As the old saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers.” How wonderful that my trip to Fredericksburg, in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, was in early May when many of those May flowers were still in bloom.
And what better place to see the beauty and majesty of Mother Nature than Wildseed Farms, the largest flower seed farm in the nation. And to make it a perfect weekend, we laid our tired heads on soft pillows at the wonderful Angel’s Lodge Above the Creek. We slept like cherubs at the end of each day.
It was in 1983 that Wildseed’s founder and president, John R. Thomas, took his part-time turf seeding business and turned it into a full-time wildflower farm. Wildseed Farms now has over 200 acres of wildflower fields at its anchor location just outside of Fredericksburg. In addition to viewing a working wildflower farm, visitors view the beautiful landscaped grounds. The grounds include Lantana Nursery, Blossoms Boutique, the Brewbonnet Biergarten, and the recently added Wedding Oak Winery.
More than 350,000 people come visit the farm each year. However, it never seems overly crowded in this expansive paradise. Some of the most popular flowers include bluebonnets (you are in Texas, after all!) and various shades of poppies exploding with color – red, orange, yellow, white, pink and more. The selection at Wildseed will satisfy all levels of plant lovers, from the novice to the most experienced master gardener.
Wildseed Farms has a gift shop well stocked with a variety of goods for the home, garden and yard. Lantana Nursery has a large selection of native plants, pots, decorative items, Texas shaped stones, and, oh yeah – a bunch of seeds!
My wife really admired the beautiful metal artwork of butterflies, dragon flies, hummingbirds, and other garden creatures. A stroll through Wildseed will bring visitors to many lovely nooks, fountains, lotus ponds and lots of butterflies.
Admission to Wildseed Farms is free, but the experience and photos you’ll take are priceless. Complete with fields of brightly colored poppies and bluebonnets, the beautiful landscaping, unique plants, home and garden décor, the homey brewery and winery, and you have the makings of a wonderful day at Wildseed Farms. Wildseed Farms, 100 Legacy Dr., Fredericksburg, Texas
Angels Lodge Above the Creek
After a long week of work, or to relax after a busy day of shopping and site seeing, Angels Lodge Above the Creek is a welcome respite. Take a nice soothing dip in your private Jacuzzi tub or in the inviting creekside pool.
Leisurely stroll to downtown for some of the best food and music in the hill country. Then find a place to enjoy that famous west Texas sunset. Manager Sheri Walls has done a wonderful job of creating the perfect environment for guests in Fredericksburg. From the initial contact with Sheri, until our final checkout, we were treated with warm, friendly, professional service.
First of all, the location is amazing. Although guests can easily walk to the Nimitz Museum, shops and restaurants on Main Street in less than 5 minutes, Angels Lodge is enclosed by greenery and a creek that hide the lodge from the rest of the world. Once entering the complex, composed of 16 luxury units, a peaceful and serene setting of creekside woods awaits visitors.
On our first night there, we spent some relaxing time sitting with a glass of wine in front of the glowing fireplace. Even though we were only minutes from the hustle and bustle of Main Street, we felt like we were a million miles away. The rooms are tastefully decorated and the beds are extra comfortable. We could have spent our entire time at Angels Lodge and would have enjoyed ourselves. They even had a couple of bottles of local wine in the room for our drinking pleasure.
Hungry? If you are lucky enough to be at the lodge on Saturday or Sunday morning, you can join the other fortunate guests for the scrumptious weekend breakfast buffet. Under the watchful eye of Executive Chef Robert, start with tasty bacon, grilled peppers, and eggs, local Opa’s Sausage, home style potatoes, fresh baked biscuits and flour tortillas.
They also serve assorted cereals and oatmeal, yogurt, fresh pastries, seasonal fruit, and beverages including coffee, orange juice and milk. On weekdays, guests are given vouchers with a choice of several great local breakfast options. Angels Lodge Above the Creek, 415 E. Austin St., Fredericksburg
National Museum of the Pacific War
This outstanding museum largely centers around the Navy and Marine battles from Pearl Harbor to the bombings of Japan. For history buffs, the museum does a great job using words, displays and photographs to explain what led up to the war and some of the major battles fought throughout the Pacific. The National Museum of the Pacific War reminds all of us of the great sacrifices made by men and women from this older generation
It is very reasonably priced (free to WWII veterans, $15 for adults, $10 for active or retired military, and $7 for children). The audio guides are free. Each ticket is good for 48 hours. So you can browse for a while then come back later for another look. Tanks, cannons, ships, a submarine, airplanes and many short videos and exhibits, provide something for every age and interest.
Also, don’t overlook the lovely courtyard and stone walls lined with remembrance plaques of those who served. As a Navy veteran, I was proud of how this museum honors our WWII veterans for their loyal service to our country.
How did settlers, newly arrived from Germany, feel thousands of miles across the wide expanse of the Atlantic Ocean? For an excellent insight into how these early pioneers survived, built communities and prospered, the Pioneer Museum is a great use of a few hours. Start with the introductory video describing how early settlers came from Matagorda to New Braunfels, and eventually arrived in the land of seven hills now known as Fredericksburg.
Leisurely stroll through the old homes, the one room school, the “Sunday House,” smokehouse and barns. See how early pioneers cooked in their kitchens, with original wood stoves, cast iron skillets, sausage makers and other kitchen implements used in the 1800’s. I was intrigued by the old piano and couch in the sitting room of one of the old homes, as well as the other antique furniture and fixtures. The Pioneer Museum definitely takes visitors back to the founding of this early German settlement.
Main Street and the Visitors Center
Main Street in Fredericksburg is the quintessential Texas Hill Country downtown. The street, lined with a variety of lovely shops, restaurants and tasting rooms, also boasts other attractions. Many have a distinctive German flair, like the restaurants Otto’s and The Auslander. It’s a wonderful place to take a nice walk, browse the shops, and talk with friendly people. Start at the visitor’s center, just off Main Street at 302 E. Austin Street, for some great information, maps, and suggestions. There are also clean public restrooms at the visitor’s center.
One of the best ways to get an overall view of the history, architecture and background of Fredericksburg is by going on the vintage style trolley tour offered by Fredericksburg Trolley Tours. The most popular tour, the “Historic Fredericksburg Tour,” transports visitors back in time to the days of early German settlers as they made this part of the Texas Hill Country their new home.
The company also offers the Presidential Tour to LBJ Parks, Stonewall, and Johnson City; a Haunted History Tour; and a Luckenbach, Texas Tour. Seasonal tours include trips to Enchanted Rock, Heart of Texas History Tour, Wildflowers and Wildlife Tour, Burgers and Bats Tour, and the Jolly Trolley Tour.
Wine, Brews and Spirits
Many people don’t realize that the Texas Hill Country is the second most visited wine area in the country. Only California’s Napa Valley attracts more wine visitors.
The Fredericksburg area is home to many of these fine wineries, including Fiesta Winery, Grapecreek Vineyards, Messina Hof, Hilmy Cellars, 4.0 Cellars, and the Fat Ass Ranch and Winery.
For those who prefer home brewed beers or custom distilled bourbon, tourists can also visit the very interesting Perdenales Brewing Company. Or try the Garrison Brothers Distillery, home of the award-winning Cowboy Bourbon. This distillery, home of the first and oldest legal distillery in Texas, also lays claim to American Micro Whiskey of the Year. See how they make their bourbon, and try a sample, at their popular “Sit and Sip” tours in nearby Hye.
Who would have thought there was so much to see and do in a small hill country town? Start with the beautiful landscapes with towering oaks, rolling hills, fields of flowers, vineyards brimming with succulent grapes, and brilliant sunsets.
Add world class museums, intriguing shops, wonderful restaurants, and luxury lodging at Angels Lodge Above the Creek, and it’s obvious that this small Texas town founded by German immigrants is a great choice for that next vacation getaway. Fredericksburg, here we come!
Check out another of Scott Kendall’s Texas Hill Country finds on MilesGeek.