By Alexandria Baiz × Vaughn Lowery
Fredericksburg, Texas the destination of historical sites and culture welcomes us. With the hidden treasures of food, wine and goods the Texas Hill Country is a must-visit.
Beginning with a stay at the one and only Hanger Hotel. This hotel has a WWII hangar of the romantic 1940’s to it’s design with fine woods and custom carpets. Famous for the Observation Deck on the second floor with views adjacent to the airport to see the planes come and go from one end of the runway to the end.
Later a stop to the Pioneer Museum Complex preserved from the 19th century German Pioneer days. In the mid-1840s Germans faced every obstacle to come to Texas and create a unique German colony in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. The Museum strives to preserve and tell this story. With a combination museum and historical site, it reaches over 3.5 acres on Main Street in downtown Fredericksburg.
Dinner at Das Peach Haus that houses delicious jams, jellies and sauces made by Fischer and Wieser Speciality Foods. The Historic roadside fruit stand offers gourmet products with unique flavor combinations. The Tasting Room offers tastings from two Texas wineries, which change out every two months. Vintage wines are paired with international assortment of cured meats and cheeses. Fischer and Wieser include more than 70-award-winning products, which each inspire culinary adventures around the world by being able to purchase online.
Clear River Ice Cream and Bakery does things differently with hot-from-the-oven baked goods, homemade ice cream and house deli. Homemade ice cream with high-quality ingredients has been voted as the third best ice cream in Texas. For a bite to eat the deli and salad selection is notable with house favorites like the Chipotle Ranch Chicken Wrap. Fresh baked goods can satisfy any sweet tooth with an Apple Strudel, Peach Cobbler and everything in between.
Tour at the George H.W. Bush Gallery at The National Museum of the Pacific War dedicated exclusively to telling the story of the Pacific Theater in World War II. The Museum is noted for its historic materials with iconic elements of the Pacific War era. Guided tours debut the newly renovated Pacific Combat Zone, a realistic environment for a deep understanding of the momentous struggle between Allied Forces and Japanese forces.
For lunch we enjoy an Arts District Stroll through the Peach Tree Gift Gallery and Tea Room. With the Cottage style restaurant, you will find a combination of fresh, homemade breads, soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts. For over 39 years this family owned business has been a destination in Fredericksburg, because of the seasonal fruits and vegetables they use.
After lunch, we took an art tour through the streets of Fredericksburg to meet with the area’s top galleries. Insight Gallery represents the cities artists and sculptors that today work on landscape, figurative, impressionistic, still life, wildlife and western art. The Good ART Company is beautiful with a contemporary fusion in a restored 4,000+ square foot historical building with high ceilings and limestone walls. The gallery features an array of genres with some of the best regional, national, and international artists. Koch Gallery owned and operated by Bert E. Koch a trader/broker for traditional, contemporary and modern Native American Art. For over 30 years it continues its long tradition of providing important works of art from all major cultural regions in North America. Artisans Gallery makes your artistic dreams reality with unique pieces that come in every medium, size and price range. RS Hanna a jewel for fine arts with original works of acclaimed artists. Workings range from oil, watercolor, bronze and wood. Gallery 330 is the newest addition to the art scene representing contemporary established artists whose works include sculpture, painting and prints, serigraphs and watercolors.
The Holiday Wine Trail takes us to Texas’s countryside to travel along Wine Road 290 with visit to award winning wineries.
The trail begins at Stout’s Trattoria at Grape Creek Vineyards a 100-acre vineyard estate. With oaks and vines surrounding the tasting rooms there is a romantic Tuscan setting that is truly unforgettable. The Vineyards have won over 100 medals in the last two years for their wines.
In the heart of the Texas Hill Country, 4.0 Cellars offers a relaxing and elegant setting to discover the infamous Texas Wines. In a private tasting room we enjoy a wine and chocolate pairing. With four award-winning chocolate truffles from local chocolatier with four carefully selected dry red wines.
Dinner at August E’s, known for it’s organic produce and superb local suppliers. August E inspired by his Thai roots and years in various culinary pursuits throughout the world has created a Nouveau Texas Cuisine. Utilizing ingredients like: Niman ranch Natural Premium Aged Angus steaks and local farmers fruits and vegetables year round. Menu specials change seasonally based on the creative mood of Chef Leu like duck from Maple Leaf Farms and Sashimi Grade Fish.
A favorite in the Texas Hill, we enjoy dinner at Otto’s German Bistro. Menu changes weekly with the season so each visit is an exciting adventure. Dedicated to local, organic produce ingredients that are always fresh and the highest quality.
We enjoy breakfast at Java Ranch a locally owned coffee stop. The ranch serves the finest hot or iced coffee drinks anywhere including lattes, cappuccinos, Hill Country roasted brewed coffee, Americanos and mochas. To start the day off we dive in a breakfast taco or kolaches, house favorites.
We take a visit to the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park for a “Texas style” morning. During his administration, Johnson signed more education bills into law than any other president. In respect to that we see his first school where he signed the landmark Elementary and Secondary Education act of 1965. Other stops include the family cemetery and the LBJ Ranch Show.
In the afternoon we endow in lunch and a beer tasting at Altstadt Brewery Fredericksburg’s newest brewery an authentic Bavarian brewery. Dedicated to creating the purest drinking beers the 120-acre old world destination features a fine dining restaurant, brewery tours and a beautiful venue. Brewery exclusives include traditional brews like Schwarzbier, a traditional German “Black Beer.”
With over 150 specialty shops, shopping is one of the primary reasons visitors come to Fredericksburg. In store we see everything from clothing, upscale home accessories, to unique collectibles and more perfect items for holiday shopping. Blackchalk Home and Laundry originally an old laundromat had been transformed into an electric home goods store. The hip store features gifts, kitchen goods, and one of a kind rugs. The infamous Christmas Store open year round specializes in collectibles. For collectors, this store is paradise with Department 56 miniature villages and Christopher Radko blown glass ornaments. The Hill Country Outfitters and The Grasshopper offer products to fit the hill country lifestyle in downtown Fredericksburg. Brands like Ugg and The North Face are housed in the Outfitters. The Narrow Path Tasting Room inside is an intimate space with French cafe feelings in the air.
To continue the Holiday Wine Trail, a stop at Signor Vineyard in the rolling hills of Central Texas. Where the Pedernales River meets Grape Creek, established by a friendship spanning three generations of two Texas families. Their focus is growing premium varietal fruit with soulful wines reflective of the unique terroir.
Our stay is perfect timing for the Fredericksburg’s 61st Annual Holiday Home Tour. A self guided tour showcasing unique local homes decorated in their holiday finest. With more than 22 vendors each year selling personal gifts, homemade foods and holiday items.
For dinner we dine at Navajo Grill, which encompasses an unusual blend of Hill Country craftsman design. Enjoying Southern cuisine composed with old and New Mexican flavors with a touch of Creole & Caribbean influences. Specialties like the Sunday Chicken Fried Steak dinner are served with housemade sauces and dressings.
After dinner drinks at Elk Store Winery & Distillery. Since 1895 the business has carried a family tradition that pays homage to the spirit of realizing the American Dream. In the footsteps of their great grandfather Todd Smajstrla along with Scott Hladky, produced moonshine, gin, rum, and whiskey. Since then, the business serves Incredible wines from all over the world. Along with small batches of handmade liquors by the bottle or cocktails.
Dinner at Rathskeller a full-service breakfast, lunch and dinner spot in downtown Fredericksburg. The menu selection is extremely versatile featuring German dishes and daily specials. On Friday and Saturday nights enjoy live music that house the restaurant.
Nothing better than the taste of handmade tortillas for breakfast at Hilda’s Tortillas. Hilda’s is a small family owned and operated business. Specializing in authentic Mexican fare their breakfast tacos and burritos are a must try. Twice a week 300 or more pounds of tortilla chips are produced within the restaurant.
For some fresh air we bike the quiet country backroads with Jack and Adams Bicycles. At Jack and Adams you can rent out Road, Tri-bike, Cruisers and even kid bicycles and accessories from a variety of brands. The Hill Country scenes with its rolling hills and panoramic views, is considered the cycling capital of Texas.
In addition to the speciality shops we visited above there is a collection of shops specializing in different festive treats. Emma + Ollie bakeshop takes classic treats we grew up loving and elevated them. The shop prides themselves on using only fresh ingredients; no processed foods, no artificial sweeteners, just pure dessert. The founder Rebecca Rather wanted the shop to feel as if customers stepped into an upscaled version of their own grandma’s kitchen. Chocolat store creator, Lecia Duke, was the first to introduce European-Style, liquid centered chocolate in the U.S. The truffle chocolates are of course a house favorite as the delicate shell gives way to the pure liquid flavor casades in your mouth. In addition there is also colette’s, creams, silk fudges, nut clusters, barks, and caramels. Fredericksburg Pecan Company provides fine quality of pecan products grown in the Texas Hill Country. Owners are dedicated to providing excellent quality pecans available for online order at reasonable prices with the best customer service. Pecans are flavored and glossed in everything from pecan brittle to pecan coffee.
Rustlin Rob’s Texas Gourmet Food is not your ordinary gourmet food, not limited to people who cook but to “foodies” of all ages. The store is enjoyable because it caters to anyone who loves to eat. With over 350 gourmet foods we can sample from ranging from peanut butters, mustards, bread mixes, and some 5 Alarm hot sauces.
Fredericksburg Pie Company mission is to serve pie that is as good as, or better than your mothers or grandmothers made. In store pies are made from scratch and selections change daily with up to 20 kinds of pie. While here, we enjoy an option of coffee, milk, and more with our slice of pie and even a book selection. Sugar free pies are also available with a call in a day before.
Lunch at the Farm Haus Bistro in the Fredericksburg Herb Farm, with an American menu with French and Italian influences. Owners Dick and Rosemary Estenson take us on a tour of the B&B Cottages based upon the design of the early historic Fredericksburg “Sunday Houses. These houses are inspired by German settlers who built these small “city houses” to use on the weekends to buy provisions and attend Sunday church. We also visit the Nature Spa area dedicated to a truly unique relaxing experience.
Exploring Main Street is incredible when we can enjoy Eisban, an outdoor ice skating on real ice. Alongside Marketplace and the Christmas Pyramid. Afterwards a trip to Luckenbach, Texas made famous by Waylon Jennings’ and Willie Nelson’s 1976 classic country hit.
For our last destination Dinner and wine pairing at local Cabernet Grill Texas Wine Country Restaurant. Chef/Owner Ross Burtwell’s wish is to create a lasting impression of culinary craft where guest feel at home. Known for his speciality in preparing the freshest seafood, Certified Angus Beef, wild game and ranch fare. The wine selection is also superb with over 75 selections from around the State of Texas. Tripadvisor has ranked the restaurant Top 10 in the nation and we know why.