I’ve visited various areas of Texas, multiple times. And every time, people have said to me, “Have to you been to Fredericksburg yet?” Even people who live in very desirable Texas destinations like Galveston or San Antonio mention Fredericksburg. What was so special about it?! Finally, I found out.
Fredericksburg was founded in 1846 by Baron Otfried Hans von Meusebach as a settlement for German immigrants. Residents are extremely proud of this area in the Texas Hill Country and have become masters at preserving and promoting its history while also bringing out the best in its present. If you’re looking for a lederhosen/Oktoberfest experience, you’ll get it. And if you’re looking for a hip and chic experience, you’ll get that too.
Where to start:
Your very first stop should be to the nice folks at the Fredericksburg Visitor’s Center. They’ll provide all the information you need and can make suggestions for an itinerary depending on how much time you have and what your interests are. You can even get started before you leave home by visiting their website. For general knowledge though, I’m going to suggest some places by theme.
There’s a thriving foodie scene in Fredericksburg both in terms of restaurants and food products.
Restaurant recommendations –
Navajo Grill – Mexican influences with a touch of New Orleans and Caribbean which totally works! The restaurant has one of the most romantic dining patios I’ve ever seen with greenery, tables dotted here and there and pretty lighting.
Tubby’s Ice House – Greeted by a kitchen garden, Tubby’s is teensy but packs a punch with its rows of community tables under a tent plus bright colors, Caribbean-style street food and a playground. It’s a kick-back and enjoy kind of place, located close to the National Museum of the Pacific War for a break during museum-going (see below).
Burger Burger – Everything is over-sized at this place right on Main Street. Burgers are ginormous and chips and salsa comes out on a sheet tray – brilliant! Most everything is house-made from buns to pickles to spicy wings.
Cabernet Grill Texas Wine Country Restaurant – More than just an elegant place to linger over a meal, this property also offers romantic, rustic cottages where people can stay. It’s an experience.
Farm Haus Bistro at the Fredericksburg Herb Farm – Tucked into the neighborhood behind Fredericksburg’s Main Street is the combination herb farm, restaurant, garden shop, spa, boutique and cottage lodging. There’s so much to see – and taste – and smell.
Foodie Shops –
Opa’s Smoked Meats – While you stand there, eyeing the various meats and other goodies trying to decide what to order, several locals will come in, all known by name to pick up their usual orders. Take a cue from them and buy some traditional German style smoked meats, bacon and sausage and make a meaty picnic of it.
Quintessential Chocolates – Meet Lecia Duke, the first creator of European-style, liquid-centered chocolate in the U.S. They are her specialty but every treat that comes out of this shop is delicious!
Fischer & Wieser’s Das Peach Haus – What started as a couple’s fruit orchard and their son’s road-side fruit stand back in 1969, is now a major specialty food producer, store and cooking school. Be sure to stop in for ample tastings and to purchase creative and delicious products. We’ve been having a good ole time putting several of their products to use in our kitchens including their biggest claim to fame, The Original Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce. Get picnic makings here too for your day’s activities.
Fredericksburg Beer & Wine:
Pedernales Brewing Company – Craft beer fans will appreciate this place. Be bold and belly up to the bar at their new tasting room to try classic and German-style beers.
Wine Road 290 – All along this route, you’ll find wineries and tasting rooms. So much so that route 290 is called “Wine Road 290.” Take advantage of the tour bus offerings for everyone’s safety! We enjoyed Kuhlman Cellars where we experienced an amazing, well-composed food and wine pairing and enthusiastic education. Rancho Ponte Vineyard draws on five generations of Italian wine-making on 20 acres of land, for another option on 290.
Narrow Path Winery, Grape Creek Vineyards, Fredericksburg Winery and Pontotoc Vineyard Weingarten are all within walking distance in the heart of downtown Fredericksburg. No wonder Wine Enthusiast called Fredericksburg one of the “Ten Best Wine Travel Destinations in 2014.”
Wildseed Farms – More than just a place to shop for garden goods and accessories, Wildseed Farms is a sensual experience! The largest wild seed producer in the U.S. (if you buy flower seeds, they likely originated here), visitors can stroll 200 acres of colorful fields that look like they are right out of an impressionist painting. It’s soul-nurturing to stop there! With its location on Wine Road 290, you’ll take a triple take, wondering if you’re really seeing fields of flowers or if you taste-tested a bit too much.
Pioneer Museum Complex makes it easy to imagine life back in the 19th century for the German immigrants. Authentic homes and businesses comprise this pretty campus of structures that really show how people lived. Most interesting to me were the Sunday Houses, one-room structures that were allotted by Meusebach, along with land outside of town so that the settlers could come into town on the weekend for socializing, shopping and church-going.
The National Museum of the Pacific War teaches you everything you never knew about World War II. In part, that’s viewed through Fredericksburg’s native son, Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander-in-Chief of Allied Forces, Pacific Ocean Area. The museum is thorough, impactful and hands-on so take advantage of the 48-hour ticket policy to take it in over the course of two days, taking in some of the other activities inbetween.
Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park – Even if you weren’t around during the LBJ years (as Vice President or President), his family’s history and his homestead on beautiful acreage is very interesting. Go on a guided (or self-guided) tour of the vast property and stroll around the Johnson’s family home, including a walk through the kitchen where time has literally stood still at 1pm, when the kitchen staff heard on the news that JFK had been shot and that their boss was now the President.
Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farmstead – The passion alone of the people working on this working farm is enough to win you over. Recreating Texas pioneer life in the 1800’s, park interpreters wear period clothing and carry out day-to-day activities just like they did, back then. They even cook their own meals there, from what they’ve grown and raised. In a time where we’re getting back to basics, making our own soap, curing our own meats and growing our own food, the museum is not only educational, it’s instructional!
There’s a wide variety of lodging available in Fredericksburg depending on the type of experience you’re after. There are convenient hotels and inns just off Main Street, farm houses, cottages and more. As you plan your trip, start with the Visitor’s Center website for direction. Thankfully, the options and variety are plentiful.
Fredericksburg has something to offer for every age. With a blend of old and new, calm and exciting, down-home and elegant, it turns out people were right. It was a place I just had to see. Learn more about Fredericksburg, Texas at www.visitfredericksburgtx.com.