If you’ve found yourself daydreaming of getting the hell away from Houston and hopping onto the first flight to Boston this winter to experience, you know, actual winter, you are not alone. But if you are also like me and find yourself lacking the funds to make such a brash decision, I give you a more budget-friendly alternative that is about a four hour drive from Houston.
I made a two-hour detour in Fredericksburg, TX on my last big road trip, and I was convinced that this was the most festive place for any Texan to visit who is feeling the holiday spirit, but unable to forget the fact that it’s still a solid 80 degrees outside in the middle of December (I can never forget). I will be convincing you of this too, through a number of different photos that capture the autumnal charm of the city, and a comprehensive guide to it.
Located in the Texas Hill Country about an hour and a half away from Austin, and an hour and ten minutes away from San Antonio, Fredericksburg is a town that you can take a quick day trip to if your holiday plans include stopping anywhere near these two cities. The city is known for its wineries and German heritage, which is prominently displayed through its architecture and Pioneer Museum. And as a city that has made it a point to put its Germanic roots at the forefront of its overall feel and culture, you better believe that they go all out when Christmas time rolls around.
Where to eat
If you’re in Fredericksburg, you might as well go all out and enjoy some German cuisine. Old German Bakery & Restaurant is a cozy diner that is perfect for breakfast or lunch with a menu featuring potato pancakes, schnitzel and more.
If you’re craving German fare that’s a bit more on the high-end side and you want to kick back with a nice cocktail, then Otto’s German Bistro is perfect for you. Their menu is pretty similar to Old German Bakery & Restaurant, but the overall dining experience is definitely more hip. The restaurant also features an outdoor patio and all of their ingredients are locally sourced.
One look is all it takes to realize that it just doesn’t get more German than Auslander Biergarten Restaurant down here in Texas. The restaurant looks like something straight out of Hessen, and boasts a fireplace, outdoor seating, live music and of course, plenty of beer. Could you think of a cozier way to spend the holidays?
If you’re craving a cozy, rustic dining experience filled with the finest food and wines, then look no further than Cabernet Grill Texas Wine Country Restaurant. This is a place to visit if you’re stopping by the area with a large group of family or friends, because the restaurant has plenty of seating to accommodate for large crowds.
In a city known for its vineyards, you’d seriously be missing out without paying a visit to one of Fredericksburg’s many wineries while you’re in the area. Grape Creek Vineyards is a very popular choice, but there are also plenty of other amazing wineries to visit.
Where to shop
The Fredericksburg General Store is a gift shop filled to the brim with knick knacks of all sorts. Whether you’re looking for a cheesy souvenir, or a unique stocking stuffer gift, this place is bound to have something for you to bring back home to family and friends.
When in Fredericksburg during November and December, go to the Christmas Store. In there you will find a vast array of holiday decorations that you’d probably be pressed to find somewhere else. Plus, this store is huge and sells stuff that isn’t just holiday related as well. There are plenty of souvenirs to bring home too, and there’s even fresh homemade jelly you can buy (and sample).
Another thing to check out in Fredericksburg is its antiques. The Red Baron Antique Mall is a good place to start. It sells all sorts of antiques, from miscellaneous “junk” to extremely well-preserved pieces of furniture.
If you’re itching to do some vintage shopping, check out Magnolia Pearl – Retail & Wholesale Clothing Store. This place is huge and sells a lot of older linen pieces with a rustic feel that have withstood the test of time. It’s like an Etsy shop filled with handmade, minimalistic and comfortable pieces come to life.
If vintage shopping isn’t your thing, check out the Haberdashery Boutique for your clothing needs. This boutique is quite large, and the style of clothing ranges from rustic to bohemian. Offering both men and women’s clothing, this boutique is definitely one to look through.
What to do
And now we finally get all of the wonderful festivities going on during the holiday season at Fredericksburg, as well as things to do year round.
We’ll start with some of the biggest events going on in November and December. The first big event to truly kick the season off is the Lighting of the German Christmas Pyramid & Community Christmas Tree ceremony. And yes, you read that right. In true Germanic tradition, Fredericksburg puts up a large pyramid up in the middle of its Marktplatz Park for the holiday season. The pyramid and tree are both lit at this ceremony, and there will be live entertainment to go along with it.
On Saturday, Dec. 1 the 61st Annual Home Tour & Market will be held by the Pioneer Museum. The market will feature 21 boutique vendors and the home tour is a self-guided tour of Fredericksburg homes decorated for the holidays. Tour booklets can be picked up at the museum.
On Dec. 7, there will be the annual Light the Night Christmas Parade on Main Street. This parade is huge, and you can expect to see very vibrant holiday float displays, dancing, live music, animals and more, all under the night sky. I truly can’t think of a better way to feel the holiday spirit than to watch this parade as it makes its way through the beautifully lit Main Street.
If you don’t want to attend any event in specific and just want to enjoy the ambiance of the town during the winter instead, there is always something to do.
If you love natural wonders, then Fredericksburg is home to Enchanted Rock where you can go hiking and camp. You might also want to check out the Old Tunnel State Park where you can visit a historical railroad tunnel that is home to 2 to 3 million bats, for free!
There are many different museums that you can visit too, the most notable of which being the National Museum of the Pacific War and Pioneer Museum.
Some other miscellaneous points of interest are St. Mary’s Catholic Church, whose gorgeous architecture can be viewed from almost anywhere on Main Street, and Rockbox Theater, where you can see world-class tribute artists perform tributes to artists including The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and more.