The small Hill Country town of Fredericksburg (pop. 9,000) is a favorite weekend destination for Austin and San Antonio residents looking to add a different cultural spice to their lives. The community’s German heritage remains a major draw, with dozens of restaurants and shops specializing in food, drink, and crafts from the Old Country.
Several annual events celebrate Fredericksburg’s German pioneer past, including the Wild Game Dinner (for men only) and the Damenfest (for women only). Some of the town’s longtime residents still speak German as a first language.
Fredericksburg was one of several German settlements to span westward from the Texas Gulf Coast to the Hill Country. The first wagon train of 120 pioneers arrived from New Braunfels in 1846, and soon after, they dubbed their community Fredericksburg after Prince Frederick of Prussia. The town was laid out much like traditional German villages along the Rhine, home of many of the colonists, with one wide main street paralleling Town Creek.
Now, more than 150 years later, this wide road is U.S. Highway 290, which remains the main thoroughfare in town, and it’s regularly filled with visitors from across the country who descend upon Fredericksburg—often via luxury air-conditioned bus—to explore the art galleries, biergartens, German bakeries, and antiques shops.
© Andy Rhodes from Moon Texas, 6th Edition