Fredericksburg, Texas: Hill Country Awaits

Known as “Tuscany in Texas,” Grape Creek Vineyards in the Texas Hill Country near Fredericksburg is one of about 60 wineries in the area. Its wines have won more than 100 medals in competition recently. | Jeffrey Orenstein

Small-town Texas? Forget your stereotypes.

Fredericksburg, Texas has nary a 10-gallon hat in sight. Instead, this wonderful town on the edge of Hill Country is filled with wineries, art galleries, culture, fine dining and history. Simply put, it is a sophisticated and fascinating artsy town well worth a visit.

The area was settled in the mid-19th century by German immigrants who were promised land in the New World. They arrived after a long, arduous journey and proceeded to negotiate and honor a peace treaty with the region’s Native Americans. This allowed them to build a town with wide streets, eclectic architecture and a 19th-century German ambiance.

Today, the area has maintained its character and reverence for its roots. Ancestors of the original settlers have preserved buildings, artifacts and the welcoming spirit that built the town. No wonder so many great shops, galleries, wine-tasting rooms and restaurants are proud to call Fredericksburg home.

While there is enough to do in town to keep even the most ardent tourist busy for a few days, Fredericksburg is in the middle of a fascinating region. A mere 16 miles away, in the heart of Hill Country, lies the LBJ Ranch, home of both a national and state park.

In and around town, there are several craft breweries including one (Aldstadt) that is producing authentic German-style beer in a new brewery custom-built by German craftsmen and overseen by a native German brewmaster.

Fredericksburg is also the center of one of the nation’s emerging fine wine regions. Fine wine and Texas in the same sentence? Yes! The region’s approximately 60 wineries, some more than 20 years old, have begun to produce some truly impressive Mediterranean-style dry and impressively vinified red, white and rosé wines.

Peaches are also an important crop in the region, although much of the land devoted to them is transitioning to vineyards.

The Fourth of July parade in Fredericksburg has vintage cars passing vintage buildings. | Claire McCormack

Before You Go:

For a list of area attractions and tour suggestions, check:

Getting There:

Fredericksburg is reached by highway via Texas Route 87, which connects to Interstate 10 about 50 miles northwest of San Antonio. The city can also be reached via Texas 290, about 83 miles west from Austin.

The nearest major airport is San Antonio International Airport (SAT), which is 68 miles away. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) is 84 miles distant.

The nearest Amtrak service is via the Texas Eagle from Chicago (which also serves San Antonio and Austin) at San Marco, 71 miles away.

Getting Around:

A car is almost a must to see the region, although the central part of the town is walkable. The Fredericksburg Trolley ( offers tours and excursions.

Must-dos for a short trip:

  • Spend at least an hour at the Pioneer Museum. Be sure to see the 12-minute video for a sense of Fredericksburg’s history.
  • Walk around the Marktplatz (Fredericksburg’s central square).
  • Visit the National Museum of the Pacific War, located in Fredericksburg because it is the home of World War II Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz.
  • Stroll Main Street shops, art galleries and wineries.
  • Eat at a German restaurant on Main Street and/or August E’s restaurant.
  • Visit Das Peach Haus (far more than peaches).
The Marktplatz, the central square of Fredericksburg, is decorated for the holiday season and attracts throngs of locals and visitors. | TRawls

If You Have Several Days:

In addition to the above:

  • Take a class at the Fischer & Wieser Culinary Adventure Cooking School.
  • Explore the LBJ Ranch state and national parks, 17 miles away.
  • Visit Enchanted Rock State Park.
  • Check out “country Texas” at Luckenbach.
  • Enjoy a good meal and wine at the Cabernet Grill Texas Wine Country Restaurant.
  • Visit San Antonio (especially the Riverwalk and the Alamo), explore Hill Country and experience the hip vibrancy of Austin.
This unassuming home on the LBJ Ranch served as the Texas White House when Lyndon B. Johnson was president of the United States from 1963 to 1969. He died there in 1973. The site is now a national historic park. | Jeffrey Orenstein

Exploring Fredericksburg and the Hill Country at a Glance:

Mobility Level: Easy mobility with some walking in town and around the LBJ Ranch.

Senior Travel Advantages: Great shopping, museums, laid-back ambiance, theater, galleries, good wine, good food.

When to Go: Any time. Fredericksburg is a good place to explore year-round. Summers can be hot, but winters are usually mild.

The nearby Texas Hill Country, west of Austin in south-central Texas, is ablaze with wildflowers each spring, when Texas bluebonnets, primroses, Indian paintbrush and many more charming varieties turn the landscape into ribbons of color. The blossoms usually start blooming around March. Peak season is March and April. Christmas has a home tour, ice skating and the market.

Where to Stay: Fredericksburg Herb Farm, Fredericksburg Inn or at the national chains with properties in and around town.

Ginny O’s Tips for Dressing the Simply Smart Way: Dressy casual is appropriate. Forget the cowboy boots. Dress seasonally and a little upscale.

Special Travel Interests: Wine, wildflowers, Texas history

The Sauer Beckmann Living History Farm is operated by the Lyndon Johnson Texas State Park. It recreates Texas farm life in the 19th century as would have been experienced by German immigrants, complete with period staff clothing and era-appropriate farming machinery and techniques. | Jeffrey Orenstein

Jewish Fredericksburg

While the population of Texas is less than 1 percent Jewish, Jews are fairly prominent in the big cities and the majority of Texas Jews live in Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin and El Paso.

But some Jewish life exists out of the big cities. Fredericksburg, like many Texas small towns, does not have many Jewish residents or institutions, but despite being in a sparsely populated area, there is Jewish life in the region.

Twenty-four miles from Fredericksburg, in Kerrville, the Community of The Hill Country meets at the local Unitarian-Universalist Church. Its website ( tells about its Torah scroll.

“Thanks to the generosity of our members, we have a Torah scroll. It was discovered that some Torah scrolls, rescued from Nazi destruction, were being restored in England and offered to congregations on permanent loan. The JCHC acquired one of the 1,500 scrolls available, securing scroll number 1,498. With careful inspection, congregants believe the scroll to be of Czech origin.”

Jews and Jewish visitors in Hill Country need to travel to San Antonio, about 70 miles distant, for a significant Jewish institutional presence. That town has a Jewish Federation, a Jewish community center and at least four congregations ranging from Reform to Orthodox.

The fast-growing Jewish community in Austin, 85 miles from Fredericksburg, numbers more than 15,000 and boasts a Jewish community center and at least 10 congregations covering the Jewish spectrum.

Historically, the Republic of Texas was helped by Henri Castro, an influential French banker who descended from Portuguese Jews. He contracted with the Texas government in 1842 to create a colony in southwestern Texas and brought in hundreds of people from Alsace, largely with his own money.

Organized Judaism in Texas began in Galveston with the establishment of Texas’ first Jewish cemetery in 1852. Temple Beth-El of San Antonio dates to 1874.

While anti-Semitism is not unknown in Texas, especially dating to the heyday of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s, prominent Jewish Texans today include the Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, Joe Straus, (R-San Antonio), the late Stanley Marcus of department store fame and Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell, Inc.


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