Your Guide to Texas Hill Country

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The Texas Hill Country AVA is one of the most visited and largest in the country, with an area of more than nine million acres. But among the vast tracks of Texas countryside and major cities like San Antonio, there are many gems that the crowds pass by. Here are some of the more interesting, refined places to visit in this diverse region.

Where to Stay

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Image Source: Cotton Gin Village

Cotton Gin Village
2805 S State Hwy 16
Fredericksburg, TX 78624
(830) 990-5734
TripAdvisor: 4 stars, 73 reviews
Check availability

Near the Gillespie County Airport and just three miles away from downtown Fredericksburg, the quaint cottages of Cotton Gin Village are still a Texas secret. With rustic wooden cabins, a night at Cottage Gin Village will make you feel like an early pioneer—if, of course, the pioneers had access to lush modern amenities like comfortable furniture and large baths. The cabins actually date back to the 1800s, and were transported from different states, so guests can enjoy history and comfort together.

Insider tip: Don’t leave your room before trying the basket of goodies left by the staff at your doorstep every morning—the homemade cinnamon buns are worth the indulgence.

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Image Source: Twin Elm Guest Ranch

Twin Elm Guest Ranch
810 FM 470
Bandera, TX 78003
(830) 796-3628
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 87 reviews
Check availability

Twin Elm Guest Ranch is a verifiable “dude ranch” located on the outskirts of Bandera, the cowboy capital of Texas, so the lodging is rustic, wooden, and earthy. The beds are huge, and some rooms include private porches where you can reserve your own special glimpse of the Texas stars. Of course, plenty of horseback riding is available around Twin Elm Guest Ranch’s 300 acres of diverse, secluded terrain.

Insider tip: For families, Twin Elm Guest Ranch has plenty of multi-bed options for reasonable prices, and a few rooms include bunk beds.

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Image Source: Buchanan Cabins

Buchanan Cabins
20970 TX-127
Concan, TX 78838
(830) 232-6118
TripAdvisor: 3 stars, 10 reviews
Check availability

Buchanan Cabins is a family-operated resort in the south end of Texas Hill Country, located on a healthy portion of the spring-fed Frio River, which is ideal for swimming, tubing, or just sunbathing. The cabins provide air conditioning, fireplaces, and ovens, making them more comfortable than camping. A meeting area also includes Wi-Fi and a low-key restaurant.

Insider tip: Remember to bring your own linens—Buchanan Cabins doesn’t provide sheets, pillowcases, or towels.

Where to Eat

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Image Source: Pompeii Italian Grill, TripAdvisor

Pompeii Italian Grill
16109 Nacogdoches Rd
San Antonio, TX 78247
(210) 946-5518
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 51 reviews
Reservations: Not required

Located at the southern extreme of Texas Hill Country, San Antonio is busier than most of the region, but the Italy-meets-Texas flavors of Pompeii Italian Grill are worth venturing into the metropolis. With an exterior that looks like Pompeii before the volcanic eruption, and a roomy and naturally lit dining room, this restaurant serves unpretentious and heaping portions of ziti, grilled trout, and veal parmesan. Families are welcome, but the bar also slings a mean margarita.

Insider tip: Live harp music floats through the dining area on weekends, so Pompeii Italian Grill makes a fine Texas date night.

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Image Source: Yelp

18 Oaks
23808 Resort Pkwy
San Antonio, TX 78261
(210) 491-5825
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 179 reviews
Reservations: Recommended

18 Oaks brings inventive fine dining to the heart of San Antonio, whether you are seeking a succulent steak or seared scallops. Although it is located inside a JW Marriott, 18 Oaks is not your average hotel eatery—sustainable, local ingredients make it a Texas original. The white glove approach to steaks include a choice of gourmet sauces, like au poivre or béarnaise.

Insider tip: The Sunday brunch buffet, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., includes unlimited mimosas, so reservations are strongly recommended.

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Image Source: Yelp

Silo Elevated Cuisine
1133 Austin Hwy
San Antonio, TX 78209
(210) 824-8686
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 181 reviews
Reservations: Recommended

Silo Elevated Cuisine takes over two stories: the bottom is a cozy, friendly bar with craft cocktails, while the experienced kitchen on the top floor serves New American cuisine including top-shelf takes on Texas barbecue. Silo Elevated Cuisine’s take on Southern favorites like shrimp & grits, fried oysters, and dirty rice will leave your stomach and palate satisfied, but save room for a heaping slice of the toasted coconut pie.

Insider tip: If you’re hungry, but not enough-so for a gourmet meal, small plates—including pizzas—are served at the downstairs bar.

What to Do

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Image Source: Yelp

Hill Country Wine Tours

Hill Country Wine Tours picks you up in a customized limousine and then leads you on a Texas Hill Country adventure, which includes stops at four wineries. Most importantly, the tour guides will meet with your group and formulate a customized plan depending on the day’s winery events, what types of wine you enjoy, and what vineyards you have already visited.

Insider tip: If your tour takes you through Johnson City, make a request to your driver to swing by Whittington’s Jerky & General Store.

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Image Source: Yelp

Torre di Pietra Vineyards
10915 US-290
Fredericksburg, TX 78624
TripAdvisor: 4 stars, 92 reviews
Reservations: Not required

Even though it is located on the edges of Fredericksburg, Torre di Pietra is overflowing with the romance and statuesque elegance of Tuscany. Surrounded by rustic split wood fences, the winery provides breathtaking views of the countryside and vineyards, so picnicking is highly recommended.

Insider tip: Each tasting fee includes six healthy samples and a crystal stem glass to take away.

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Image Source: Yelp

Lewis Wines
3209 W Hwy 290
Johnson City, TX 78636
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 21 reviews
Reservations: Not required

Although the tasting area is very simple, the vistas of the Texan hills and scrub brush are worth the appointment with Lewis Wines, about a 30-minute drive from Fredericksburg. On occasion, Lewis Wines will host pop-up dinner events featuring local chefs who craft delicious meals with local ingredients.

Insider tip: You’re far from reliable cellular service so don’t depend on your GPS. Instead, keep an eye out for the unassuming barn off the highway.

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Image Source: Yelp

Wildseed Farms
100 Legacy Dr
Fredericksburg, TX 78624
(800) 848-0078
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 596 reviews

As a wildflower farm, Wildseed Farms may contain more colorful wildflowers in one place than you’ll find anywhere else in the nation. Even if you aren’t in the market for wildflower seeds, you can still traipse around the acres of blossoms, butterflies, and sunshine. Since it never gets too cold in Texas, there is something blooming during every season of the year.

Insider tip: Stop by Brewbonnet Biergarten for some bratwurst and beer during your visit.

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Image Source: Yelp

Cascade Caverns
226 Cascade Cavern
Boerne, TX 78015
(830) 755-8080
TripAdvisor: 4 stars, 101 reviews

Cascade Caverns might not have the same fame as other cave systems in the United States, but the unique geological features are well preserved and one-of-a-kind. For those who want to stay above ground, this park also includes 100 acres of cedar forest and a well-maintained campground. Beat the Texas heat—the caverns stay a cool 64 degrees year round.

Insider tip: If motorcycles and chicken fried steak are calling your name, make a stop at Mama’s Cafe in Boerne a short drive from the caverns.

A visit to Texas Hill Country is always diverse, unexpected experience. Even though the region is sprawling, you will never be too far from either elegance or unfussy Texas hospitality.