Texas Hill Country

Jason Varney
Digging into smoky barbecue, savoring locally made wines, and taking in scenery constitute most of Hill Country’s pastimes, but the region also claims well-preserved frontier architecture, steep hiking trails, and a proud German heritage. Choose a few of Hill Country’s things to do for a weekend trip, but don’t rush around: The pace is decidedly slow in this part of the state.

Things to do in Texas Hill Country

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

About midway between Llano and Fredericksburg, the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, dominated by a large pink granite dome, offers a 360-degree view of the countryside from the summit – a steep, 425-foot hike. Though considered haunted by the Tonkawa tribe, we’ve found this place to be a downright serene nature stop.

965 Ranch Rd. 1631, TX, 830-685-3636, http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us
Tags: hiking | things to do | outdoors

Luckenbach

Just a few miles from Fredericksburg (but on a different cultural bandwidth), Luckenbach was popularized in the seventies by Willie Nelson and Jerry Jeff Walker. The tiny compound is comprised of a dance hall, a bar, and a general store packed with corny Luckenbach souvenirs. Despite the bald commercialism, there’s something transporting about sitting around a campfire under the stars with a cold Lone Star beer, while someone strums away on a guitar.

E. U.S. Hwy. 290, TX, 888-311-8990; 830-997-3224, www.luckenbachtexas.com
Tags: off the path | things to do

Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park

One of the biggest draws in the Hill Country region is dedicated to a statesman who still casts a sizeable shadow in these parts. The rolling property flanks the Pedernales River and contains a still-working ranch (president-rancher Lyndon B. Johnson owned a prizewinning herd of Herefords). The most compelling part of the ranch is the Texas White House – the former president’s private home that buzzed with Texas and national politics for more than 20 years – open to the public since 2008.

State Park Road 49, Texas, 830-868-7128, www.nps.gov/lyjo
Tags: historic | things to do | outdoors | national park

National Museum of the Pacific War

This 6-acre museum (with three exhibit areas and outdoor grounds) is the only museum in the country exclusively dedicated to the 8 million troops who fought in the Pacific and Asia during World War II. The George H.W. Bush Gallery, which opened in December 2009 following a $15.75 million expansion, holds both moving and frightening Pacific Theater relics, including the first Japanese submarine to strike Pearl Harbor and the casing of an unused atomic bomb originally scheduled to drop after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki attacks. Note that the admission tickets are valid for 48 hours, so there’s no need to tackle all the exhibits in one afternoon.

340 E. Main St., Texas, 830-997-8600, www.nimitz-museum.org
Tags: things to do | history | museum

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