Nestled away amidst the picture-perfect landscapes of Texas Hill Country is the lovely little city of Fredericksburg. As it lies not too far from both Austin and San Antonio, it makes for a great day trip destination or quiet weekend away.
Best known for its rich German history and heritage, it is named after Prince Frederick of Prussia. This cultural influence is still on show with plenty of traditional restaurants, bakeries and bars dotted along Main Street. Many churches, museums and historic buildings also relate to the town’s founders, as do various cultural festivals and, of course, Oktoberfest.
Besides these things to do in Fredericksburg, the region surrounding the city is also known for its excellent wineries. Thanks to its scenic beauty, European ambience and charming small-town feel, Fredericksburg is not to be missed when in Texas.
12. Wildseed Farms
Full of colorful flowers, the fields of Wildseed Farms occupy a huge area southeast of Fredericksburg. A photography hot spot, it has plenty of picturesque trails for you to wander along in between all of its wonderful wildflowers.
Established in 1983, it has grown considerably and is now the nation’s largest working wildflower farm. Originally just a seed producer, it now welcomes tons of tourists each spring that come to tour its fields and sample some local grapes and wines.
As you stroll around, you’ll spot lots of Texas flowers including beautiful bluebonnets, red poppies and cheery sunflowers. Rare and exotic plants also feature, while pumpkin carving can be enjoyed in fall. Afterwards, you can buy some seeds and souvenirs in the gift shop to remind you of your trip.
11. St. Mary’s Catholic Church
Lying right in the heart of the historic district is one of the most important and impressive buildings in town. Exhibiting exquisite architecture, St. Mary’s Catholic Church lies just a stone’s throw from many of the city’s other main sights.
Originally erected out of wood in 1848, it was rebuilt out of stone and later replaced by the current church as the congregation grew. As well as big buttresses and a soaring corner tower, the gorgeous Gothic Revival building also features stunning stained-glass windows and a pretty portal.
Its interior is just as attractive with marvelous painted murals adorning its ceiling and walls. Due to this, it was designated a National Historic Landmark with a resplendent altar, elegant arches and artworks of the Twelve Apostles also on display.
10. Vereins Kirche Museum
Just a stone’s throw away is the distinctive octagonal-shaped Vereins Kirche Museum, which is set in the center of the city’s main market square. Besides taking in its fine architecture and strolling about the grounds, visitors can see artifacts and exhibits on the history and development of Fredericksburg.
The second such structure to stand in the same spot, the remarkable replica was completed in time for Founders Day in 1935. While the original served as a school, church, town hall and fort for over fifty years, the current one instead houses historic photos, maps and displays.
These cover everything from early settlers and local Native American tribes to religion, community and trade at the frontier. Afterwards, you can stroll around the gardens or stop by some of the shops and restaurants nearby.
9. Rockbox Theater
Walk just one block further down Main Street and you’ll come across the intimate yet electrifying Rockbox Theater. At the small live music venue, you can catch amazing tribute acts and rock ‘n’ roll bands with comedy nights and magic shows also on offer.
Located in what was once a warehouse, the popular theater seamlessly mixes modern facilities with its industrial roots. From all of its seats, visitors can enjoy perfect views of the stage and performers while sipping on a stiff drink.
Since opening in 2007, the Rockbox has been a firm favorite with locals and tourists alike due to its scintillating shows. Jam-packed with exciting events, its schedule includes not just country, rock and blues gigs but top-class tributes to Elvis, Elton John and Johnny Cash among others.
8. Pioneer Museum
If you want to learn more about Gillespie County’s rich history, culture and heritage, then make sure to stop by the excellent Pioneer Museum. Situated at the west end of Main Street is a huge complex to explore with artifacts and exhibits being dotted about its historic buildings.
Protected as part of the site are ten charming old homesteads, log cabins and barns to check out that were formerly owned by founding families of Fredericksburg. Very well-preserved, they show what life was like for early German settlers to the city in the mid-1840s.
While exploring its blacksmiths, bathhouse and schoolhouse, you’ll see authentic artifacts and farm equipment alongside interesting exhibits. On top of engaging tours, fun reenactments with costumed interpreters and live demonstrations are regularly held at the museum.
7. Old Tunnel State Park
A unique and unforgettable place to visit, the isolated Old Tunnel State Park lies half an hour’s drive south of the city. Although it is the smallest state park in Texas, visitors flock here in summer to see a very special natural sight.
Abandoned since 1942, the old tunnel has now become a bat cave with a colossal colony of around three million residing within its dark confines. Each summer evening, they emerge en masse to hunt with the swirling cauldron of bats almost blotting out the sky.
As it makes for such a striking sight, many people come to snap photos and film the phenomenon in the park. Both its upper and lower viewing areas offer commanding views of the cave entrance and the Mexican free-tailed bats pouring out of it.
6. Lyndon B Johnson National Historical Park
Drive a bit further east of the farm and you’ll find the lovely Lyndon B Johnson National Historical Park. A super interesting place to explore, it protects the birthplace, home and final resting place of the 36th president of the United States.
The sprawling property encompasses his 1880s boyhood home, the former schoolhouse and the family cemetery too. One of its main sights is the LBJ Ranch, which was known as the ‘Texas White House’ due to the significant amount of time he spent there during office. Its visitor center contains exhibits and memorabilia relating to his life, legacy and presidency.
On top of this, the park includes a cluster of nineteenth-century buildings that highlight how people used to live in the area. Guests can also spot local wildlife as they explore the expansive estate.
5. Grape Creek Vineyards
After all the sightseeing, there is no better way to relax than sipping a glass of wine at the gorgeous Grape Creek Vineyards. Its picture-perfect grounds and Tuscan-inspired tasting rooms can be found tucked away between both Wildseed Farms and the historical park.
The oldest winery in the area, it was founded in 1983 with the state-of-the-art facility specializing in French and Italian grapes. At the idyllic estate, you can take tours of the fertile vineyards, production line and cavernous barrel cellar.
Once you’ve learnt about how the award-winning wines are produced, you can sit and sample some in the Tuscan tasting rooms. Aside from ambling about its landscaped patios, fountains and terraces, you can also enjoy fine views over the rolling hills and grave vines.
4. Main Street
Often called the ‘Magic Mile’, Main Street is lined by umpteen bars, boutiques and businesses. With delightful historic buildings and museums scattered about, it really is the heart and soul of life in town.
Despite the city’s smallish size, Main Street positively hums with energy as locals and tourists shop til they drop and try its brilliant local restaurants. In total, more than a hundred shops line the route, selling everything from art and antiques to clothing, jewellery and home goods.
While its west end contains both the Pioneer Museum and St. Mary’s, cafes, wine tasting rooms and hotels occupy East Main Street. Dividing the two are the pretty pavilions and lush green lawns of Marktplatz, which is where many community events and festivals are held.
3. Willow City Loop
A wonderful way to see more of the city’s scenic surroundings is to cruise slowly along the Willow City Loop. Set just a short distance northeast of Fredericksburg, it winds its way through magnificent valleys and hills, meadows and canyons.
Stretching thirteen miles in total, the rambling road is particularly impressive in spring when all the wildflowers are out. At this time of year, its diverse landscapes are awash with colour as bluebonnets and poppies dot the countryside. Shimmering in the sun are small creeks and streams with dramatic canyons sometimes punctuating the bucolic scene.
As almost all the area is privately owned, visitors sadly can’t stop off and explore further. The views from the loop, however, are exquisite with playful deer and other animals often spotted in its flower-filled meadows.
2. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
Just west of the Willow City Loop is yet another stunning spot to explore: the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. Named after the hulking great granite dome at its heart, it has loads of epic trails for you to hike or rock climb.
Rising about 425 feet above its surroundings, the massive pink mountain dominates and defines the entire wilderness area. Visible for many miles around, its rugged reaches and boulder-strewn slopes are believed by the Tonkawa Indians to be haunted by spirits.
Nowadays, however, outdoor enthusiasts head here to hike, camp and rock climb with divine views and nature on show wherever you go. As well as the majestic monolith, there are also various lakes and ponds to hike to and local wildlife to spot amidst the undergrowth.
1. National Museum of the Pacific War
Just one block back from Main Street is the utterly fascinating National Museum of the Pacific War. Home to all kinds of artifacts, exhibits and old vehicles, its collection is the only one to solely focus on the Pacific Theater of World War II.
Widely regarded as one of the best history museums in the States, it occupies a huge site right in the center of town. On top of all its in-depth exhibits, the campus also includes a Memorial Courtyard, Plaza of Presidents and Japanese Garden of Peace.
The highlight however is perusing its well-done displays and dioramas that are brought to life by photos and media installations. These shine a light on subjects such as underwater warfare, the US Pacific fleet and Pearl Harbor. At the Pacific Combat Zone, visitors can see a recreation of an island battlefield with boats, bases and tanks dotted amidst towering palm trees.