic town of Fredericksburg. Landing in either Austin or San Antonio, Fredericksburg is a short & convenient drive into the Texas landscape easily accessed by highway. It’s one of Texas’ most popular getaways, and recently named #3 of the Top 10 Wine Destinations by Wine Enthusiast!
What?? Wine Country in Texas? Yes, most definitely yes. The Tempranillo and Granache grapes thrive in the temperate Hill Country. Rt. 290 is called the Wine Road; driving along the scenic highway you’ll find so many wineries offering varying specialties of the vast vineyards. My favorite winery that we visited was Grape Creek. The beautiful tasting room was the perfect backdrop for a lazy afternoon with some fruit & wine. Plus it’s always nice to get a tasting with the vintner. Check out a little bit of Tuscany in Texas, www.grapecreek.com. We also visited 4.0 Cellars, a modern winery representing a collaboration of 3 separate wineries that came together to make a 4th. Knowledgeable staff will guide you through your tasting of an exceptional array of wines from single varietals to diverse blends. 4.0 Cellars feature Brennan Vineyards, Lost Oak Winery and McPherson Cellars. Texas wines are currently not available in the PLCB system, so it’s a great adventure to try wines by a region most unfamiliar to Pennsylvanians. www.fourpointwine.com The best way to search and plan a wine tour is to check out www.wineroad290.com for a comprehensive list of wineries, maps and events.
Lodging in and around Fredericksburg is arranged through a network of Guest Houses & Cottages and B&B’s. With reverence to the German immigrants who founded the town in the mid-1800’s, Gastehaus Schmidt is the go-to for reservation services. Their hand picked properties offer a variety of options tailored to meet every traveler’s needs. I stayed a bit out of town at the lovely Ava Guest House, where I was greeted by my host who had recently finished renovation on an old dairy. The room was comfortable and very charming with an antique vanity and a hand set stone floor in the bathroom where, next to the modern shower, sat a huge claw foot bathtub. The Ava House books a lot of girlfriend get-a-ways and bachelorette & bridal parties, as well as quiet romantic vacations. The fireplace in the main room is a nice place to end your day. A mini-kitchenette houses a coffee maker, microwave and bar sized fridge. After visiting another property, the owner of Baron’s Creekside hosted a shrimp boil for our group after touring his little piece of Switzerland right there in Texas. Swiss owned and with attention to every detail, you’ll fall in love with this unique lodging option. Little log cabins impeccably decorated lend to romance & relaxation. The grounds are full of wildflowers, sculpture and charm. Take a video tour at www.baronscreekside.com. It’s truly a magical place! One more unique lodging experience is the Hangar Hotel. A favorite amongst pilots who can utilize the airplane hangar onsite, the elegant Officer’s Club or the Hangar Diner. It’s a veritable pilot’s dream! www.hangarhotel.com.
Dining in & around Fredericksburg you’ll find everything from micro-breweries; Fredericksburg Brewing Company or Pedernales Brewing Company, to the Clear River Pecan Company, where award winning homemade ice cream is ordered with every homemade sandwich or soup! Dinner at Fredericksburg Brewing Company offered great German style beers at the oldest & most acclaimed brew pub in Texas. www.yourbrewery.com. After a day of wine touring, we were hosted by the Navajo Grill which served up the best in Southern cuisine with old & New Mexico influence along with a touch of New Orleans & Caribbean flavors. Wine was paired with our dinner by Hilmy Cellars. Even in a quaint German town, there’s great food. www.navajogrill.com & www.hilmywine.com for details.
Walking along the historic main street, you can get lost for hours meandering in & out of great little boutiques and shops offering home décor, custom boots or culinary treats. I brought back jalapeño peanut butter, wine, and a great bag for my mom, many gifts & lots of inspiration. The West End Pizza Company is my recommendation for homemade pizza, fresh salad & maybe even some homemade ravioli. www.westendpizzacompany.com
If you’re particularly interested in history- that’s where the Pacific Theatre in World War II takes a prominent place in Fredericksburg, at The National Museum of the Pacific War. This museum is certainly a huge draw to the area with visitors coming from all corners of the globe. It is probably the largest, most organized & comprehensive collection of WWII memorabilia in the country. Located on a six-acre site, the Museum includes the George Bush Gallery, Admiral Nimitz Museum, Pacific Combat Zone, Plaza of Presidents, Memorial Courtyard, Japanese Garden of Peace, and the Nimitz Education and Research Center. The museum has so much to offer, tickets are valid for 48 hours enabling guests to take their time while enjoying the expanse of the complex. A visit to Fredericksburg would not be complete without a drive to the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park. There you can visit the “Texas White House” where LBJ lived during his administration. I was fascinated and enthusiastically encourage you to tour the homestead. Details of the JFK assassination become real seeing the replica cake prepared for this arrival the day of his fateful demise. The LBJ Ranch is not to be missed! You’ll also want to visit the Sauer-Beckman Living History Farmstead. This working farm recreates Texas pioneer life in the 1800’s. Park interpreters wear period clothing and carry out the day-to-day activities as that of a turn-of-the-century Texas-German farm family. While we were there, lunch was being prepared just as it would have in the 1800’s. Sausages handmade & stored in lard were shown off as we were offered a soap making demonstration. This place was really cool. Texas doesn’t mess around with history.
If history isn’t quire your “thing”, don’t worry, culinary adventures await all around this little historic town. Das Peach Haus is a fabulous place where you can sample a myriad of culinary treasures. Their Original roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce made them famous. It’s the #1 specialty condiment sold in Texas. You’ll have a hard time picking a favorite; their sauces pair beautifully with cheeses, fruits and even meats. Plus, you gotta love a great story about 2 guys who took a family business from farm to your family’s table. Fischer & Wieser Specialty Foods has grown into a gourmet’s paradise. Their products ARE available locally. Use their store locator to find products close to you. There wasn’t one jelly, sauce, or syrup that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. If you love cooking, and you know I do- this is an excellent resource for turning the boring & bland into bold & flavorful dishes. Their comprehensive website offers recipes for everything from appetizers to desserts. Definitely check them out at www.jelly.com Make sure you head over to Chocolat to meet Lecia Duke, the first creator of European-style liquid-centered chocolate in the U.S. As a self-professed chocoholic, I couldn’t wait to sample her Quintessential Chocolates. The beautiful little Alemandrado Tequila filled chocolate was scrumptious. After studying with a Swiss Master Chocolatiér, utilizing a 200 year old technique, Lecia was able to create these European style confections with an American twist: unprecedented flavors suited to American tastes, to date over 200 distinctively different flavors have been made including numerous spirits, wine varietals, non-alcohol coffee and fruit nectars. Needless to say, I bought a bunch to bring home! www.chocolat-tx.us
Fredericksburg, Texas is also becoming a destination for bicyclists. It’s described as the “Cycling Capital of Texas”. Where the motto is “Come and ride it”, there are plenty of resources for cyclists looking for an exceptional vacation destination. And, since this IS Hill Country, hiking to Enchanted Rock is an excellent outdoor adventure. The massive pink granite dome rising above Central Texas has drawn people for thousands of years. But there’s more at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area than just the dome. The scenery, rock formations and legends are magical. You can hike, backpack, camp, rock climb, picnic, bird watch, study nature, geocache and stargaze. (You cannot swim here or ride bikes on the trails.)
My time in Fredericksburg was a whirlwind; jam-packed with activity and highlighted by the people of this small community. Tourism is their specialty and when there’s a place that literally has something for everyone, it’s easy to recommend with confidence that you’ll enjoy something off the beaten path. An ideal trip for me would be a flying into Austin or San Antonio, spending a few days in the city & then taking a beautiful, not too long, drive to Hill Country. It would be like a get-a-way from your get-a-way. Speaking of get-a-ways, I would be completely remiss if I failed to mention a short drive out of Fredericksburg that landed us in Luckenbach, Texas. Yes, that town with a population of 2, complete with it own Post Office/Bar, and made famous by Waylon Jennings song, Luckenbach, Texas www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dXR5Dk8YNw. This is where you will find live music, cold beer along with chickens running around, an occasional cock-a-doodle-doo and happy folks to round out the scenery. “Everybody’s somebody in Luckenbach”, it’s a state of mind, and if you happen upon this Dance Hall, Post Office, Bar, Live Music Jam, I completely agree. Directions on how to get there are easily accessed at www.luckenbachtexas.com
For more information on Fredericksburg, Texas please visit www.fredericksburgtexas-online.com