Fantastic Fredericksburg

When I started planning to visit Texas, Fredericksburg wasn't on my radar, or on anyone else's I knew. "Frederick-where?" my wife said. But this city in the gorgeous Texas Hill Country north of San Antonio is a real gem, one I'd return to in a heartbeat. Here are some highlights.

  1. EATING There is, perhaps, nothing more satisfying after a long day of travel than sitting down to a tall drink and a fine meal. Fredericksburg has no shortage of places to do exactly that, but Otto's (pictured below) is something special. As its name suggests, the focus at chef Adam Yoho's cosy farm-to-table bistro on East Austin Street is German, and in addition to the best schnitzel I've ever tasted, you can expect dishes such as foie gras BLT (complete with candied bacon and quail egg), ricotta beet gnocchi and, of course, the wurst platte — house-made sausage served with kartoffelnsalat (potato salad), sauerkraut, senfgurken (pickled cucumbers) and mustard. Otto's also has a host of beers on tap, including several from the local Pedernales Brewing Company, and, as you'd expect in a region that's becoming renowned for its grapes, a knockout wine selection. Prost!
    Photo credit: Clare McCormack Photography, courtesy of Fredericksburg Convention & Visitor Bureau
  3. ACCOMMODATION The folks at The All Seasons Collection don't have a good thing going with their 20 bed-and-breakfast properties — they have a great thing going. Particularly excellent are the Wine Country Cottages (pictured below), a group of 13 cabins on Main Street (don't worry — you'll soon forget you're practically in the middle of town, such is the way the cabins are set up and the property landscaped. The best way to end a day wandering through town or the surrounding countryside? A large glass of Texas wine and a dip in the outdoor hot tub that almost all the cabins come equipped with.
  4. SHOPPING, PART 1 You can very pleasantly lose a few hours strolling Fredericksburg's main drag, popping into an assortment of antique shops, galleries, and, of course, sizing up the perfect cowboy hat or boots. Try Headquarters Hats (pictured below).
  5. SHOPPING, PART II Gastronomes both amateur and professional should under no circumstance skip visiting Das Peach Haus (interior pictured below), owned and operated by Fischer & Wieser, they of the lip-smacking sauces, salsas, jams, jellies and other gourmet delights. Das Peach House is where the whole business started back in 1969, when founder Mark Fischer set up a road-side fruit stand. Don't leave without a jar of the famous roasted raspberry chipotle jam.
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  7. WINE Texas wine is nothing to scoff at, and one of the best ways to experience it is by hitting Fredericksburg Wine Road 290, an association of 15 wineries along a 72-kilometre stretch of Highway 290, between Johnson City and Fredericksburg. Grape Creek and 4.0 Cellars (both pictured below) are both excellent places for any oenophile to educate their palate, Lone Star State style.
  8. MUSIC Check this place off your country-music pilgrimage list. Luckenbach, made famous by the Waylon Jennings song of the same name, is a short drive southeast of Fredericksburg, and features regular performances at its dancehall. The tiny, sleepy spot — more siesta Texas than fiesta Texas, according to the hamlet's website — was settled by Germans in the 1850s, including one Jacob Luckenbach, whose daughter-in-law, Minna Engel, named the place after Carl Luckenbach, her fiancée and Jacob's son, when she was filling out the application to establish a post office.
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