Fredericksburg, Texas, is a small town with room to play, things to see, and good food to eat. It’s worth the drive from San Antonio for a day trip or weekend getaway.
Depending on where you start from in San Antonio, it’s about a one-hour drive. Most drivers will head northwest on I-10, go through Boerne, and turn north on Highway 87 just past Comfort. Fredericksburg has a population of about 10,000—much larger on weekends, I’m sure—and is a jumping-off point for adventures through Texas wine country, among beautiful Texas Hill Country landscapes, and toward historical sites of national and international significance.
Main Street is also known as Hauptstrasse, one of many signs of the lingering influence of German settlers who arrived starting in 1846. Downtown Fredericksburg is highly walkable and is packed with restaurants and shops. The octagonal Vereins Kirche (pictured above) houses a visitors’ center. The Marktplatz also offers a great children’s playground and free public restrooms.
Along Main Street, the Pioneer Museum helps visitors learn about what life was like for the early settlers of Fredericksburg. The Pioneer Memorial Library is housed in a grand old courthouse building. Downtown Fredericksburg is home to many historic churches, including the Marienkirche (St. Mary’s Catholic Church) (pictured below), Zion Lutheran Church, and Holy Ghost Lutheran Church.
Download a walking tour map to learn the backstory on downtown’s banks, shops, saloons, and Sunday houses.
History buffs will treasure the National Museum of the Pacific War, which uses artifacts and media to tell the epic story of World War II in the Pacific. If you want to do a little preparation from your couch, I recommend binge-watching The War, a 2007 documentary series by Ken Burns and Lyn Novick.
The George H.W. Bush Gallery takes you through many battles, fronts, and perspectives on the war. If you are a mother and can visit the exhibit about the Sullivan brothers (No. 260 on the tour) without crying ugly tears, then you are made of stone. If I am having a tough day as a mom, I can still be grateful that I am not raising my children in the Santo Tomas Internment Camp, as Margaret Sams was when she made these delicate clothes.
Your museum tickets are good for 48 hours, so you can spread out your visit and minimize information overload. Down the street, the boats, planes, and other fixtures of the Pacific Combat Zone are being reinstalled; as of this writing, phase one has re-opened, and living history demonstrations (flamethrowers, anyone?) will resume in 2017. The Plaza of Presidents, Memorial Garden, and Japanese Garden of Peace are outdoors and are good places for little legs to stretch. The Admiral Nimitz Museum is housed in the landmark Nimitz Steamboat Hotel, where Admiral Chester W. Nimitz spent his early childhood. The National Museum of the Pacific War offers intense detail about the conflict but also a multicultural perspective. Repeat visits have deepened my understanding of the war and have helped my children grow their sense of American patriotism.
As a side trip, visit the Lyndon Baynes Johnson National Historical Park to learn about the life and times of our 36th President and his wife, Claudia “Lady Bird” Taylor Johnson. If your kids are National Parks Service Junior Rangers, they can complete a set of educational activities to earn a badge. At the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site, the Sauer-Beckmann Farm offers living history demonstrations of life in the Texas Hill Country around 1900. LBJ’s boyhood home is located in Johnson City, Texas, just around the corner from the Hill Country Science Mill. The Science Mill is a fun place for kids to dive into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and is worth a day trip in its own right.
For nature lovers, Pedernales Falls offers scenic waterways, while Enchanted Rock offers unique geology and beautiful views. (Get more tips about Enchanted Rock from Maggie’s post about local hikes.) Michelle took this dramatic photo on a recent family hike at Enchanted Rock.
Wildseed Farms offers an up-close look at wildflowers and native plants, and you can buy a bag of seeds to take home.
Or, you can go for a scenic drive to see wildflowers. Erin recommends the Willow City Loop; here’s a picture of Erin and her daughter in front of a field of wildflowers.
The countryside is scattered with orchards offering Hill Country peaches. Some farms, including Marburger Orchard, allow you to pick your own fruit. Here is Erin’s daughter with a basket of strawberries.
While you’re out exploring the countryside, geocaching is a fun way to get your kids interested in navigation. Amy’s list of geocaching tips is focused on San Antonio, but the same principles apply when traveling, too.
Food is always a highlight of our visits to Fredericksburg, and many restaurants are family-friendly. On a recent trip, we visited Altdorf Biergarten, the Airport Diner, Fredericksburg Brewing Co. Twisted Sisters Bake Shop, and Clear River Ice Cream, Bakery & Deli.
Jill’s visit to Grape Creek Vineyard may inspire you to take a wine tour, too. In town, Jill recommends family dining at the Rathskeller Restaurant.
If you plan to stay overnight, Fredericksburg has a range of options. There are motels and hotels, such as the Inn on Baron’s Creek. There are RV parks and campgrounds, including Texas Wine Country Jellystone Park, which is popular with Kristin’s kids (pictured below).
Fredericksburg has a lively Bed and Breakfast scene, but when you make a reservation, make sure your lodgings welcome children. For example, at Barons CreekSide, some cabins are for adults only. Similarly, the Hangar Hotel is for adults only, although the adjacent Airport Diner is kid-friendly.
Once you have chosen the dates for your visit, check for special events. For example, during a visit to Fredericksburg Airport over Spring Break, we encountered flying-condition B-17, B-24, and P-51 aircraft, part of the Collings Foundation Wings of Freedom Tour.
And, as you know, everybody’s somebody in Luckenbach, and there’s usually music and dancing, too. The holidays are also a special time in Fredericksburg.
Fredericksburg has been discovered, not just by San Antonio folks, but also by visitors from Austin, Houston, and beyond. Whatever you do, try to get an early start, whether it’s parking your car downtown, making a dinner reservation, or getting in the gate at Enchanted Rock. Then, once you are underway, remember to slow down your pace. Don’t try to pack in too many activities in one day, but instead leave time to talk and linger over your meal, or take a stroll along Main Street or through a field of wildflowers. Remember that Fredericksburg is just up the road, and you can take another day trip or weekend getaway there soon.