We’re often tempted to say to our kids “you don’t know how good you have it!” as we launch into the hardships we and older generations had, usually ending how we had to walk to school 5 miles, uphill both ways. Located just an hour’s drive from San Antonio, leave the hustle and bustle of that charming city to nestle in to Fredericksburg, founded in 1846 by Baron Otfried Hans von Meusebach. He found the site 80 miles northwest of where many Germans were settling in New Braunfels. Land was cleared and plots were distributed for businesses and homes. Each settler received a town lot plus 10 acres within the vicinity for their homestead.
Putting Down Roots
The Inn on Baron’s Creek makes a perfect home base while exploring Fredericksburg, especially when travelling with kids or grandkids. A spacious suite provides a homey feeling but enough space to not feel cramped. Being able to cook in the room is a plus and a well-stocked hotel gift shop has all the necessities including Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream which is, of course, a necessity. There are other nice touches including a full breakfast, pool, lush grounds, workout room and a peep hole at kid level in the room door (think “Mommy is getting ice, don’t answer the door unless it’s me.”)
Shop and Eat, Shop and Eat
With your home base established just a short walk from Main Street, you’re in the thick of things in the Historic downtown area. Shopping and galleries, with loads to see and buy are punctuated by cute, casual restaurants including Burger Burger where it seems like one meal may just sustain you your entire stay. Navajo Grill serves up inventive, elegant food with just about the prettiest patio ever for dining al fresco. Mahaley’s Café, a stone’s throw from the hotel is a great place to stop for a breakfast burrito to go when you’re heading off to other parts of Fredericksburg. For an authentic German meal, Der Lindenbaum offers charm and hearty eats including a variety of Schnitzels.
Going Back in Time
History abounds in Fredericksburg, not only in the buildings, many of which go back to the area’s first settlement but also in impressive museums. Two are located at either end of the main street in downtown. The Pioneer Museum Complex is a collection of authentic structures from the 19th century including Sunday Houses, a one-room home settlers built in town where they would stay while visiting with friends, stocking up on supplies and attending church before heading back to their land. Docents and reenactors tell and show what life was like back then, including a great demonstration of old-fashioned toys that kept kids very happy with nary a USB port required!
At the other end of the downtown area, and also very close to the hotel is the George H. W. Bush Gallery at The National Museum of the Pacific War, the only museum in the U.S. dedicated exclusively to telling the story of the Pacific Theater in World War II. Fredericksburg’s native son, Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander-in-Chief of Allied Forces, Pacific Ocean Area, provides the cornerstone of the museum campus. Dramatic, exciting, sobering and hands-on, take advantage of the ticket policy that allows you 48 hours to visit. For a break during museum visits, stop into Tubby’s Ice House nearby for Caribbean style street food. Bright colors, popsicles and a kid’s play area make this outdoor restaurant a good place to rejuvenate.
Admiral Nimitz isn’t the only famous historical figure to have close ties to Fredericksburg. Lyndon B. Johnson’s family homestead is located on the sprawling, pastoral land. The Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park is also where “The Texas White House” was, where Johnson conducted much of his business both as Vice President and then as the 36th President. The home he shared with Lady Bird and their children is stopped in time with clothes in closets, the table set and, eerily, the kitchen clock set to the exact moment the kitchen staff stopped prepping for JFK and Jackie Kennedy’s weekend visit as they watched Walter Cronkite announce that Kennedy had been assassinated.
Also on the property, across the Pedernales River, is the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farmstead where the whole family will happily be drawn back to the 1800s. This is a (hard) working farm where park interpreters wear period clothing and carry out the day-to-day tasks of tending to the animals, working the fields, making soap and cooking meals (from said animals and harvested plants). It’s life as authentic as it can get, showing the whole family how challenging, serene and earnest people’s lives were.
Wait, Did I Just See…
A must-stop destination is Wildseed Farms, the largest wild seed producer in the U.S. with 200 acres of colorful fields. The Thomas’s, the couple who own Wildseed, sure knew what they were doing planting field after field of wildflowers along the road. With several wineries along interstate 290 (referred to as Wine Road 290!), one might wonder if they really are seeing a sea of red poppies or bluebells or other flowers, depending on the season. It’s an amazing sight that draws you to pull in and take a stroll. Shop for wildflower seed to take home, selected especially for each region of the country and get patient, knowledgeable planting tips from owner John Thomas who clearly loves what he does.
Also, stop at Das Peach Haus, taste-testing and stocking up on jams, seasonings and sauces including their famous Original Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce. Take a stroll out back too to see the pond and peach orchards, a crop Fredericksburg is famous for.
Fredericksburg, Texas has a charm and ease about it that makes visitors feel comfortable right away, taking advantage of all the area has to offer. With something of interest to a variety of ages, you’ll play off of the past to have new stories to tell.
Before you go: Visit www.VisitFredericksburgTX.com for links to everything mentioned here, events and loads of ideas for things to enjoy there.
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