If you love scented candles and jam, you will also love Fredericksburg, Texas. If, like me, you despise scented candles and have only a passing interest in jam, there’s still a lot to like about this central Texas bed-and-breakfast mecca.
Where to Stay: Cay Cay's Cabin
Cay Cay’s Cabin: The cozy log cabin, originally built in 1870, has been updated with modern amenities. Though it looks tiny from the outside, it’s actually quite roomy—especially if it’s just the two of you. Complimentary red and white wine helps your visit get off to the right start. The cabin also comes stocked with cereals and other breakfast items. You’ll have all the privacy you want, but the owner is next door in case anything goes wrong. Located on a quiet residential street just four blocks north of Main Street, the spot offers a nice combination of convenience and solitude.
Cabin address: 405 Sycamore. Book it through Gastehaus Schmidt reservation service: 231 W. Main; (866) 427-8374.
Where to Eat Lunch
Clear River Pecan Company: You may want to plan a post-lunch nap because it’s impossible not to pig out at this lively joint. Bow down to The King, a smoked beef brisket sandwich on a toasted jalapeno cheese bun, smothered in smoky pecan barbecue sauce. Decadent. But wait, there’s more! There’s also a huge assortment of candies for sale, many of them pecan-based. If you have room for just one more thing, go for the homemade Mexican vanilla ice cream. 138 E. Main; (830) 997-8490.
Where to Eat Dinner
Navajo Grill: We don’t know if they’re always this huge, but we enjoyed two delicious crab cakes that occupied about 90 percent of the surface of a full-size dinner plate. They also have an excellent filet mignon. And don’t miss the cucumber martini; it tastes like spiked watermelon juice. 803 E. Main; (830) 990-8289.
Daytime Fun in Fredericksburg
Enchanted Rock: Hike to the top of a big honkin’ pink granite dome and enjoy an amazing view. It’s just steep enough along the way to make you feel like you might tip over backward; leaning forward helps. Also, if it’s been raining, walk a little sideways and zig-zag your way up. The last time I was there, pools had formed at the top, and they were all filled with tadpoles—thousands of them! It must be strange to be born on a massive hunk of rock. I’ll bet there’s one hell of a froggy scramble for cover when the pool dries up and they see hungry red-tailed hawks soaring overhead.
If you’ve got energy to spare after conquering the dome, the trail that loops around the base of the rock is a fun mini-adventure. In the early mornings, it’s a great place to spot deer and other wildlife. It offers great photo opportunities too, particularly after a rain. There are little streams and green oases all around the rock that you can’t see unless you’re willing to scramble over a few boulders. 16710 Ranch Road 965; (830) 685-3636.
Wildseed Farms: Spring is the best time to visit, but there’s something blooming on the farm’s 200 acres just about every month of the year. They sell an assortment of wildflower seeds, locally produced salsas, marinades and—you guessed it—jams and jellies. We're pretty sure the Fredericksburg area has more jam per capita than any place on earth. Take a stroll through the Butterfly Haus to view hundreds of native Texas butterflies amid beautiful native plants that serve as hosts and food sources.
100 Legacy Drive; (800) 848-0078.
Pedernales Cellars: Launched in 2008, this boutique winery is already making a name for itself by focusing on hot weather varieties such as Tempranillo and Monastrell. Much of the winemaking occurs underground where the natural insulation of limestone helps keep the cellar at an ideal temperature year-round. A geothermal system circulates water deep underground to provide additional cooling in the brutal summer heat. Walk-in tastings are available, or with advance reservations, you can book a tour and a tasting with winemaker David Kuhlken.
2916 Upper Albert Road, Stonewall, TX 78671; (830) 644-2037.
Willow City Loop: If you’re visiting in springtime, the wildflowers along the Willow City Loop are a must-see. If you’re using GPS, be aware that the gadget may fail you. The Willow City Loop is a tiny road that may not show up on your electronic map. Proceed north on TX-16 north of Fredericksburg for 13 miles. Turn right on Ranch Road 1323. Continue 2.5 miles and turn left onto Willow City Loop. After that, you’ll wind through 13 miles of country road, past fields of bluebonnets, tri-colored Indian blanket and delicate reddish-purple winecup flowers.
Keep in mind that this is a very popular drive, particularly in April and May, so beware of other drivers and don’t get too distracted by the wonderful scenery. Most of the land on either side of the road is private property, so think twice before setting out on an impromptu hike on someone else’s land. As you drive, the hills get higher, and the views become more and more dramatic. The road eventually leads back to TX-16.
Hondo’s: Enjoy local and regional country bands while sipping an adult beverage. Boot scootin’ optional. 312 W. Main; (830) 997-1633.
Rockbox: It seems weird that there’s a 392-seat theater in such a small town, and maybe that’s a good enough reason to stop by. The professional resident cast performs music from the ’50s to the ’80s, some of it spoofy-style. While most of the material is family-friendly, some of the comedy has a bit of an edge, as in the song Bohemian Rhapsody: “Mama just killed a deer, ran my car into its head, bent my fender, now it’s dead…” 109 N. Llano; (830) 997-7625.