For my family’s annual vacation, we chose to use our time share points at a destination that would allow us a full week to maximize our points allocation. The destination was Texas Hill Country, situated between San Antonio and Austin, Texas. Having adult children, I always worry that they will be bored with my choices but Texas Hill Country afforded us a superb and memorable trip through gorgeous towns with plenty of family bonding and togetherness. As a result, I fell madly in love with the Lone Star State and cannot wait to play our next getaway.
Why Bigger Is Not Always Better in Texas Hill Country
Texas Hill Country was the perfect vacation destination for my family. Though we chose the location based on “more bang for the buck” by using a time share, Texas Hill Country left a lasting impression on us, even my adult aged children.The natural beauty, Texas wines, and attractions in Hill Country ensured that we had plenty to see and do. We were able to enjoy quality family time by getting off of the grid and playing games, grilling out, and just being together.
The quaint towns of Canyon Lake, New Braunfels, and Fredericksburg, located minutes from each other, were our favorites. In fact, we grew so fond of these areas that we opted out of day trips to bigger, more popular surrounding cities because we did not want to take away from the smaller ones. I started falling in love with Texas by vacationing in the Texas Hill Country and I warn you…you may fall, too.
Smaller for the Win!
Three Essential Small Towns in the Texas Hill Country
Canyon Lake -A Great Spot to Call Home
Unwind and Unplug
New Braunfels -The Hill Country Spot for World Class Adventures
New Braunfels was founded in 1945 and like most of the Hill Country, has a strong German influence. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, always an impressive quality for me. We stumbled on New Braunfels by accident. I googled a restaurant that had an impressive menu, which lead us to Gruene (pronounced green), a town there. Our destination was the Gruene River Grill, where we ate on their second story deck and had one of the best meals of our trip. I was shocked at how upscale this restaurant was, especially since it is in the middle of a small town. The Queso Chicken was incredibly memorable. Be sure to try Gruene River Grill’s Asian slaw, a delicious and unique side dish.
Beneath us, we watched people float in tubes down the Guadalupe River. Our waitress told us that this was nothing; that in a few short weeks, the entire river would be bombarded with tourists. Afterwards, we popped in Naegelin’s Bakery, the oldest bakery in Texas, for an apple-strudel pastry. This is something to write home about!
Hill Country Shopping
After our meal, we visited a few of Gruene’s shops (Dancing Bear, Cotton Eyed Joe’s and Pookie Jane’s) and stopped at Water 2 Wine, one of the local tasting rooms. Texas wines have been making a splash for years, second only to Napa Valley, as the most visited wineries in the country. We found the wines of Texas to be delicious and they were my children’s favorite part of our Texas Hill Country trip. If wine is not your thing, the Hill Country Craft Beer Trail has 17 breweries to choose from.
Introduce Your Family to Something Nostalgic
As we strolled the charming streets of Gruene, we came upon their most famous landmark, The Gruene Hill. This honky-tonk is where legendary country artist George Strait, one of my daughter Taylor’s favorite performers, got his start. The Gruene Hill features live music 365 days a year, with specialties such as Texas Country and Americana music.
New Braunfels is best-known for being the home of Schlitterbahn, voted world’s best waterpark by Amusement Today. This world-famous attraction caught my eye on a TV commercial years ago and had me and every other TV viewer dreaming of plunging down its watersides. Today, it has a lazy river, multiple pools, a surfing ride, and many extreme thrill level attractions. You will really win brownie points by taking your family there! Another family spot for those with young children would be the McKenna Children’s Museum, full of interactive exhibits.
Fredericksburg -The Town I Fell in Love With
Adorable Sights and Sounds
So. Much. Food.
Of course it would not be Texas without noteworthy Mexican eateries. Our favorite was Mamacita’s Restaurant & Cantina, a local chain that has the coveted puffy tacos and the best mole sauce I have ever tried. It was almost as fun watching the fresh tortilla chip maker keep up with the demand as it was sharing a pitcher of exceptional margaritas with the family.
Several Texas wineries have tasting rooms in Fredericksburg, making up the Fredericksburg Wine Country Trail. Messina Hof, a highly awarded Texas winery, wins rave reviews with their Riesling, Shiraz, and Rosé varietals. I am a fan of all of them and even ordered a personalized case of Messina Hof’s Rosé for our daughter’s wedding.