Monday, December 23, 2019

The Seven Must-See Texas Hill Country Holiday Light Trails

The Seven Must-See Texas Hill Country Holiday Light Trails

We can now say we are officially in the holiday season. The weather outside is getting colder, department stores have the same three songs on repeat, and you have random family members coming to your home. If you are looking for something to do with your family to get into a festive mood, holiday light trails could be just what the doctor ordered. There is something magical about looking at beautiful lights around Christmastime. We have put together a list of seven holiday light trails located in the Texas hill country.

1. San Saba Christmas Park

We begin this list by showing off one of the largest light trails in the hill country: San Saba Christmas Park offers over thirty acres of lights, ponds, and trees. If you love holiday lights but hate the cold that comes with it, San Saba Christmas Park has you covered with the entire park being drivable. Starting December 14th, San Saba Christmas Park will begin to offer events and programs for the whole family. Take a leisurely stroll with your favorite glass of wine with the Sip & Stroll tour. For $30 a person, you will receive a souvenir wine glass, tote bag, and ten tasting pours. Festive carolers will perform your favorite holiday classics in the main square of the park. Also, on December 14th, a Christmas Parade will take place in the main square of the park.

two women walking beneath Christmas lights

2. Old West Christmas Light Fest   

If you are a Texas history buff, then the Old West Christmas Lightfest in Boerne, Texas, is the perfect light trail for you this holiday season. During December, the town of Boerne turns the Enchanted Springs Ranch into a winter wonderland with over three million lights spread across over forty old west buildings.

The Old West Christmas Lightfest is offering much more than a light trail this holiday season. Take part in a Christmas themed escape room, or learn with your kids the art of cookie decorating with classes held nightly. If all of that is not enough for you, then maybe a game of laser tag on the Old West streets will get you in the holiday mood. The Old West Christmas Light Fest is not a free event. Tickets for entry are $15 for adults, $10 for children, and military and first responders can take advantage of a $10 ticket price. Escape room tickets will be $35, and laser tag games are $5.21.

Criss-crossing Christmas lights

3. Santa’s Ranch in New Braunfels  

The Santa’s Ranch in New Braunfels wins the most unusual light trail. If you want a light trail filled with Santas and Snowmen, then this is not the trail for you. Aliens, dinosaurs, space shuttles, and cowboys all await you on this bizarre and yet charming trail. The trail is perfect for people who do not like walking in the cold because it is a driving only trail. It will cost you $30 a car or $60 for a season pass that will last you the entire month of December—and let's face it you are going to want to do this trail more than once.

horse-drawn carriage beneath holiday lights

4. San Antonio River Walk Holiday Lights

One of the most iconic landmarks in Texas transforms itself into a festive place to celebrate the holidays. The River Walk, located in San Antonio, is already one of the biggest tourist attractions in Texas, and when you add thousands of lights in the mix, it becomes even better. The event is free as you stroll through the River Walk, perusing the shops and eating at the iconic Mexican food restaurants. If walking isn’t your thing, you can rent a boat that will sail you down the river giving you a unique way to take in the lights. Also, during December, carolers have been known to serenade passersby with classic Christmas songs.

bauble ornaments in street tree

5. Marble Falls Walkway of Lights 

The Marble Falls Walkway of Lights is an excellent option if you or anyone in your family is a dog lover. This light trail that takes place in Marble Falls Texas incorporates over two million lights and 400 sculptures. The whole trail takes place at Lakeside Park, so dogs are welcome as long as they are on a leash. Santa has been known to make appearances from time to time. This light trail is free, but the city of Marble Falls asks for donations to help fund events just like this one.

purple christmas lights

6. Johnson City Lights Spectacular

If you are a fan of light trails that don’t mess around, then the Johnson City Lights Spectacular will not disappoint. If you don’t believe us, you can ask NASA since this light trail can be seen from space. The tree lighting ceremony, which takes place on November 29, is the most iconic tree lighting ceremony on this list. Volunteers from Pedernales Electric Cooperative take more than one million lights and wrap them around a bigger than life oak tree. The event is free for everyone, including free horse-drawn carriage rides.

7. Bastrop River of Lights

The last light trail on our list is full of events and special programs. The city of Bastrop has grown a reputation of a small town that loves Christmas, and over the past several years, they have earned that reputation. Starting on November 29th and ending December 15th, the Bastrop River of Lights and Lost Pines Christmas has a full schedule of fun and festive events for the whole family. These events include tree lighting, Country Christmas Farm Street Opry, Twisted Christmas Krampus Haunts, and the famous lighted Christmas parade. This light trail is free to the public.

Lighting Up Your Holiday this Year 

The holiday season is about spending time with family and the people you love. Cities and towns all over the Texas Hill Country are providing the best forms of holiday cheer for you and your loved ones to enjoy. Light trails are a fun and unique way to get the family together and enjoy the holidays together.

Monday, December 9, 2019

11 Great Ways to Spend a Weekend in Fredericksburg, Texas

11 Great Ways to Spend a Weekend In Fredericksburg, Texas

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of big cities lies one of Texas’s hidden treasures. The small town of Fredericksburg, Texas, allows tourists and locals alike to take a step back in time and enjoy small-town living. If you only have a weekend to spend in Fredericksburg, we have put together a list of the top eleven to do for the perfect Fredericksburg Experience.

1. Spend Time Exploring Nature 

It wouldn’t be a small Texas town without vast doses of beautiful nature. Take a stroll to Wildseed Farms and explore the fields of wildflowers that paint the landscape around Fredricksburg. It doesn’t matter what season it is; you will be sure to find something that will catch your eye.

Windmill among purple flowers

2. Main Street

The lively main street of Fredericksburg is iconic in the state of Texas. With over one hundred stores, you will be able to buy anything from antiques to bags of candy. After walking up Main Street, you can stop by any restaurant to enjoy everything from Tex Mex to German food.

Main Street with Shops and Cars

3. Peaches, Peaches, and More Peaches 

The farmland that surrounds Fredericksburg produces more than 40% of the peaches in Texas. You will find it hard to miss dozens of roadside stalls selling the delicious fruit. If you come to Fredericksburg in the Summer, be sure to get yourself a scoop of peach ice cream.

4. Elk Store Winery and Distillery

It wouldn’t be Hill Country without at least one distillery. The Elk Store Winery and Distillery is a unique and fun spot to stop in while you are shopping on Main Street. They are renowned for their homemade moonshine, including a pecan pie variation. If moonshine is not your thing, the Elk Store has a bar that offers wine from around the world. Whatever you are into the Elk Store Winery and Distillery will be sure to satisfy you.

Wine glasses and bottles

5. Fredericksburg Herb Farm

For those of you that want to spend your weekend relaxing, the Fredericksburg Herb Farm is perfect. Take a stroll through the ground of the early 1800s homestead. Take in the smells of fresh herbs and flowers that radiate everywhere. You can book a spa appointment in their 5000 square-foot spa that offers a variety of treatments. The Fredericksburg Herb Farm even offers small cottages where you can stay during your weekend visit.

growing herbs

6.    Learn About the Life of LBJ

If history is your thing, then you will enjoy the fact that the LBJ Ranch is only a short road trip from the streets of Fredericksburg. You will find the Texas White House where LBJ spent some time while he was president. A tour is given where you will learn about the life and actions of the late great president LBJ.

7. Enjoy the Local German Food

The town of Fredericksburg was founded in the year 1846 by German settlers. The town received its name from the prince of Prussia Friedrich. It is because of this history that Fredericksburg offers the best German food in all of Texas. However, the German restaurants you do find can't help but put a Texas spin on traditional German food like schnitzel with guacamole.

assorted platters at a restaurant

8. The Pacific War Museum 

Any World War II buff will fall in love with the extensive Pacific War Museum located in Fredericksburg. The museum consists of a total of three buildings. Two of the buildings follow the more traditional museum with artifacts and information about Admiral Nimitz and his role in the Pacific theatre of war during World War II. The third building consists of outdoor reenactments that demonstrate the most significant battles of the pacific theatre. You can also find a Japanese Garden of Peace that will allow you to reflect upon the costs of war as you examine the beauty of the flowers.

9. Camping at the Enchanted Rock

After spending a day exploring the charming main street of Fredericksburg, you can take a short trip to the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. This area offers an outstanding 2.5 square miles of land where you can camp, picnic, and rock climb. Enchanted Rock is the perfect place for the outdoor junkies that prefer to sleep under the stars then beneath the roof of a bed and breakfast.

10. Enjoy the Local Bed & Breakfasts

Bed and Breakfasts are an iconic aspect of any small town in America, and the ones located in Fredericksburg are among the best. Living and working in a city can be stressful at times. Driving up to a bed and breakfast for the weekend will allow you to shake that stress and replace it with the comforts of southern living. Sleep in small cottages and allow their warmth to fill your senses. Indulge in southern delicacies that will leave you satisfied for days to come. When you return home, you will enjoy a renewed sense of relaxation and comfort.

11. St. Mary’s Catholic Church

The German settlers that first founded Fredericksburg left more than just their taste in food. These settlers also brought the practice known as the painted church. The German settlers would paint their churches in vibrant colors that gave them a now-iconic look. Saint Mary’s Catholic Church is the best example of the painted church style that remains in Fredericksburg. With dynamic stain glass windows and painting, Saint Mary’s Catholic Church is one of the most popular spots in all of Fredericksburg.

Small Town Living is Good for the Soul 

With the modern hustle and bustle of today's society, it can be easy for stress and anxiety to take control of your life. Fredericksburg, Texas is an ideal place to release your tension. Stroll down the bustling main street. Allow yourself to be swept away with all the sounds and smells of the stores and restaurants. Let the aromas of fresh herbs and peaches from the herb farm take you back to simpler times. Whatever you require to relax, Fredricksburg is ready to provide what you need.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

7 Best Stargazing Spots in and Around Texas Hill Country

7 Best Stargazing Spots in and around Texas Hill Country

Have you ever had that moment where you are taking a break from your normal everyday life and you look up and notice the bright stars overhead? Relaxation and amazement issues down from those celestial sentinels. What's more, you can see them because you aren’t surrounded by all the light pollution and noise of the city.

It is a blissful experience to sit and stargaze. So, where do you go to stargaze? First step, away from the city. While you might be able to climb a rooftop, the noises and glares from city lights disturb the essence of stargazing. The Texas Hill Country and its surrounding areas are the perfect places to go as they offer endless opportunities to see stars and the Milky Way. This list is a compilation of the 7 Best Stargazing Spots in and around the Texas Hill Country.

1. Hill Country State Natural Area

Surrounded by scenic hills and rugged terrain the Hill Country State Natural Area is a preserved area that is left to be in its natural state. This area consists of 5,369 acres and is located 10 miles southwest of Bandera, TX. With most of the area filled with Texas live oak, Ashe juniper, and over 450 plant species, you will be overwhelmed with the beauty this area offers. Utilize the 40-miles of trails throughout for hiking, biking, or horseback riding. The area is open daily and the entrance fee for adults is $6 and free for children. Primitive camping is allowed but only within the designated campsites and fire must be within the fire rings. Stay warm and listen to nature's sounds while you stargaze.

2. Enchanted Rock

Popular among tourists and locals, the Enchanted Rock can provide you with the chance to star gaze upon a large pink-granite mountain. Located near Fredericksburg, TX, Enchanted Rock sits on 640 acres of serene desert beauty. Get there early enough to see where you are climbing because the trails can be windy, and you'll want to see clearly. Once you reach the top there is plenty of space to sit around and watch the stars with family and friends.

There can be limited parking here as the area fills up fast with visitors. Access fees are $7 per day for ages 13 and older. If you wish to camp, there is a primitive fee of $14 per night or campsites with water for $18 per night. If you get to this mystical wonder before sundown, enjoy other activities such as geocaching, bird sightings, and nature studies.

Person Sitting Beneath Starry Sky

3. Blanco State Park

Just one hour from Austin and San Antonio, Blanco State Park boasts a one mile stretch along the Blanco River with a span of 104.6 acres. After a fun-filled day of swimming, boating, fishing, and playing, you and your friends or family can sit around and look at the night sky. Blanco State Park has open spaces perfect for stargazing. Pair that with the reflection of the moon shimmering against the river and you have the perfect spot for photo ops or just relaxing.

While Blanco State Park hugs the river, the entrance fee to enjoy the beauty is $5/ daily for ages 13 and older. Camping is limited and ranges from $20–$25/ nightly. Only campsites with electricity are available here. Bring your lantern and enjoy the night!

silhouette of woman using telescope

4. Wimberley, TX

This small river-front town is the perfect place to enjoy a day shopping oddity stores and enjoying the true essence of Texas. This small town has minimal lighting, making it the perfect place to just look up and enjoy the stars. Wimberley is surrounded by many trails, so while you await the night sky, take a walk and find an isolated spot to take beautiful pictures. The great part about Wimberley is that it is located only 28 miles outside of Austin, so it is just a short trip from city life to quiet smalltown serenity.

silhouette of tree beneath dusky sky

5. Inks Lake State Park

Considered to be one of Hill Country’s many hidden gems, Inks Lake State Park is home to 1,200 acres. With activities like boating, scuba diving, hiking, camping, and fishing, this area is a great spot to relax and enjoy what nature has to offer. You can find Inks Lake one hour northwest of Austin. Whether you are on the water or on a hiking trail, there are endless amounts of opportunities to stargaze here.

With nearly 200 camping sites and 22 cabins, there is no reason not to come to Inks Lake State Park. Fees for camping range between $11 and $23 per night. Entrance fees to the park are $6 for ages 13 and older. Take a breather from city life and enjoy a night trip on the lake to see the bright stars.

water and vegetation beneath stars

6. Dripping Springs, TX

This city is another non-park option because it is home to beautiful scenery and hosts the Texas Night Sky Festival every year at the Dripping Springs Ranch Park. This event is free and widely popular in Hill Country. During this event in March, you can learn pro photo tips, enjoy music, food, and most importantly the stars. As a special treat, event-goers will get to hear stories about stars from indigenous cultures and expert speakers. This city is not to be missed!

Stony mount beneath stars

7. Lost Maples State Natural Area

Whether you want to attend a stargazing party or do it yourself, starry nights at Lost Maples State Natural Area is the place to go. With tools like Star Map, Sun and Moon Data, Spot the Space Station, TPWD Dark Skies Program, you can ensure you will have the best stargazing experience. Lost Maples State Natural Area, located in Vanderpool, is home to 2,906 acres surrounded by bigtooth maples and steep canyon walls. Hike to high points to capture the best views of the night sky. Lost Maples has an entrance fee of $6 per day for ages 13 and older. Enjoy camping, fishing, hiking, and bird watching prior to your night experience.

stars and stone mountains

The Texas Hill Country and surrounding areas are full of beautiful hidden gems. Some you'll need to search for and others, you just need to lookup. From pink-granite rock to tranquil waterfronts you can rest easy knowing that any one of these 7 Best Stargazing Spots in the Texas Hill Country will leave you wanting to come to the vast open land more often.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The 8 Best Breweries in Texas Hill Country

The 8 Best Breweries in Texas Hill Country blog cover image

The Texas Hill Country is a place of hidden gems, beauty, and infinite land. Among these acres of bluebonnets, serene deserts, various swimming holes, and rolling hills you can find local hand-crafted beer. Texas provides rich soil for farmers to produce the best vegetation that gets sourced by experienced brewers. These natural flavors are added to the brewing process and delivered to you in a cold glass or bottle. As you venture through these different hidden gems, stop into one of these 8 Best Breweries in the Texas Hill Country and enjoy time with family, friends, and hard-working brewers!

1. Boerne Brewery

Pronounced "bur-nee", this brewery is in Boerne, and is home to German heritage. This is a small-town brewery and prefers to keep it that way. One of the featured brews - Denim-Hosen, contains 5.5% ABV. This brew is known for its sweet tang and smooth finish. Using traditional German brewing techniques, Boerne Brewery adds a Texas twist to bring you a delicious craft beer. Some other brews you can find here include English ESB, American IPA, English old Ale, and some seasonal crafts.

large brass tanks with ladders for brewing

2. Barrow Brewing Company

As Bell County’s first microbrewery, Barrow Brewing Company opened its doors in 2014 at the Silver Spur Theater in historic Salado. Quality, sustainability, and community is the focus at Barrow Brewing, and they serve only the highest quality, well-crafted beer.  Using simple recipes and natural flavors, you can find brews like Mystery of the Deep IPA, Saison, Hefeweizen, Lager, and White Ale. The great part about Barrow Brewing Company is the small-town attitude that comes with it. They love working with other businesses and have found their home amongst their neighbors.

four small glasses of various beers

3. Bear King Brewing Company

Marble Falls, Texas is home to Bear King Brewing Co. Even though this brewery just opened in 2019, it serves only the best quality of crafted beer and delicious family food in their space of 5,500 sq. ft.  While you snack on their Embellished Nachos, sip on one of the many featured brews including Blonde Ale, India Pale Ale, Porter, Hefeweizen, and Black IPA. With ABV percentages between 5.2 and 6.8, you can enjoy quality time with friends and family without feeling bogged down.

diners at the end of a row of brewing tanks

4. Family Business Beer Co.

Even though you may catch Jensen Ackles here, there is nothing supernatural about this brewery. This family-owned business in Dripping Springs is made up of a team of amazing owners who work together to provide customers an exceptional brew 15-acres of land. This brewery has an abundance of craft beers like a German Pilsner, Single-Hop Cryo-Mosaic IPA, Rye IPA, and English Ale - to name a few. Relax in the shaded trees after grabbing a bite from the food truck. The best part about the Family Business Beer Co. is that they really are family-oriented. The land includes a playground for kiddos and accommodates pets.

stacks of silver kegs

5. Bluebonnet Beer Company

Located in Round Rock, Bluebonnet Beer Company has been serving up quality craft beer since 2013. The owner holds a degree in biology and brewing, so you can rest easy knowing the brew is well-crafted. You can find their bottled products in stores around the Round Rock area. The brews available year-round are Cream Ale, Texas Pecan Brown Ale, and American IPA. Some of their seasonal brews include Bavarian Helles, Bluebonnet Wit, Nitro Milk Stout, and Orange Blossom Honey Pale Ale. The owner’s mission is to provide flavorful, award-winning craft beers to customers and to create friendships with the community along the way.

visitors enjoying the grounds around the brewery

6. Jester King Brewery

This authentic farmhouse brewery located in Austin sits on 58 acres of land and provides delicious craft beer. With mixed culture beer, Jester King Brewery makes 100% spontaneously fermented beer. Some of the featured brews include Pattinson Porter, Rare Corals, Grim Harvest, Spiral Aged Ale, and English Mild Ale. Jester King offers fermented beer from stainless steel tanks in bottles and includes ale, imperial stout, and cedar-aged ale - to name a few. Barrel-aged beers are also a large part of Jester King Brewery and are made available in bottles. If you are looking for an abundance of craft brew, then look no further than Jester King Brewery.

the yellow exterior and coverings of Save The World Brewing Co

7. Save The World Brewing Company

Also located in Marble Falls, Save The World Brewing Company is owned by a husband and wife duo that left their careers as doctors to open a philanthropic brewery instead. The owners - Dave and Quynh - give all profits away to save lives! Dave has over 15 years of experience brewing, and together they have worked hard to craft delicious brews. Some of their crafted brews include Saison Ale, Belgian Style Pale Ale, and Rex Servus Grisette - with the highest ABV percentage being 7.2. All their brews are naturally carbonated, unpasteurized, and unfiltered. With all of that said, buy a beer and save a life.

wooden tables and barrels in the Vista brewing dining room

8. Vista Brewing

This 21-acre property in Driftwood boasts a storybook brewery complete with a tasting room, eatery, and beekeeping. With European style crafting, Vista Brewing features brews such as Rye Lager, American Lager, Wit, and Hefeweizen.  You can also enjoy fermented beer from the barrel or bottles of crafted beer to go. Although, coming to this brewery, you’re going to want to pull up a chair and stay awhile. Vista Brewing prides itself on having a fresh beer, made with flavorful homegrown produce. The bees on the property play an important role when it comes to keeping their land fruitful. Vista Brewing continues to grow and will treat you like family.

Sipping on a high-quality crafted beer is delightful. Knowing that experienced brewers take the time and energy to put in natural high-quality flavors, just makes the experience even more enjoyable. From the stainless-steel tanks on dozens of acres to the crafts of a celebrity beer, and to the production of aged barrel beer made from busy bees, these 8 Best Breweries in Texas Hill Country will be instilled in your memories.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Enchanted Rock is a mystical part of Texas Hill Country

Enchanted Rock is a mystical part of Texas Hill Country blog cover image

The hidden Hill Country in Texas is full of places that look as if they are straight out of a storybook. You might have seen other hidden gems such as the Hamilton Pool which a natural watering hole in a box-like depression. There is a large waterfall that plunges into the beautiful limestone patterns and bioluminescent algae. Among gorgeous places like the Hamilton Pool, there is a place that sits on top of a rock - while the only water that is nearby are some ponds - this rock is just as mystical. Enchanted Rock located in Gillespie County is considered by locals to be one of the most mystical and beautiful landmarks. Enchanted Rock made a name for itself because of its tall pink-granite dome that overlooks a serene valley. Enchanted Rock is a great place to hike, stargaze, rock climb, geocache, study nature, and bird-watch. There is no swimming or riding bikes allowed. The park only costs $7 per person ages 13 and older. Make this landmark a stopping point, even if you are just passing through.

the reflection of Enchanted Rock in nearby waters on an overcast day


For hundreds of years, Enchanted Rock has been thought of as a place of spiritual connection. Popular among the Apache and Comanche tribes, this spot has served as a spiritual place to host a person’s innermost thoughts, emotions, and wisdom.

The steep climb up to the summit of the rock is not the easiest. There is no definitive trail up to the summit once you get to the dome rocks edge, but there are a ton of spots to stop and be at peace with yourself. Be mindful as you will probably see a lot of other people trying to find inner peace.

swirling stars of a time-lapse photo looking towards Enchanted Rock from below

Getting to the Park

Enchanted Rock is located within Enchanted Rock State Park and is very popular amongst tourists and locals. If you get to the Park through the town of Llano, you will be overwhelmed with an old-time atmosphere that will set the mood for an enchanting adventure.

Even though Enchanted Rock is within a State Park, it can reach full capacity due to limited parking. If this happens, you will be given a pass to come back later in the day. The pass will serve as a guarantee for admittance.

There are signs everywhere warning about rattlesnakes. Be vigilant! If you happen to encounter a rattlesnake, don’t panic. Rattlesnakes pick up on vibrations so back away slowly - keeping several feet of distance - and go around the snake. If there are other hikers around you, be sure to let them know of the snake’s location.

a group of hikers moving towards the summit of Enchanted Rock

Climbing the Rock

At the base of Enchanted Rock, there are many picnic tables, trees, a creek, and photo-op spots. There are also a few trails to choose from - all of which seem family-friendly. The summit trail takes around 30 minutes one way if you are physically fit and do not stop to take pictures. The trails are steep and will get your heart pumping. Once you reach the top of Enchanted Rock though, it will all be worth it. Words really can’t capture the true beauty of the summit.

slabs of granite sliding off Enchanted Rock's west face

What is at the top of Enchanted Rock?

The top of Enchanted Rock lives up to its name. The pink granite rock is mystical in itself. Add on the beautiful view, and smell of fresh, crisp air - this place is the definition of serene. The top of Enchanted Rock also has small water ecosystems that tiny shrimp live in. Please be mindful of their ecosystems and only take pictures. The summit has a lot of area so you can ensure you will be able to have a little privacy while taking in the 360-degree view.

Looking down you will see the various trails that loop around the Rock and there is also a cave down one side. Be sure to check it out. On the West Face of Enchanted Rock are slabs of granite that have broken away from the summit. This happens when the base layers of the rock push the outer layers up and they crack and slide down the face of the Rock. They look frozen in place and are truly stunning.

a trio of hikers walking down the path away from Enchanted Rock

The Descent

Locals and other tourists recommend that you stay at least to watch the sunset over the valley. If you can’t stay to watch the sunset, come in the morning to watch the sunrise. The park closes at 10:00 pm so you have the option to stay late too. It is just as steep descending as it is going up. Hiking in the dark is especially dangerous because you can’t see your surroundings. You would really need to count on your other senses like hearing. More nocturnal animals are out and other animals like coyotes use this time of day to hunt. There is a campground around Enchanted Rock, but you can’t stay on the summit itself. Any time you go hiking, you should have an emergency bag packed that includes a flashlight.

With so many places to see in the Hill Country of Texas, Enchanted Rock should be on the list. With Fredericksburg, Llano, and Luckenbach as neighboring towns, there is a lot to see and do in this area. Fredericksburg is a great destination to stay the night and head over to Enchanted Rock as soon as you awaken. It is home to German pioneer settlers and has a rich history. Fredericksburg is a real treat. The park opens at 8 am, get there early and you can avoid having to come back due to full capacity.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

15 Activities Hidden in Texas Hill Country

15 Activities Hidden in Texas Hill Country blog cover image

Hill Country, located in the Edwards Plateau on the Central to South part of Texas, is considered the most beautiful part of Texas by locals. There is endless adventure, from beautiful resorts to winding rivers and German-style cottages, this list of 15 Activities Hidden in Texas Hill Country is sure to impress you. Buckle up and be ready to engage in all the aspects that the Hill Country has to offer.

Southside BBQ sign welcoming hunters and bikers

1. Barbeque Pit-Stop

Living up to one of the stereotypes in Texas, barbeque pits are a common necessity you will see driving through this great State. When you are ready to grab a bite to eat, stop at places like Southside BBQ in Cherokee, TX. The pitmaster here smokes up high-quality cuts of meat right off the highway. Everyone recommends ending with a bite of the banana pudding!

circular herb gardens as the sun rises

2. Fredericksburg Herb Farm

The town of Fredericksburg is filled with German culture. The Fredericksburg Herb Farm is a great place to visit because not only do you get to experience a wonderful part of this town, but it also doubles as a lodge. Kick-off your shoes and stay in the German-styled cottages. This herb farm is located only a few blocks from shops and activities located in Fredericksburg. After a fun-filled day experiencing early German settlers’ culture, the herb farm has a spa for its guests to relax in.

classic Beatles records displayed on the wall

3. Visit in Comfort

Pun intended. After you leave Fredericksburg, Comfort is what you seek. The town of Comfort is quaint and offers many vineyards and distilleries. With only 2,363 people this town is truly a small-town with a slew of cozy shopping experiences. One tavern named Comfort Meet Market is operated by a husband and wife who love to engage and sit with their patrons. This tavern offers good food, live music, and an atmosphere that is described as “oldie but goodie”. Tourists enjoy all this town has to offer and really gives a feel for how it would be to live in such a comfortable place.

4. Swimming Holes

With many different swimming holes to choose from, one of the most popular options is Blue Hole Regional Park. Located in Wimberley, TX this natural swimming hole is surrounded by 126 acres of untouched forest and grass fields. This swimming hole grew its name when the Dobie family opened it to the public in the 1920’s. Since then, the Blue Hole was sold to a private Austin partnership group that limited its access. The village of Wimberley entered into an option agreement that allowed for public use. Today many individuals and families flock to this swimming hole to enjoy a day filled with sight-seeing, swimming, and outdoor fun.

swimmers preparing to jump into the deep blue well

5. Jacob’s Well

Another “cool-off” spot in the Hill Country is Jacob’s Well. Admittedly, this sounded eerie and the feeling was justified. The 30-foot deep artesian spring is located north of Wimberley and has claimed many divers’ lives. This local spot is still a hot commodity amongst tourists because of its natural wonders. Jump off the cliff into the well and walk up the natural stone path while you take in the beauty of the bioluminescent algae and limestone patterns.

looking up through the trees at the stars

6. Sharpen your Astronomy Skills

Being able to take in the vast night sky is truly a gift. If you live in a place that has a lot of light pollution, then you are going to want to stop at this Hill Country gem: the Tres Lunas Resort offers 112 acres of beautiful star-gazing opportunities. Once you have mapped the Big and Little Dippers, this resort offers a vanishing edge pool, gourmet cuisine, and Texas Zen ranch hospitality. The resort is friendly and will accommodate your needs for a spa weekend or to fill that void in you that wants to experience the Texas nights.

golden leaves behind the Lost Maples entrance

7. Lost Maples State Natural Area

Fall is arguably one of the most gorgeous times of the year. With the Bigtooth Maple trees in Lost Maples State Park, you will never see more beautiful foliage than this. Accompanied by the large Uvalde trees are rare birds that live here like the Green Kingfisher and the Black Phoebe. Be sure to acquire or bring your Texas State Park Pass. This will gain you unlimited entrances into the park.

8. Tube the Medina River

The Medina River is a wonderful place you can escape to and relax. The Medina River Company in Bandera, TX offers tube and kayak rentals as well as a shuttle service. Depending on how long you want to float, the shuttle service offers multiple drop-off zones. When you’re done, enjoy some barbeque at their on-site BBQ truck “Chicken Charlies”. The company just asks that you respect the natural surrounding and not bring styrofoam chests or glass bottles.

a multi-level waterfall surrounded by trees

9. Gorman Falls

During the wet season in Texas, the Gorman Falls must be on your list of places to see. The falls are located within Colorado Bend State Park in Bend, TX. The towering 60-foot waterfall is complimented with limestone rock just like Jacob’s Well. It is a hike up to see the falls so be sure to pack your hiking shoes and dress accordingly.

hikers on the trail below Enchanted Rock

10. Enchanted Rock

One way to end the day is to sit atop the pink granite Enchanted Rock and watch the sunset. This gorgeous and serene experience is in Enchanted Rock State Natural Area just outside of Fredericksburg. A truly magical place like this deserves to be on the list. Here, you can hike, rock climb, picnic, geocache, and study nature but no biking or swimming is allowed.

water falling quickly between tall, wet rocks

11. Hamilton Pool

The Hamilton Pool Preserve is located on a 232-acreage park in Dripping Springs, TX. This preserve is a natural swimming hole like the Blue Hole and Jacob’s Well. It also is characterized by having a waterfall that drops into the box-like pool complimented with the same limestone patterns as previously mentioned watering holes. This pool is very photogenic because it looks as though it is part of an underground cavern. Due to its popularity in between March and October, you must obtain a reservation prior to your outing.

12. Peach Pickin’

There is nothing quite like biting into a ripe, freshly-picked peach. The way the juice flows down from your hand and onto your arm as you quickly try to wipe it off your chin. In Texas, the peaches are bigger and better. Take your friends and family over to the peach capital in Stonewall, TX. Businesses like Burg’s Corner offers a variety of different peaches ranging in sweetness and sizes. Get a basket and start picking to enjoy the full experience of Texas peaches.

a geared-up visitor shaking dirt through a sifter

13. Topaz Digging

The official gemstone of Texas is Topaz and it can only be harvested from the granite hills and creek beds of Mason County. In earlier days the Topaz was easier to find but with its growing popularity, farmers need to dig deeper and understand what they’re looking for. Topaz will look like frozen water or broken glass and come in a variety of colors including blue, orange, brown, green, beige, and red. Even if you don’t find topaz, the experience of digging and collecting is enough to enjoy yourself.

14. Hideaway Horseback Riding

Another bonafide Texas resort experience is The Hideaway Ranch & Retreat located in Bluff Dale, TX. This ranch spans over 155-acres in the Hill Country and has 10 cabins scattered through the woods along with endless amenities. Enjoy a true cowboy experience and see the land on horseback. The Hideaway offers a limited amount of horseback rides every weekend at just $50 per guest. Each guest must be at least 10 years of age and there is a 240-pound limit. If you are under 18, you must have a guardian accompany you. The Hideaway will ensure your safety by guiding you on horseback and most importantly they want you to have fun!

15. Bluebonnet Browsing

To find the best places to stop and take in the beauty of Bluebonnets, it is best to ask a local. Have a bite to eat at one of the many cafes in Hill Country and put bluebonnet fields on the list. Bluebonnets start to bloom mid-March and continue through late spring. Try to find a field that hosts other native flowers to capture the true essence of a Bluebonnet field.

Adventure awaits in the Lonestar State. Don’t let its formidable reputation scare you away. There is so much beauty in this State and with different hidden gems, there is something for everyone in your family. From plunging swimming holes to the fruits of the hills and gems in the dirt, Texas Hill Country is a place serenity and absolute beauty.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The 5 Best Horseback Riding Trails in the Texas Hill Country

The 5 Best Horseback Riding Trails in the Texas Hill Country blog cover image

Horseback riding can be both beneficial and exciting at the same time. There is an unmistakable, historical equine and human connection. People have always seemed to enjoy the child-like, long-time, on-going love affair with horses. The beautiful Texas Hill Country might be one of the best places to test the thought that somewhere buried deep in the adult subconscious is the still-longing child, looking for the chance to climb on the back of a horse and just ride.

Five stellar opportunities come to mind when exploring the possibilities for trail riding in Texas Hill Country. So, if you think a trail ride might just be your cup of tea, let’s head out to Texas and explore some of the following options:

visitors gather at the creekbed

1. Dinosaur Valley State Park

Traveling through this park, you can’t help but wonder what it was like millions of years ago when dinosaurs roamed the world. As its name implies, Dinosaur Valley is the locale of some amazing dinosaur relics. In addition, riding in this beautiful park you will find a variety of wildlife, trekking opportunities and miles and miles of unmarked trails. The Paluxy River wanders through the park carving out an incredible topography. This makes navigating the woodsy and sometimes rocky terrain well worth the trip. The park is day-use only with plenty of water available to horses. Adventures for both beginning and experienced riders are available from nearby tour suppliers who provide all the necessary equipment, including horses.

entrance to a camping area at Hill Country State Natural Area

2. Hill Country State Natural Area

Twelve miles from Bandera, this pristine area is a premier equestrian destination. It is home of 5,400 acres and 40 miles of multi-use trails and boasts of outstanding natural beauty and a variety of wildlife. Additional support for exploring on horseback, like barns, covered stalls, corrals, and water troughs are available for horses but prepare for a truly natural experience without flush toilets for riders. Accommodations, however, are available near the park for folks who want to spend the night with plenty of resources for both weary rider and horse. There is an abundance of opportunities to participate in year-round events that include family-oriented trail rides and riding competitions. If you are looking for a rustic horseback adventure, the Hill Country State Natural Area might be your choice.

green foliage on red rock landscape

3. Caprock Canyons State Park & Trailway

Wandering a little further north, along the eastern edge of the Llano Estacado, you will come upon an area that will provide a bit more challenging terrain along with a possible buffalo sighting. If you are an experienced rider looking for that sort of thing, there are plenty of prospects in this park. The vistas are breathtaking and the trails stimulating. On the trails, riders can find cliffs and sudden drops coupled with occasional steep climbs and descents. There are campsites with corrals available for horses and water for animals but, bring your own drinking water. Along with the promise of the possibility of spotting an occasional bison, explorers can participate in geocaching. Caches are hidden all over by fellow travelers who put together trinkets, surprises, and whatnots. You can choose to enjoy this treasure hunt diversion with a logbook to sign and writing tools included.

two horseback riders gallop toward the sunset

4. Dana Peak Park Trail

Looking for an uncomplicated ride? The Dana Peak Trail is a 6.8-mile trek located near Harker Heights, Texas. If you live in the area, this venue is close at hand, offering lovely views of Stillhouse Hollow Lake and a variety of terrains. Ride choices include differing trail lengths, formations, and low altitudes to accommodate both the experienced and inexperienced rider. For non-riders, there are other trail options, so be prepared to share the park with mountain bikers, hikers and runners. Visitors report that this is a popular park, especially on weekends.

a lone horseback rider kicking up dust on the trail

5. Guadalupe River State Park

Guadalupe River State Park, located within easy driving distance of both San Antonio and Austin, also offers a varied venue. There is some form of recreation for just about everyone. The cool-running Guadalupe River is a busy water-related activity area. Away from the river, however, stretches of peace and quiet provide an opportunity for serene, reflective rides. For something fun and novel, visitors can also try geocaching in this area. Riding in Guadalupe River State Park is a popular, fun and enjoyable activity for singles, couples or families.

a couple of riders making their way through a leafy green forest

Nothing feels as freeing and empowering as a romp on horseback. It’s time to make the dream come true by bringing or borrowing a horse for a day. Even the briefest encounter can be beneficial. Horses are beautiful, powerful animals somehow connected to our psyche. They are pleasing and calming in the same instant. It is no wonder folks have discovered that horseback riding is actually therapeutic. When you ride, everything seems to slow down and stress fades away. Riding is the perfect way to slip into another world in order to reflect on and improve your inner self.

Trail rides in the beautiful Texas Hill Country can be one of the most rewarding experiences of a lifetime and could possibly become a traditional event worthy of splendid memories for any individual, couple, or an entire family.