Greetings from charming Fredericksburg! You may have noticed a glaring omission in our route through Central Texas… We very much looked forward to spending time in Austin on our way out west, but our timing is unfortunate: SxSW is going on and all the Austin campgrounds were booked when we called around a few weeks before leaving VA. There’s really only one place to stay when visiting Austin in a camper, anyway: Pecan Grove RV Park, smack dab in the middle of downtown. So we’ll hit Austin on another trip.
Fredericksburg is a sweet little German town with a laid-back Austin-y vibe. Interestingly, the area is becoming known for wine and there are vineyards springing up everywhere you look. A local told us the Texas Hill Country wants to be the new Napa Valley. The countryside is lovely, with green rolling hills and pastures full of cacti, sheep, and goats around every bend.
Camping Lessons Learned
Remember how the DirecTV dish fell over in Hot Springs and got a tiny, inconsequential dent in the edge? We could not get a lock on the satellite to save our lives. The closest we’d get is when we’d push on the dish, warping it a little. So as a last attempt before throwing the thing into the road, J gets out a rubber mallet and starts whacking at the dent. Our neighbor came outside to see what the banging was about, and said he had the worst time setting his Dish Network dish up when he arrived a year (!) ago, and it was the fault of those wires there. Once he pulled the dish back to where it could aim over the wires, it worked. So we moved the dish back 10 feet and immediately had a strong signal. So, lesson learned: flail around publicly and noisily until someone helps you? Or, power lines can interfere with an HDTV signal.
We stayed at Hill Country RV Park just a couple miles from downtown. It is pleasant and quiet, with good wifi, laundry facilities, and the nicest staff who will let you print things on the office computer. It seems that many of the guests here are long-term residents. Walmart is just around the corner, which may seem like a negative, but not to campers: they have an RV section!
Walk around Downtown. The shops are unique and very dog-friendly. Bugsy did more shopping in 30 minutes than the rest of her life put together. She especially enjoyed Dogologie for the treats. We especially enjoyed Barefoot Outfitters for the cooler of free Lone Star beer (“the national beer of Texas”).
Listen to music and enjoy the scene in “downtown” Luckenbach. It’s an old trading post that’s now an outdoor music venue, with a country store, dance hall, and beer saloon. Grab a beer and a burger and a seat at a picnic table, or walk down to the river. Or pay to have your picture taken sitting on a (real, live) Longhorn steer. One of us may have done that (unfortunately for this blog, it wasn’t Bugsy). We went to Luckenbach twice, we liked it so much. It’s about a 15 minute drive from Fredericksburg.
Get some education at the National Museum of the Pacific War. The museum is really well done, and surprisingly big, but your ticket lets you come and go for 48 hours, so you can go at your own pace.
Admire nature at Wildseed Farms, a wildflower farm close to town, or trek a bit farther out to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area ($7 entry fee per person). We’re a bit too early for the wildflowers at Wildseed Farms, but the fields will be lovely in another week or so. They have a beer garden and new winery on site. See below under Running for more about Enchanted Rock.
Fredericksburg has taxis! (Reminder: this was published in 2016!) We took a Big Country Cabs taxi into town for a flat rate of $12, and then walked home, which was a little sketchy due to missing sidewalks.
Fredericksburg is home to two breweries: Fredericksburg Brewing Company, and Pedernales Brewing Company. My beer guy J has more details on this page, but in short: we liked FBC and we loved Pedernales. We also trekked 45 minutes down the road to Dodging Duck Brewhaus in Boerne, which wasn’t worth a trip on its own, but is a good stop if you’re in the area already. J wrote his thoughts on Dodging Duck here.
This being a town of German heritage, there are many biergartens sprinkled around. We sat on the dog-friendly patio at Hondo’s for a beer and just missed the live band. It’s a nice shady spot, but there’s no table service, which got old. Luckenbach is basically a huge beer garden, too, with several local beers available.
If you are a wine person, there are a million wineries to visit. Check out Fredericksburg Wine Road 290 for more info.
The food and service at Hilda’s Tortillas Restaurant and Bar, an unassuming Tex-Mex joint away from Downtown, was fantastic. My shrimp tacos and margarita were delicious.
We were mainly in search of music when we stopped into Crossroads Saloon & Steakhouse, but ended up staying for dinner with a front row seat to watch the country band and the two-steppers on the dance floor. The food was great! We had Brussels sprouts (=happy girl), salads, steak (=happy boy), and ceviche.
The Peach Basket Natural Foods, on the downtown strip, is an easy stop for natural pet food, packaged foods, bulk food, dairy, local eggs and beef, and cleaning products. They didn’t have much produce when we were there.
In addition to being known for wine, the Hill Country is also known for pecans and peaches. It’s not peach season, but we ate the heck out of some pecans. We picked up a bag of fresh crop pecans and a jar of peach salsa at Itz’s Market on Main Street.
The 4.9 mile Loop Trail at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is a lovely place to take your dog for a run, with a few caveats. Caveat #1: As of March 1 2016, dogs are only allowed on the Loop Trail and in the parking lots and campgrounds, and are not allowed to stay in a car unattended. They patrol the lots looking for cooped-up dogs, too, we’re told. So it’s best to have at least two humans on this venture so that after running the Loop Trail, one person can pop up to the summit of Enchanted Rock while the other stays with the dog, and then switch. Caveat #2: The place is VERY popular. Get there early. Cars line up at the gate before the 8:30 opening time, and due to the shockingly unorganized entry process, you could be inching forward toward the parking lot verrrry slowly. We went first thing on a Monday morning and waited in the line of cars for 25 minutes. Caveat #3: Your dog could get attacked by a cactus! Bugsy stepped off the trail to pee in the grass and came back with a paw full of tiny needles. Overall, I thought the trail was gorgeous, and for all the people in the park, it was pretty unpopulated. The views of Enchanted Rock and the rolling countryside are fabulous, and the trail is wide and well-maintained. I recommend running it clockwise, to do the big (seasonal?) water crossing at the end of the run. Then hand off the dog to your partner and check out the Summit Trail.
Unless you were done before 9am, running along Main Street in Downtown would be a nightmare, with all the people and stoplights, so our run was a simple out-and-back that started at the RV park and followed a road with sidewalks past cow fields and sheep fields. Along with a big herd of sheep, the sheep field contained a single llama; I wondered if someone had made a mistake and then I learned about guard llamas. The run was just: follow Friendship Ln to the high school and back for a total of 4.5 mi. I typically use mapmyrun.com to find good runs in unfamiliar locations.
Well-behaved, leashed dogs are allowed in most (all?) stores in downtown Fredericksburg, but if you want to stash your pup for a bit while you do human-only activities, Dogologie offers Dog Pause, where for $6/hour your dog can stay in a comfy crate, with a mat, water, relaxing sounds, and video surveillance. It seems most restaurant patios and beer gardens are dog-friendly.
Bugsy also went with us to Luckenbach and Pedernales Brewing Co. to people watch. We were amazed in Luckenbach when twice a child approached and ASKED if he could pet our dog. Most adults aren’t that considerate, but both of the boys listened to our explanation as to why they couldn’t (sorry kids) (update: Bugsy now loves kids! Still distrusts most adults) and went on their way. At Pedernales a couple adults walked right up to Bugsy and started cooing in her face, which set her off barking. She’s sensitive, people. That has also made walking around downtown a bit tricky, with so many people, and lots of dogs, milling about in close quarters.
Googling “fredericksburg tx dog friendly” gets lots of hits, so we’re not the only ones to notice how much they like dogs here!
Read about our brief second visit to Fredericksburg here!