christie craig
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Texas Hill Country
By Christie Craig



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It has long since been said that if you marry a Texan, you’d better be prepared to live there. Because while Texans may travel...they always go back home. So when this Alabamian married a Houstonian, I was prepared. But after a few months, I began to suffer from what my husband calls...suburbanitis.

His cure was simple— something he calls Hill country therapy. It includes doses of wild flowers in the spring, rolling hills carpeted with the earthy colors in the autmn, babbling rivers and streams, fun festivals year-round that celebrate virtually any occasion...friendly folks, and historic small towns as charming as the Rio Grande is long.

From Austin, the state capital and the Alamo in San Antonio to the David Crockett Monument in Ozona and a dude ranch tucked away in Eldorado, we’ve sampled the entertainment and savored the tranquility.

While we still call Houston home, the hill country beckons us regularly. And like a cowboy with his hat, I never leave home without my camera. So sit back and let me show you around Texas Hill Country!

Texas Hill Country wild flowers, Copyright 2001, Christie Craig BLUEBONNETS, the official state flower of Texas, cloak Hill Country in a mantle of stunning blue hues in springtime. If you think this picture is pretty, just wait 'til you see a field full of bluebonnets in person!


WIMBERLY TEXAS quaint shops, Copyright 2001, Christie Craig





WIMBERLY is a peaceful small town that's filled with quaint shops and art galleries. When you visit, head for the Cypress Creek Cafe and try the Chicken Fried Steak. (For information, log on to www.wimberly.org or call 1-512/847-2201.)

Austin State Capitol, Copyright 2001, Christie Craig




NO TRIP TO AUSTIN would be complete without a free tour of the State Capitol. Built from Texas pink granite, this classic statehouse has been recently restored to its original grandeur. (Tours are available 7 days a week. For information, call the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau at 1-800/926-2282 or visit the city's Web site, www.austin360.com.)

The old Southern Pacific #786, Copyright 2001, Christie Craig

SOUTHERN PACIFIC LOCOMOTIVE #786 pulled cars on the railroad's Texas and Louisiana line for more than 40 years. Now, after sitting in a donwtown Austin park for 34 years, it's been reborn as the Hill Country Flyer, carrying passengers on weekends along a 33-mile route between Cedar Park and Burnet. (Ticket prices range from $15 to $40. Hours vary by season; for details, call 1-512/477-8468 or visit www.atcrr.com on the Web.)



Wimberly Glass Works, Copyright 2001, Christie CraigWIMBERLY GLASS WORKS (open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) is always a fun place to visit, thanks to Tim Dejong's glassblowing demonstrations. Tim (on the left) will tell you a lot about about the history of glassblowing. Afterwards, visitors are invited in to shop at his gallery where he claims “we blow glass, not your budget!”




Blanco State Park, Copyright 2001, Christie Craig


BLANCO STATE PARK in Blanco is the smallest State Park in Texas (110 acres) and the only one in the city. It was built between 1934 and '36 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. (Yo learn more about Blanco, call 1-830/833-5101 or log on to www.blancotex.com.)

New Braunsfels, TX, Copyright 2001, Christie Craig



TUBING on the Guadalupe and Comal Rivers is a popular activity. The Guadalupe is a bit faster and has a few exciting rapids, but the spring-fed Comal is fun, too. (Log on to www.nbcham.org or call 1-800/572-2626.)




Gruene, Copyright 2001, Christie Craig




GRUENE (pronounced "green") is a little German village that's a part of New Braunfels. It's filled with charming buildings like the Mansion Inn and Restaurant (1-830/620-0760). Be sure to stop at the Gristmill while you're in Gruene--the onion rings are out of this world!


Boerne, Copyright 2001, Christie Craig
ESTABLISHED BY GERMAN SETTLERS in 1851, Boerne displays its ethnic roots with lively street festivals. Street vendors make sweet kettle corn in large vats over an open fire--you have to taste it. (For details, call 1-888/842-8080 or check out www.boerne.org.)



Mission San Jose, Copyright 2001, Christie Craig

San Antonio, TX.: Mission San Jose. In addition to the Alamo, there are four more missions in San Antonio. Maps are available to guide tourists through the mission trail. Each one is awesome in its own right. The San Jose is known as the “Queen of Missions” and is both a state and a National Historic Site. Even my young son seems to feel the reverence, the sense of history, that clings to the stone walls and reflects itself even in the shadows. All missions are open daily 9 a.m. -5 p.m. For information call 210-534-8833.

Cave Without a Name, Copyright 2001, Christie Craig
Boerne, TX: Cave Without A Name: My ten-year-old son will tell you a trip to Boerne wouldn’t be complete without visiting the caves of the hill country. When the cave was opened in 1939 a contest to name it was won by a little boy who said, “This cave is too pretty to name.” Stalagmites and stalactites, soda straws and dozens of imaginative formations grow from the walls and angle from the roofs of the several rooms in this 98% active cave. Open daily, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas. For information call: 830-537-4212




Fredericksburg, TX: Fredericksburg Herb Farm, a celebration of scent and color featuring formal gardens, a tea room, retail shops and a day spa. Fredericksburg is truly one of my families favorite Hill Country getaways! With so much German heritage, historic buildings, and German food, it feels like you’ve left for a trip to the old world. But then again, the Texas hospitality is prevalent, reminding us that we really haven’t left far from home. With so many entertainment venues each family member can personalize their own idea of Hill Country Therapy. I’ll go shopping in the numerous quaint stores, stop off at a winery, or maybe a massage at the Fredericksburg Herb Farm, and the whole family will enjoy a visit to Wildseed Farms. My husband, the history buff will be in heaven at the National Museum of the Pacific War, and my son will find contentment at the Butterfly Ranch and Habitat or the bat tunnels. Oh, yes, Fredericksburg does wonders for the spirit!

Fredericksburg, TX: The Sauerkrauts Band: From flugelhorn to xylophone, this multi-talented group features 16 different instruments, including some you may have never heard before! With their outrageous entertainment, which include costumes and dance, the Sauerkrauts have brought audiences to their feet across the country, including at Walt Disney World EPCOT Center German Biergarten, Six Fags Fiesta Texas, and Oktoberfest from Helen to Hot Springs. To see the group in action join them at the Festhaus, in Fredericksburg, where they appear most weeks. For information on the Sauerkrauts, and a list of their upcoming performances call: 1-877-990-5032.

Hill Country, TX: Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. The site is in the heart of the Texas Hill Country and is on the line between Gillespie and Llano Counties. The 1,643-acre park is preserved and operated as a state natural area, and provides many soul-mending opportunities such as hiking, climbing, backpacking, camping, picnicking, and time just relaxing out in Mother Nature. The pink granite which makes up Enchanted Rock is over a billion years old and is among the oldest exposed rock in North America.

Fredericksburg, TX: Fredericksburg downtown area with all the quaint shops. Fredericksburg is truly one of my families favorite Hill Country getaways! With so much German heritage, historic buildings, and German food, it feels like you’ve left for a trip to the old world. But then again, the Texas hospitality is prevalent, reminding us that we really haven’t left far from home. With so many entertainment venues each family member can personalize their own idea of Hill Country Therapy. I’ll go shopping in the numerous quaint stores, stop off at a winery, or maybe a massage at the Fredericksburg Herb Farm, and the whole family will enjoy a visit to Wildseed Farms. My husband, the history buff will be in heaven at the National Museum of the Pacific War, and my son will find contentment at the Butterfly Ranch and Habitat or the bat tunnels. Oh, yes, Fredericksburg does wonders for the spirit!

Lyndon B. Johnson: Stonewall, TX: The Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm is part of the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park

Gillespie County, TX: Grape vineyards in Gillespie County: A coalition of 16 wineries in the Texas Hill Country have released a “Texas Hill Country Wine Trail” brochure. The new brochure contains a convenient map to help visitors to the Texas Hill Country explore the wineries. Information on the special wine related weekends, such as the “Wine Lovers Trail” in February, the Wine And Wildflowers Trail” in April, the “Harvest Wine Trail” in August and the “holiday Wine Trail” in November/December is included. For more details on the “Texas Hill Country Wine Trail” visit www.texaswinetrail.com. or call the Fredericksburg Conventional & Visitors Bureau at 1-888-997-3600.

Utopia, TX: The Lost Maples Cafe: A mom and pop cafe offering everything from Chicken Fried Steaks to Grilled Chicken and Hamburgers, you’ll find the down-home atmosphere with Texas Charm.

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