Article from SouthernLiving.com
Article by: Les Thomas
Explore the Heart of Texas
The small towns and two-lane roads that fan out westward from
Austin make up the heart of the Texas Hill Country. There you
will find the unexpected gems of Texas—rivers that wind through
stands of bald cypress trees, shimmering lakes cupped in limestone
canyons, and rustic German towns with such names as Fredericksburg,
New Braunfels, Boerne, and Kerrville.
1. Kayak the Medina River
Winding through tunnels of towering bald cypress trees on its way to Bandera, the Medina River doesn’t get the crowds that flock to the Guadalupe River. So you have most of it to yourself as you spend a couple of hours of bliss in a kayak rented from the Medina River Company, 830/796-3600.
2. Smell Lavender
When you get to Blanco, about an hour’s drive southwest of Austin, roll down the windows and take a deep breath. Perfume scents the air starting in mid-May when flowers start to bloom at nearly a dozen farms that dot the Lavender Capital of Texas. Some of the farms open to visitors at the start of the blooming season, and Blanco celebrates harvest time with the Blanco Lavender Festival June 10-12; 830/833-5101.
3. Pick Peaches
You’ll have to wait a while—the first peaches don’t ripen until the end of May—but it’s worth it to taste a sweet Hill Country peach plucked fresh from a tree at Marburger Orchard, 830/997-9433, near Fredericksburg. Gary Marburger grows 13 varieties that ripen in stages until early August. Can’t wait till then? Strawberries!
4. Sleep in a Garden
Wake up to the smell of rosemary, thyme, and other fresh scents when you stay in one of the newly opened Sunday Houses at Fredericksburg Herb Farm, 830/997-8615. The cozy cottages are styled like the old-time “Sunday Houses” built by German farmers for weekend stays when they came to town for church and shopping. Owners Rosemary and Dick Estenson also added an elegant spa and restaurant to the herb farm that hides away on a residential lane just a few blocks from Fredericksburg’s Main Street. he farm’s Rock House Bistro features dishes made with freshly harvested herbs and produce.
5. Swim in Texas Bluebonnets
Bluebonnets generally begin blooming in mid-March and continue into April when they’re joined by other later blooming varieties of native flowers. Southern Living Senior Photographer Van Chaplin traveled more than 600 miles through the Hill Country photographic flowers last spring. His advice for finding the most beautiful blooms: “Drop in at small-town cafes and ask locals. They know the country better than anyone else.” Or, call the Texas Department of Transportation Wildflower Hotline, 800/452-9292
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