Road Trip to Fredericksburg, Texas
Windmill next to Best Western Plus Fredericksburg - photo by Dustin Hodges (Omigod, Dibs!™)
Texans have a secret place they like to take a road trip to as a special getaway from daily life. No, it’s not the beaches of South Padre. It’s not the high life of Dallas/Fort Worth, or the excitement of the big city of Houston. It’s a place most familiar to Central and South Texans. A place that offers beautiful Hill Country views, some of the best wineries in the country, shopping, walking, small town hospitality, and a bit of German heritage.
As the seat of Gillespie County, Fredericksburg is an old German town of over 10,000 people, but you’d think it’s larger with its year round tourist season. Texans and non-natives from near and far love the vibe of this small, yet wondrous Hill Country town. We think though, that Fredericksburg is at its most wondrous state when it’s the holiday season and the town gets decked out in Christmas décor down the whole of Main Street. Every bit of the town becomes a German Christmas wonderland during the holiday season; full of lights from sidewalk to tree top, from street corner to every business window in town. It’s truly a beautiful sight, especially come night.
About Fredericksburg & Geography
Enchanted Rock - Texas Parks and Wildlife
Fredericksburg is located east of the center of Gillespie County, part of a region in Texas that is considered as Texas Hill Country. Fredericksburg is the seat of Gillespie County, and is located 70 miles north of San Antonio and 78 miles west of Austin, Texas (Google Maps of Fredericksburg).
A neat geologic area of interest near Fredericksburg is Enchanted Rock. Enchanted Rock is part of the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, and is the largest pink granite inselberg in the United States located in the Llano Uplift approximately 17 miles (27 km) north of Fredericksburg, Texas and 24 miles (39 km) south of Llano, Texas. It’s believed, through archaeological evidence, that humans have been visiting Enchanted Rock as far back as 11,000 years ago. If you’d like to be a part of the thousands of years old tradition, you can visit this place yourself, hike, camp, rock climb, or just enjoy the beautiful Texas scenery. Visit the Texas Parks & Wildlife website for up-to-date information and more of what there is to do at and near Enchanted Rock State Natural Area.
Fredericksburg was founded on May 8, 1846 by German immigrants under the Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas. John O. Meusebach chose the location for the second of the Society’s colonies four miles north of the Pedernales River between two creeks. He named the settlement Friedrichsburg (later changed to Fredericksburg) to honor Prince Frederick of Prussia.
The emigration was in part the liberal, educated Germans fleeing the social, political, and economic conditions that later resulted in the Revolution of 1848, and in part working-class Germans. Baron von Meusebach renounced his noble title and became known in Texas as John O. Meusebach. The area's Barons Creek was named in Meusebach's honor.
Things to See
As mentioned earlier, a great place to visit when taking a road trip to Fredericksburg is Enchanted Rock. If you’re interested in geology and seeing new types of rock formations and terrain wherever you go, then the largest pink granite inselberg in the U.S. should be on the top of your list of things to see. Maybe you’re like us and love to collect rocks along your road travels. It’s the one “must-do” thing we do on our road trips, just like we mentioned in our blog post entitled “The One Must-Do Thing You Do On Every Road Trip You Go On”. We suggest checking out that blog to gather some ideas of things you may think of doing for your road trips to make them a bit more interesting and fun!
National Museum of the Pacific War - photo source Escapees RV Club
If you’re a history buff, the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg may interest you. Formerly the Nimitz Museum, the complex is now the only museum in the Continental United States centered on World War II's Pacific campaign. The museum is located between Main Street and Austin Street, and is a site that allows you to immerse yourself in America’s history in the Pacific War. The museum’s goal is to connect people to the experiences and stories of those affected by WWII in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater by interpreting its enduring relevance.
Chester William Nimitz - Pinterest
You may have heard of the fleet admiral of the U.S. Navy of the time, Chester William Nimitz, Sr. He played a major role in the naval history of World War II as Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet and Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas, commanding Allied air, land, and sea forces during World War II. But, did you know that Admiral Nimitz was born in Fredericksburg? His boyhood home and Grandfather’s hotel, once named the Nimitz Hotel, is now the Admiral Nimitz Museum. Getting your chance to visit the childhood location of a great military and American historical figure, and the history behind WWII in the Pacific makes your trip to Fredericksburg all that more worthwhile.
National Museum of the Pacific War - Wikipedia
We had mentioned earlier that Fredericksburg during the holidays is quite the experience for those who love this time of year and appreciate Christmas decorations and displays. Fredericksburg really shines during the holiday season, and there’s a lot to see and do around town during the months of November through January.
Although it can get cold in Fredericksburg, it usually doesn’t get cold enough for ice skating, unless you visit the Eisbahn Outdoor Ice Skating rink. Eisbahn has become an integral part of the Christmas season in Fredericksburg and the Hill Country. They’re usually opened around the end of November to early January, but it’s recommended to view their website to see their exact times and schedules to plan your skating time accordingly.
Christmas Lights at Marktplatz at Night - photo by Dustin Hodges (Omigod, Dibs!™)
Sometime after Thanksgiving, Fredericksburg kicks off their Christmas activities with live music and refreshments at the lighting of the 26-foot tall German Christmas Pyramid and Community Christmas Tree on the Marktplatz every year. The Marktplatz is where you can walk the grounds in the middle of town to view Christmas light covered trees, wooden trains, other outdoor Christmas décor, and the giant German Christmas Pyramid. You’ll definitely want to experience Marktplatz at night to see all the beautiful Christmas lights that are strung about the entire area, and of course, you’ll want to be sure to bring a coat and camera to stay warm and capture all the holiday beauty.
The Christmas Store - photo source from Austinot.com
You can’t go to Fredericksburg without shopping. The whole of Main Street is filled with shops to walk around to. There’s plenty to gander at and to shop for, especially for Christmas gift items. If you’re one that loves to find unique gift ideas and decorations for the holidays, then The Fredericksburg Christmas Store on East Main is the place to drop in. The Fredericksburg Christmas Store is a collector's paradise located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. They carry a wide selection of Christmas décor including Christopher Radko and Inge European blown glass ornaments, Department 56 Villages, Possible Dreams Santas, Mark Roberts fairies, Jim Shore figurines, Fontanini nativities and Kurt Adler nutcrackers. If you’re planning a road trip to Fredericksburg during the holiday months, don’t skip out on making a visit to some fantastic old-time Christmas shop browsing and gift shopping at 155 East Main, in Fredericksburg (Google Maps).
Things to Do
If you’re interests lie in the finer things in life, like wine and beer tasting, and fine dining, then Fredericksburg is your type of town to stop off the road. There are several wineries and distilleries within the greater Fredericksburg and Gillespie County area, but one place that may catch your eye as you travel down Highway 290 is the very large, European style complex of Altstadt Brewery. Altstadt Serves Up a Taste of An Old-World European Brewery Experience with The Texas Heart & German Soul of Fredericksburg Brewery Tours, Biergartens, Private Events, Fine Dining & Fine Beer!
Altstadt Brewery - photo source from TexasTimberFrames.com
Located in the gentle rolling hill country of Fredericksburg, Altstadt Brewery is a unique setting where premium German beer flows while friends and families come together, and memories are made. With live music, fine food and beer, the Altstadt Brewery atmosphere celebrate guests from all over for nightly social outings, brewery tours, group events and offers an ideal setting for an elegant Texas Hill Country wedding or corporate gatherings.
Absolute Charm Wine Tours - photo source from AbsoluteCharmWineTours.com
If you’re interested in taking wine tours, and maybe learning a little more about wine, how it’s made, and doing some taste testing, then Absolute Charm Wine Tours may be of interest to you. Absolute Charm B&Bs and Vacation Rentals opened in 2007, and has since then been Fredericksburg’s premier luxury reservation service that represents over 200 properties today. Absolute Charm offers the best options in luxury accommodations in Fredericksburg, Texas, and they enjoy helping guests find and enjoy the perfect setting for an extraordinary experience and an incredible team to support their every need. Check out Absolute Charm Wine Tours’ website for more information on tours, stops, vacation rentals, and even private wine tours to get yourself set up before you arrive.
Where to Stay
Windmill next to Best Western Plus Fredericksburg - photo by Dustin Hodges (Omigod, Dibs!™)
Wanting to stay the night in Fredericksburg? There are several great places to choose from to stay. DJ Road Trip of the Road Trip Roadcast and his family stayed at the Best Western Plus Fredericksburg during their New Year's 2020 Road Trip. He gave a great review in his discussion of this place on Show #27 of the Podcast. If you're interested in learning more about this hotel and it's accommodations, location to town, and more as told by DJ Road Trip, listen to Show #27 of the Road Trip Roadcast, a podcast from Omigod, Dibs! You may also find the best deals for your stay at the top ranked places in town or anywhere by using the interactive map below!
Road Trip to Fredericksburg during the Holidays
Check out our road trip crew’s video below! Fredericksburg was one of many places they visited in late December 2019 through early January 2020, as part of their New Year’s 2020 Road Trip. Thanks for watching and happy and safe trails.