The Hill Country is the birthplace of former President Lyndon Baines Johnson and the home of descendants of thousands of German immigrants who escaped political and religious persecution.
These historic ties, backdropped by breathtaking natural scenery, make this part of the Texas Hill Country a perfect cultural destination. War museums, presidential parks and exhibits also make the trip a learning experience. For a relaxing time, visitors can enjoy the numerous biergartens, wineries and distilleries in the area or even try their hands at peach picking in Fredericksburg for a sweet treat.
German heritage abounds in Fredericksburg, where it’s impossible to miss the “Willkommen” signs or German business names. Founded in 1846 by German immigrants, the well-preserved Main Street district now houses boutique shops, diverse restaurants and quite a few drinking establishments.
The National Museum of the Pacific War, a Texas Historical Commission (THC) property, honors the millions of Americans who risked their lives to protect freedom and democracy in World War II’s Pacific theater. The 6-acre complex houses the Admiral Nimitz Gallery (named after Fredericksburg native son Admiral Chester W. Nimitz), the Japanese Garden of Peace, the Pacific Combat Zone and more exhibits.
The Fredericksburg Art Guild, a nonprofit organization, displays members’ artwork in a restored Fredericksburg home. The distinct works include oil and watercolor paintings, photographs, sculptures, handmade jewelry, prints and cards, which visitors can purchase. For a unique experience, visit the first Friday of each month for refreshments from local wineries and entertainment.
This area is also well known for its tasty peaches, which are in season from May to August. You can stop by a market in town and grab a few. If you have the time though, we recommend heading out to an orchard where you can choose the very ripest ones and eat them fresh off the branch. Being able to pick your own peaches in Fredericksburg makes for a deliciously rewarding afternoon.
Still following the historic German purity law of 1516, Altstadt brews authentic, easy-drinking beers. The Bavarian-inspired brewery uses hops, barley, yeast and artesian spring water imported from Germany. For a true German experience, order the 1-pound sausage special that includes a growler filled with German-style beer and hot or cold sausages with mustard, sauerkraut and potato salad.
Fredericksburg Brewing Company is acclaimed as one of the “Best in Texas” by several publications. Located in the heart of historic downtown, the brewpub operates in a restored two-story 1890s building. The first floor includes a restaurant serving German and Southern cuisine with a full view of the brewing equipment and an air-conditioned biergarten. The second floor houses 12 “Bed and Brew” rooms. Customers can drink their brews on a sidewalk stroll, thanks to Fredericksburg's open container policy in its Main Street shopping district.
Enjoy a wood-fired brick oven pizza paired with award-winning wines at Chisholm Trail Winery. Home of the “Spirit of the Old West,” the winery offers a scenic Spring Creek view with handcrafted wines to preserve the old-country charm. On weekends, the Oval Oven Pizzeria serves fresh pizza with local ingredients. Outside, guests can play old-fashioned games of horseshoes, pool or checkers.
In the heart of the Texas Hill Country, the Inn on Barons Creek offers a relaxing stay with an onsite spa and scenic views. Close to Main Street in downtown, guests can walk to the National Museum of the Pacific War or the Pioneer Museum, where artifacts showcase the region’s German roots.
STONEWALL, HYE AND LUCKENBACH
Located just east of Fredericksburg among the many vineyards, peach orchards and ranches, the small communities of Stonewall, Hye and Luckenbach are well worth a visit.
The LBJ Ranch District of Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park is located in Stonewall—while the other half of the national park is located 14 miles to the east in Johnson City. The focal point of this district is the “Texas White House,” the ranch home of the 36th president of the U.S., where he entertained many world leaders. Among other sites along the Pedernales River, visitors to this district can also see LBJ’s reconstructed birthplace, the schoolhouse he attended and his resting place in the Johnson Family Cemetery.
At Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site, visitors can learn more about LBJ by viewing films and exhibits in the visitor center. Also at the site, the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm is a farmstead originally built by Johann and Christine Sauer in 1869. The Beckmann family purchased the property and added a barn and Victorian home. Visitors can see the original smokehouse, windmill and water tank and watch period-dressed interpreters carry out typical daily chores such as raising livestock, tending the vegetable garden and making soap.
Don’t miss one of the best-known dance halls in the Hill Country: Luckenbach Dance Hall. Have a true Texas experience by catching a show, scooting your boots across the maple dance floor, grabbing a drink from the bar, eating food from the Feed Lot and shopping at the general store.
Hye Market, located in the tiny town’s 1886 post office building, serves delicious locally sourced food and wine. Hye Market makes sandwiches, flatbreads and salads. Customers recommend the chicken salad and the grilled cheese with bacon. Be sure to read the THC marker about a young Lyndon Johnson mailing his first letter here.
Cowboy Cantina is a new food truck serving comfort cuisine for lunch and dinner, including fried chicken sandwiches, burgers and even pork flautas. Located outside the historic Albert Icehouse and Dancehall, customers can enjoy music and view dancing while dining.
Transformed from a home into a bed and breakfast, Rose Hill Retreat in Stonewall now has 18 rooms, and guests can choose between a suite or an individual cottage. A lavish three-course breakfast includes a pastry or bread course, fruit bowl or smoothie and hot entrée. At dinner, choose from a selection of local beer and wine.
In 1890, Johnson City was named Blanco County seat as a result of the efforts of town namesake James Polk Johnson. Decades later, one of his descendants and a former resident of the town—Lyndon Baines Johnson—would find his way to the White House.
Fourteen miles east of the LBJ Ranch District in Stonewall is the Johnson City District of Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park. At the visitor center, guests can view an exhibit showcasing Johnson’s life and accomplishments, as well as a tribute to his wife, Lady Bird Johnson. Notable artifacts include two LBJ Ranch branding irons, campaign memorabilia, Lady Bird’s crimson suit and White House china. Also in the district is LBJ’s boyhood home (which he moved into with his parents when he was 5) and Johnson Settlement, where historic structures still stand as testament to the pioneer spirit.
The Science Mill uses technology-based exhibits, games and interactive programs to expand children’s understanding of science. Designed to inspire students to pursue their interests in science, technology, engineering and math, the museum is housed in a community landmark: a historic feed mill.
Pedernales Falls State Park sits on the banks of the Pedernales River. Its trails, including the half-mile Twin Falls Nature Trail and 6-mile Wolf Mountain Trail, range from easy to challenging. There are creeks around the trails to cool down, campsites and a swimming area downstream from the falls.
Originally a hardware and supply store, Pecan Street Brewing now serves as a brewery, restaurant and biergarten. The beers brewed in the establishment complement the diverse menu of brick-oven pizzas, fresh salads and unique Southern dishes.
For lavish upscale dining, visit Bryan’s on 290. Notable menu items from the American bistro include beef tenderloin with a side of creamy whipped potatoes and a local harvest with fresh produce delivered daily from farmers. In true Hill Country fashion, each dish can be paired with a recommended wine.
The Crossroads Inn is located on 6 acres of landscaped gardens, connected to paths leading to porch swings and private benches. The inn has six suites with king-sized beds, as well as a gift shop with handmade soaps, candles, jewelry, art and antiques.
Content is provided by the Texas Historical Commission, which manages 32 State Historic Sites, the Texas Heritage Trails Program, Texas Main Street Program, and many more heritage tourism and historic preservation initiatives across the state.