Published September/October 2013

Willkommen, Y’all

In Fredericksburg, German heritage and Texas-style hospitality create an eclectic small-town getaway

BYSally J. Clasen
Sometimes when you’re stuck in the middle of it all you don’t develop much of an identity, but that’s not the case for Fredericksburg. Located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, this charming Gillespie County town shines with a quirky Lone Star personality and big-city sophistication.
 
Some of Fredericksburg’s cultural appeal is based deep in its roots. Founded by German settlers in 1846, the influences of these early residents are on display everywhere — in the architecture, the cuisine, the local events, and the High German accent occasionally heard among locals.
 
While the pioneering spirit is alive and well in Fredericksburg, its charisma isn’t solely defined by the past. History happily coexists with contemporary hipness in this enchanting destination, where a bouquet of shopping, dining, attractions, and one-of-a-kind accommodations help define the town’s nature.
 
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Visitors from all over the world are drawn to Fredericksburg for different reasons — from weekend getaways to romantic escapes — but shopping is a universal point of interest. The town has more than 150 specialty shops and boutiques that cater to a range of retail whims, including vintage and upscale women’s apparel, baby clothes, crafts, handmade jewelry, gifts, and Western wear. A large number of antique dealers, interior design studios, and home decor retailers also add variety to this mix.
 
Fredericksburg’s store-lined Main Street, the central shopping district, is aptly referred to as The Magic Mile. Wide sidewalks and courtyards provide a picturesque backdrop for shoppers to wander on foot in pursuit of an out-of-the-ordinary retail therapy session. But don’t hesitate to explore beyond the beaten path, as you’ll find many more quaint retailers on the side streets too, which makes shopping an intriguing adventure of discovery around every quirky corner. 
 
Now Serving Food, Bier, and Wein 
Almost everyone who comes to Fredericksburg expects to eat brats and drink a hefeweizen in a biergarten, which aren’t hard to find. But Fredericksburg has earned a distinct reputation as Hill Country’s unofficial food and wine capital, with an expanded variety of menus suitable for even the most discriminating palates. You can choose to dine at more than 70 restaurants and bakeries that serve authentic German fare, such as Wiener schnitzel, as well as steaks, barbecue, Tex-Mex, and seafood.
 
Wine aficionados will particularly appreciate the beverage selection in many of Fredericksburg’s restaurants and bars, which spotlights local, award-winning cabs, zins, chards, rieslings, and merlots. Check out Cabernet Grill, a Texas Wine Country Restaurant, which boasts the largest Texas wine list in the state with more than 75 selections.
 
As an outsider, you may spit sour grapes at the thought of Texas and wine having a quality relationship, but around these parts the two go together better than barbecue and beef. In fact, Fredericksburg and the surrounding county are home to a booming industry comprising 17 wineries, seven tasting rooms, two wine bars, and three wine tour companies.
 
About a dozen wineries are dotted along a convenient stretch of Highway 290 between Johnson City and Fredericksburg. The rolling hills and colorful vistas of this agricultural route, officially referred to as Wine Road 290, are reminiscent of the panoramic scenery of Northern California’s Napa Valley or Southern France’s Rhoene region. The Hill Country wineries offer vineyard tours, and tastings, and host wine-related activities throughout town.

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Shopping along The Magic Mile
Shopping along The Magic Mile
Handcrafted chocolate from Chocolat
Handcrafted chocolate from Chocolat
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