You’ve heard the song:
The stars at night, are big and bright (clap clap clap clap) Deep in the heart of Texas.
But have you ever wondered just where the heart of Texas is? Turns out, it’s a physical space, a town called Llano. If you were to draw two lines from the westernmost point in Texas to the easternmost, and from the furthest south to the furthest north, they would intersect in Llano. True story.
There are a few other remarkable facts about the small city of Llano. In addition to about 3200 people, the American Bald Eagle calls Llano home during its winter migration, as do herds of deer. So many, in fact, that Llano is the Deer Capital of Texas, which is an understatement: the density of deer in the Llano Basin is the highest in the country! It should come as no surprise, then, that hunting is one of the area’s major attractions. Feral pigs, wild turkeys, quail and dove are abundant, as are walleye, catfish, and several species of bass in the Llano River, which runs right through town.
As with many towns in Texas’ Hill Country, Llano is becoming better known for some less characteristic attractions: cultural events, art galleries, and wineries. Throughout the year, you’ll find a variety of events, such as the Memorial Day Blue Bell Bluegrass Festival, the Llano Art Studio Tour, and the vintage aircraft Hill Country Hammerfest aerobatics competition. Capping the annual calendar is Llano Heritage Festival every October, celebrating the arts, history and heritage of the area.
The phrase “Historic Main Street” seems overused when touring rural towns in Texas, but Llano’s is a gem, and a National Historic District. The street teems with quaint shops and galleries, displaying a surprising diversity of art forms, from glass and clay pottery, to wood and metal works, to fabric, jewelry and painting. A nice variety of antique and oddities shops can also be found, including our favorites: Stuffology and Records & Things Strange, which also has a collection of music related and southwestern artwork for sale. And then there’s wine. Texas has actually been producing wine longer than California, and has more than 50 operating wineries today, including Llano’s Lost Creek Vineyard and several more in the surrounding towns.
Besides hunting, outdoor lovers should also find their way to Lake Buchanan, and Longhorn Cavern State Park nearby. The cave is unique in being formed mostly by running water and erosion, leaving beautiful rockscapes instead of the stalactites and stalagmites you may be used to seeing.
Llano is about 90 minutes west of Austin, or three-and-a-half hours southwest of Dallas. It’s also less than an hour from Fredericksburg, making it a great side trip while exploring the Texas Hill Country.