The beautiful Texas Hill Country is nationally renowned for its gorgeous scenery, growing wine culture, and diverse heritage...and only gaining notoriety! Several celebrities opt for homes in this peaceful area over the hustle and bustle of New York and Los Angeles. And it’s no wonder! The Texas charm radiates through the streets of each little town.
The region is known for everything from historical stances on war-related matters to barbecue shootouts amongst rival pit-masters. The Hill Country is rich with culture, and each town is famous something all its own. Below are some of the most iconic towns in the area that make up the Texas Hill Country.
Like Austin and San Antonio, San Marcos was settled at the base of the Balcones Escarpment and is known as one of the major entry points to the greater Hill Country area. It is widely known as the home of Texas State University, a fast-growing institute with a crystal clear river that flows through campus. TSU students are so in love with the river that, although the actual mascot is the bobcat, they prefer its alter-ego: the River Rat.
Boerne is the lovely, family-friendly town between San Antonio and Kerrville. Recently, it has become a popular place for San Antonio executives to purchase land and build homes so they can live in a pleasant small town with a modest commute to the office. One of the iconic places to visit in Boerne is the Cave Without a Name, a natural cavern with formations of stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, and more. There are easy walkways for those of you nervous about cave dwelling, and they also host several performances and concerts in the cave rooms throughout the year. Boerne is also a perfect place to indulge in the beer and wine world, with several breweries and wineries within a short distance of each other. Make a weekend trip out of everything there is to do in Boerne!
Image courtesy of visitboerne.org
Another Hill Country entryway is the famous town of New Braunfels. Perfectly situated between San Antonio and Austin, this tiny river town plays host to the second most populous Oktoberfest in America: Wurstfest, a “ten-day salute to sausage.” Flowing through its neighborhoods are the Comal River and Guadalupe River, both of which are ideal for floating, swimming, and fishing. Beyond that, the town has loads of fantastic live music and holds fast to their German heritage, both of which can be found at the historic Gruene Hall and in several shops and restaurants in the neighborhood of Gruene. New Braunfels has a way of charming everybody who passes through, making it a “go-to” place for vacationers and tourists each year.
Image courtesy of tripadvisor.com
Wimberley is known as one of the jewels of the Texas Hill Country, tucked away in the hills only 20 minutes from San Marcos. A tiny square in the middle of town is about all you’ll see along the main road, but what drives people to move here are the picturesque homes on heavily wooded land. A favorite swimming spot along the main road is Blue Hole, and another famous place is Jacob’s Well, a small pool of water that goes as deep as 120 feet, leading to several underground tunnels that have been explored by cave divers for scientific research.
Canyon Lake/Spring Branch
A bit more secluded from the city scene, Canyon Lake and Spring Branch are two tiny towns just west of New Braunfels. Canyon Lake itself is a well-known travel destination for vacationers who want a place to relax on the lake, go swimming, or take the boat out for a weekend of fun in the sun. It also is the home of the Whitewater Amphitheater, a gorgeous outdoor music venue along the banks of the Guadalupe River that attracts national touring acts. Spring Branch became a city at the end of 2015 and has been a popular place for people aiming to buy plots of land to build their dream home or take up farming and ranching.
As one of the capital cities of the Texas Hill Country, Fredericksburg has stayed so true to its German roots over the years, they speak a unique dialect! Texas German, came about when first generation settlers initially refused to speak English. This town is about 1.5 hours west of Austin and boasts close proximity to Enchanted Rock, a pink granite dome that rises 425 feet from the ground. This landmark is a common destination for day hikes as well as weekend camping trips.
Head about an hour west on I-10, and you’ll find one of the oldest settlements in Texas (with evidence of human life present over 10,000 years ago!). While that may not have been the incorporated Kerrville we know today, the town continues to encourage a rich knowledge of history with the Hill Country Museum and the Museum of Western Art. Tourists also flock to Kerrville for the annual Kerrville Folk Festival: nearly three weeks of music and fun at the precipice of summer.
Image courtesy of texasescapes.com
Luckenbach, Texas (the place where “everybody’s somebody”) has become famous for its small size and big culture. With a population of 3, it is officially the smallest town in Texas, and the official website tells you to use “412 Luckenbach Town Loop” as a physical address, which is right near Fredericksburg. The tiny town is well-known for its western feel and hosts several country music concerts throughout the year. Willie Nelson has helped keep the name of Luckenbach relevant in the country music world by throwing picnics and special concerts in this tiny town.
About an hour west of Austin, Blanco is known for being a sleepy town with a long history. It has the sweet honor of being named the “Lavender Capital of Texas” and hosts a Lavender Festival in the spring. The courthouse and surrounding area have been used for filming over the years due to its antique western look and can be seen in the remake of “True Grit.” Real Ale Brewery (Fireman’s 4, Devil’s Backbone, Hans Pils) operates out of Blanco and offers tours to anyone interested in their beers and the brewing process!
Image courtesy of tripadvisor.com
Lake McQueeney is grandfathered into the Texas Hill Country category because of its relation to New Braunfels, and it still maintains the cultural feeling of the area even though it rests on the eastern side of I-35. The small town got its name from the lake, where vacationers go swimming, fishing, and take the boat out during the summer months. For the full experience, try renting a home on Treasure Island, a private island in the middle of the lake.