But don’t forget the old attractions.
Folks who haven’t visited Fredericksburg lately might think there’s nothing new under the Gillespie County sun, but they’d be wrong.
There’s a fresh new breeze blowing through the Texas Hill Country, bringing with it new businesses, shops, restaurants, wineries, spas and lodging. No longer settling for its quaint German Settlement reputation, Fredericksburg is reinventing itself as a vibrant, affluent, energetic community infused with the vitality of young, bright people with big ideas.
Take Sarah Sauer and Molly Rodgers, for example.
Friends since they were toddlers in Fredericksburg, the two twenty-something university graduates, who majored in art, bought a broken-down antique Early Series Chandler & Price platen printing press last January. Together with the help of local machinists, woodworkers and electricians, they began the painstaking process of restoring it. Working late into the night in a weather-worn Gillespie County airplane hangar for four months, the pair gave new life to the old press that probably hadn’t run during their lifetime. When the press was ready for its first run on its centennial birthday, Sauer and Rodgers printed new business cards, launching Guten Co., Fredericksburg’s newest business. More than a print shop, Guten Co. is a lifestyle business and brand offering functional pieces of art in attractive everyday forms — including hand-printed fine papers and handmade porcelain objects and textiles. Today Guten Co. (meaning “Good Company”) is an online store, but one day it may join Fredericksburg’s other shops on Main Street.
Take a good look around
A recent visit introduced me to several other exciting new Fredericksburg businesses and reminded me why I love my old favorites. After checking into a three-bedroom log cabin with my family at Settler’s Crossing, an idyllic rural 25-acre property containing seven perfectly appointed guest cottages, I asked owners David and Melissa Estes what’s new in town. Then I met a local friend for lunch at the Farm Haus Bistro at the Fredericksburg Herb Farm, and she drew me a map of other new must-stop spots.
Vaudeville, located in the former Homestead & Friends store, is more than just another pretty store. Vaudeville offers a design-centric shop on the first floor, an art gallery on the second; a French bistro, an eclectic gourmet market and wine cellar in its basement and a fine-dining eatery “Supper Club” in its courtyard and in the wings of the historic building that houses it. www.Vaudeville-Living.com.
Carol Hicks Bolton Gallery (formerly Homestead & Friends): Antiques and clever new objects fill this eclectic shop in an enormous space on Lincoln Street. From vintage textiles to French and European antiques, taxidermy animals to pottery, garden items and art from 15 different countries, this funky shop is intriguing. www.carolhicksbolton.com.
Art is a big part of Fredericksburg life. In fact, G. Harvey, one of the world’s most famous Western art painters, makes his home in Fredericksburg and exhibits his original works at the Whistle Pik Gallery on Main Street. Numerous other important art galleries also draw visitors, including InSight Gallery on West Main, which features the works of some of the finest painters and sculptors working in landscape, figurative, impressionistic, still life, wild life and Western genres at www.insightgallery.com. Art lovers should plan their visit around the First Friday Art Walk events held each month when galleries stay open late.
Otto’s German bistro. Yes, it’s a German bistro, but it also tips its hat to the hip American gastro-pub scene. Located across Austin Street from the George H. W. Bush Gallery of the National Museum of the Pacific War (www.pacificwarmuseum. org), which honors local hero Adm. Chester Nimitz among others, Otto’s is one of the best new places to eat. Featuring “contemporary German cuisine,” outdoor dining and mod décor, Otto’s is a hit with locals and tourists alike. www.Ottosfbg.com.
An old favorite contemporary restaurant is August E’s, offering “Nouveau Texas Cuisine” in a bright modern art-filled space with Kobe beefsteaks and sushi on the menu. Stop in on “Thai Tuesdays” for a special Thai menu at night. www.august-es.com. Enjoy wines from around the world — though not Texas, oddly enough — at Lincoln Street Wine Market, a bar and bistro with an outdoor courtyard. www.lincolnst.com. Chocolat is an old favorite in a new space. This “quintessential chocolate company” with Old World techniques for creating liquor-filled chocolates moved to a new location on Main Street a couple of years ago. www.chocolat-tx.us.
There are hundreds of popular German-style “Sunday haus” guest houses and B&Bs in town, but I love Settlers Crossing best. Each cottage features antiques, wood-burning fireplaces, comfortable beds, full kitchens, spacious bathrooms, broad porches and patios, rocking chairs and shady arbors. Sheep and donkeys graze in the meadows, honeybees buzz through garden vines, and the owners’ daughter rides bareback on her pony. With wineries and Luckenbach nearby, Settlers is a serene retreat. www.settlerscrossing.com.
The Fredericksburg Herb Farm is another enchanting property just four blocks from Main Street. New buildings and traditional Sunday haus charm come together in its charming cottages, where guests relax in a tranquil garden environment. The farm also is home to the pampering of Nature’s Spa, a 5,000-square-foot destination spa with multiple treatment rooms. After your massage, dine at the Farm Haus Bistro, and stop by the Poet’s Haus Gift Shop, offering garden and gift items, candles, lotions, soaps and many other items created on site. Guests enjoy strolling through the fragrant gardens where the chef grows fresh ingredients. www.fredericksburgherbfarm.com. The Hangar Hotel near the Gillespie County airstrip isn’t new, but it’s simultaneously modern and distinctively classic. Men especially love the sleek dark wood bar and the old-fashioned soda fountain/ breakfast diner. Women love the crisp bedding and the sophisticated décor. On weekends, guests bring their cocktails to the runway, where they can sit in rocking chairs and watch airplanes take off and land. Also on weekends, the Hangar Hotel has one of the best piano bars in town. New, not-to-miss B&Bs near town include the Sugarberry Inn (www.SugarberryInn.com), and the Wine Country Cottages (www.allseasonsfredericks-burg.com/wine). We also like the Trois Estate at Enchanted Rock outside of town.
Old meets new
While new businesses are thriving, Fredericksburg’s old places are busy too. Dozens of wineries and tasting rooms line Highway 290; Wildseed Farms still blooms with business; Stonewall peaches are sold on the roadside; gleaming galleries, old-school hardware shops, German biergartens and small-town bakeries still draw happy visitors. Old-timers say the old ways are the best — and that’s still true. But give Fredericksburg’s newest spots a chance, and you’ll be in good company.
Oktoberfest is near
Fredericksburg celebrates its German heritage at Oktoberfest, this year occurring Oct. 3-5. Come for the best German oompah music, food, drink and family fun.