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Simply Smart Travel
by 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.
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:
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 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.
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:
At least an hour at the Pioneer Museum. Be sure to see the 12minute video for a sense of Fredericksburg’s history.
Walking around the Marktplatz (Fredericksburg’s central square).
A visit to the National Museum of the Pacific War, located in Fredericksburg because it is the home of WWII Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz.
Strolling Main Street shops, art galleries and wineries.
Eating at a German restaurant on Main Street and/or August E’s restaurant.
Visiting Das Peach Haus (far more than peaches).
If You Have Several Days
In addition to the above:
Take a class at the Fischer & Wieser Culinary Adventure Cooking School.
Explore the LBJ Ranch state and national parks, 17 miles away.
Visit Enchanted Rock State Park.
Check out "Country Texas" at Luckenbach.
Enjoy a good meal and wine at the Cabernet Grill Texas Wine Country Restaurant.
Visit San Antonio (especially the Riverwalk and the Alamo), explore hill country, experience the hip vibrancy of Austin.
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.
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.