Ready for some fun in the Texas sun? Whether it’s cycling, hiking, camping, or wine drinking you love, check out all the outdoor activities (and other fun stuff to do) in Fredericksburg, Texas!
Welcome! Wilkommen! Bienvenidos! If that doesn’t sum up Fredericksburg in just a handful of words, I don’t know what does! From the winery tasting rooms lining Main Street to the state parks scattered around the outskirts of town to the Prost, y’all hats in local boutiques, Fredericksburg, Texas is a melting pot. Not just of German, Spanish and Native American history and heritage, but of tastes and experiences, too.
We live a mere 2 hours away from Fredericksburg, TX. In fact, we’ve passed through and spent an afternoon here and there several times since moving to Austin. But we’ve never really gotten to know the small Texas town (isn’t it just for wine drinkers and a coffee stop on the way to epic Enchanted Rock, we thought??). But we cleared up that misconception recently when we spent several days in the Hill Country town wandering down main street, enjoying quality dining, and playing outdoors. Wanna know what there is to enjoy in this surprising destination? Sure ya do. Read on (and watch the pretty video, too…)
Need a chill place to hang when you’re not exploring? Book a room at Fredericksburg Inn & Suites. If the pool’s not enough to convince you, the hot tub and fire pit might be! Plus, rooms are spacious and comfortable and it’s an easy walk to Main Street.
Prefer a quaint and quiet cottage on a picture perfect property? You can’t beat the Sunday Haus Herb Farm Cottages. So close to downtown Fredericksburg but so far away, the Herb Farm is a beautiful place to kick back and relax for a few days. There’s even a spa, restaurant, garden and shop on site!
Hotels not your style? Then book an Airbnb in Fredericksburg. There are dozens of private rentals available ranging from small private rooms to whole historic houses, so pack your bags and get booking!
prefer to sleep under the stars? We don’t blame you. Pitch your tent at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area (though you do have to plan pretty far in advance, especially for weekend dates), park your rig at Fredericksburg RV Park, or do either at Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park Campground.
Much like many of the other surprising destinations we’ve stumbled upon, there’s not a ton of vegan food in Fredericksburg. But with a little planning, you can still eat well. (And there’s always the local Natural Grocers!)
Give Navajo Grill a heads up that you’re vegan before you make a reservation and they might just be able to accommodate your dietary needs. During our visit the chef did a fantastic job at veganizing several more conventional dishes on the menu, but was still debating what plant-based items should be offered all the time. If you’re lucky, the upscale establishment will have added one or two options for good, but best to call and confirm, just in case.
Want a quality cappuccino? Caliche Coffee Bar is your spot. But the small roaster has more than coffee; they also have a limited menu with a handful of vegan options or options that are easily customized like avocado toast or a noodle bowl. It’s a great spot for an easy breakfast, light lunch, or afternoon pick-me-up.
Yes, we love coffee. And when you find two quality coffee shops in a town as small as this, you split your time (or drink twice as much coffee). This small space is quaint and skillfully decorated–a lovely place to refuel and sit for a few minutes–but in addition to good coffee, check the bakery case at KaffeeHaus for several vegan baked goods (conventional ones, too). Apparently the owner’s daughter is a vegan, so cookies, banana bread and other treats can usually be found.
Think upscale, modernized German cuisine when you think Otto’s (not bratwurst and cabbage). With great cocktail options and a swanky menu, it’s definitely a hot spot for good food. But there’s not much on the menu that can easily be made vegan, so call a day or two ahead of time if you plan on eating there to see if the chef can accommodate. The kitchen did a brilliant job during our visit.
Fun fact: Fredericksburg is Texas wine country. So there are plenty of options if you like to imbibe. Of course, being a historically German town, there’s plenty of beer, too…
More than just a brewery, Aldstadt is a destination. Specializing in true German beer made to German purity standards (that means strictly sticking with four ingredients: water, malt, hops and yeast), the brewery operation itself is massive, but so is the dining and drinking space. Large halls, sprawling patios and lawns, multi-level decks, and one fabulous red room make for an enjoyable evening eating and drinking while still social distancing. If you’re vegan and want a bite to eat other than fries, call ahead of time to see if the kitchen can accommodate.
Home to delightful wines and lavender fields (There’s an annual Lavender Festival in April), visit Becker Vineyards‘ winery outside of town or pop into the tasing room and store on Main street. Either way, you’ll get good wine and a great experience (and smelly-good flowers…).
Want a chill place to sit on a patio out in the country, enjoy a glass of wine, watch the butterflies, and enjoy views of the vineyards? Narrow Path is where it’s at. Their wines are award-winning, it’s family owned and operated, and limited runs of small batch wine means there will always be something new to try. And during harvest season in August, you can even volunteer to help harvest (in exchange for a bit of wine, naturally).
While we aren’t mega wine drinkers, we’re all about Signor Vineyards for a couple of reasons: the vineyard and tasting room are located on a beautifully manicured property complete with ritzy patio and picnic tables on the lawn and they just started serving vegan cheese boards from our Austin homeboys Rebel Cheese! There is a small kitchen in a historic farmhouse on-site that may also be able to prepare a simple vegan dish (we enjoyed vegan “chicken” salad in avocado halves when we were there), but if not, you can’t go wrong with Rebel Cheese, trust us. Oh, and the wine is good, too, often a mix of Texas and Oregon grapes.
Turns out, there’s more to Fredericksburg than a big red rock…
Sure, it’s not the only outdoor attraction in Fredericksburg, but it’s the one that matters. If you haven’t been, Enchanted Rock (or E-Rock) is a giant pink granite dome that rises 425 feet out of the ground just 20 minutes outside of Fredericksburg (most of the batholith is actually underground). It’s a protected state park and deserves a visit. Take a hike to the top (it only took us 20 minutes last time we visited) and enjoy the views or take the Loop Trail that circles the base or cuts through the valley in between the high points for a fantastic excursion. Just be careful of the heat in the summer as there’s not much shade and it can get well over 100º out there. Plan to spend at least a few hours.
We’re still not sure how it works, exactly, but these series of parks are both state and national parks (well, national historical parks, anyway). Visit LBJ State Park and Historic Site (which encompasses the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm where you can experience farm life in action: spinning wool, canning veggies, making cookies…) to see where the president grew up, then head over to LBJ National Historical Park, home to the Texas White House and the ranch the Johnson family owned (still owns), to learn about how the president conducted business from his Texas home during the 74 trips he took there during his presidency. There are plenty of places to walk, spread out and enjoy a picnic, wave at longhorns, deer and bison, and connect with history. You can also bring a canoe or kayak if you like and paddle down the Pedernales River, which runs alongside the parks.
Wanna spend some time indoors? We get it; Texas summers can be brutal. In that case, history lovers should absolutely not miss the Pacific War Museum and the Admiral Nimitz Gallery. Bigger than it looks, the museum spans 6 acres and 55,000 square feet! It tells the story of local man Admiral Nimitz, but also the entire span of the Pacific War in winding interactive galleries, outdoor exhibits, a Japanese Garden of Peace, a reenactment stage and education annex, and impressive displays. Do yourself a favor and just go. Tickets are good for two days, which you’re gonna need to see the whole thing.
Want to visit the smallest state park in Texas? Why not, right? It has bats! (We thought we might convince you it was worth a visit!) We love bats because we are secretly creatures of the night, but I think it’s also required to live in Austin, home to the largest urban bat colony in the U.S. At Old Tunnel, there are 3 million Mexican free-tail bats (plus another sort or two) that fly out of the tunnel every night from May to October around dusk. There are viewing areas not far from the small parking lot, but there is also a half-mile trail if you’d just like to take a short hike. Bring water and an empty bladder, because there’s no water on site (or visitor center) and bathrooms are only open during bat viewing in-season.
Prefer to use two weeks to get around? Stop by Jack and Adam’s Bicycles whether you brought your own set of wheels or not. You can rent a bike, pick up tools and cycling supplies, buy yourself a new ride, and get maps and route recommendations for the area. There are over 500 miles of paved county roads in Gillespie County that are perfect for low-traffic riding and the shop often hosts Saturday morning rides for those who like to get a dozen or more miles in to start off the weekend right!
Main Street & Beyond
Sure, you can just browse Main Street for a few hours (Camp Hayden, Dogologie if you have a fur baby, and a number of galleries, including Artisans Gallery, are worth a visit), but don’t forget to step of the main shopping thoroughfare for a few gems like Chocolát (which offers liquid-filled chocolate and several vegan options), San Saba Soap Company (that makes several vegan products using pecan oil), and Das Peach Haus (where you can pick up all manner of wine, jam, snacks, even peach cider, plus have a lovely picnic on the property by a pond)!
Lastly, if you’re wondering if Fredericksburg’s German heritage means holiday delights galore, you’d be right. This year may look a little different (thanks a lot, 2020), but the central Marktplatz is lit up with thousands of lights every night of December, there’s holiday music and festivities, and, on a normal year, holiday markets. But we think It’s worth it to bring a picnic blanket, listen to some holiday tunes, and wait for that giant Christmas tree and traditional German Christmas pyramid to be all lit up. Gives you all the warm fuzzies (the beer and wine you’ve been drinking all day may help with that, too…).
Despite having been several times before, we were delighted to discover that Fredericksburg is more than miles and miles of wineries and souvenir shops. Between the state parks (oh, E Rock, how we adore you), surprising vegan finds, rich history, and, yes, wine, Fredericksburg is a truly surprising destination whether your crave outdoor adventure or not (and we assume you do). So if you’re close enough for an impromptu road trip and want to celebrate among the live oaks and holiday lights, hop on over for a few days. And if you prefer to wait until all this pandemic nonsense blows over, well, we don’t blame you. And your patience will be rewarded, because the city celebrates it’s 175th anniversary in 2021 and they’re celebrating all. Year. Long. Find out more on VisitFredericksburgTX.com.
Now get out there and wander on.
Alisha is a freelance writer and photographer based in Austin, TX. She loves her tiny house, vegan food and experiencing the community of travel in far away places. She’s also pretty sure she’s addicted to coffee. alishamcdarris.com