Tucked away in the rolling hills of Texas, the town of Fredericksburg showcases its German heritage — along with award-winning vineyards and gourmet dining as well as the Hill Country’s greatest ambassador, Mother Nature.
Visitors come from miles around, drawn by the vintage storefronts and more than 150 locally-owned shops.
Starting your downtown walking tour
Grab a historic walking tour map and discover the architectural talents of the German immigrants who built Fredericksburg. Begin your journey at the Pioneer Museum on Main Street. Set under a canopy of pecan trees and amid native landscaping, the museum’s structures, from the cabins and houses to the one-room schoolhouses and the Sunday Houses, offer a timeline of community life from 1840 to the 1920s.
Don’t miss stops at the Volunteer Fire Department Museum, the Arhelger Bathhouse and Barbershop, or the Kammlah Home, which grew from a one-room butcher shop to a home filled with heirloom furnishings.
Sunday Houses are unique to Germans and Gillespie County. Farmers and ranchers built these second homes for weekend visits. Most comprise two rooms, although some have an outside stairway leading to a children’s quarters inside the gabled roof.
Today, many Sunday Houses invite guests to experience the essence of Fredericksburg. These include the Oak House, a delightful cottage caressed by the loving arms of a centuries-old oak. Guests are welcomed with treats in the fridge, a bottle of wine, and a heavenly bed complete with an evening of streaming favorite programs.
A stop at the Pacific War Museum
The National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg chronicles Japan’s rise to power in Europe, the invasion of Pearl Harbor, major Allied advances, and the eventual Japanese surrender.
Recipient of many awards, the museum’s breathtaking high-tech videos, authentic weaponry, and hanger-style exhibits transport visitors back to one of the most monumental wars in modern history. Afterward, decompress by strolling through the beautiful garden surrounded by bronzed plaques paying tribute to veterans.
Shopping and dining in Fredericksburg
Home to a glorious and energized Main Street, shoppers come from miles around to discover unique gifts. Don’t miss the Fredericksburg Natural Baby store packed with precious clothing for the little tykes and Dogologie dedicated to our Fido fur babies. Then there’s the Pioneer bar, which offers “Husband Daycare” for the menfolk weighted down with shopping bags.
Next up is the city’s delectable trail of dining and imbibing. Top your list with La Bergerie, an extensive wine bar specializing in fine wines and small plates. Sip a glass of bubbly outdoors under the oaks with a delectable salmon plate dressed with pickled shallot, fried capers, and microgreens.
The Hill and Vine Restaurant‘s laidback décor features an open kitchen, a rough-hewn wood interior, and a brick fireplace. Every detail comes together in a culinary celebration of local fare and wine. Be it seafood or a wood-fired Angus ribeye, top off your meal with the cornbread/biscuit box. And check out the evening outdoor entertainment, with drinks served from a retro 1974 Volkswagen micro-bus.
West End Pizza Co. offers something for everyone. Just ask the pizza “artists” and oven gurus; the pizza dough, desserts, and sauces are all made from scratch. Dine indoors or outside on the dog-friendly patio bar. Enjoy live music on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday along with big-screen TVs for those must-see games. The owners’ and staffs’ dedication to their customers and community earned the Texas Restaurant Good Neighbor award in 2016.
Fredericksburg’s one-room schoolhouses
The days of riding a horse to a one-room schoolhouse may be long gone, but many Gillespie County residents carry vivid memories of their childhood trots to school.
A driving trail of seventeen country schools offers a living history of America’s backbone of rural education. Step inside limestone and log cabin schoolhouses built in the mid- to late-19th century, many with original desks, floors, and textbooks. Alumnae share their stories of racing to the outhouse, gathering water from nearby wells, or doing farm chores before mounting the horse or donkey to school.
In addition to the endearing stories, the trail’s rolling pastures and rippling streams are equally inviting with dozens of deer openly grazing in the fields. So stunning, it’s a popular bike trail, with vistas from wildflowers to oak groves dotting the landscape. Another nostalgic find that deserves a click of the camera are the fields dotted with rolled haystacks.
Fredericksburg: Something for everyone
Peek inside the heavenly interiors of historic churches, locally known as painted churches. Plan a full day touring the stunning countryside, allowing ample time to stop and sniff the acres and acres of wildflowers coloring Wildseed Farms.
There’s so much to see and do that you’ll need to plan your time wisely.
What’s appealing to the over-50 luxury traveler?
- Fredericksburg is a compact town with ample parking so visitors don’t have to walk far to museums or restaurants.
- The city is a treasure trove for history buffs, especially its German traditions.
- Fredericksburg is a good hour from the Austin airport, so make arrangements to rent a car at the airport, especially if you want to tour the one-room schoolhouses.
- There are so many things to see and do that it is strongly recommended that a visit to the city begin at the excellent tourism center to develop a custom itinerary.
- Be sure to bring comfortable shoes for marathon shopping.
- Check the winery websites for information about tastings; many require reservations
The author paid for her own travel expenses while the accommodation and some of the meals were kindly paid courtesy of the owners.
For updated information concerning COVID-19, visit the City of Fredericksburg website.
IF YOU GO
For information about Fredericksburg, visit the Fredericksburg Convention & Visitor Bureau.
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