- Distance from Houston: 239 miles
- Best time: March to May; September to November
- Best for: Girl's GetawayRomanticFood and Wine
Arguably, the most ideal Texas weekend getaway can be found in and around Fredericksburg. Nestled in the middle of the Texas Hill Country, this area has it all: swimming holes, hiking trails, live music, and wine tasting. In fact, Fredericksburg is becoming known for its renowned wines. Make sure you have a designated driver, then head out for an afternoon tour—there are more than a dozen wineries in this area to visit. And while you're there, be sure to sample some German fare—the area has a high concentration of German immigrants who share their love of food and beer with visitors. No matter what time of year you go, you're sure to enjoy the rolling hills, constant sunshine, and live music that seems to radiate from every corner. – by Kristin Finan
1 Fredericksburg may be known for its wine, but why not kick off your weekend with a sample or two at another spirited institution: Real Ale Brewing Co., conveniently located on the way? This popular purveyor of craft beer is located in Blanco—about forty minutes east of Fredericksburg—and offers tours on Fridays at 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. (the tasting room is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
2 Continue the beer theme at The Auslander Restaurant and Biergarten, where you can fill up on every German specialty you can imagine. Menu items include Bavarian potato skins (filled with German sausage, sauerkraut, and cabbage and smothered in melted Swiss), schnitzel burger, flame-grilled ribeye, and, of course, bratwurst with sauerkraut. Don't miss the delicious beer-battered mushrooms or the fantastic reuben sandwich. Live music, beer, and wine are also available.
3 Wrap up your evening at Luckenbach, a combination of a live-music venue, a post office, and a small town (population: 3). Memorialized in the song "Luckenbach, Texas," by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, the town is a must-see for any visitor to this area. Buy a Shiner at the bar, order up a foot-long corndog, or simply sit outside to watch up-and-coming (and occasionally famous) musicians making music. The slogan here is "Everybody's somebody in Luckenbach," and that's definitely true.
1 If you love kolaches or even if you've never tried the classic German pastry, you'll want to start your day at the Old German Bakery, home to everything from danishes to cream puffs. Grab some to go, or take a seat in the full restaurant, which features German-style breakfast and lunch items.
2 The Hill Country is a beautiful place, and for one of the most unique views of it, climb your way to the top of Enchanted Rock. This giant pink granite dome is hikeable for most skill levels. It will likely take you about thirty minutes to make your way up. Other popular activities include camping, backpacking, rock climbing, star gazing, bird watching, and more.
3 Now that you've got your workout in, it's time to hit a different kind of trail: The Texas Wine Trail. Start at Pedernales Cellars, a 17-acre vineyard and 15,000-square-foot winemaking facility that bottles varietals such as Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. Guests are welcome to roam the vineyards and enjoy the view as long as they'd like; private tours are also available.
4 Continue your wine tasting tour at Becker Vineyards, which was founded in 1992 and spans 46 acres of vines. Wines here include Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, and Malbec, among others. The winery covers more than 10,000 square feet and is located in a nineteenth-century barn. Once you've had your fill of tastings, take time to tour the property, which is surrounded by peach orchards, native wildflowers, lavender, and grazing quarter horses.
5 Next, make your way to Grape Creek Vineyards, which calls itself "Tuscany in Texas." Between the tasting room with a 40-foot bar and the expansive winery, you're sure to learn quite a bit about the wine-making process.
6 Finally, wrap up your wine tasting tour at Messina Hof. This well-known Texas winery was founded in the town of Bryan and recently opened a second location in Fredericksburg. At the Hill Country location you'll find a 10-acre estate that includes a bed-and-breakfast, VIP tasting room, and sprawling wine garden.
7 After the day you've had, you're going to need a good dinner, so make your way to The Nest, a bistro featuring seafood, steaks, and incredible desserts. Entrées include pan-seared sea scallops with chipotle lime sauce; broiled quail stuffed with bacon, spinach, and goat cheese; and roasted New Zealand rack of lamb with pecan pesto-and-mustard sauce.
1 If you're a fan of traditional hearty breakfasts, you may find you saved the best meal for last at Sunset Grill. The brunch draws crowds with a wide variety of morning fare. Go with the flow of Texas and take on the "big ass sandwich," stuffed with fried eggs, applewood-smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, avocado, and spicy aioli.
2 After a hearty breakfast, conclude your trip at the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site, where visitors can swim, hike, picnic, and view wildlife such as buffalo, longhorn, and white-tailed deer. Check out memorabilia from the president's time in office in the visitor's center or take a bus tour of the LBJ Ranch that includes the one-room Junction School, the Johnson family cemetery, and the still-in-operation LBJ Ranch. The park also houses the Sauer-Beckmann Farmstead, a living history farm that functions as though it were 1918.
Where to Stay
For a quaint place to lay your head, you can't beat the Hoffman Haus (rooms staring at $135/night), a rustic bed-and-breakfast located just a block from Main Street. Features include comfortable rooms with antique furnishings, private porches, and limestone fireplaces; a grand Great Hall perfect for relaxing with a book; a day-spa offering body treatments and massages; and breakfast basket delivered to your door each morning.
If you love plush lodgings with a back-to-nature vibe, don't miss the Fredericksburg Herb Farm (cottages from $219/night, two-night minimum). The farm is home to the 5,000-square-foot Nature's Spa, where treatments incorporate herbal-infused, organic products, and the Farm Haus Bistro, where fresh, locally sourced items are the order of the day. At night, retire to a cottage, where you can enjoy the evening from a rocking chair on your private porch.
When to Go
Spring and fall are the ideal times to visit Fredericksburg, when the wineries are at their most stunning. Those seasons are also ideal for experiencing the area's many outdoor activities.
How to Get There
By Car: Take I-10 West toward San Antonio, then merge onto TX-71 West toward La Grange/Austin. That turns into US-290 West, which leads out to Fredericksburg.