5 Spots Near San Antonio to Snap Those Bluebonnet Photos

Photo credit: Mewborne Photography

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that 2019 is shaping up to be a big one for Texas wildflowers. From the iconic bluebonnets to Indian paintbrushes, a wet fall laid the groundwork for strong and prolific wildflowers this spring. The 2019 wildflower contingent is expected to bloom early (and already has in many places) and produce showier blooms than we’ve seen in the past few years.

In response to this abundance of wildflowers, your social media feed soon will be exploding with those adorable photos of the tiniest Texans sitting amid a sea of bluebonnets in fields across South Central Texas. Now, while there’s certainly no shame in snapping quick photos in front of your pharmacy or grocery store, consider making an adventure out of your wildflower photos this year.

Head out of town a bit to see where the wind (and the blooms) take you at these primo wildflower spots—all just a short drive from San Antonio:

Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park and the LBJ Ranch (Johnson City)

Located about 60 scenic miles from San Antonio, Johnson City is home to the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park as well as the LBJ Ranch, near Stonewall. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that former first lady Lady Bird Johnson made it her mission to educate and proliferate wildflowers in the area surrounding her husband’s boyhood home. Both the LBJ Historical Park as well as the LBJ Ranch should be in full bloom in the coming month, and each provide shady areas to hike, picnic, and tour the parks after you’ve snapped some good shots of the family in the flowers.

Wildseed Farms (Fredericksburg)

If you need a sure-fire, no-fail trip for wildflower photos, then Wildseed Farms is your safest best. Wildseed Farms has grown wildflowers for the production of seeds for more than 35 years, so it’s safe to say that they know what they’re doing. While there are fields that are off-limits to visitors, there are plenty of potted and wild areas where your family can certainly pose with a flower or two.

Willow City Loop (Fredericksburg)

If you’re heading toward Wildseed Farms anyway, it makes sense to take a scenic detour to the famed Willow City Loop. This 13-mile loop wraps around from Fredericksburg to Llano on Highway 16, then heads east on Ranch Road 1323 toward Willow City. Please note that much of the land surrounding this loop is private, so you might have to get creative in finding spots to walk and snap photos among the blossoms.

Brenham, Texas

If you want to make a bit of a road trip out of town, head east to Brenham, a delightful town that boasts a diverse and stunning collection of wildflowers most every spring. Head directly to the Brenham Chamber of Commerce (115 W. Main Street) and pick up a Wildflower Watch Map, which will help you easily locate the best spots for some primo photos. Naturally, no trip to Brenham is complete without a visit to the Blue Bell Creamery, so make sure to fit that into your schedule (and reward the kids for smiling pretty for the camera with some ice cream).

Austin Steam Train Association (Hill Country Flyer, Departs from Cedar Park, Texas)

If you really need to coerce your kids into smiling nicely for the camera, consider this 66-mile round trip train ride through the heart of the Texas Hill Country. You’ll cross picturesque river trestles and get to spend two hours exploring Burnet, Texas, which is aptly named the “Bluebonnet Capital of Texas.” Here you can snap photos in the flowers as well as grab lunch and stroll around town (and maybe even bear witness to a Wild West Gunfight!). Tickets start at $28 per child and $38 for adults, and the voyage truly takes the stress and guesswork out of traveling by car. Plus, what kid doesn’t foam at the mouth over the prospect of riding on a train?

A Few Tips For Getting The Best Bluebonnet Photos

Watch where you sit.

Sure, you’ve probably seen all of the (perhaps overinflated) warnings about rattlesnakes lying in wait in fields of bluebonnets and, absolutely, you should watch where you step. However, fire ants are probably a greater risk. Fire ants, especially if we’ve just had rain, will build their mounds in the very fields that are covered with beautiful wildflowers. Nothing can ruin a cute bluebonnet photo more than encountering these blasted varmints! Also, plan to bring a blanket or towel to sit on in the flowers. The area around the plants is typically moist and poke-y—all of which can add up to only one thing: unhappy faces in photos.

Use caution when stopping along highways.

There will undoubtedly be scores of flowers along the medians and roadways all over Texas, but it bears mentioning that you should always err on the side of extreme caution when pulling off the road to walk among the blooms.

For the love of Davy Crockett, don’t pick the flowers!

While it’s actually an urban legend that it’s illegal to pick a bluebonnet in Texas, it is still very much frowned upon. Not only can humans mar a field in no time if everyone picks the flowers, but also the plant relies on the bloom to help reseed itself so that there will be flowers next year. So, if you want to stick with the ol’ “it’s illegal to pick bluebonnets” deception with your kids, your secret will be safe with us.

Parents, get in the pictures too!

Parents, don’t hide behind the camera! Even though it often takes all of our energy (not to mention most of our will to live) to get our children picture-ready, consider stepping in front of the camera so that you’re pictured with your family in the wildflowers. There is never the “perfect” time to be photographed, is there? But more important is capturing this moment in time so that you can look back and remember this time and place with your babies.

Whether you’re a born and raised Texan or maybe just passing through our great state, taking your kids’ photos in the bluebonnets is a time-honored Texas tradition. The vivid colors of the blooms, coupled with the prettiest springtime skies, equal a recipe for photographic success. You can dress in your Easter Sunday finest or super casual, but whatever look you’re going for, the Texas wildflowers will act as the backdrop for a snapshot of a perfect Texas memory.

Jenny is a 40-something, married mother of two (Anna, 2007 and Jack, 2009), who migrated to the Hill Country after doing a 14 year stint in Houston. When Jenny isn’t walking her slightly neurotic (and completely beloved) rescued Weimaraner, she enjoys writing, making to-do lists, and folding laundry (and sarcasm). Jenny holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Texas A&M University--Corpus Christi, and completed graduate coursework in Guidance and Counseling. She is a freelance writer who writes a weekly pet column for a Houston newspaper, and is a contributor at Dog Friendly San Antonio, New Braunfels Monthly and San Antonio Woman, as well as assorted other publications. You can also find her on Instagram (introvertsguidetosobriety). Favorite Restaurant: Bohanan's Favorite Landmark: The Alamo (duh) Favorite San Antonio Tradition: Wurstfest (not technically SAT, but closer to Jenny's stomping grounds).