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March 2018
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Simply Smart Travel
by Jeff Orenstein
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Fredericksburg, Texas

Known as "Tuscany in Texas"
Known as "Tuscany in Texas", Grape Creek Vineyards in the Texas Hill Country near Fredericksburg is one of about 60 wineries in the area. Its wines have won over 100 medals in competition recently. Credit: Jeff Orenstein

Small town Texas? Forget your stereotypes. Fredericksburg, Texas has nary a tengallon hat in sight. Instead, this wonderful town on the edge of Texas Hill country is filled with wineries, art galleries, culture, fine dining and history. Simply put, it is a sophisticated and fascinating artsy town well worth a visit.

The area was settled in the mid19th century by German immigrants who were promised land in the new world. They arrived after a long and arduous journey and proceeded to negotiate and honor a peace treaty with the region’s Native Americans. This allowed them to build a town with wide streets, eclectic architecture and with a very 19th century German ambiance. Today, the area has maintained its character and reverence for its roots. Ancestors of the original settlers have preserved buildings, artifacts and the welcoming spirit that built the town. No wonder so many great shops, galleries, wine tasting rooms and restaurants are proud to call Fredericksburg home.

While there is enough to do in town to keep even the most ardent tourist busy for a few days, Fredericksburg is in the middle of a fascinating region. A mere 16 miles away, in the heart of Texas Hill Country, lies the LBJ Ranch, home of both a national and state park.

In and around town, there are several craft breweries including one (Aldstadt) that is producing authentic German style beer in a new brewery custom-built by German craftsmen and overseen by a native German Brew Master.

Fredericksburg is also the center of one of the nation’s emerging fine wine regions. Fine wine and Texas in the same sentence? Yes! The region’s approximately 60 wineries, some over 20 years old, have begun to produce some truly impressive Mediterranean style dry and impressively-vinified red, white and rose wines.

The Sauer Beckmann Living History Farm
The Sauer Beckmann Living History Farm is operated by the Lyndon Johnson Texas State Park. It recreates Texas farm life in the 19th century as would have been experienced by German immigrants, complete with period staff clothing and era-appropriate farming machinery and techniques.

Peaches are also an important crop in the region, although much of the land devoted to them is transitioning to vineyards.

Before You Go

For a list of area attractions and tour suggestions, check:

Getting There

Fredericksburg is reached by highway via Texas Route 87 which connects to I10 about 50 miles northwest of San Antonio. The city can also reached via Texas 290, about 83 miles west from Austin.

The nearest major airport is San Antonio International Airport (SAT) which is 68 miles away. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) is 84 miles distant.

The St. Simons lighthouse and museum
The St. Simons lighthouse and museum are good places to seek the island’s rich history.

The nearest Amtrak service is via the Texas Eagle from Chicago (which also serves San Antonio and Austin) is at San Marco, TX, 71 miles away.

Getting Around:

A car is almost a must to see the region, although the central part of the town is very walkable. The Fredericksburg Trolley (www.fbgtours) offers trolley tours and excursions.

When You Are There

Mustdos for a short trip are:

If You Have Several Days

In addition to the above:

Exploring Fredericksburg and The Texas Hill Country At A Glance

Mobility Level: Easy mobility with some walking in town and around the LBJ Ranch.

Senior Travel Advantages: Great shopping, museums, laid back ambiance, theatre, galleries, good wine, good food.

When To Go: Any time.

Chef John DeMers,
Chef John DeMers, author of 56 books and former food editor of United Press International and the Houston Chronicle, is the Director of Culinary Hospitality at the Fischer & Wieser Culinary Adventure Cooking School in Fredericksburg. Credit: Jeff Orenstein

Fredericksburg is a good place to explore yearround. Summers can be hot but winters are usually mild. The nearby Texas Hill Country, west of Austin in south central Texas, is ablaze with wildflowers each spring, when Texas bluebonnets, primroses, Indian paintbrush, and many more charming varieties turn the landscape into ribbons of color. The blossoms usually start blooming around March. Peak season is March and April. Christmas has a Home Tour, ice skating and the Market.

Where To Stay: Fredericksburg Herb Farm, Fredericksburg Inn, or at the many national chains with properties in and around town.

Jeffrey Orenstein, Ph.D. and Virginia Orenstein are travel writers from Sarasota, Florida. Reach them at