Hill Country escape
After a weird winter in San Antonio, it’s time to start planning spring weekend getaways. A perennial favorite destination is Fredericksburg, and even if you’ve been there before, this burg offers plenty of reasons to go back: wineries, distilleries, fun and fine dining, accommodations with character, and plenty of great outdoor excursions. Check out our suggestions for a getaway that has it all.
Specialty food brand Fischer & Wieser created the Fischer & Wieser Farmstead, a kind of mini-theme park for food and wine that includes the Das Peach Haus store and tasting room, a cooking school, a seasonal roadside fruit stand, the Dietz Distillery, and an onsite B&B, the Farmhouse. Outside, in addition to the original peach orchard, the property has a pond and vegetable garden.
Together, it adds up to a great place to relax, says chief experience officer Deanna Fischer.
“We just want people to come spend time, sit outside, walk through the orchard,” she says.
Its peach trees bloom in March, usually right around spring break, making for a great photo op.
Pop by the Dietz Distillery tasting room or grab a cocktail and sit outside to enjoy the view. The Fischers’ oldest son, Case Dietz Fischer, distills brandy using fresh fruit from the orchard, as well as a Texas-style gin and a raspberry vodka, all currently available only onsite. A wine tasting room in the store serves five varieties of Texas wines, Fischer says. Or buy a bottle and, you guessed it, sit outside and relax.
As the second busiest wine tourism destination in the country after only California’s Napa Valley, Fredericksburg has no shortage of places to taste and drink wine. Take advantage of perfect spring days at the many spots with great outdoor facilities. One of the best, Signor Vineyards, has picnic tables on a sprawling lawn and scattered beneath giant oak trees for enjoying wine by the glass and bottle in the shade.
Get caught in an unexpected spring shower? Dash into the Joanna’s Market tasting room in the original Livesay cottage, which in addition to wine offers fresh treats and desserts from Fredericksburg’s Emma & Ollie bakery. It’s open Sunday through Thursday noon-5 pm, and Friday and Saturday 11 am-6 pm.
It is kind of an unspoken rule that visitors to the Hill County must climb Enchanted Rock — and the view from the top of the 640-acre granite dome 425 feet above the ground is incredible, as is the scenery on its many miles of trails. It’s so incredible that the park often reaches capacity, so reserving day passes in advance is a must.
For a more off-the-beaten-path experience, head to:
Old Tunnel State Park, a tiny slice of nature where you can hike a half-mile nature trail and watch for birds and other wildlife. The trail opens daily at sunrise and closes at 5 pm from November to April. From May to October, millions of Mexican free-tailed bats roost in the abandoned railroad tunnel that gives the park its name. Tickets are required to stay after 5 pm to watch the bats leave the tunnel en masse. Bat viewing is offered seven nights a week during those months, with nightly educational presentations Thursday through Sunday. Tickets are not sold onsite, and pets are not allowed because, well, bats.
Literally next door to Old Tunnel is Alamo Springs Café, famous for its Cover Burger, which appeared on the cover of Texas Monthly’s 2009 Best Burgers in Texas issue. It’s a half-pound cheeseburger topped with grilled onions, avocado, and green chiles served on a jalapeño cheese bun. The place has plenty of outdoor seating, a full bar, and frequent live music.
It does sometimes rain in spring in Texas. No worries. That’s time to head for the National Museum of the Pacific War, a Smithsonian Affiliate housing the most comprehensive account of World War II in the Asiatic-Pacific theater. (Trivia question: Why is it located in Fredericksburg? Because Chester W. Nimitz, a Navy fleet admiral in that conflict, was born there.) The sprawling facility also has an outdoor Memorial Courtyard and Japanese Garden of Peace that’s lovely to visit when the rain lets up.
Across the street, check out Tubby’s Ice House neighborhood burger and taco joint (try the goat vindaloo and black bean and kale), which offers indoor and outdoor seating. Plus, there’s a full bar featuring margaritas, craft beers, wine, and frosé. It’s open daily 11 am-9 pm.
If you have any weekend left, simply stroll Main Street for a plethora of other restaurants and tasting rooms, as well as adorable shops. Or hop on the 290 Wine Shuttle, departing from downtown Fredericksburg to a set of wineries every 10 minutes on Fridays and Saturdays. Or book a private tour of some of the dozens of wineries and breweries lining this road all the way to Johnson City. Remember to raise a toast to spring!