Texas Hill Country: Pastoral Landscape of Ranches, Rivers, and German-American Towns
A picturesque region of rolling hills and valleys covered in blue bonnets, the area in central Texas known as Texas Hill Country has been compared to the landscape of Tuscany by the New York Times. Texas Hill Country is a backyard playground for nearby cities, as it lies just west of Austin and northwest of San Antonio. Urbanites often escape here for the weekends to enjoy the slower pace of life and escape the heat—the region's slightly higher elevation means it's often less humid. With many state parks and spring-fed rivers, the Hill Country is also a haven for outdoorsy types; activities range from fishing and tubing to rock climbing. The Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is popular thanks to its main attraction: a gigantic pink granite dome in the middle of the park.
Among the Hill Country’s major towns, Bandera best captures its cowboy spirit. It’s not uncommon to catch an open rodeo in the summer or see a ranch hand riding to the store on horseback. The town is also surrounded by dude ranches, where you can get a taste of the local lifestyle. Just north of Bandera, the town of Fredericksburg is also worth exploring. Along with New Braunfels, it was one of the main local settlements of German immigrants in the 1840s—a heritage that visitors can still see today in the “wilkommen” signs hung up on shop doors.