Road Trip: Texas Hill Country
Texas’s hill country is an iconic place of beauty and if you have not been it is well worth the trip.
The Hill Country in its entirety begins as far north as Austin and continues down to San Antonio. Among the numerous winding roads and hidden gems are some well-known cities, famous in their own right. Patrick J. Kelly wrote a fantastic article outlining each of these must-see destinations, view it in it’s entirety here.
Start in San Antonio
These attractions form a loop starting in San Antonio and taking in Bandera, Kerrville, Fredericksburg, Enchanted Rock, Johnson City, and New Braunfels, before returning to San Antonio.
From San Antonio, travel northwest on Highway 16 to Bandera, part of the Edwards Plateau and has a population of just 857 at the time of the 2010 census.* Calling itself the ‘Cowboy Capital of the World’, a visit to The Frontier Times Museum in Bandera (510 13th St., Bandera, TX 78003; (830) 796-3864; www.frontiermuseum.org) highlights this culture.
Old Spanish Trail Restaurant (305 Main St., Bandera, TX 78003; tel. (830) 796-3836), is a local tourist spot. If you’re interested in what the locals are eating try visiting Mi Pueblo Mexican Restaurant (706 Main St, Bandera, TX 78003; tel. (830) 796-8047) on Wednesdays for their Spinach Enchiladas.
By looping around on Highway 16 or cutting straight to it on 173 you can reach Kerrville. It’s beautiful main square has a view of the Guadalupe River and prides itself on nature’s abundance.
Riverside Nature Center (150 Francisco Lemos St., Kerrville, TX 78028; tel. (830) 257-4837; www.riversidenaturecenter.org) a non-profit arboretum with wildlife and native a plant sanctuary. The gardens are open daily without charge.
Inn of the Hills (1001 Junction Hwy.; tel. 1 830 895 5000; www.innofthehills.com)
Known, even locally, as the “German Hill Country,” Fredericksburg’s Main Street is lined with specialty shops, boutiques and bakeries. Among the hundreds of B&Bs is some truly authentic German food fare.
Stop in for a sample of the home-made fudge Fredericksburg Fudge & Sundries (218 E. Main St.; tel. (830) 997-0533; www.fbgfudge.com)
Ausländer Biergarten (323 E. Main St.; tel. (830) 997-7714)
Admiral Nimitz Museum and the National Museum of the Pacific War (340 E. Main St.; tel. (830) 997-4379; www.nimitz-museum.org)
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
North of Fredericksburg it is only about 18 miles distance to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. A tall dome of pink granite said to be a billion years old invites hikers from surrounding areas and tourists alike.
(tel. (830) 685-3636; www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/enchanted_rock).
Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park Visitor Center
Just a short trip down the road is Johnson City, home to the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park Visitor Center (Ave. G and Ladybird Ln.; tel. (830) 868-7128; www.nps.gov/lyjo).
New Braunfels and Gruene
Just off interstate 35, New Braunfels is home to a historic district, life on the river and a rich community of both German heritage and Texas adventure.
Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort (305 W. Austin St.; tel. (830) 625-2351; www.schlitterbahn.com/nb)
Must-see, Gruene (pronounced “green”), is the historic district of New Braunfels, home to Gruene Hall (1281 Gruene Rd.; tel. (830) 606-1281; www.gruenehall.com), open since 1878.
New Braunfels Museum of Art & Music (1259 Gruene Rd.; tel. (830) 625-5636), affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution and celebrating Texas artists
Gruene Mansion Inn (1275 Gruene Rd.; tel. (830) 629-2641; www.gruenemansioninn.com), overlooks the Guadalupe River.
Comal and Guadalupe Rivers
Patrick Kelly’s article ends the road trip by boasting the two beautiful rivers located in New Braunfels. Popular with locals because of the relaxing days one can spend floating down the river or as we call it ‘going tubing’ for more information visit www.tubeinnewbraunfels.com.
To find out more, contact Texas Tourism (tel. 800 888 8839; www.traveltex.com). Check out B&Bs in Fredericksburg at www.fredericksburglodging.com, and for the New Braunfels region, www.texasbedandbreakfast.com. Also see www.hat.org, the website for the Texas Bed & Breakfast Association.
(Retrieved from, http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/road-trips/hill-country-texas-road-trip/; Text by Patrick J. Kelly, adapted from National Geographic Traveler)
* “Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Bandera city, Texas”. U.S. Census Bureau