Hill Country for the Holidays

What would you think if you read that Texas is home to one of the best vacation spots in the United States?  You might ask what the writer was drinking when he wrote that comment.  Be that as it may, many people think the Texas Hill Country is exactly that, one of the best vacation spots in the country.  The scenery is not bad either.

The Texas Hill Country is a great place for a vacation or a long weekend.  OneOldCop is not the most traveled person in the world, but he has visited many parts of the United States.  He can attest to the great time one can have in any number of U. S. cities and areas.  He can also state with some certainty that the Hill Country can hold it’s own with many other popular vacation spots.  However, vacations and long weekends are not the only reason to travel to the Hill Country. Many people spend their holiday time there.  A Hill Country holiday can be a special time, for a couple, a family or someone who just wants some time to reflect on the meaning of the holiday and unwind.

OneOldCop has been blessed to spend many Thanksgiving and Easter holidays in the Texas Hill Country.  In fact, OneOldCop has been visiting friends and extended family in the Hill Country since he was OneMiddleAgedCop.  Many of those visits included staying at a  beautiful place on the banks of the GuadaAfternoon on the Guadalupe.lupe River.  Unfortunately, that particular estate is not open to the public, only friends, family and in-laws as it were.  Yet, the hill country is not so much where you stay, as where you are.

There are many great places to stay in the Hill Country.  Visitors can choose from charming family owned bed and breakfast inns to a large, fancy, expensive resort or anything in between.  There are guest ranches, golf resorts, lodges and individually owned villas and condos for rent throughout the area.  Holiday periods often come with restrictions, such as minimum stays, but who wants to travel to a beautiful location and simply spend a night or two.

Thanksgiving is a great time to visit the Hill Country.  Autumn foliage in Texas may not rival that of the northeastern United States or the Rocky Mountains.  Still, as photos included within this post illustrate, there are scenic vistas and fall colors to be found.

Many motorcyclists can attest this is also a great time to ride the state highways and back roads  running along the Guadalupe or other rivers in the area.  The ride on State Highway 16 from Bandera to Kerrville is gorgeous most times of the year, and the autumn colors make it even more beautiful.

OneOldCop made that ride one year and was more than surprised.  It rivaled a ride made around the northwest end of Maui a few years earlier. The drop to the water was not as great, and the foliage was different.  Yet, both rides were spectacular.  For those who need four wheels to feel comfortable a roadster with the top down will offer a similar rush.

Thanksgiving is a good time to visit for other reasons.  One of the traditions in this part of Texas is Christmas in Comfort.  Comfort, Texas is a sleepy little town south of Interstate Highway 10 about 45 miles northwest of San Antonio.  On the Thanksgiving weekend, Comfort hosts a street fair called Christmas in Comfort.

Vendors from all over Texas line the streets of Comfort’s old business district.  The local shops, which include antiques, art, home-made candies and stuff one will probably find nowhere else are all open and ready to help one start the Christmas shopping season in Hill Country style.  Some big city folks find it a little hokey, but people come back every year to sample the local foods, listen to local musicians and pick up a gift for that hard to please aunt or uncle.

Not to be outdone, Boerne, Texas, about 14 miles closer to San Antonio and north of Interstate Highway 10, has its own festival.  Thanksgiving weekend is the beginning of a two weekend festival called Dickens on Main Street. For two weekends, downtown Boerne (pronounced Burnie, at least by some) is transformed by costumed characters from Charles Dickens novels.

Dickens on Main Street includes carolers and special shopping hours at Boerne’s many boutiques and specialty shops.  Visitors can also experience Hill Country cuisine and hospitality at local eating establishments.  The festival starts at 5:30 in the evening on Friday and Saturday nights.  There are even claims it snows in Boerne during the festival.  Snow in November in Texas is a sight worth seeing, even if it may be a little artificial.

Easter is another special time in the Hill Country.  Families from all over the United States seem to find their way to the Hill Country during the Easter period.  Families coming to spend time together and Snow Birds beginning their migration back to the north find Easter a good time to visit.

For twice a year Christians, there are many small and not so small Hill Country churches ready to make them welcome.  For others, there are great parks, rivers, streams and other locations to meditate, commune with nature or hunt Easter Eggs.  Wild flowers are blooming and Mother Nature is everywhere, preparing the area for summer. However, summer visits to the Hill Country need to wait for another time and another post.

OneOldCop would be remiss if he did not mention the food in the Hill Country.  The food, like the permanent residents, comes from every ethnic, cultural and socio-economic background.  It is possible to find meals ranging from a “cloudlike fillet of Hawaiian escolar pan-seared and served with a tempura-fried lobster tail, baby bok choy, and mascarpone whipped potatoes” (August E’s) to bacon-wrapped, deep fried, hot dogs. (Some hole-in-the-wall in Ingram,TX. OneOldCop was tempted to check it out, but he had a moment of common sense and did not stop.)  In between, it is possible to find intimate little places overlooking a the Guadalupe such as Elaine’s Table  to The Salt Lick, a barbecue place where one can feed the family or host a large event.

OneOldCop enjoys the time he spends in the Hill Country.  There is something for almost everyone there.  From guest ranches, to golf resorts, hunting lodges, fishing lodges and  antique stores seemingly on every corner it is difficult to imagine anyone who cannot find something to do in the Texas Hill Country.  It is even possible to find a dance hall or float a river.

© S. E. Jackson

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