If you’re looking for a perfect road trip for families that doesn’t include a plane flight, we’ve got a solution. Head to Hill Country, where, in Fredericksburg, you’ll find plenty of family-friendly fun. From hiking to local history and even a kid-friendly winery or two, keep reading to get the scoop on what to do in Fredericksburg with kids.
***Editor’s note: Please check individual websites for COVID-19 requirements and regulations.
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. There are over eight miles of trails to explore. You can 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 is designated as an International Dark Sky Park, and you can usually see the Milky Way on clear nights. If you are interested in rock climbing, we recommend booking something with Texas Climbing Adventures, as they offer family-friendly expeditions.
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 day 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.
Go to the Peach Haus
You might have tried their flagship Raspberry Chipotle Sauce, but the tradition at the Peach Haus runs deep. The original location of Fischer & Wieser, the masters of preserves and sauces, this spot a few blocks of main street is very kid-friendly. Wander the store and find all the marinades, sauces and preserves they are known for, and then wander to the back, where, on weekends, you can buy a bottle of wine (from their own vineyard) and a charcuterie board before you settle in at this hidden gem of a setting. Watch the sun set, let your kids play a bit, and enjoy a bit of classic Fredricksburg.
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
Do you want a guided tour of the city? Hop on the trolley for everything from a haunted history tour to a historic Fredericksburg tour. It’s the perfect way to get around: you can leave your car behind and not worry about parking! Prices range from $9 for kids to $20 for adults and up.
Learn the Local History
The German Settlers
German settlers founded Fredericksburg in 1846, and a rich culture still remains. Right in the middle of downtown, at the Pioneer Museum, kids can sit at desks in the one-room schoolhouse and watch living history demonstrations. Little Pioneers, a family-favorite monthly event includes activities like blacksmithing, making ice cream, making a miniature patchwork quilt and more. During Spring Break, there's something happening every day! 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, interactive displays (currently closed due to COVID restrictions) 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.
Eat the Food
Fredericksburg is a foodie haven, and there are plenty of family-friendly spots to try. Our favorite is Tubby's Ice House. It's within walking distance of Main Street and offers locally-sourced food including homemade tortillas, Texas beef, veggies from local growers, plus veggie and vegan-friendly options. There are a huge open patio and a play space; it's perfect for families. If it's a pizza you want, opt for West End Pizza. The outdoor patio and kids' playroom complete with air hockey and arcade games make it a place that's easy for everyone.
For breakfast, a local gem is Caliche Coffee Bar & Roastery. Family-owned and operated, there's a wonderful outdoor space for antsy kids, and their menu includes yummy items like avocado toast for the parents and whole wheat bagels with peanut butter and jelly for the littles. 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.
You can have a sit-down dinner with kids in Fredericksburg, too! At the locally-owned and operated Bejas Grill, you can enjoy ample outside seating. Don't leave without trying the chicken tortilla soup or the prickly pear margarita. 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.
Lodging and Travel Details
If you're looking for something within walking distance of downtown Fredericksburg, we recommend the family-owned Lodge Above Town Creek. They have plenty of suites to accommodate families, and they offer a fantastic picnic basket breakfast. There's a pool perfect for the summer months, and during the cooler months, you'll be drawn to the cozy covered pavilion with couches, complimentary coffee and tea and a roaring fire.
We also recommend staying at 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, fresh cookies are made daily, and you can explore the creek and outdoor areas.
Fredericksburg is a five-hour drive from Dallas-Fort Worth, just over an hour and a half from Austin, and just over one hour away from San Antonio.
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.