FREDERICKSBURG, TEXAS: HERZLICH WILLKOMMEN!
That's German for “warm welcome,” and that's what will greet you when you visit this awesome little spot in the Texas Hill Country. This town of just over 11,000 people prides itself on its German heritage, its unique history in central Texas, and its surroundings, all of which make it a tourism hot spot.
Founded in 1846, Fredericksburg was named for Prince Frederick of Prussia. Its founders were highly-educated and progressive German citizens who were seeking solace from social and economic changes that were taking place at the time in their home country. The settlement of Fredericksburg was problematic in the beginning, with the German newcomers being used as a sort of political football between the leaders of Texas and Mexico.
Through the 19th and first few decades of the 20th centuries, Fredericksburg forged a history like many of the surrounding Hill Country communities, focusing on ranching and agricultural interests. However, after World War II, famous local natives Admiral Chester Nimitz and President Lyndon B. Johnson drew national attention to the area, and enterprising locals capitalized on this, growing a booming and vibrant tourism culture that still exists today. Fredericksburg caters to tasteful tourism, its downtown district composed of historic architecture, its surroundings those of the beautiful Hill Country.
For a small town, there's a lot going on in and around Fredericksburg! Backroads Reservations is happy to provide the following representative list of what guests can see and do in the Fredericksburg area.
History and Museums
Fredericksburg's citizens are proud of their history—and rightly so. The Pioneer Museum here features artifacts, walking tours, and special events that showcase the town's unique German heritage and Texas can-do attitude. Check their schedule for historical reenactments and hands-on crafts! The museum itself is located in Fredericksburg's Marktplatz, a pleasant and relaxing park in the heart of downtown's historic district.
Dedicated history buffs will also want to check out the National Museum of the Pacific War, which also includes the Admiral Nimitz State Historical Site. Nimitz, a Fredericksburg native, played a major role in the US Navy during World War II, and the site dedicated to him is centered around a hotel his grandfather built here in 1852. The museum itself is the only location in the continental United States dedicated to telling the story of the Pacific Theater during World War II.
Speaking of history, just a couple miles southeast of Fredericksburg is Fort Martin Scott, which was built in 1848 by the Texas Rangers as an outpost to supply and protect settlers in the area. Just across the road from the fort is the Texas Rangers Heritage Center, which tells the colorful and exciting history of this fabled group of lawmen and women.
Cap off your historic tour of the area at the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, just 19 miles east of Fredericksburg. Our 36th president grew up here, his ranch served as the “Texas White House,” and it's also where you'll find his final resting place. The ranger-guided tours here will fill you in on every facet of his fascinating and storied life. Next door is the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site, home to historic cabins, and the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm, where historically-accurate reenactments work the farm as it was originally done in the late 19th century.
Just north of Fredericksburg is the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. It's named for the huge pink granite dome that rises over 400 feet above the surrounding countryside, providing amazing views of the Hill Country. Hikers will be in their element on the 11 miles of hiking trails available here, and it's a perfect location for camping, nature study, or just relaxing and savoring the view. This is a great location to see the fall colors from mid-October to November.
Head south from town, and you'll find Old Tunnel State Park, with rugged and rustic trails that are perfect for wildlife viewing. The park is best known for the abandoned railroad tunnel on the grounds, which has since become home to a gigantic bat colony, three million strong. From May to October, visitors can witness their sunset flight from the entrance of the tunnel.
Cross Mountain Park, on the edge of town, is hard to miss; its towering overlook is home to a lighted stone cross. This site is home to primitive hiking trails, and offers a great setting for wildlife viewing, a takeaway picnic, and a high vantage point replete with breathtaking Hill Country views. Those views are especially spectacular when the leaves change during the fall.
Southwest of town is Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park, named after the First Lady, who was born and raised in east Texas. This well-appointed park offers accommodations not only for hikers, but also a swimming pool, several sports areas, and pavilions for larger gatherings. Barbecue areas and picnic tables can be found throughout the park, and the Tatsch House—built in the mid-1800s, but since remodeled with modern conveniences—can be reserved for your gathering. The park is also home to the Fredericksburg Nature Center, designed to show off the diversity of wildlife and plant life in central Texas.
Finally, consider a visit to the Hill Country Elephant Preserve, the permanent home to five elephants. Guests can visit these noble creatures up close, and learn about the species' history and future worldwide. Visitors with kids absolutely love this location!
The third Saturday of every month, Fredericksburg hosts its famous Trade Days, seven barns housing a gigantic flea and swap market, featuring everything from antiques to jewelry to handmade crafts. There's always food and drink aplenty, and as the hosts put it, “If you can't find it at Trade Days, you don't need it!”
Got your motorcycle? Late April brings the Hill Country Run Motorcycle Rally to the area! Hosted jointly by Fredericksburg and nearby Luckenbach, this rally features scenic Hill Country road trips, cowboy breakfasts, numerous vendors, and live entertainment. Don't forget to enter your bike in the bike show!
No town of German heritage would be complete without Oktoberfest, and Fredericksburg is no exception! In early October, the town rolls out the barrel and lederhosen to its welcome guests, with authentic German food, drink, crafts and live entertainment. Party with your family and friends to oompah music, and all the Chicken Dancing your heart desires!
Also in October is the Texas Mesquite Arts Festival, held downtown in Fredericksburg's historic Marktplatz. The Lone Star Sate is known for the mesquite tree, and its wood is equally famous for its use in down-home Texas barbecue. This festival celebrates mesquite in a unique way, with artisans crafting furniture, jewelry and much more from the distinctive wood.
October also rolls out the Harvest Classic Motorcycle Rally, featuring European and vintage motorcycles. Hosted in nearby Luckenbach, it's just a short ride through the beautiful Hill Country between there and Fredericksburg. This gathering is home to an enormous swap meet, bike auctions, a bike show, and even a Saturday Night Moto-Movie—like a drive-in for bikers.
Late October brings the Fredericksburg Food and Wine Fest to the Marktplatz. Sample local cuisine, craft beers, and wine, and attend a cooking lesson or two. Numerous local vendors share their wares in the artisan and specialty booths, and live entertainment is featured throughout the event, as well.
If you're visiting Fredericksburg over the holidays, the entire town takes part in pulling out all the stops for their neighbors and visitors. Local parks and many residences dress up for the season, and all the downtown shops deck their stores with Christmas finery, turning the main streets into a replica of a beautiful Old-World German Christmas Village. The holiday season kicks off with Fredericksburg's Light the Night Christmas Parade in early December.
Food and Drink
A German heritage like that of Fredericksburg includes beer, and there are two established breweries in town who have built their reputations on home-brewed goodness. The Fredericksburg Brewing Company offers a rotating menu of local brews, along with a menu of both German favorites and pub fare classics. Another great place to sample on-site brews and a solid and hearty food menu is the Altstadt Brewery.
The Texas Hill Country surrounding Fredericksburg is renowned throughout the state—and by aficionados all over the country—for ideal conditions for vineyards. As a result, there are several distinctive and celebrated wineries in the vicinity. There are so many vintners around that we could fill several articles just detailing all of them individually. Luckily, Wine Road 290 has compiled an extensive list of the wineries in the Fredericksburg neighborhood for us. Wine enthusiasts will be in grapevine heaven when they visit Fredericksburg!
No visit to Fredericksburg would be complete without sampling the authentic German cuisine available there. Locals, no doubt, have their favorites—but in the spirit of neutrality, we're providing links to the most popular German restaurants in town in alphabetical order by name. Every one's a winner, and we invite our guests to sample all their excellent menus:
Old German Bakery & Restaurant
Otto's German Bistro
For those who don't necessarily want German cuisine for every meal, that's understandable—and Fredericksburg has numerous fine dining options available. For upscale-style dining in a casual atmosphere, Cabernet Grill is an excellent choice. Hondo's on Main is popular for their bar fare-and-burger menu. August E's serves up Nouveau Texas Cuisine—steak, seafood, and sushi—in an elegant and more formal setting. Vaudeville features high-end dining in its bistro, along with elite boutique shopping. Artisinal food crafted from only the freshest ingredients is on the menu at Nury's. The Asian Garden is a local favorite for Asian fare, and the West End Pizza Co. serves up brick oven-baked pizzas on their homemade dough.
When you visit a historic and picturesque town like Fredericksburg, you don't want to return to a bland hotel room. Backroads Reservations welcomes our guests to the area with our comfortable Fredericksburg relaxing rentals with Hill Country character! Browse our Comfort listings and Kerrville listings in the vicinity, and we'll help you round out your Fredericksburg visit in style. Prost!