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Places to Love: Texas Hill Country

I’ve always wanted to frolic through the Texas Hill Country bluebonnets. However, this beautiful region offers so much more. On my trip, I visited a wildflower seed farm that produces fields of stunning wildflowers, tasted fine cuisine at a farm-to-table German bistro, two-stepped with a cowboy at historic Gruene Hall, and ate strudel at the oldest bakery in the state. Here’s why Texas Hill Country is a place to love.


Back to school, Hill Country-style

When a large population of German immigrants settled in the Texas Hill country, they prioritized education. You’ll see this throughout Gillespie County, home to 12 landmark, one-room schoolhouses. The good news for visitors? Most keep the doors unlocked, so you can walk right in and explore. I stopped by the Rheingold School house. Built in 1900, this building still serves as a community gathering place, and even hosts weddings.


Make a day of it! Visit this guide to Hill Country driving routes that allow you to check a few of these darling schoolhouses off your list.


Rheingold School #22
334 Rheingold School Road

Places to Love - Texas Hill Country

Frolic through the Texas bluebonnets

It’s said Texas hosts the largest flower show on earth. Every spring, the roadside turns bright blue. On this trip, I finally checked frolicking in the Texas bluebonnets off my bucket list! If you time your trip right (typically March-April), you can too. Of course, you can’t just do this anywhere—private property is a no-no, and you can’t trample the flowers, either.

I say your best bet is visiting Wildseed Farms. Located in Fredericksburg, fourth generation Texas Farmer John R. Thomas founded this 200-acre farm to preserve and grow wild flowers. You’ll find blankets of bluebonnets, red corn poppies and more. There’s walking trails through the fields, as well as covered sitting areas for guests to enjoy the flowers, butterflies and hummingbirds.

For more info on Fredericksburg, visit their official tourism site.


In 2015, Wildseed farms started growing grapes. Sample their Hill Country wines in the on-site tasting room. There’s also a biergarten, with a simple lunch menu, local pickle samples and their famous peach ice cream.


Wildseed Farms, Inc.
100 Legacy Drive
Fredericksburg, TX 78624
Main: (800) 848 0078

Samantha Brown's Places to Love - Hill Country

A taste of Germany in the heart of Hill Country

For those who live in Austin and San Antonio, Hill Country remains a popular weekend getaway. The most popular destination? The town of Fredericksburg. Founded in 1846 by German immigrants, this charming town pays homage to its roots while embracing its future. A great example is Otto’s German Bistro. Owned and operated by Evelyn and John Washburn, this casual but elegant restaurant showcases German culinary traditions, made with local ingredients. I tried the bratwurst with sauerkraut and mustard. Paired with a German wine, or one of their hand crafted cocktails, this might be the best meal in all of Hill Country!

For more info on Fredericksburg, visit their official tourism site.


Spending the weekend in Fredericksburg? Hit up Otto’s for Sunday brunch! Lemon ricotta pancakes or steak and eggs, paired with a maple old fashioned (made with candied bacon)—yum!


Otto’s German Bistro
316 East Austin Street
Fredericksburg, TX 78624
p: 830.307.3336

Texas Hill country

Honoring American heroes on Fredericksburg’s Main Street

I was surprised to learn the National Museum of the Pacific War is housed on Fredericksburg’s Main Street. But it makes perfect sense as Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz called this small town home. Since 1967, the world-class military museum complex honors those who served our country in the Pacific-Asiatic Theater of Operations during World War II.

For more info on Fredericksburg, visit their official tourism site.


Two blocks east of the main campus is the Pacific Combat Zone. Experience guided tours of macro-artifacts and regularly scheduled combat re-enactments.


The National Museum of The Pacific War
340 East Main Street
Fredericksburg, Texas 78624

Spanish wine from a German estate

Owned and operated by the Carl and Frances Money (yes, that’s really their name), Pontotoc Vineyards is truly a family affair. Now in their fifth generation as a Texas farming family, you could say farming in the Money’s blood. Carl purchased a historic German Estate in 2003, and with the help of family and friends, established approximately five acres of Tempranillo vines. The entire Money Family has been involved in turning the soil, planting and pruning the vines, harvesting the fruit, and making and bottling the wine.

The best way to sample their wine is at their tasting room in downtown Fredericksburg. Nestled in a quaint cottage with a stone walled courtyard, the weingarten provides a family atmosphere in an intimate environment for sharing excellent local food and wine.


I hope you like tempranillo—it’s the only grape variety they grow. Carl says it’s the grape that does best in the region. Order a glass and see if you agree. I did!


320 West Main Street
Fredericksburg, Texas 78624
Phone (512)658.0023

Places to Love -Texas Hill Country

Crack the whip in New Braunfels

Though you’ll find German influence throughout Hill Country, it all started in historic New Braunfels. Founded in 1845 as the first Germany colony in Texas (back when Texas was an independent republic), these immigrants brought along more than beer and brats. They also instilled a hard work ethic and high standard of craftsmanship.

This is especially evident at Ludwig & Marglin Leather. This 80-year-old business still crafts leather goods by hand. From wallets to purses, chaps and holsters, most of their pieces are custom orders. They’re also one of the largest bullwhip manufacturers in the country. Their top customers? Those who produce western reenactment shows. You can make this stuff up!

For more info on New Braunfels, visit their official tourism site.


Be sure to meet Opie and Helen, both of whom have worked at Ludwig & Marglin for 30+ years.


Ludwig & Marglin Leather
Visit their website to view their online shop and for orders.

Naeglins Bakery - Texas Hill Country

Get your sugar fix at Texas’ oldest bakery

If you were just down the street from the oldest bakery in the state of Texas, would you skip it? Me neither! The Naegelin family started Naeglin’s Bakery in 1868. Though the Granzin family bought the business in 1980, not much else has changed. Fresh cookies, pastries, pies and cakes of historic proportions still use recipes developed by the Naegelin family. Their signature offering has to be the apple strudel, make from scratch daily. This sugar-filled confection stretches over two feet in length, so either come with friends or really, really hungry.

For more info on New Braunfels, visit their official tourism site.


Don’t have a sweet tooth? (I don’t believe you!). Try the Granzin family’s sausage kolache, a sausage link wrapped in dough, then baked.


Naegelin’s Bakery
129 South Seguin Ave.
New Braunfels, TX 78130
Phone: (830) 625-5722

Places to Love - Texas Hill Country - Greune Hall

Two-step with a bona fide cowboy

Not much has physically changed since Greune Hall was first built in 1878. The 6,000 square foot dance hall with a high pitched tin roof still has the original layout with side flaps for open air dancing, a bar in the front, a small lighted stage and a huge outdoor garden. It’s a great place to drink a cold one and learn to two-step (fun fact: cornmeal sprinkled across the hall makes all that spinning nearly effortless).

There’s a real intimacy here between the performing artists and patrons—probably a big reason why people like Willie Nelson, the Dixie Chicks and Kris Kristofferson still love playing here. Check out their calendar and you just may see your favorite artist listed.

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I’ve always wanted to frolic through the Texas Hill Country bluebonnets. However, this beautiful region offers so much more. Here’s why Texas Hill Country is a place to love.


With the exception of chips, nuts and jerky, there’s not much for food at Greune Hall. Check out the nearby Gristmill Restaurant for a pre-show bite. The menu is pretty meat-heavy (think steaks, wurst, and fried chicken), but hey! You’re in Texas. What were you expecting?


Greune Hall
1281 Gruene Rd.
New Braunfels, Texas 78130

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