Shopping in the small but thriving Hill Country towns brings a sense of discovery—you never know what treasures you’ll find among its boutiques, antiques shops and galleries. Jewelry, quilts, ceramics, paintings and even handmade furniture by local artists can be especially tempting, along with homemade jams, jellies, bread and other edibles. Keep an eye out for home-grown lavender from Blanco, Stonewall peaches in June, locally-made goat cheese, and mohair sweaters and shawls from the region’s angora goats.
Many towns also have monthly markets where you can buy everything from earrings to stained glass: Gruene Market Days (Gruene is at the edge of New Braunfels), Trade Days near Fredericksburg, Boerne Market Days and Wimberley Market Days. Wildseed Farms is a haven for gardening accessories, seeds and local specialty foods.
Listening and dancing to live music is part of the Hill Country tradition. Stop by Luckenbach on the weekend, buy a brew in the Luckenbach General Store, and find a spot under the spreading oak trees for listening to whoever drops in to sing and play their guitar. The Boerne Village Band, founded by German settlers in the 1860s, plays traditional oompah music and may be the oldest continuous band in Texas. Well-known Texas musicians play at wood-floored Gruene Hall, said to be the oldest, still-operating dance hall in Texas. And on weekend evenings at the Hilltop Café near Fredericksburg, lucky folks catch Johnny Nicholas on guitar or Floyd Domino banging out hot boogies on the piano. Both are original members of the Texas swing band Asleep at the Wheel.
Festivals celebrate Hill Country traditions throughout the year; many offer food and music, beer and wine, arts and crafts and activities for the family. Here’s a small sampling of Hill Country events:
January: Black-eyed Pea and Cornbread Cook-off in Fredericksburg
February: Fest Nacht in Fredericksburg
March: Texas Star Trail Ride
April: Frühlingsfest Spring Celebration in Comfort
May: Kerrville Folk Festival, Fredericksburg Crawfish Festival, Texas State Arts and Crafts Festival in Kerrville
July: Night in Old Fredericksburg
September: Kerrville Wine & Music Festival
October: Fredericksburg Food & Wine Festival, Oktoberfest in Fredericksburg
November: Wurstfest in New Braunfels, Christmas in Comfort
December: St. Nikolausmarkt in Fredericksburg