Over the past few weeks we’ve been exploring the Texas Hill Country, taking day trips from Austin to towns and attractions in the surrounding regions. Texas Hill Country is an area of Central and South Texas that includes 25 counties. We’ve enjoyed hitting the highlights of each town we visited.
LBJ National Historical Park
Our first venture out of Austin was to visit the Lyndon Baines Johnson National Historical Park which is actually located in two small towns west of Austin. The park includes the boyhood home of Lyndon Johnson in Johnson City and a portion of his ranch where there are other buildings of significance in the life of the man who became the 36th United States president, including his “Texas White House.”
The boyhood home where LBJ grew up in Johnson City has been restored to look as it would have during the time he lived there.
About fifteen miles away from Johnson City, in Stonewall, Texas, is the LBJ ranch. Part of the 2000 acre ranch, including the portion where the Texas White House is located, was donated by Johnson’s heirs and later became the National Historical Park.
On another day trip we visited the town of Fredricksburg which is even further west of Austin. Mr. MT Nest, who is a lover of military history, visited the National Museum of the Pacific War while I wandered the Main Street shops.
There are some perfectly adorable stores on Main Street and I just loved the iconic architecture of the buildings. There is an old Five and Dime Store and they have an interesting assortment of merchandise. Even the way they do business is a throwback to an earlier era. They don’t accept credit cards of any sort, but they will take cash or a check.
Fredricksburg was originally settled by German immigrants and has a number of restaurants serving delicious authentic German foods. We enjoyed a great lunch in one of those restaurants, the Old German Bakery & Restaurant.
The area around Fredricksburg is in the heart of a network of Texas Hill Country Wineries. We visited several of the wineries and participated in tastings. During February, there was a promotion going on that we took advantage of. For a one-time charge, we received a Winery Passport and could do a tasting at any of the wineries for no additional charge. The passport was good for three weeks and more than 20 of the wineries were participating. We visited 8 of the 20 wineries over the three-week period. And, even though the winery pictured above wasn’t on the list, we just had to make a stop when we saw that sign.
New Braunfels is southwest of Austin. The historic area of New Braunfels is Gruene (pronounced Green). In Greune the claim to fame is the historic Greune Dancehall. This is the oldest continuously operating dancehall in Texas. It was built in 1878.
In an old cotton gin building with river views, The Gristmill Restaurant serves up Texas fare, beer and cocktails, and live music in the courtyard while you wait for your name to appear on the chalkboard signaling your table is ready.
During our explorations in Texas Hill Country, we’ve experienced good food, live music, quaint little towns, beautiful scenery, and interesting people. Fun times for sure! More to come in another post.
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