Have you ever been to the Texas Hill country? If not…you should put it on your list of places to visit.
The area is quite different than other parts of the state…hilly, green, lush…plus there are lots of fun and interesting things to see and do. You'll find everything from tubing down the Guadalupe River to visiting the historic LBJ Ranch in Johnson City.
One of our favorite areas to visit is Fredericksburg. Fredericksburg was founded in 1846 by German immigrants giving it a rich German heritage in the heart of the Texas Hill Country.
The main street area is flanked by old buildings dating back into the mid-1800s and now are home to restaurants, clothing stores, candy stores, western apparel stores, leather goods stores, real estate companies, etc. However, in keeping with the old-west feel most of the store fronts still look the way they did years ago.
Main street (also US 290) is extra-wide as it was originally designed that way so that a horse & wagon were able to make a U-turn in the middle of the street without having any issues. Today it makes it easy to have street parking that doesn't interfere with the traffic going by.
A Couple of our Favorite Places to Stop on Main Street
Rustlin' Robs – Salsas, dips, jams, hot sauces, jellies, rubs…that's what you're going to find here. Super spicy to no spice and everything in between. Plus…all the samples your little heart desires.
Der Kuchen Laden- Housed in the historic Keidel Hospital you will a variety of kitchen gadgets you ever imagined and some you never even knew existed. Definitely worth a visit.
Dooley's 5, 10 & 25 Store – It's like stepping back in time as you wander the aisles. The only thing that's missing is a soda fountain. You'll find your favorite sweets, toys, household goods and souvenir items from the past.Keep in mind they only take cash…but they do have an ATM on premises.
With German rich history it's only fitting that you'd find some German cuisine to enjoy, right? There are several options right on Main Street – The Rathskeller (located in the basement of Der Kuchen Laden), the Old German Bakery & Restaurant, Friedhelm's Bavarian Inn, Der Lindenbaum and the Auslander are all excellent places to enjoy some tasty Wienerschnitzel or Rouladen. They have excellent kolaches & breakfast buns in their bakery!
While not a restaurant, Opa's Smoked Meats is another 'must stop'. They make some of the tastiest sausage you will find. Several varieties of summer sausage, link sausage and bratwurst along with other types of sausages are made on premises and samples are often offered. They also have a deli and make made-to-order sandwiches.
There are several opportunities to learn about the history of Fredericksburg and the surrounding area and all are well worth the time and money.
Walking Tour – The Gillespie County Historical Society offers an Historical & Architectural walking tour that lasts about two hours and costs $15 per person. The woman who created and facilitates the tour is a retired history teach and descendant of the first German settlers to the area, so she is full of stories about the history of Fredericksburg and its early inhabitants.
Pioneer Museum – Also sponsored by the Gillespie County Historical Society, the Pioneer Museum is located on Main Street on 3.5 acres. The self-guided tour takes you through ten outbuildings which hold hundreds of artifacts. Four of the buildings are original to their locations while the others were moved to the museum grounds. You can't beat the $5.00 admission price.
Our tour guide told us the story of Herman Lehmann, an 11-year-old boy was kidnapped by a band of Apache Indians from his home in the Fredericksburg area. He became one of the band and went on raiding parties, killing and scalping white men along the way. He eventually went to live with the Commanche Indians and was adopted by Quanah Parker, a Commanche leader. Eventually, at the age of 20 he was returned to his family.
He had a hard time adjusting to this new way of 'life' but eventually found that this was where he belonged, though he always considered himself an Indian. He eventually married and had children and wrote a book about his life as an Indian, entitled 'Nine Years Among the Indians' where he details the years he spent with the Apaches, the Comanches, and his reintegration into society. An interesting read, to be certain. You can find it on Amazon by clicking HERE.
Nimitz Museum/Museum of the Pacific War – While these museums don't really cover the history of Fredericksburg they do cover the history of Admiral Chester Nimitz, who's boyhood home was Fredericksburg. The museum complex tells the story of the Pacific and Asiatic Theaters of World War II. Prepare to spend several hours to an entire day wandering the exhibits. The cost is $15 per person and they also several ways to get a discounted ticket.
Just Down the Road
Remember the 1977 song, "Lukenbach, Texas" by Waylon Jennings? Lukenbach is actually a small town about 10 miles southeast of Fredericksburg. The entire 'town' consists of just over nine acres of land and two buildings, a saloon/general store and a dance hall.
The general store is more of a souvenir shop now and while the saloon is an actual working saloon the big draw is the nightly 'picking' sessions. Plus, there are plenty of concerts and other events that take place throughout the year. Plan to arrive early as the saloon is small. Order a sarsaparilla, find a seat and sit back enjoy some good ol' country music. These are just a small sampling of the things you can see and do in and around Fredericksburg. The Visitor Center, just off Main Street, has a plethora of information on the area and its offerings.