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In the heart of the Texas Hill Country, the town of Fredericksburg is a stone’s throw away from Austin and San Antonio. Despite its proximity to the big cities, it is popular because it maintains a small town feel while having lots of things to see and do. With its unique German heritage, thriving wineries, and shopping, it’s the perfect weekend getaway from just about anywhere. Here’s a look at some of the fun things to do in Fredericksburg, Texas, for a weekend (or longer!).
Wondering where to stay in Fredericksburg?
Comfortable cabins: Vineyard Trail Cottages
A rural retreat: A Barn at the Quarry
In the heart of Fredericksburg: Hoffman Haus B&B
You’ll find more details about where to stay in Fredericksburg at the end of this article.
Things to do in Fredericksburg
Over the last decade, Texas Hill Country wineries have evolved significantly, gaining national attention in the media and winning more awards than ever. The live music, food, and generally fun atmosphere don’t hurt either.
A 30-mile stretch of road from Fredericksburg to Johnson City, Texas, is home to more than 40 wineries and tasting rooms. Many of the wineries focus on grapes that grow well in the Mediterranean, so look for wines like Viognier, Albarino, Sangiovese, and Tempranillo.
A trip to the Texas wineries is a great way to spend a weekend–with a designated driver, of course, or one of the area’s many chauffeured tours. There are new wineries all the time, so you can go back multiple times and always see (and try) something different.
Wildseed Farms is like a playground for people who love the outdoors. In the spring, summer, and fall, its fields teem with flowers of every hue from the famous Texas bluebonnets to brilliant red standing cyprus.
The wildflower farm has walking trails, butterfly gardens, and an endless number of photo opportunities. There is also a wide variety of plants, seeds, and food items for sale in the Farms’ shops. There’s so much to do here, and it’s one of the prettiest places to visit in Fredericksburg.
Main Street Shopping
Shopping is undoubtedly one of the most popular things to do in Fredericksburg, Texas. The historic buildings along Main Street are home to over 100 shops selling pretty much anything you could be in the market for.
From antiques and art to clothes, musical instruments, candy, and home décor, the shops of Fredericksburg have you covered. There are almost no chains here, so the merchandise is unique and varied, meaning you’re sure to come home with something special from the Hill Country. When you’ve had your fill of shopping, there are lots of restaurants and wine tasting rooms where you can indulge while giving your feet a break.
Pacific War Museum
From the moment we walked into the National Museum of the Pacific War, it was clear that this was no small-town museum. The in-depth exhibits bring to life the conflict in the Pacific Theater in painstaking detail with thousands of artifacts and heavy machinery of the type you would normally only expect in facilities like the Smithsonian.
The three buildings of Fredericksburg’s Pacific War Museum include two traditional museums that focus on Admiral Nimitz and the battles of World War II in the Pacific along with the outdoor Pacific Combat Zone where reenactments bring the battles to life in front of your eyes. If you have even a passing interest in history and are wondering what to do in Fredericksburg, Texas, make sure the National Museum of the Pacific War is on your list.
Japanese Garden of Peace
Part of the National Museum of the Pacific War, the Japanese Garden of Peace provides a moment of quiet in downtown and a counterpoint to the tragedy of war discussed in the buildings that surround it. The garden includes lots of items with symbolic meaning, including the stones, raked gravel, and water feature. In fact, the garden itself is symbolic—a gift in honor of the friendship between Admiral Nimitz and Japan’s Admiral Heihachiro Togo.
While the garden is integrated into the Pacific War Museum complex, you can also enter it separately. It’s one of the exceptional—and free—things to see in Fredericksburg.
The Fredericksburg area is home to hundreds of B&Bs and guest houses. By staying in a bed and breakfast you can enjoy delicious breakfasts, personalized service, and a welcoming atmosphere a bit different from a hotel. Options in this B&B mecca range from upscale elegance to down home country comfort in line with what you’d expect in the heart of Texas. You can stay on the grounds of some of the wineries or even in a remodeled 19th century cabin. The options here are nearly endless.
Elk Store Winery and Distillery
Right on Main Street, the Elk Store Winery and Distillery is one of the coolest places to visit in Fredericksburg. With dark wood, exposed stone, and comfy couches you can sink into all night, this bar is full of locals and people who know what’s good to drink.
The Elk Store Winery and Distillery has two bars—one with wine from around the world and one with spirits distilled on-site. Whether you’re choosing a French Cotes du Rhône, something made with their gin, or a popular cocktail with the house-made pecan pie moonshine, it’s hard to go wrong. I loved the vibe here—comfort, familiarity, fun, and good drinks.
A short road trip away, two points of interest near Fredericksburg in Stonewall and Johnson City, Texas, allow visitors to take a step back into presidential history with a look at the life of Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th president of the United States.
Stonewall–just 14 miles from Fredericksburg–is home to the LBJ Ranch, which includes important places from LBJ’s life. You can visit the one-room schoolhouse where he learned to read, see his grandparents’ house, and view the Johnson family cemetery.
A tour through the Texas White House where Johnson spent about one-quarter of his presidency transports you back to the 1960s with a fascinating look at the man behind the office. Nearby Johnson City is the location of LBJ’s boyhood home and other landmarks significant in his early life. (Note: as of May 2020, the Texas White House remains temporarily closed for repairs.)
The area around Fredericksburg produces 40 percent of the peaches in Texas. In the spring and summer, the orange gems hang heavy on the trees outside of town beckoning visitors to pick their own at the local orchards. There are lots of roadside stands where you can buy peaches and, of course, delicious peach ice cream, too. Grabbing a scoop is one of the most delicious ways to welcome summer in the Texas Hill Country.
The German immigrants who settled Fredericksburg and other Texas towns in the 19th century tried to make their new places of worship feel like those they’d left behind in their homelands. They painted altars and arches with vibrant colors and designs reminiscent of the Gothic style they were used to, creating the Painted Churches of Texas.
While other towns like Schulenburg have a cluster of churches, Fredericksburg has a beautiful example of the artwork in St. Mary’s Catholic Church. The work from the early 1900s features intricate stained glass, paintings of the Twelve Apostles, arch decorations, and a depiction of Jesus above the altar, making St. Mary’s sanctuary one of the more unique things to see in Fredericksburg.
Local Bed and Breakfasts
Luckenbach, Texas, 14 miles from Fredericksburg, is essentially a wide place in the road. This two-building town–it only has a dance hall and the combination bar and general store–draws people from across the country and around the world to drink beer underneath the oak trees and listen to country music in the memorabilia-studded bar.
There are daily informal performances at Luckenbach as well as concerts from country greats and festivals on the weekends. Here, there is a feeling that everyone is a regular – maybe even friends and family. Without a doubt, Luckenbach is one of the best places to visit near Fredericksburg.
Old Tunnel State Park
Old Tunnel State Park is a railroad tunnel that ceased operations in the 1940s. It’s now popular as the home of a colony of over 3 million Mexican free-tailed bats. In the evenings, you can gather to watch the bats take flight from their tunnel home, spiraling and swirling through the sky at dusk much like they famously do not far away in downtown Austin.
Twisted Sisters Bakeshop
On my most recent Fredericksburg trip, I was thrilled to discover the coffee bar at Twisted Sister Bakeshop. With a full-service espresso bar, they offer cappuccino, lattes, and any other coffee drink you could want.
Twisted Sisters also has a huge selection of homemade items for breakfast and lunch. Locals and visitors come in for breakfast tacos, bagel sandwiches, cookies, cupcakes, salads, and more. The plate-sized cinnamon buns were to-die-for.
The café has a quirky sense of humor with attitude-filled merchandise like coffee mugs that proclaim “better late than ugly” and dish towels that say, “I’m afraid if I give up wine, I’ll have to replace it with murder.” This place is brimming with wit and good food. Even better: there’s ample parking and plenty of comfortable seating.
Fredericksburg Herb Farm
Just a few blocks off Main Street, Fredericksburg Herb Farm is a chic, rustic complex transformed out of an 1800s homestead. There is a gift shop, a lovely 5000-square foot day spa, and a fabulous bistro set among winding gardens and walking paths. You can stay on the property in the Sunday house cottages reminiscent of those used by the early settlers or just stop in as we did to shop and check out the beds of rosemary, roses, and other beautifully-scented things.
Fredericksburg doesn’t lack for good places to eat and drink, but there are a few places we love for their expertly made cocktails and the ambiance. Fortunately, they’re in and around Main Street, so they’re convenient to get to downtown.
Two of our top choices for places to relax and sip for a while are The Stable Cocktail Bar & Coffee Shop and 78624 The Bar. The Stable is a cozy, equestrian-themed lounge just a few minutes from Main Street where you can get an espresso, a martini, or an espresso martini (plus many other great drinks). They also have some flatbreads and charcuterie platters to choose from. At 78624 The Bar, you’ll find classic cocktails, wine, and beer in a unique, antique-filled setting. The live piano music and their courtyard make it among our top choices.
Fort Martin Scott
In December 1848, the US Army established Fort Martin Scott as the first military post on the western frontier of Texas. On the outskirts of the newly-settled town of Fredericksburg, the Fort was designed to protect travelers and settlers in the area.
As the frontier moved further west, the Fort’s purpose changed, but it continued to serve military and security aims through the Civil War. Visitors can see original and reconstructed buildings and learn about life and conflict along the frontier.
Modern German Food
Fredericksburg is full of restaurants and brew pubs serving food not typically found on this side of the Atlantic, and especially not in Texas. Influenced by the town’s heritage, German and German-inspired food options abound.
Cuisine ranges from traditional sausage, pretzels, and apple strudel to more Texan interpretations like schnitzel with Monterey Jack cheese and guacamole. Whatever your preference, there are lots of options for food and even more for beer.
Founded by German immigrants in 1846, Fredericksburg (named after Prince Friedrich of Prussia) has a rich and distinctive history. Part of that history is on display at the the Vereins Kirche, a reconstruction of the original building that served as a town hall, school, and church. Visitors can learn about everything from the original settlers’ historic treaty with the Comanche Indians to religion and community on the frontier.
Run by the Gillespie County Historical Society, the Pioneer Museum informs visitors about the lives of the early pioneers in the Hill Country. The 3-acre complex has 11 buildings showcasing exhibits and more than 40,000 artifacts from the mid-19th century.
The museum hosts regular walking tours that give an in-depth look at the history of the area.
Seventeen miles north of Fredericksburg, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is one of the most popular hiking and camping sites in Texas and one of the best attractions in the Hill Country. Native American tribes ascribed magical powers to the rock, hence its otherworldly name.
The massive pink granite batholith and surrounding park attract 250,000 visitors a year for good reason—it boasts 2.5 square miles of land for rock climbing, backpacking, picnicking, and other outdoor activities. Whatever your plans, Enchanted Rock State Park is a great place for active pursuits or just relaxing in nature.
Garrison Brothers Distillery
A few miles outside of town in Hye, Texas, is one of the most popular distilleries in Texas. Garrison Brothers Distillery makes premium grain-to-glass bourbon on the ranch here, and they welcome visitors to sample their wares.
Sign up for one of Garrison Brothers’ weekly tours (they’re closed Monday and Tuesday) to learn about all the details of how they make their handcrafted spirits. After you’re finished with the tour and tasting, enjoy lounging for awhile.
First Friday Art Walk
Scattered among the tasting rooms and cute shops, you’ll find about a dozen art galleries along Main Street and the surrounding areas. On the first Friday of every month, they keep their doors open late to welcome visitors with art showcases, live music, and wine from the nearby vineyards.
Each galley has different options ranging from painting and photography to sculpture and ceramics. The self-guided gallery crawl becomes one big festive event. First Friday is a great time to be in town, but if you can’t make it then, check out the galleries on your own schedule.
Das Peach Haus
Das Peach Haus combines two of the best things about the Fredericksburg area in one place—food and the outdoors. Inside the store whose buildings date from the late 1800s and early 1900s, you’ll find just about every food product you never knew you needed from peach cider to their famous roasted raspberry chipotle sauce. And you can sample all of it on-site.
There is also a wine tasting room that features pairing with Hill Country wines and a cooking school that offers regular classes in regional US specialties and international cuisines. If that weren’t enough, just outside Das Peach Haus is what we loved most—views of the peach orchards, a handsome deck to relax on, and a gorgeous pond that’s open for fishing.
Festivals and Events
Fredericksburg has more fun things to do than most cities five times its size. There seems to be a festival or event happening most weekends of the year regardless of the season.
There are regular Trade Days, a lavender festival, and plenty of auto-focused events. And, of course, there are lots of food festivals from chili cookoffs to the crawfish fest and food truck festival. Two of the best times to visit are during events that celebrate the town’s unique German heritage—the annual Oktoberfest and during the Christmas holidays when there are parades, a Christmas market, concerts, and German decorations around town.
Where to Eat in Fredericksburg
Otto’s German Bistro–Otto’s is a great option for dinner or Sunday brunch. They offer modern German specialties along with other types of European dishes on a menu that changes daily. The cocktails are loving crafted.
Cabernet Grill–Just off of Main Street, the Cabernet Grill is consistently rated as one of the best restaurants in Fredericksburg. With a focus on steak, seafood, and Texas wine, they bill their cuisine as “upscale Texas Hill Country.”
Burger Burger–This casual restaurant with the repetitive name is one of our favorite places to eat in Fredericksburg. The burgers are great (with a name like this, they had better be), but they also offer salads, chicken wings, amazing milkshakes, and a handful of vegetarian options, too.
Hondo’s on Main–This is the place to go for casual food, informal atmosphere, and live music. Hondo’s is a “self-help” restaurant. You order at the bar, pick your food up in the kitchen, and grab a seat near the stage. It’s almost impossible to leave without a smile on your face.
Where to Stay in Fredericksburg TX
Vineyard Trail Cottages — These 13 spacious cottages are well-positioned near several of the wineries on Wine Road 290. You can’t beat the peaceful setting.
A Barn at the Quarry — Surrounded by the Texas Hill Country, you can stargaze and watch local wildlife from one of these five lovely suites. Relax in the hot tub at night or whenever the spirit moves you.
Hoffman Haus B&B — Just one block off Main Street, staying in this cute B&B makes enjoying downtown Fredericksburg super easy. Enjoy the homey atmosphere and breakfast delivered to your room.
How to Get to Fredericksburg
Fredericksburg is 80 miles due west of Austin on Highway 290 and 80 miles north of San Antonio on Highway 87, making it an easy trip from both major cities (and their airports, if you’re flying in). Houston and Dallas are both roughly four hours from Fredericksburg.
Driving to Fredericksburg is easy, parking is plentiful, and downtown is easily walkable. If you’d rather leave your car at your accommodations, Uber is available in town.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Fredericksburg?