Historic Road Trip: Fredericksburg to Johnson City

The Hill Country is the birthplace of former President Lyndon Baines Johnson and the home of descendants of thousands of German immigrants who escaped political and religious persecution.

These historic ties backdropped by breathtaking natural scenery make this part of the Texas Hill Country a perfect cultural destination. War museums, presidential parks, and exhibits also make the trip a learning experience. For a relaxing time, visitors can enjoy the numerous biergartens, wineries, and distilleries in the area.

Fredericksburg

German heritage abounds in Fredericksburg, where it’s impossible to miss the “Willkommen” signs or German business names. Founded in 1846 by German immigrants, the well-preserved Main Street district now houses boutique shops, diverse restaurants, and quite a few drinking establishments.

Cultural Attractions

Exhibit at National Museum of the Pacific War

The National Museum of the Pacific War, a THC property, honors the millions of Americans who risked their lives to protect American freedom and democracy in World War II’s Pacific Theater. The six-acre complex houses the Admiral Nimitz Gallery (named after Fredericksburg native son, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz), Japanese Garden of Peace, Pacific Combat Zone, and more exhibits. Additionally, the museum is currently hosting a temporary “Hello from Japan” interactive exhibition.

The Fredericksburg Art Guild, a nonprofit organization, displays members’ artwork in a restored Fredericksburg home. The distinct works include oil and watercolor paintings, photographs, sculptures, handmade jewelry, prints, and cards, which visitors can purchase. For a unique experience, visit the first Friday of each month for refreshment from local wineries and entertainment.

Dining

Alstadt Brewery

Still following the historic German purity law of 1516, Alstadt brews authentic, easy-drinking beers. The Bavarian-inspired brewery uses hops, barley, yeast, and artesian spring water imported from Germany. For a true German experience, order the one-pound sausage special that includes a growler filled with German-style beers and hot or cold sausages with mustard, sauerkraut, and potato salad.

Fredericksburg Brewing Company is acclaimed as one of the “Best in Texas” by several publications. Located in the heart of historic downtown, the brewpub operates in a restored two-story 1890s building. The first floor includes a restaurant serving German and Southern cuisine with a full view of the brewing equipment and an air-conditioned biergarten. The second floor houses 12 “Bed and Brew” rooms. Customers can drink their brews on a sidewalk stroll, thanks to Fredericksburg's open container policy in its Main Street shopping district.

Enjoy a wood-fired brick oven pizza paired with award-winning wines at Chisholm Trial Winery. Home of “The Spirit of the Old West,” the winery offers a scenic Spring Creek view with handcrafted wines to preserve the old-country charm. On weekends, the Oval Oven Pizzeria serves fresh pizza with local ingredients. Outside, guests can play old-fashioned games of horseshoes, pool, or checkers.

Lodging

In the heart of the Texas Hill Country, the Inn on Barons Creek offers a relaxing stay with an onsite spa and scenic views. Close to Main Street in downtown, guests can walk to the National Museum of the Pacific War or the Pioneer Museum, where artifacts showcase the region’s German roots.

Stonewall, Hye, and Luckenbach

Located just east of Fredericksburg among the many vineyards, peach orchards, and ranches, the small communities of Stonewall, Hye, and Luckenbach are well worth a visit.

Cultural Attractions

Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical ParkThe LBJ Ranch District of Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park is located in Stonewall—while the other half of the national park is located 14 miles to the east in Johnson City. The focal point of this district is the “Texas White House,” the ranch home of the 36th president of the U.S., where he entertained many world leaders. Among other sites along the Pedernales River, visitors to this district can also see LBJ’s reconstructed birthplace, the schoolhouse he attended, and his resting place in the Johnson Family Cemetery.

At Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site, visitors can learn more about LBJ by viewing films and exhibits in the visitors center. Also at the site, the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm is a farmstead originally built by Johann and Christine Sauer in 1869. The Beckmann family purchased the property and added a barn and Victorian home. Visitors can see the families’ original smokehouse, windmill, and water tank, period-dressed interpreters carry out typical daily chores such as raising livestock, tending the vegetable garden, and making soap.

Don’t miss one of the best-known dance halls in the Hill Country: Luckenbach Dance Hall. Have a true Texas experience by catching a show, scooting your boots across the maple dance floor, grabbing a drink from the bar, eating food from the feed lot, and shopping at the general store.

Dining

Hye Market, located in the tiny town’s 1886 post office building, serves delicious locally sourced food and wine. Hye Market makes sandwiches, flatbreads, and salads. Customers recommend the chicken salad and the grilled cheese with bacon. Be sure to read the THC marker about a young Lyndon Johnson mailing his first letter here.

Cowboy Cantina is a new food truck serving comfort cuisine for lunch and dinner, including fried chicken sandwiches, burgers, and even pork flautas. Located outside the historic Albert Icehouse and Dancehall, customers can enjoy music and view dancing while dining.

Lodging

Transformed from a home into a bed and breakfast, the Rose Hill Manor in Stonewall now has 18 rooms where guests can choose between a suite or individual cottage. A lavish three-course breakfast includes a pastry or bread course, fruit bowl or smoothie, and hot entrée. At dinner, choose from a selection of local beer and wine.

Johnson City

In 1890, Johnson City was named Blanco County seat as a result of the efforts of town namesake James Polk Johnson. Decades later, one of his descendants and a former resident of the town—Lyndon Baines Johnson—would find his way to the White House.

Cultural Attractions

Fourteen miles east of the LBJ Ranch District in Stonewall is the Johnson City District of Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical ParkAt the visitors center, guests can view an exhibit showcasing Johnson’s life and accomplishments, as well as a tribute to his wife, Lady Bird Johnson. Notable artifacts include two LBJ ranch branding irons, campaign memorabilia, Lady Bird’s crimson suit, and White House china. Also in the district is his boyhood home (which he moved into with his parents when he was 5) and Johnson Settlement, where historic structures still stand as testament to the pioneer spirit.

The Science Mill uses technology-based exhibits, games, and interactive programs to expand children’s understanding of science. Designed to inspire students to pursue their interests in science, technology, engineering, and math, the museum is housed in a community landmark: a historic feed mill.

Natural Heritage

Pedernales Falls State ParkPedernales Falls State Park sits on the banks of the Pedernales River. Trails range from easy to challenging, including the half-mile Twin Falls Nature Trail and six-mile Wolf Mountain Trail. There are creeks around the trails to cool down, campsites, and a swimming area downstream from the falls.

Dining

Originally a hardware and supply store, Pecan Street Brewing now serves as a brewery, restaurant, and biergarten. The beers brewed in the establishment complement the diverse menu of brick-oven pizzas, fresh salads, and unique southern dishes.

For lavish upscale dining, visit Bryan’s on 290. Notable menu items from the American bistro include beef tenderloin with a side of creamy whipped potatoes and a local harvest with fresh produce delivered daily from farmers. In true Hill Country fashion, each dish can be paired with a recommended wine.

Lodging

The Crossroads Inn is located on six acres of landscaped gardens, connected to paths leading to porch swings and private benches. The inn has six suites with king-sized beds, as well as a gift shop with handmade soaps, candles, jewelry, art, and antiques.

Additional Resources

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