Deep in the heart of Texas, you’ll find rolling hills, meandering rivers and a culture that proves Texas pride is not a myth. And right in the middle lies Fredericksburg. A town with strong German roots and numerous historical landmarks, this charming Texas Hill Country destination isn’t just for wine tasting and B&B weekends—it’s perfect for families too. From stargazing to seasonal festivals and lots of history, keep reading to get the scoop on what to do in Fredericksburg with kids.
See the Hill Country
Hike Enchanted Rock
Enchanted Rock is the second largest granite dome in the country and a jewel in the Texas Parks system. Spend the day hiking around the base on the loop trail, have a picnic lunch, and if you have older kids, you can hike to the summit for 360 views of the region. Look for the vernal pools that are home to fragile Fairy Shrimp, let the kids do some geocaching, or stay until the sun goes down and watch the stars. Enchanted Rock was recently designated as an International Dark Sky Park, and you can usually see the Milky Way on clear nights!
Visit Wildseed Farms
Texas is famous for its wildflowers, so it’s no surprise that one of the largest wildflower farms in the United States is in Fredericksburg. Open all year, Wildseed Farms is home to 200 acres of flowers. Head for the meadows, where you’ll find a stroller-accessible half-mile walking trail surrounding the trial and display gardens and the seasonal butterfly gardens. Be sure to stop by the Brewbonnet Biergarten, where you can sample locally-made jam, jelly and salsa, grab a beer and buy fresh peach ice cream for the kids. Admission is free.
Walk the Live Oak Wilderness Trail
This easy one-mile loop, located inside Lady Bird Johnson Park, will give kids views of lakes, birds and flowers local to the Texas Hill Country. The trail is also connected to the Vista Loop trail, which has a butterfly habitat and a geology and rock exhibit.
Go to Luckenbach
This world-famous Texas dance hall is always family-friendly, according to longtime property manager Virgil. “There are folks who come here now as adults that grew up sleeping under the picnic benches and playing underneath those oak trees,” he says. And indeed, the venue is welcoming, with a General Store that sells everything from souvenirs to toys, and the Feed Lot, which offers kid-friendly fare like funnel cakes, grilled cheese, cherry limeade and more. There’s live music every night of the year, except Thanksgiving and Christmas, and whether it’s a free show or if you need a ticket, the experience is the same—totally unforgettable.
Watch the Bats
From mid-May to mid-Oct., head for Old Tunnel State Park, where millions of Mexican free-tail bats hang their hats for the season. Snag a seat in the upper deck for no charge or from Thurs.-Sun., reserve a seat in the lower viewing area for $5 per person, and wait for the bats to emerge at sunset in search of food and water.
The German Settlers
German settlers founded Fredericksburg in 1846, and a rich culture still remains. Kids can sit at desks in the one-room schoolhouse and watch living history demonstrations at the Pioneer Museum. And, at the Sauer-Beckman Living History Farm, located at Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site, you can watch interpreters perform household chores, cook over an open hearth, farm and even blacksmith, just like German settlers would have done in the 1800s.
World War II
Fredericksburg is the hometown of World War II Navy General Chester Nimitz. The National Museum of the Pacific War has over six acres of exhibits, including full-size planes, hands-on displays and an impressive amount of curated war artifacts. Two blocks down the street from the museum is the Pacific Combat Zone, which has more planes and a boat, and a recently renovated area where live, reenacted battle scenes (recommended for kids ages 6 & up.) are performed on eight weekends throughout the year.
Walk Main Street
Fredericksburg is known for its shopping, and while many shops are probably best left for adult-only weekends, there are a few that are perfect for kids. Legendary Dooley’s 5 & 10 is filled with toys, trinkets and other old-fashion goodies that’ll keep little ones busy. There are also sweet shops like Lone Star Candy Bar, Big Pop’s Popcorn Co. and Clear River Ice Cream and Bakery, which serves up more than 40 flavors of ice cream and incredibly soft, chewy cookies.
Ride the Trolley
A newer service for visitors, hop on the trolley for a guided tour of the town. There are several stops along the way, and it’s the perfect way to get around: you can leave your car behind and not worry about parking! It’s $4 for a single ride, kids age 3 & under ride free. If you want to spend more time on the trolley, it’s $7 for a one-day pass, $3 for kids ages 3-11.
photo: courtesy Cabernet Grill
Eat the Food
Fredericksburg is a foodie haven, and there are plenty of family-friendly spots to try. For breakfast, a local gem is Hilda’s Tortillas. Family-owned and operated, be sure to get in early in order to snag one of their legendary breakfast burritos. They make them every morning, and once they’re gone, they’re gone! Another great spot is Emma + Ollie, where it’s all about fresh ingredients, saying no to processed foods, and serving up classics like biscuits, banana bread and more.
For lunch, the brand-new Altstadt Brewery offers family-style dining in a large, Bavarian-inspired building, and if it’s a pizza you want, opt for West End Pizza. The outdoor patio and kids’ play room complete with air hockey and arcade games make it a great choice for families.
You can a sit-down dinner with kids in Fredericksburg, too! At the family-owned Navajo Grill, kids eat free on Wednesday, and their menu includes offerings like cheese ravioli and sirloin. Don’t leave without trying the halloumi cheese appetizer and the Brussel sprouts. For an incredible wine pairing experience, go to Cabernet Grill, where the on-staff sommelier will pair your meal (made with local, Texas-inspired ingredients) with Texas wines, many of them grown and made locally. The atmosphere is casually elegant, so while families are welcome, this might a good choice for when you’ve got older kids in tow.
From the Luckenbach Blues Fest to the Pioneer Museums’ Spring Break celebration, the Concert in the Park summer series, the Stonewall Peach JAMboree & Rodeo and Oktoberfest in October, there’s always something happening in Fredericksburg! And, the holiday season is extra special. The entire town becomes a winter wonderland, complete with ice skating rink, the Christmas Pyramid, Light the Night Christmas Parade and Kinderfest.
photo: courtesy Fredericksburg Inn & Suites
Lodging and Travel Details
While B&Bs, hotels and boutique inns are abundant in Fredericksburg, we recommend staying at the Fredericksburg Inn & Suites. Located on five acres near Barons Creek, not only does the hotel have a pool (heated for year-round swimming) with a slide, but it also boasts an outdoor fireplace and TV area. Activities include outdoor movies and you can explore the creek and outdoor areas.
Fredericksburg is an hour drive from the San Antonio International Airport.
All photos courtesy Fredericksburg Convention & Visitor Bureau unless otherwise noted.
Editor’s Note: This trip was paid for by Fredericksburg Convention & Visitor Bureau, but all opinions belong to the writer.