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Photo courtesy Courtney Drake-McDonough

Can You Imagine?: History Comes Alive in Fredericksburg, TX

Looking for something different to do for your next family vacation? Fredericksburg, in the Texas Hill Country outside of San Antonio, gives families a taste of the past.

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When you’re looking for something different to do for your next family vacation, think of Fredericksburg, in the Texas Hill Country, just an hour outside of San Antonio and an easy, direct flight from Colorado. With a German influence, Fredericksburg is chock full of history families can really enjoy. Not only does history come alive, but children become immersed in what life was like for families long ago, when people led an unplugged life. As a bonus, Fredericksburg is perfect for multi-generational travel!.

Can you imagine – going outside to go upstairs? Right in the heart of town, the Pioneer Museum Complex is a collection of authentic structures from the 19th century, including Sunday Houses. Settlers built these handy one-room homes in town and would stay in them while visiting with friends, stocking up on supplies and attending church before heading back to their land. Children slept upstairs but with no room for an inner stairway, they accessed their room via a ladder … on the outside of the house. Docents and reenactors tell and show what life was like back then, including a demonstration of old-fashioned toys that kept kids happy with nary a USB port required.

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Can you imagine – being on a battleship? Fredericksburg may be landlocked but it’s home to the only museum in the U.S. dedicated exclusively to telling the story of the Pacific Theater in World War II, the National Museum of the Pacific War. Fredericksburg’s native son, Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander-in-Chief of Allied Forces, Pacific Ocean Area, provides the cornerstone of the museum campus. Exhibits are dramatic, exciting and hands-on, perfect for learning about battleships, submarines, airplanes, the world at that time and the people involved. There’s a ton to see so take advantage of the ticket policy that allows you 48 hours to visit and see it in manageable doses.

Can you imagine – being a president’s child?President Lyndon B. Johnson was also a famous son of Fredericksburg. His family homestead is located on the sprawling, pastoral land, now known as the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site. Called “The Texas White House,” it was where Johnson conducted much of his business both as vice president and then president. The home he shared with Lady Bird and their children is frozen in time, with clothes in closets and the table set. Livestock are tended on the property so you may see some cows or goats as you take a guided bus tour or self-guided car tour.

Can you imagine – bathing in the same bathwater as the rest of the family? Also on the property is the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm where the whole family will happily be drawn back to the 1800s. Park interpreters not only wear period clothing and talk about what life was like but they live it, carrying out day-to-day tasks of tending to the animals, working the fields, making soap and cooking meals. Seeing how meat was preserved in crocks of animal fat and how the whole family took turns bathing in the same, small tub (and water) might even stop kids from leaving the fridge door open or taking a long shower. It’s life as authentic as it can get, showing the whole family how challenging but happy family’s lives were.

Can you imagine – restaurants the whole family will love?: All that history works up an appetite! Fredericksburg has many restaurants but three are particularly good for families.

Burger Burger has something for everyone including hamburgers, onion rings and milkshakes.

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Tubby’s Ice House close to the National Museum of the Pacific War is cute and colorful, serving Caribbean style street food. A garden, house-made popsicles and a kid’s play area make this outdoor restaurant a good place to rejuvenate.

Mahaley’s Patio Café is a great place to stop for a hearty breakfast or a breakfast burrito to go when you’re heading off to other parts of Fredericksburg.

Can you imagine – a place to stay that keeps everyone happy? The Inn on Baron’s Creek makes a perfect home base with kids while taking in the history of Fredericksburg. Not only is it walking distance to museums, restaurants and shopping, but their spacious suites provide a homey feeling. Being able to cook in the room is cost-effective (the well-stocked hotel gift shop even has some grocery necessities). A full, hot breakfast is included plus there’s a nice swimming pool, a workout room and lush grounds. A second peep hole down at kid level is a brilliant idea in case mom or dad need to run down the hall to get some ice.

BONUS – Can you imagine – fields and fields of flowers? Even flowers offer a lesson in history with certain ones having certain meanings. Although it’s not a museum, no trip to Fredericksburg would be complete without a stop at Wildseed Farms, the largest wild seed producer in the U.S. See a sea of red poppies, bluebells or other flowers, depending on the season. It’s an amazing sight so stop and take a stroll. Take a little bit of floral Fredericksburg home with you? through wildflower seeds made especially ?for our region. As you drive around, notice all of the wildflowers alongside the road – an effort by Lady Bird Johnson to provide more beauty to public roadways.

For more information and ideas about visiting Fredericksburg, Texas with the family, go to www.visitfredericksburgtx.com.

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