Fredericksburg was once known as the most Teutonic town west of the Sabine. Today, it's better known as the epicenter of the Hill Country wine region, yet there's more to this Texas town than wine and weisswurst. It also makes a great weekend destination for history buffs.
That said, real museum nerds will want to set aside more than a couple of days to spend exploring the area. After all, it's not all about Texas history here: There's also the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park that tells the story of the U.S. presidency during the latter half of the 1960s and the sprawling National Museum of the Pacific War.
Below, the five spots you should plan to hit while you're in town:
This combination museum and historic site occupies three-and-a-half acres on Main Street, so it's hard to miss. The 11 buildings scattered across the property have all been restored and moved to their current locations save two, which sit on the original spots they were built atop in the 1850s.
Taken as a whole, the buildings—which include homes, a school house, a barber shop, a fire station, a general store and others—tell the story of how a small, tough group of German settlers tamed the rugged Hill Country landscape and made it their own. Don't miss the nearby Vereins Kirche on the Marktplatz, a few short blocks away, that's a 1935-built replica of the first building (a community center/church) built in Fredericksburg.
Cost: $5 for adults; $3 for children ages 6 to 17; free for children 5 and under
This attraction has greatly expanded from its origins in the adjacent Admiral Nimitz Museum (which is now a part of the larger museum complex). The original Admiral Nimitz Museum, founded in 1968, focused exclusively on the life of highly respected Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, who was born in Fredericksburg in 1885.
Today, the six-acre National Museum of the Pacific War—built thanks in part to donations from George H.W. Bush and Nolan Ryan—is dedicated exclusively to the battles of World War II that took place in the Pacific Theater. As such, you'll find large-scale exhibits such as the only surviving I.J.N. Ko-hyoteki class midget submarine to have participated in Pearl Harbor to highly personal memorabilia from Texan, Chinese, Japanese and other WWII-era soldiers.
Cost: $15 for adults; $12 for seniors and/or active/retired military; $10 for children 6 to 17; $7 for students with ID; free for WWII veterans and children 5 and under
Fort Martin Scott was the first U.S. military post on the western frontier of Texas, originally established as Camp Houston in 1848. It was only active for five short years as American settlers continued to push further west, towards that Manifest Destiny, but was notable for being the site of the Fort Martin Scott treaty, which formalized peaceful relations between Native American tribes in the area (including Comanche, Caddo, Lipan, Quapaw, Tawakoni and Waco Indians) and the Anglo settlers who'd moved onto the land.
Later occupied by the Texas Rangers and the Confederate army, the fort now stands as a living historical testament to life in an early Texas frontier camp. Reenactments of everything from military drills and battles to pioneer cooking and crafting take place on a regular basis.
Though technically a part of the attached Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, this living history farm is remarkable enough to merit attention all its own. Here, you'll see exactly how our 36th president grew up on a Hill Country farm circa 1918, as interpreters wearing period garb churn butter, slop hogs and plow rows.
And it's not for show—this is a real-deal working farm, which means you can see cheese being made from scratch, corn being ground into meal for cornbread, chickens being prepped for a meal, floors being scrubbed with homemade lye, and basically every other activity that went into keeping a homestead operational near the turn of the last century.
At over 1,500 acres, this is the big daddy of historic sites in the area—fitting for the larger-than-life Texan president who stood at 6 feet, 3.5 inches tall. From Fredericksburg, you'll enter the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site on the south side of the Pedernales River, which houses the state park's visitor center, a small museum devoted to Johnson's life and the aforementioned Sauer-Beckmann Farmstead. Drive alongside the river and past the bluebonnet-hued Trinity Lutheran Church, where Johnson often worshipped while working at his ranch, until you reach a bridge that takes you across the Pedernales.
From here, you'll access the Johnson City District and the LBJ Ranch District portions of the national park. In the Johnson City District are Johnson's boyhood home and his grandparents' log cabin settlement. In the LBJ Ranch District are Johnson's first school, his birthplace, the Johnson Family Cemetery and the famous Texas White House. Roaming the entire property are the friendliest Texas Longhorn cattle you'll ever meet, making for some of the Lone Starriest photo ops you'll ever see.