From Sunday Houses to U-Pick peach farms, Fredericksburg dials up the charm.
Welcome to Go There, a Livability.com series about travel and how to maximize your time in some of our favorite cities. Do you have a place in mind we should visit next? Let us know! Today, we’re sharing a weekend guide to Fredericksburg, a city deep in the heart of Texas that’s as sweet as its peaches.
Back in the 1960s, Lyndon B. Johnson did something unprecedented: He created a functioning White House away from Washington. As a result, his ranch became known as the “Texas White House,” a sprawling estate where he held staff meetings underneath a live oak on his front lawn, discussing predominant issues, from the Vietnam War to civil rights. Because reporters would report from press conferences at the ranch, the “Fredericksburg” datelines on their articles helped put this tiny Texas town (with a rich German heritage) on the map.
Since, Fredericksburg has blossomed into a year-round destination for visitors who come during the holiday season for the 26-foot-tall German Christmas Pyramid, ice rink and Main Street shopping or sync their spring visits with wildflower season to witness the Texas bluebonnets and red poppies that paint the county.
Just an hour outside of San Antonio and tucked away in the heart of Texas Hill Country, Fredericksburg charms architecture lovers with its historic “Sunday homes” and beckons oenophiles with its earthy tempranillos. Here’s a guide to this adorable-as-can-be Texas city.
Where To Stay
In the late 1800s, German farmers and ranchers would travel into Fredericksburg on the weekends to sell their goods, go dancing on Saturday nights, and attend church on Sundays. To accommodate their weekend stays in Fredericksburg, they built humble 1 1/2 story homes with quaint porches and outside staircases leading to lofts that became known as “Sunday Houses.” A century later, these architectural gems make for unique vacation rentals, like the cute Das Solheid Sunday House or the luxe Agave Sunday House with cathedral ceilings and rock walls. But even if you don’t stay in a made-over Sunday House, you can still get a glimpse into settler life by checking out the Weber Sunday House on the grounds of the Pioneer Museum.
Fredericksburg, though, is brimming with unique places to stay. Outlot 201 has a trio of lovely guesthouses nestled in a grove of trees and where the owner may just leave fresh-cut sunflowers in the sunny living room. If you’re traveling with a group, each family can enjoy their own guest house at this pastoral retreat that’s just five minutes from Main Street. For a funky escape, head to Odonata Escape, where each shipping container has a unique design. Or, enjoy the aviation theme (and watch planes take off from the runway) at the Hangar Hotel.
What To Do
From outdoor adventure to immersing in history, there are plenty of excursions to take in Fredericksburg.
For a scenic climb, ascend Enchanted Rock via the 1.3-mile Summit Trail. When you reach the top of this pink granite dome, your reward is sprawling Hill Country views. Reservations to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area can be made 30 days before your visit and are recommended because the park closes to visitors once it reaches capacity.
History buffs can enjoy a visit to the Texas White House, which LBJ and Lady Bird Johnson donated to the National Park Service. While there, you can see Johnson’s boyhood home. Fredericksburg is also home to the National Museum of the Pacific War, which has a Pearl Harbor Exhibit housing significant artifacts.
Fredericksburg is also ripe with U-Pick farms and is well known for its juicy peaches, which are in season from May to September. (From February to May, you can pluck strawberries.)
Where To Eat & Drink
Fredericksburg has its very own wine country, with more than 50 wineries, vineyards and tasting rooms all within Gillespie County. Texas Hill Country is solidifying its reputation as a top-notch wine destination, but the area actually has a long history of making vino. The original settlers used the native mustang grape to produce wines in the 19th century. For a solid introduction to the region’s wines, start by tasting sangiovese and tempranillo at Signor Vineyards, which has French country gardens and a market with fresh baked goods.
One of the buzziest new restaurants in town is Hill & Vine, which has a menu featuring Texas fare, from tender cuts to queso to black-eyed pea hummus made with olive oil from the Lone Star state. Try the fried onion rings that you can dunk in chimichurri ranch, and save room for a fried pie.
Head to Otto’s for an upscale take on German classics (think duck schnitzel and pretzels with brie and crème Fraiche). Chase’s Place Cocktail + Kitchen is a neighborhood eatery with hula hoops on the front porch and seasonal menus with scratch-made dishes like shrimp and grits and heirloom tomato and burrata salad.
Where To Shop
Set aside at least an afternoon to pop in and out of the shops along Fredericksburg’s Main Street, which has more than 150 shops, boutiques and art galleries (and save room in your suitcase for your shopping haul).
Take a cowboy hat from Dogologie home to your good boy or girl. Then, stop into Flying Cow Tallow for skincare products like organic whipped balms. A must-visit is Fischer & Weiser on Main, which has jellies and sauces that you’ll come to crave, like the Original Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce and peach, pecan or strawberry dessert toppings that will turn the vanilla ice cream in your freezer into a gourmet dessert.
One More Thing …
There are sweet, hidden messages in the street signs in Fredericksburg! As you head east down Main Street, the streets ascend in this order: Adams, Llano, Lincoln, Washington, Elk, Lee, Columbus, Olive, Mesquite and Eagle — spelling “All Welcome.” Then, as you depart Fredericksburg along U.S. Highway 290 to the west of Main Street, the streets progress like this: Crockett, Orange, Milam, Edison, Bowie, Acorn, Cherry, and Kay — which, you guessed it, spells “Come Back.” We told you Fredericksburg is sweet!