John O. Meusebach couldn’t have imagined what would become of the settlement he established in 1846 on the Texas frontier. He found a tract of land 60 miles northwest of New Braunfels and bought 10,000 acres near the confluence of two streams about 4 miles above the Pedernales River. The first German immigrants arrived on May 8, 1846 to the new town which was named Fredericksburg after Prince Frederick of Prussia.
Nestled in the heart of the Hill Country, Fredericksburg continues to thrive today. The town holds tight to its German heritage in various ways with its beloved Main Street, restaurants, and cultural traditions. A proliferation of vineyards, wineries, galleries, and shopping have also infused the town with new energy and made it one of Texas’ most popular tourist destinations.
This Texas Hill Country treasure seamlessly blends its German roots with Texas traditions. Grab a drink at a biergarten (including Altdorf Biergarten and The Auslander) or one of the local wineries and peruse the town’s bustling Main Street and museums.
If you’re up for a challenge, hike to the top of Enchanted Rock, a pink granite mountain less than 20 miles north of town.
Fredericksburg is one of the most getaway-worthy small towns in the whole Lone Star State—and that’s saying something. Located between the popular destinations of San Antonio and Austin it’s not only easy to reach but it still feels a million miles away from city life. This tiny town is dripping with old-fashioned traditions and authentic German roots.
Present-day Fredericksburg’s charm attributes to many things: The picturesque Hill Country scenery, the town’s uncanny ability to maintain its dual German-Texan heritage, and its many impressive attractions. From over 100 wineries and tasting rooms to a Main Street bustling with shops, galleries, restaurants, and biergartens, discover this hidden gem and make the most of your trip to Fredericksburg.
ENJOY LOCAL CUISINE
Indulge in authentic German food and biergartens
Of course, it wouldn’t be a trip to Fredericksburg without Tex-Mex cuisine, schnitzels, sauerbraten (German pot roast), and German beer gardens. Wondering where to eat in Fredericksburg? You can find delicious food and handcrafted spirits at more than 70 restaurants including upscale eatery Cabernet Grill and German specialty restaurant Der Lindenbaum. Head to Old German Bakery & Restaurant for a hearty breakfast but make sure to get there early to snag a table.
Just off Main Street, you’ll stumble upon a novel culinary experience at Otto’s German Bistro. This restaurant makes the most locally grown and produced ingredients to dish up farm-to-table German cuisine in the heart of the American South. The menu is specially curated for each season to ensure that the meals are always as fresh as possible. With delicacies like duck schnitzel, truffle linguine, and their famous wurst platte on offer, you can’t go wrong.
Sip your way along the wine trails
They don’t call this part of Texas wine country for nothing. Over 100 vineyards and tasting rooms are located in and around town providing the ultimate vino experience while learning about Texas grapes. Fredericksburg is one of the most-visited wine destinations in the country. Favorite recommendations include Grape Creek Vineyards, Messina Hof Hill Country Winery, and Barons Creek Vineyards. Book the 290 Wine Shuttle for safe all-day transportation between the wineries.
Looking for outdoor activities?
Stop and smell the state’s flowers at Wildseed Farms
This gorgeous 200-acre space is the largest wildflower farm in the United States and home to not only magical sunflower fields but also to the iconic Texas bluebonnet as well as other state specialties like red corn poppies and phlox. The best time to visit is in spring when all of the showstoppers are on display but the farm is still filled with a large selection of summer blooms as well as a stockpile of pumpkins ready to be carved in fall. Visitors can even shop for their own seeds to plant at home. A half-mile of leisurely walking trails will get you up close and personal with the flowers and sitting areas throughout the farm are a great place to relax and enjoy the sights.
Climb Enchanted Rock
Not only does Fredericksburg boast the country’s biggest wildflower farm, it’s also only a 20-minute drive to America’s largest pink granite mountain. Perched on the Llano Uplift, the incredible Enchanted Rock is a pink granite dome that can be seen from many miles around. The rock is a massive granite dome that is part of the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area.
Enchanted Rock is a stunning natural area with 8.4 miles of hiking trails and some of the best night sky views in the state. The Tonkawa Indians believed that this site was inhabited by spirits that protected the land from unwelcome intruders and much of that magic is still felt today.
An incentive for reaching the peak of this pink granite dome is the breathtaking view of the Texas Hill Country that awaits you at the top.
Many visitors claim they’ve heard strange sounds and seen unnatural lights at night. If that’s not enough of an adrenaline rush for you, Enchanted Rock is home to some of the best rock climbing in the state with routes available for all skill levels. (The rolling hills and pasture views are incredible!)
TRAVEL BACK IN TIME
Remember the Pacific
Probably the last place you’d expect to hear detailed accounts and witness bona fide relics of World War II in the Pacific is in this little central Texas town. But alas, history is waiting to be explored in Fredericksburg’s National Museum of the Pacific War. At the museum’s combat zone, you can immerse yourself in a staged reenactment of the events of the war that played out in the Pacific. In its vast gallery space, visitors can participate in interactive exhibits and view tanks and aircrafts used in the war.
Pioneer Museum Complex
For a calmer journey into the past, the Pioneer Museum Complex offers a unique look at the history of the area tracing the story of the first German settlers who arrived in Fredericksburg in the 1840s. All of that spread across a 3.5-acre museum complex which includes the Vereins Kirche Museum. The Vereins Kirche Museum is, among others, a reconstruction of the original building that served as a Town Hall and a piece of living history. The experience includes a self-guided stroll around the grounds where historic homesteads, a one-room schoolhouse, and a smokehouse spread out below towering Texas pecans.
Explore the Texas White House
The 36th president of the United States called Fredericksburg his home and visitors today can still visit the legendary LBJ Ranch, an incredible national historic site. Pick up a free driving permit that allows you to view the grounds from the comfort of your own car, stopping and sightseeing at their own pace. Among the unmissable lookout spots are the President’s birthplace, the family cemetery, and Johnson’s sprawling ranch house lovingly known as the Texas White House. You can also take a tour through LBJ’s childhood home or visit his grandfather’s cattle driving headquarters built in the 1860s and still standing today.
VISIT LIKE A LOCAL
Spend time on Main Street
Shops and tourist attractions may come and go but one aspect of Fredericksburg has stood the test of time: the historic storefronts up and down Main Street. In addition to stores, art galleries, and artisan gifts and treats, the epicenter of Main Street is the Marktplatz. You can even see Wilkommen (translation: welcome) signs on full display throughout town. For drinks and live music start the evening at 78624 Bar before heading to dinner at acclaimed Vaudeville, a French-style bistro on Main Street. Other recommended dinner spots include Hill & Vine and Otto’s German Bistro.
Rest your feet at Marktplatz
This square at the heart of Fredericksburg holds the old site of the town’s first church and school and the two main shopping districts stretch out on either side. The grounds are full of sprawling gardens, a gorgeous setting for many of Fredericksburg’s festivals, special events, and a popular destination for wedding ceremonies. It has excellent photo opportunities too.
Even if you go when there’s nothing on the schedule, wandering around Marktplatz is an event in and of itself. You’ll find historical sculptures, picnic areas, and plenty of green space to spread out on after a morning of shopping.
Attend a Festival
Depending on the time of year you visit there is almost always a seasonal festival on the lineup. In spring, expect events surrounding the Texas bluebonnets in bloom. In the fall, the town is gearing up for Oktoberfest (which celebrates the town’s German heritage) and the Food & Wine Festival. Fredericksburg also gets decked out for the holiday season and is not to be missed.
Now, off to plan your next trip to Fredericksburg.
Texas Spoken Friendly
Texas is a state of the mind.
Texas is an obsession.
Texas is a nation in every sense of the word.
―John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America