Willkommen, y’all! That means welcome in Fredericksburg, where Texas hospitality and German traditions collide.
If you’ve been eyeing a long weekend on your family’s calendar, take the 6.5 hour leisurely drive from Oklahoma City to enjoy a change of terrain and explore the stunning Texas Hill Country of Fredericksburg, Texas. Steeped in German history, Fredericksburg is a vibrant vacation destination with year-round activities for the whole family. Settled in 1846 by German immigrants and founded by German John O. Meusebach, the German influence is ever-present today in Fredericksburg’s food, culture and people. The beautiful rolling hills and wildflowers, including the beloved Texas bluebonnet, immediately transport you to relaxed vacation mode.
Getting there: Opt for driving I-44 through Wichita Falls, a mellow, scenic route, avoiding Dallas traffic.
Where to stay: A great option is Hoffman Haus (608 E Creek St, Fredericksburg, 830-997-6739, hoffmanhaus.com), a quaint bed and breakfast
comprised of small farmhouses equipped with kitchenettes. One- or twostory farmhouses and even a rustic log cabin are offered on the property. Snuggle with your kids on one of the porch swings or play outside in the open gardens. In the morning, a picnic basket breakfast is delivered to your family’s door (how convenient is that?) for your little sleepyheads. Daily breakfast offerings could be French toast with eggs, bacon and assorted fruit, a blueberry bake, waffles, eggs florentine or other gourmet delights.
What to do: The 3.5 acre grounds of the Pioneer Museum Complex (325 W Main St, Fredericksburg, 830-990-8441, pioneermuseum.net) is the perfect way to introduce kids to 19th century German pioneer days. Check out the Weber family’s Sunday House, used on weekends when a family would travel seven or more miles on Saturday to trade produce, stay in the house and attend church on Sunday, then travel back to their working farm. Tour on your own or take a guided tour to learn what the pioneers’ daily lives were like. Make sure to visit the smokehouse, bathhouse and barn. Stop in for second breakfast or lunch at the charming, family-friendly Emma and Ollie Café (607 S Washington St, Fredericksburg, 830-383-1013, emmaolliefbg.com). This cute cottage café is open for breakfast and lunch Wednesday through Saturday. Sunday brunch features comfort food prepared by scratch, all served on farmhouse-style enamelware. Try the delectable tomato toast: toasted bread with bacon jam, goat cheese, roasted tomatoes and arugula, topped with an over-easy egg. For kids, sample the Lil’ Ollie: toast, two eggs and bacon, or the kidsize pancakes. Freshly made beignets dusted with powdered sugar are served all day. Grab some to go!
In 1972, President Lyndon Johnson gave 600 acres of his family ranch to the National Park Service to create the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park (100 Ladybird Ln, Johnson City, 830-868-7128, nps.gov/lyjo/index.htm) to be kept and preserved as a working ranch. The presentday descendants of LBJ’s Hereford cattle can be identified by brand. Johnson spent about a quarter of his presidency governing from the “Texas White House” ranch, replete with Secret Service headquarters, a communication system and the 13-passenger Lockeed C-140 JetStar plane, nicknamed Air Force One Half. A 6,300 foot asphalt airstrip was added to the ranch property so Johnson could easily travel from Austin or San Antonio air bases to his ranch. Places of note on the grounds are the Johnson family cemetery, the one-room Junction School where 4-year-old Johnson learned to read and the reconstructed birthplace house.
Outfit the family in sturdy hiking shoes for an excursion to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area (16710 Ranch Rd 965, Fredericksburg, 830-685-3636, tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/enchantedrock) to see the Texas Hill Country’s massive pink granite dome. Rising 425 feet to 1,825 feet above sea level, Enchanted Rock offers 11 miles of hiking trails, including one to the summit for a 360-degree view of the surrounding hill country. Note: for hiking access, you need a day pass reserved in advance online.
A visit to Fredericksburg is not complete without stopping at Das Peach Haus (1406 S US Hwy 87, Fredericksburg, 866-997-8969, daspeachhaus.com), a family-run business for 50 years. Starting out as a roadside fruit stand specializing in peaches, the business owned by Fischer and Wieser has grown over the decades. Featuring jams, sauces and a cooking school, encourage the kids to taste samples and pick out a favorite jam to take home. Must-purchases include the best-selling Original Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce (perfect over pork tenderloin or beef) and the slow-cooked Mom’s Organic Roasted Pepper Pasta Sauce.
Extras: Consider visiting Texas Hill Country during Christmastime because the holiday is BIG in Fredericksburg. The Marketplaz square (126 W Main St) resembles the Christmas markets found in Germany and much of Europe during the holiday season. At the end of November, a 26-foot German Christmas pyramid is lighted, featuring a revolving Christmas carousel, the centerpiece of the Marketplaz. On Main Street, choose from more than 150 shops to wander, including year-round Christmas stores specializing in intricate German handcrafted ornaments. Next, take the family on the Eisbahn, an outdoor ice-skating rink. Find even more holiday activities at visitfredericksburgtx.com/events-categories/holiday-events.
Whatever time of year you visit, you’re sure to find family fun in Fredericksburg. Happy Hill Country travels!