In the rolling Hill Country about 260 miles southwest of Dallas (or about 90 minutes west of Austin), sits the epicenter of German heritage in Texas: a town named after Prince Frederick of Prussia. Founded in 1846 by German immigrants who tilled the fertile soil, Fredericksburg today is ripe for fun of many varieties. It has become a Bed & Breakfast hotspot with literally dozens of establishments (BedandBreakfast.com lists more than 78 accommodations in the area) hosting visitors from around the world who come for, well, these Five Fun Things to Do in Fredericksburg!
#1: Have some wine!
Let’s get right to the heart of the matter: Fredericksburg is at the center of the Texas Wine Trail with several wineries and vineyards in the region. Turns out, Texas has more native species of grapes than any other region on earth, and has been producing wine since before California rose to stardom. Fredericksburg is part of two viticultural areas, and more than half of the state’s 54 wineries make their home here. There are several wine tours that depart from Fredericksburg (as shown on TripAdvisor) , or you can book a B&B and strike out on your own for a few days. Fredericksburg-Texas.com has a handy listing of wine makers who welcome visitors with that famous “Texas Friendly” attitude. If you are just in it for the wine, though, you can stroll down Main Street and stop in any (or all) of the wine shops there. If wine is not your preferred adult beverage, Fredericksburg is also home to a pair of fine brew pubs producing notable craft beers right on Main Street.
For more on Texas Hill Country wines and wineries, and an excellent tasting itinerary, check out Winederlusting’s Guide to the Best Texas Hill Country Wineries.
#2: Tuck into authentic German food.
You will still find descendants of the original settlers in Fredericksburg, and others who were drawn to the town for its German heritage. As a result, there is some great German food to enjoy, along with spicy Mexican, savory Italian, and smoky barbeque (this is Texas, after all). This town of just about 10,000 full-time residents boasts around 60 spots to grab a bite, from restaurants to bakeries to wine and cheese bars. But since this is the place to embrace your inner German, you’ll want to visit the Auslander Restaurant, and Friedhelm’s Bavarian Inn, two of our favorites, serving traditional German fare (think schnitzels, brat and knackwurst, Rouladen, Lendenschnitte, spätzle, kartoffelpuffer…hungry yet?) on either end of Main Street. Sehr lecker!
#3: Stroll & Shop (til you Drop!)
Main Street is quite literally the main street of Fredericksburg, and it is lined with a huge variety of shops, from eclectic to designer. Whether you need to work up an appetite or work off the wine and schnitzels, you can stroll both sides of Main Street and have a great time exploring. But beware! Tucked among the home décor, artwork, kitchenware, Texas-ana, clothing and souvenir shops lie hidden gems/evil monsters: chocolatiers, wine bars, bakeries, ice cream parlors, and our favorite, Rustlin’ Rob’s Texas Gourmet Foods. When they ask you to sign a waiver to try the hot sauce, you know you’re in trouble. (You’ve been given fair warning!)
#4: Get Your History On!
There is a fair amount of history on display in and near Fredericksburg. You may be surprised to find the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, but it’s right there on Main Street in what was once the Nimitz Hotel. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because the hotel was built by the grandfather of Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, who grew up here before going on to command the US Pacific Forces in World War Two. The museum began in the hotel in 1968 as the Admiral Nimitz Museum, but now occupies a six-acre campus which includes the Plaza of Presidents, the Japanese Garden of Peace, and the expanded George H. W. Bush Gallery.
While President Rutherford B. Hayes is said to have stayed at the Nimitz Hotel, the area has another presidential link: President Lyndon B Johnson National Historical Park is in nearby Stonewall. At the former LBJ Ranch, you can see the former president’s birthplace, the Johnson family cemetery, and LBJ’s grandparents’ home.
In the center of town is the Marktplatz, a large, open park with picnic facilities, a playground, clean restrooms, and Vereins Kirche, a memorial museum to the German settlers who established Fredericksburg. It is part of the nearby Pioneer Museum, and across the street is the Pioneer Memorial Library. Together, they detail the town’s history, immigration and settlement of the Texas Hill Country, and the local German-Texan culture.
#5: Eat a Peach
If you have ever enjoyed a juicy Texas peach, chances are it came from somewhere near Fredericksburg, the Peach Capital of Texas. (Technically, that’s a title the town shares with LBJ’s Stonewall, Texas.) Back in the 1950s, an enterprising math and science teacher at the local high school planted a few peach trees. Before long, he had 5,000 trees and had developed the Hale, Burbank, Elberta and Stark varieties of peaches. Growers claim the area’s unique combination of climate, elevation, and sandy soil give the peaches a perfectly sweet taste. But Hill Country agribusiness doesn’t stop at wine and peaches: herb farms, lavender production, and the largest family-owned wildflower seed farm in the country are all found here.
What was once a small town where local famers came for supplies and camaraderie has become something of a cultural phenomenon in Texas. While day spas and wine bars are a major attraction, hikers and bikers appreciate the natural beauty of the Hill Country. (Enchanted Rock National Natural Landmark, a huge, pink granite dome just 15 miles to the north.) Strolling Main Street today, you can imagine it has not changed a great deal since the 1950s or, perhaps, even the 1850s. Now on the National Register of Historic Places in Texas, it is just as much a place to dine, shop and relax today as it was 150 years ago.
Details and Disclaimers: TravelLatte was not compensated by, nor maintains financial relationships with any of the establishments or businesses mentioned in this post. Opinions expressed are exclusively our own. We had a great time in Fredericksburg, and heartily recommend a day or two in the Hill Country when visiting Texas.
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