There are some awesome things to do in Fredericksburg TX, you absolutely must check out this charming city.
This article is a contribution from Lorena Kononenko, who shares her favorite travel experiences on TravelCroc.
Fredericksburg is a lovely small town in central Texas about an hour and a half from Austin and San Antonio, famous for its German heritage and several fantastic wineries.
Fredericksburg is a perfect weekend getaway with its 19th-century town square surrounded by typical German architecture, a replica of the traditional German church, plenty of fascinating museums, authentic German restaurants and bakeries, and wonderful parks all around.
There are plenty of things to do in Fredericksburg for the whole family and many of them you can do by strolling through the lively downtown streets that look like they are plucked straight from some fairytale book.
Here are my top 10 things to do in Fredericksburg:
Start at Main Street, Fredericksburg, TX
The best way to get the feel of Fredericksburg’s spirit is by strolling through Main Street. If you are into shopping, one side of Main Street, called Magic Mile, is full of quaint boutiques, galleries, and restaurants.
On the other end is West Main Street, the town’s historic enclave. The two distinct parts of the Main Streets are separated by the town’s beating heart – the Marktplatz, the town square and market place. It is surrounded by traditional architecture, green lawns with park tables and benches, a waterwheel, and the famous maypole or Maibaum.
Main Street is where everything happens in Fredericksburg and it is more than likely that there will be some kind of festival or event during your stay.
You do not have to go away from Main Street to visit other Fredericksburg landmarks such as the oldest building in town housing the Vereins Kirche Museum, the Admiral Nimitz Museum, and the charming old library.
Relax at Marktplatz
Fredericksburg’s historic Marktplatz is so colorful and lovely that most town weddings end there for photo opportunities. It is not only the historic architecture that surrounds the square but also its green space, the profusion of blooming plants, and several historic sculptures.
Vereins Kirche, the replica of the old German church, is also there. Go inside and get the feel of the history of Fredericksburg and its early settlers.
When the weather is nice, the square hosts the farmers’ market and you can sample local produce and homemade delights. There is always traditional music and the square easily turns into a party.
Get some authentic German food and sit on one of many benches to enjoy the atmosphere and get the feel for life of early German settlers in the 19th century.
In the winter, one part of the square turns into a skating rink to the delight of local kids and kids at heart.
Across the square, you can see a beautiful German-style building that hosts an old public library.
Vereins Kirche Museum, Fredericksburg, TX
Vereins Kirche Museum is the oldest building in Fredericksburg. The original stark white octagonal building was constructed at the beginning of the 19th century, soon after the arrival of the first German settlers. It is the town’s most treasured landmark and the symbol of its heritage and culture.
Vereins Kirche Museum was the first town’s public building. It served as a church, as a fort, a school, and a town hall.
The original building was demolished in early 1896. It was rebuilt in 1935 in the same style. The town celebrated the opening of the new church with a huge party.
The museum today has a collection of artifacts and photos that paint a vivid picture of Fredericksburg and its early settlers.
Fort Martin Scott
Fort Martin Scott was one of a series of US Army outposts built near Fredericksburg to protect settlers and occasional travelers from the Indians. The soldiers stationed in the fort were patrolling the Fredericksburg-San Antonio road and the neighboring area.
The fort was built in 1848 on Barons Creek, less than two miles from Fredericksburg, and was closed and abandoned in 1853.
After being left abandoned for more than 150 years, the Fredericksburg Heritage Federation started an extensive reconstruction in 1986 and opened it to the public.
At one time, the fort had twenty-one buildings, including the commander’s quarters, a supply store, officers’ housing, laundry room, bakehouse with a bread oven, a warehouse, barracks for the enlisted men, a hospital, barn, a stable, and a blacksmith. Today, the only original part of the fort is the small limestone guardhouse.
290 Wine Shuttle
There are more than 100 wineries in Fredericksburg and the surrounding Texas Hill Country. If you are a wine lover, you will certainly try to visit and taste as many of them as possible.
One convenient way is to hop on the 290 Wine Shuttle, a wonderful service that takes visitors along Hwy 290 East, known as the 290 Wine Trail.
290 Wine Shuttle has a fleet of air-conditioned vans and buses that travel along Hwy 290 and allow visitors to jump on and off in front of one of 13 wineries on this stretch of the road. They stop every ten minutes.
290 operates on the weekends only and it starts the tour at the Inn on Barons Creek, located one block south of Main Street at 308 S. Washington Street. You can spend as much time at any of the wineries as you wish.
The Old German Bakery and Restaurant
Coming to Fredericksburg you expect to try some authentic German food. The Old German Bakery and Restaurant is the right place for it. The current owner has been offering family recipes since 1998 and after 40 years of baking and cooking German traditional dishes, he guarantees that you will love every bite.
The restaurant is located on Main street and is open from Friday to Tuesday from 7 am to 3 pm. Try Holstein Schnitzel and Sauerbraten for lunch and traditional German apple strudel and cakes for breakfast with fresh coffee. They also serve American dishes, if you really need a burger.
National Museum of the Pacific War
The National Museum of the Pacific War is the only museum of its kind – honoring all people who took part in WWII in the Pacific War. It is a fascinating space that will give you goosebumps. It is such a powerful reminder of the sacrifice and honor of so many people.
Spread over six acres, the museum complex includes several museums with unique collections. The beautifully renovated Hotel Nimitz is housing a collection dedicated to Admiral Nimitz, the US Pacific Fleet Commander in Chief during WWII.
George H. W. Bush Gallery houses the Nimitz Education and Research Center. The serene Japanese Garden of Peace is located between the museum buildings.
The Plaza of the Presidents is an outdoor space that honors presidents who personally served in the Second World War II. The Pacific Combat Zone is a recreated battlefield on a Pacific island. It contains a boat, a base, an original Japanese tank, machine guns, a hospital, and real palm trees.
The museum frequently organizes battle reenactments called Living History. The Veterans’ Memorial Wall and Walk of Honor are located in the Memorial Courtyard.
Pioneer Museum Complex
The Pioneer Museum Complex is a must-see if you are interested in the history of Fredericksburg and the Texas Hill Country. It tells the story of the area’s past and the culture of the people that made this part of Texas the way it is today. The focus is on German immigrants who were the original settlers in the area starting in the early 19th century.
Originally the Pioneer Museum was located within the Vereins Kirche on Main Street. The current museum complex, which now occupies three and a half acres, was moved to the current spot in 2008. It is managed by the Gillespie County Historical Society. The complex consists of 11 buildings, including the original historic Kammlah house, smokehouse, store, and barn in 1955.
The museum includes 300,000 artifacts related to the rich German heritage of Gillespie County and specifically Fredericksburg.
The museum offers tours of the complex and a few times a year organizes public events with docents in period costumes. There are boots offering storytelling, showing soap and rope making, sheep shearing, and other activities that delight visitors.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
A little trip of about 17 miles to the Llano Uplift outside of Fredericksburg will take you to the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, a lovely park that was established to protect a massive pink granite dome called Enchanted Rock. You can see the rock long before you get to the park. The protected area includes the land south of Llano River between Llano and Gillespie counties.
The enormous rock is about 425 feet high, and humans have been curious about it and visiting it for more than 10,000 years. Archeologists found proof of their visitations by the remains of spearheads and other artifacts. It appears that even ancient people used to litter.
There are many stories and legends native people tell about the rock. Local Apache, Tonkawa, and Comanche tribes believe in the magical and spiritual powers of the rock. And so do many modern visitors, and you will see them meditating, practicing yoga, and in general taking advantage of the rock spirit.
You do not have to believe in the powers of the rock to enjoy the beautiful area where it is located. It is one of the favorite outing destinations of the locals. You can even stay overnight under the stars in the park camping area.
Park also offers picnicking, more than eight miles of hiking trails, rock climbing, a nature trail, cave exploration, wildlife observation, interpretive exhibits, and a store.
The park has limited capacity and it closes when it is full. You can make a reservation a month in advance through the Texas Parks & Wildlife Reservation System.
Except for Loop Trail, other trails close at sunset. Pets are allowed on most trails but not on the Summit Trail.
Old Tunnel State Park
Old Tunnel State Park is a small park on the Old San Antonio Road, between Comfort and Fredericksburg, established in 2012 to protect the bats that live in an abandoned railway tunnel.
During the day, the park is a lovely spot for hiking and birdwatching, but most people come to see the bats. There is a trail that ends near the entrance to the Old Tunnel. If you come around sunset, you can see a huge number of bats flying from the tunnel into the night sky.
Bats begin to migrate to Texas from Mexico when the weather warms up, usually around the end of April. You can see bats in the park only between May 1st and October 31st. After that, bats return to Mexico.
The bats live in an old abandoned railroad tunnel that until 1942 belonged to the Fredericksburg and Northern Railway. The tunnel is home to almost three million Mexican free-tailed bats and more than 3000 Cave myotis bats. There are many interpretative signs about the bats along the trail through the park.
As the bats leave the cave at different times in different seasons, check the park’s Facebook page for the exact time and other details before coming to the park.
The park is open every day until 5 pm. There is no entrance fee and no permit is required. After 5 pm, you must have a bat viewing ticket. The tickets are $5 per person.
The bats have the tunnel to themselves and people are not allowed to enter. The use of drones for filming in the tunnel is strictly forbidden.
Things to do in Fredericksburg TX
Most people find two days enough to do things in Fredericksburg – one day for the old town and one day for the wineries. But there are such lovely parks and museums in town, you might have to extend your stay or come again.
There is such a wonderful combination of European heritage, Texas hospitality, and native history that the town easily grabs your heart and pulls you into its magic. When planning your trip, check the town websites for the calendar of festivals, if you want to enjoy the traditional costumes, music, and food.
A brief bio:
Lorena and her husband Greg have lived on three continents so far: America, Europe, and Oceania. They love exploring new cities, good restaurants, and nature. Lorena shares her favorite experiences on TravelCroc.