Off the Beaten Path: Day-tripping Deep in the Heart of Texas Hill Country
The Lone Star State is a land of peculiarities. Often romanticized and demonized, this is a culture to itself where bears are bahrs and pop means soda. You are as likely to find a “bubba” in the local Whole Foods as an Information Technologies (IT) specialist at a rodeo. In a single day trip, you can sample this way of life by touring the Hill Country west of Austin.
As with any proper Texan locale, legends abound about Longhorn Cavern. Once used as a munitions depot for the Confederate Army, it also reportedly doubled as a hideout for the notorious Sam Bass. From humble beginnings as a small time gambler and thief, Sam elevated himself to desperado status after relieving a Union Pacific train of $60,000 in gold in 1870. Later, double-crossed by one of his own gang, he was shot down by a Texas Ranger at the tender age of 28.
Much of his fortune however remains unaccounted for and is rumored to be hidden in one of the cave’s antechambers.
One panoramic view of a mist-laden valley is checkered by tidily tilled parcels of land, alternately lush and loamy, spanning as far as the eye can see. Compared to the stereotypical parched landscape of Texas-based films like “Giant” and “Hud”, this is a revitalizing drink for the senses effectively putting the “Hill” in Hill Country.
Multiple wineries and vineyards lie within the local AVA, or American Viticultural Area. Signature vins are available at numerous restaurants and cafés flanking the town’s Main Street. Locally, Bell Mountain Vineyards, Becker Vineyards, and Fredericksburg Winery offer complimentary tours and tastings on weekends or daily with appointment. While contemplating the ample selection of cabernet sauvignons, chenin blancs, and gewürztraminers offered, you might even create a uniquely Central Texan gift basket: make sure to include a jar of jalapeno jelly, a dry spice rub for catfish, rich Lamme’s “Longhorn” candies, and a bottle of syrah.
Trekking around the Hill Country yields an interesting mix of historic and eclectic elements, all vibrant and representative of the state itself. Whether considered highbrow or down home, you can find it here in the “heart of Texas”.
Keywords: Enchanted Rock, Fredericksburg, Fredericksburg Winery, Hill Country, historic church, Lammes Candies, Longhorn Cavern, Texas, Texas travel guide, tourism, travel blog, travel photography, United States travel
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