FREDERICKSBURG — Located about 80 miles west of both Austin and San Antonio is a small Texas town with a long German name.
On any given Saturday afternoon in Fredericksburg you can see tourists walking up and down the sidewalks of Main Street with cups of beer or wine in their hands. You can find a friendly staff of local high school-aged employees working behind the counter at the Fredericksburg Ice Cream Parlor.
Wait until around 6:30 p.m. and you can find John Mooring closing his store and getting ready for another night out in the town that stole him away from sunny Los Angeles.
Mooring, co-owner of The Christmas Store, moved to Fredricksburg from Los Angeles years ago and has no intention of returning. Fresh summertime peaches and the friendly charm of a small town in the Texas Hill Country have won him over.
“I love being in the city,” Mooring said. “But the city comes to us here.”
Although he was not born in Fredericksburg, Mooring spoke of the town as if he had lived there his entire life. Over the years, he has become just as much a fixture in the town as his store, which is filled to the brim with decorations for every holiday imaginable.
Mooring’s store is located on Main Street, which is a segment of Highway 290 that slows down as it weaves through Fredericksburg. Main Street serves as the primary stretch for shopping and dining in the city, but Mooring’s homemade list of Fredericksburg attractions extends much further.
If you plan on making the hour-and-a-half-long-trip to Fredericksburg this summer, the month of June is when you will find the doors to most of the roadside peach stands open. Also consider stopping by The Christmas Store and ask to talk to John about the town’s nightlife for a thorough dissertation on local attractions.
Arrive early enough in the day, before the stores begin closing around 5 p.m., and you have the chance to wander in and out of the stores and boutiques along Main Street. The music of Patsy Cline can be heard drifting through the speakers of The General Store, where you can buy everything from mango salsa to slingshots. For dinner or a late lunch, stop by Der Lindenbaum, which is located in a historic building on Main Street. The restaurant serves authentic German cuisine, ranging from schnitzel to bratwurst.
For those of legal age, Fredericksburg has even more to offer. Behind Napa Valley in California, the Texas Hill Country is the highest wine-producing region in the country. Mooring’s tailored list of personal favorites includes Housewine, a retail store and wine bar combination.
The live music scene in Fredericksburg is also something to admire, at least according to Mooring. For a “rowdier” experience, he recommends Buc O’ Brian’s. About 10 miles west of town is the Hill Top Cafe, which is owned by Asleep At The Wheel band member Johnny Nicholas and his wife Brenda. Mooring said that some lucky guests get to enjoy entertainment by Nicholas himself.
For the true, down-home Texas experience, drive the dark road south to Luckenbach, which has more buildings in its vicinity than residents.
The 15-minute drive from Fredericksburg to Luckenbach feels like sneaking off to a secret tree fort you and your friends built in the woods. There are no streetlights, and the only indication that you have arrived at the tiny Texas town is a flashing arrow on the side of the country road.
Abbey Road, event manager and talent buyer for the Luckenbach live music venue and dance hall, gave a full tour of the premises, boasting about its history and growth over the past few years.
“We’re pretty much just a state of mind,” Road said. “This place is about being creative.”
Inside the dance hall that Saturday night was blues musician Marcia Ball, along with about 50 guests, some of whom brought their dancing shoes with them.
The atmosphere inside the hall, which is otherwise completely surrounded by darkness, is something similar to the intimate living room feeling that usually accompanies family gatherings. As the saying goes, everybody is somebody in Luckenbach, and it also feels safe to say that everyone is familiar in Luckenbach.
Even though the peaches will not be ripe for another month or two, Fredricksburg still has more than enough to fill up a weekend trip.