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Hills That Can Heal

A restorative vacation waits for you in Texas Hill Country.

Faint scents of lavender and pine, soft sounds of Native American and Far Eastern music, and the strong yet tender hands of masseuse Lauren Winn. it's a combination that produces a sense of tranquility in the client’s body and mind at the Fredericksburg Herb Farm spa. The mimosa that follows extends the mood.

enchanted rock

Above: Enchanted Rock near Fredericksburg is recognized as an International Dark Sky Park, with plentiful stargazing opportunities. Many find it to be a spiritual place. Chase Fountain/Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Below: The herb garden and related items create a calming effect at Fredericksburg Herb Farm. A spa and overnight cottages are also at the farm. Elizabeth Granger

herbs

“I think the primary reason for people coming here is to find inner peace,” Winn said. “It may be physical or mental or spiritual. It lets you move away from your life for a bit.”

The feeling, in reality, begins upon arrival. The lazy rotation of the old-fashioned windmill generates shadows that skip across the path. The antique metal sunflowers invite the nostalgia of a day at grandma’s house.

“My dad calls this an unexpected hidden gem,” Winn said.

For travelers who seek out destinations that offer ways to unwind, relax, and reconnect with nature, Texas Hill Country is filled with surprises. You might choose to join a Saturday morning yoga session at the Herb Farm, followed by breakfast in its bistro.

Yoga’s a morning offering at Tres Lunas Resort between Fredericksburg and Mason, Texas, too. But it's OK if guests find themselves sleeping in instead, owner Carol Conlee said. “Mostly people come for the opportunity to get away into the wilderness. A lot of folks come for yoga – we do it early in the morning – and then they get here and just feel so relaxed.”

Yoga retreats also are offered by the resort.

Conlee said that even during economic downturns, three tourism aspects have remained strong: culinary, cushy adventure, and spiritual tourism. “They overlap on this property,” she said.

Cottages at Fredericksburg Herb Farm provide charming overnight accommodations. Each separate building has a welcoming porch and inside, a king bed and bathroom.

Naturally appealing escapes

Texas Hill Country is rich in natural beauty. The hills frame open vistas, rivers, springs, and caves. Krause Springs in Spicewood, Texas, is one of many outdoor attractions where guests can enjoy some of the area's natural beauty. A favorite swimming hole since 1955, the spring-fed creek is framed with cypress trees and features a waterfall and grotto. there's also a spring-fed manmade pool and a butterfly garden. While most visitors are there for the day, overnight primitive camping sites for tents, as well as 24 RV sites, are available.

“We’ve enjoyed people coming up to enjoy the place,” said Hugh Krause, whose parents began the operation. “It does get crazy in the summer, but we let everybody in.”

More than 20 parks, historical sites, and natural areas are here. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area near Fredericksburg is especially popular. The huge granite dome invites climbers and hikers alike, along with those looking for the unobstructed view from the top, or its sense of spirituality.

“People that are real fitness gurus find their inner peace by doing something like climbing Enchanted Rock,” Herb Farm’s Winn said. “People meditate or do yoga; there are star-gazing parties there. it's considered a very spiritual place.”

it's been designated an International Dark Sky Park, where the night sky quality is considered exceptional and where regulations have been put into place to protect that view.

Volunteer Emma Verzwyvelt said that in the 1970s, there was interest in commercially developing land that included Enchanted Rock, “but Lady Bird Johnson took an interest in it because she and her husband used to come out here on dates.” So the Nature Conservancy bought the property and deeded it to the state of Texas.

Stargazing is big at Tres Lunas, too. “When we have a dark night, you can see the Milky Way,” Conlee said. “You can almost touch it. And you can see a lot of shooting stars.”

Stargazers also go to Colorado Bend State Park in Bend, Texas. Known as rugged and picturesque, the park offers hiking and biking trails, spring-fed creeks and swimming holes, bluffs and canyons, and wildlife. it's got fishing, kayaking, birding, backpacking, geocaching, and caving. Real caving that often means crawling and getting wet. Primitive tent camping is popular here.

Feed your soul and palate

Hill Country cuisine ranges from home-style to ultra-elaborate. Take, for example, the peach. One of the area's biggest crops, it can be found au naturel at orchards like Vogel’s or fancied up at places like Das Peach Haus, which creates specialties such as its award-winning roasted raspberry chipotle sauce.

Sophisticated roadhouse fare is offered at the Hill Top Café in Gillespie County. And guests at many chain lodgings have fun cooking their own Texas-shaped waffles for breakfast.

Vineyards, too, and wineries abound. According to Ernie Loeffler, president/CEO of the Fredericksburg Convention & Visitor Bureau, Texas is fifth in U.S. wine production.

So no matter the personal definition of relaxation, there's something to satisfy in Texas Hill Country.

Elizabeth Granger is a contributor from Fishers, Ind.


January/February 2016 Issue

BEFORE YOU GO

To visit Texas Hill Country, first stop by your nearest AAA service office for maps, reservations, TripTiks® and TourBook® guides.


Credit cards are not accepted at Krause Springs. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area will be closed Jan. 11 to 15. For more information, contact the Fredericksburg Convention & Visitors Bureau, (888) 997-3600.


Order free information about Texas through the Free Travel Information Card found online.


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