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Regarding the one-of-a-kind downtown restaurants, be sure to check out Farina’s, Napoli’s, and Tolbert’s.
Sundance Square is one of our favorite places to visit and take visitors. Named after the Sundance Kid in western folklore, it is a 35-block outdoor mall fashioned after the Old West. There are so many distinct and authentic restaurants, shops, and music/entertainment venues to keep you busy on multiple visits. You might even see a mural commemorating the Chisholm Trail cattle drive from the late 1800's. We call this Texas graffiti.
Four Day Weekend
When we lived in Chicago, Tracy was a part of the Second City (Improv) Conservatory. There was a Texas actor who flew in every week to be a part of her group. That actor is one of the original founders of the Improv group called Four Day Weekend. Located in the heart of Sundance Square, they offer performances four nights a week (thus the name!), Thursday through Sunday. And, they are really hilarious. Active since 1997, they have proved their longevity. They are right next door to Reata. So, why not grab a nice dinner beforehand? We do!
Ft. Worth Stockyards
Giddy up, pardner! This is where you can see an authentic Old West cattle round-up. The Stockyards are full of entertainment and shopping venues that capitalize on the "Cowtown" image of Fort Worth (Billy Bob’s is here). Home to the famous boot-making company, M.L. Leddy's, which is located in the heart of the Stockyards. Or visit the Maverick Fine Western Wear and Saloon, where customers can “belly up” to the bar, relax, and have a cold beer while in the Stockyards, just like they did in the days of the big cattle drives, as they shop around the store. The city of Fort Worth is often referred to as "Where the West Begins."
As we head from DFW to the Texas Hill Country we like to take a more scenic tour and go through Hico, Texas. Our goal? To look at some antiques on the way to shop Hico.
Also we always stop for gourmet chocolate at:
- 406 Grubbs Street Hico, Texas 76457
- Open 7 Days a Week Mon - Sat 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. Sun 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
- Phone: 254-824-2150
You can’t miss the robin’s egg, blue and yellow, Queen Anne Victorian home.
Kevin and LaDonne Wenzel moved to the Texas Hill country to start a small, gourmet chocolate company in 1996. Their business plan? Simple ingredients: real chocolate, fresh fruit and nuts, authentic liqueurs.
We are obsessed!!
Texas Hill Country
The Texas Hill Country is in the heart of Texas nestled between Austin and San Antonio. The landscape consists of lush, rolling hills covered in wildflowers and dotted with breathtaking lakes, rivers, and creeks.
Tracy's mom lives on a ranch in Johnson City (L.B.J.'s hometown). Check out the several shops, but our favorite is owned by our friend Kathy from Pieces of the Past: 104 U.S. 281, (512) 784-8246
Think of a treasure chest full of antiques, vintage, architectural pieces, and you will have the right idea...It's where we bought our Spanish door and this crazy vine ball.
In Johnson City check out the Pedernales Falls state park:
Consider a game of spades at Pecan Street Brewing.
Also, be sure to check out Texas Hills winery. It is right down the country road from Tracy's mom's ranch:
- Cutest little town ever!!
Wimberley has quaint boutiques and antique shopping with darling restaurants. Also picture beautiful wildflowers, arts and crafts fairs, wonderful wineries, and natural spots, like the Jacob's Well Swimming hole.
We loved this little place: Bella Vista. They have amazing olive oils and blackberry wine!!!!
For good eats, try The Leaning Pear. Owned and run by Rachel and Matthew Buchanan, they first landed and explored cuisine in Perugia, Italy. Then, they went off to New York for Matthew to pursue a degree in Culinary Arts at the Culinary Institute of America. Expect fresh, seasonal, and local food.
For dessert try Bruce's favorite, the Wimberley Pie Company (cash only!)
While shopping in Wimberly, don't forget to meet the Boot Whisperer. She is spot on!
We always have to end our Hill Country adventure near Wimberly with a tasting at the Dutchman Winery and dinner next door at the incredible Trattoria Lisina: 13308 FM 150 West, Driftwood, TX. 512.894.3111
It has spectacular views and a wonderful place to watch the sun go down over a glass of wine.
Food lovers, on our last visit we had:
Niman Ranch Lamb Ragu - potato gnocchi in a lamb ragu & pecorino Romano
Osso Buco - veal shank braised with aromatic vegetables, white wine & tomato, served over Texas polenta
Gelati & Sorbetti - homemade Italian style ice cream or sorbet served with biscotti.
Sea Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake - Sicilian sea salted caramel layered between layers of decadent chocolate cake
Fredericksburg is one of our favorite Hill Country spots. It began in 1846 as a German colony. Today, visitors can still get a feel for the 19th century Fredericksburg because of the excellent preservation and restoration efforts. There is great shopping, antiquing, museums, vineyards, art galleries, and close to three hundred bed and breakfast inns. Check out it's yearly Oktoberfest celebration. Also, don't miss Enchanted Rock, a massive hunk of Texas granite, a hiking destination.
For food, check out the Nest, Navajo Grill, Fredericksburg Brewing Company, Ernie’s Mediterranean Grill, the Peach Tree (black bean soup!), Cranky Franks Barbecue, and Lincoln St. Wine Market. If you're looking for a chill spot for lunch or dinner that's not on the main street, mosey down to the Fredericksburg Herb Farm, and get some peach cobbler for dessert!
If you're serious about your Hill Country experience, go visit the HILL TOP CAFE (near Fredericksburg) for a fun, eclectic atmosphere with shrimp gumbo and baked flounder stuffed with shrimp and crabmeat. But, make reservations several days in advance—U.S. 87, ten miles northwest of Fredericksburg (830-997-8922).
For more wineries in the Texas Hill Country, check out this link by clicking the picture below:
This is an amazing gem nestled next to Lake Austin. It's like the biggest loser meets honeymoon paradise. Expect the yummiest of healthy gourmet meals and wine, if you choose, daily. Also, experience a unique variety of excellent fitness activities and one-on-one sessions. Since you're on the lake, you can do yoga on the deck or have fun kayaking or paddle boarding. Or, perhaps you want to relax with the 100 luxurious relaxing spa treatments or hang by the spa pool. The week Tracy chose was culinary week, which included cooking with Star Chefs. YUM!
Bruce loves the Texas bumper sticker that says, "I wasn't born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could." Several years ago he said, "I want to visit all the cool, small towns in Texas. Jefferson is one of our favorites so far.
This historic, quaint town is close to the border of Louisiana. You can see Texas meets Louisiana in its style of music, food, and architecture. Perfect for this girl from Beaumont, Texas, as well as a very reasonable road-trip for a Texan.
This town is also full of rich stories and history. Because of its great prosperity in the mid 1800's, the architecture of the downtown buildings and southern-styled homes are like no other town in Texas.
In its day, Jefferson had the state's largest and most significant river port: The Queen of the Bayou.
By 1845, steamboats were regularly reaching Jefferson. Jefferson had emerged as the leading commercial and distribution center in Northeast Texas and the state's chief inland port, second only to Galveston in total tonnage. Jefferson boasted a mere 4-5 day trip to or from New Orleans.
Not surprisingly, the fashions, customs, and architecture that marked the growing town of Jefferson would find great similarities to those in the trendy Louisiana city. The new homes being built in Jefferson began to resemble the Greek-Revival style seen in the refined neighborhoods of New Orleans; defined by their symmetrical, rectangular appearance adorned with balconies and column-lined porches. In fact, the many bed and breakfast inns located throughout Jefferson today are the same beautifully restored and maintained houses that were built during this time.
Sadly, in 1873 two events occurred that would forever change the future of Jefferson. First, the Red River Raft was finally removed by the US Corps of Engineers, due to it being arbitrarily deemed a navigational hazard. The raft was actually a huge, natural log jam that had clogged the river for centuries, flooding the bayous and raising the water level to a height that made it passable to Jefferson. With the raft's removal the main course of the Red River was opened, draining the bayous and lakes, making the trip to Jefferson difficult and undependable. The second and decidedly more drastically impactful incident, was the completion of the Texas and Pacific Railway, running from Texarkana to Marshall, bypassing Jefferson altogether. Although another railroad line was extended to Jefferson the following year, the rise of other important rail cities, like Marshall and Dallas, brought an end to Jefferson's Golden Era. By 1885, the population had fallen to Dallas or Shreveport.
Today, Jefferson home to more state registered historic structures than anywhere else in Texas,
BED AND BREAKFASTS
Jefferson is FULL of wonderful, historic bed and breakfasts. We stayed in the Benefield House (1009 South Line Street), built in the 1890's and currently owned by wonderful Donna and Frank Lang.
FANTASTIC antique shops in the historic downtown.
Wonderful General Store with an old fashioned soda fountain on Austin Street
(The cajun influenced cuisine was delicious.)
Stillwater Inn - Located in a 1890's Victorian house, the chef-owned restaurant has been the setting for fine dining since 1984. Menu selections include grilled seafood and steak, veal specials, and roasted rack of lamb, all prepared to order. 903 665 8415.
Memories and More (cajun piano bar) 121 W. Austin St. Don't miss the crab cakes. 903-665-8203. Loved it!!
Austin Street Bistro, Austin St. 9036658415. (BYOB)
Joseph's Riverport Barbecue, 201 N Polk, 903 665-2341.
Lamache's Italian Restaurant is located in the Jefferson Hotel is one of the oldest buildings in Jefferson, built in 1851 as a cotton warehouse. Offers Old-World Italian Cuisine. 124 W. Austin Street, 903-665-2631.
July 5, 2014
4th of July Celebration & Fireworks
Saturday Narrated Day Tours: 2:30 and 4:30
Saturday Free Ghost Stories at the depot at 8:00
Saturday evening, Gator Ghost Train at 9:00
The Historic Jefferson Railway will offer a special July 4th weekend with a celebration of flags along the Big Cypress Bayou as the history of Independence Day unfolds in the Narrated Historical Day Tours. Come see the Support Our Troops display that honors the United States Military. For our evening trains, we will have a fireworks show. (Note: we will be closed on Friday, July 4, so that we don't conflict with City of Jefferson activities).
July 26, 2014
National Day of the Cowboy
Saturday Cowboy Trains: 12:30, 1:30, 2:30
Saturday Free Ghost Stories at the depot at 7:00
Saturday evenings, Gator Ghost Train at 8:00
Historic Jefferson Railway recognizes pioneering men and women, known as cowboys, who helped establish America's frontiers. The cowboy and his horse are central characters in history. Enjoy the rough and ready cowboys of the Lonely West Traveling Gun Show complete with gunfights and a train robbery.
August 29 & 30, 2014
Labor Day Celebration at Historic Jefferson Railway
Saturday Narrated Historical Day Tours: 2:30 and 4:30
Friday and Saturday Free Ghost Stories at the depot at 7:00
Friday & Saturday evenings, Gator Ghost Train at 8:00
Celebrate Labor Day at The Historic Jefferson Railway. Come see the Support Our Troops display that honors the United States Military. Active Military personnel ride free.
October 4, 10-11, 17-18, 24-25, 31, 2014
Runaway Fright Train & Halloween Festival
The Runaway Fright Train will feature "Nightmare on Christmas Street." As you ride through the dark woods, you'll feel the spirits reaching out for you. The scenes and haunters along the track will keep you at the edge of your seat and give you a laugh now and then, too. This Halloween Theater on wheels is professionally directed by East Texas Performing Arts and is appropriate for all ages. Halloween Festival has free activities, with train ticket purchase, that include mini-maze, mini-haunted house, children's crafts, and games.
November 27-29, December 4-7, 11-14, 18-21, 2014
Rail of Lights Christmas Train
Make this a Christmas to remember aboard the Rail of Lights Christmas Train. The unforgettable ride aboard an antique narrow-gauge train departs on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Thanksgiving through December 22. (Closed December 1). Passengers will enjoy lighted vignettes along the Cypress Bayou River as they hear about Celebrations Around the World.
December 25-29 & 31, 2014
Rail of Lights New Year's Train
Blast into the New Year aboard the Rail of Lights New Year's Train. Passengers will enjoy lighted vignettes along the Cypress Bayou River as they hear the tale of New Year's traditions, customs, and superstitions from Around the Globe. Each of the trains will feature beverages, noisemakers, and a simulation of the New Year's Eve Ball dropping in Times Square followed by a fantastic fireworks show.
Mason-Dixon-Line Military Museum
Vintage Car Museum