One of my favorite weekend getaways in all of Texas is the charming Hill Country town of Boerne. After three days in this town, you'll grow so fond of the restaurants, stores, and quaint sights that you'll want to get a real estate agent, sign up for a library card, and make Boerne home. This instant charmer shines all year, but as the holidays approach, it delights more than ever. Get ready for an unforgettable getaway.
Friday--Ease Into Town
One of Boerne's best features is its accessibility. It's easy to get to, a breeze to navigate, and a joy to explore.
When you arrive, head to Ye Kendall Inn (1-800-364-2138), a historic property in the heart of town. Check-in begins at 3 p.m., and weekend rates start at $129 a night. The inn, which dates to 1859 and was once a stagecoach stop, offers 33 lovely rooms with antique furniture, televisions, and Internet access. You'll see thick limestone walls, an open-air courtyard, and sitting porches--all within walking distance of Main Street. One caveat--Ye Kendall service can be slow and, at times, frustrating, especially if you're in a hurry.
If you prefer something a bit more predictable, although less unique, stay at the Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites ( 249-6800). Boerne's newest accommodation is a short drive from the main part of town, and rates start at $89.
Before dinner, head to Mockingbird Books ( 249-9634), a full-service book nook with an incredible collection of literature about Texas and Texans. You'll know when you've arrived, thanks to the life-size longhorn out front (he's decorated with red tinsel this time of year)
No matter where you decide to stay, eat dinner at Limestone Grille, Ye Kendall Inn's restaurant. Bring a sweater, and sit outside overlooking Cibolo Creek. Try the mountain trout piccata ($16), grilled fillets in lemon-butter-and-caper sauce with roasted-garlic mashed potatoes on the side, or the 16-ounce ribeye ($25) served with bacon-and-truffle-oil potatoes.
After dinner, take a quick stroll over to The Cellar on Main ( 249-5579) for an after-dinner glass of wine. Enjoy live music from 8 to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings at this local hangout, and sample one of the 150 available wines.
Begin your morning with a leisurely breakfast at Bear Moon Bakery & Café ( 816-2327). From 8 a.m. to noon, the small coffee joint features an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet ($8.40) with skillet potatoes, homemade breadcrumb pancakes, scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy, bacon, and fresh breads and pastries. You'll feel as round as Santa after the Bear Moon breakfast, but you'll walk it off today because there's tons of shopping and strolling to do.
Buy Buy Birdie ( 816-2753) ranks as one of my favorite stores, so make it your first stop. Owner Diane Conlee shows her flair for decorating in this absolutely adorable boutique, where iron flowers and garden angels line the white picket fence out front. You'll find vintage Italian flower chandeliers, chenille blankets and pillows, and weathered furniture piled in this 1880s cottage. Years ago, I named this one of the happiest places to shop. Believe me, it still is.
If you're hungry for an afternoon snack or light lunch, eat at Peach Tree Café & Catering ( 249-8583). Here, chicken and seafood salads, as well as delicious cheese rolls, are served in a tea party-style setting.
Then it's time to let the holiday frivolity begin. Finish up your shopping (many stores are closed on Sunday, so this may be your last chance), and enjoy the lights that flicker on as the day yields to night. The entire town turns into an extension of Santa's North Pole, with decorations and events starting at the end of November.
For dinner, you'll want to plan a casual meal at The Dodging Duck Brewhaus ( 248-3825). The name implies a rowdy beer pub, but this little place is actually a stylish joint offering beers brewed on-site as well as a decent array of wines. Order the Ducks-in-a-Row ($5), a beer sampler to help you choose the one you like, and any of the sausage plates. One includes two sausage links (from Opa's Smoked Meats in Fredericksburg), a hunk of sharp Cheddar cheese, sauerkraut, and a soft pretzel for $10. The menu also lists an authentic Old English Fish and Chips ($9) and some great salads, such as the Heart of Boerne ($7) with dried cranberries, toasted pecans, and blue cheese.
Sunday--A Drive Through The Hills
Wake up leisurely, and get ready for a special treat on your way out of town. Hill Top Café ( 997-8922) offers a New Orleans-style brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. This classic eatery is known for its colorful atmosphere and co-owner Johnny Nicholas, a former member of the band Asleep at the Wheel. It serves three kinds of Benedicts (crab cake, artichoke, and egg), in addition to the regular menu of Greek and Cajun items. The 35-mile drive north on State 87 makes a pleasant trip, especially this time of year.
Everything in this part of the Hill Country is breathtaking. Just get ready to pack those moving boxes when you fall in love with Boerne.
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