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New Site Location!

May 7, 2010

Roaming The Hills has a new website. Please visit the new site at www.roamingthehills.com for reviews of places to go and things to do in the Texas Hill Country!

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Salt Lick BBQ-Driftwood

April 27, 2010

There’s nothing tastier than true Texas BBQ, so when Texans in the Hill Country get a craving for some of the state’s best, they head on over to The Salt Lick. The Salt Lick has been around for a long time, about 40 years. With their world-wide reputation they have grown over the years, yet still retain the small town Texas hospitality.

Salt Lick BBQ Salt Lick BBQ

The outdoor patio area is shaded by huge oaks, so being on the waiting list is actually a pleasant part of the experience. Expect a wait on weekends; on beautiful days people drive from far and near to enjoy Salt Lick BBQ. You can bring your own drinks (BYOB); so many people opt to bring a cooler full of their favorite beverage. Sitting outside under the shade trees, drink in hand and listening to live music, followed by award winning BBQ, is what it’s all about.

Salt Lick BBQ Salt Lick BBQ

The original building, with its worn wooden exterior and rustic rock walls within, surrounds the world-famous pit, creating a true Texas atmosphere. Besides the original smoke house, there are also newer additions to the restaurant, some with enclosed porches, and all with the same rustic charm of the original building. Wherever you sit, you will be greeted by warm, friendly servers who take pride in serving up the some of the best BBQ in Texas.

Salt Lick BBQSalt Lick BBQ

Take a trip out to The Salt Lick. Don’t forget your drinks on the way, and get ready for some terrific Texas BBQ!

~Karin~

Biking In The Texas Hill Country-Fredericksburg

April 26, 2010

My family and I love to bike ride. We started biking with our kids when they were young, and I’m afraid we are all now in need of new wheels. So as of lately, we haven’t had the chance to do any pedaling. After coming across this website, Cycle Texas, I am now motivated to start shopping for new wheels!

Cycle Texas is a website designed and maintained by bikers who live in Fredericksburg. They ride these roads year-round, so they know what they are talking about.

“The inspiration for this site grew from personal attempts to travel and ride in many parts of the country, where we were frequently disappointed by poor maps, poor roads, poor lodging, and sometimes all three.”

This is a wonderful tool for planning a bike trip to Fredericksburg. Cycle Texas is a great resource for accommodations, local bike shops, as well as bike friendly routes. They can help you plan a bike ride of your own, or you can join one of the weekly group rides they host.

The Texas Hill Country is a beautiful place, and whether it’s one mile or one hundred, I can’t think of a nicer place to ride. With some new wheels under me, I’ll be looking forward to some terrific summer rides.

So start pedaling to the Texas Hill Country!

~Karin~

Inks Lake State Park-Marble Falls, Burnet, Kingsland

April 21, 2010

If you’re planning a summer trip to the Texas hill country, it’s always a good idea to be near water. If you have ever spent July in Texas you know what I mean. Lucky for us, Texas has an abundance of lakes, rivers and other recreational water sites. One of my favorite places to cool off is Inks Lake State Park.

Inks Lake State ParkInks Lake State Park

Inks Lake State Park is located on Park Road 4, between Burnet and Marble Falls. The park has nice campsites for tents and RVs, as well as shelters you can rent. What is really great about the park is that it is located on a cove which is in a no-wake zone, so there are very few power boats zooming past. Of course there are some boats and jet skis on the larger part of the lake, but because of the small size of the lake I think this keeps most boats to the larger lakes. The camp store offers a few supplies as well as canoe rentals. Many families rent out the canoes; it is a great family activity for all ages. We have a sunfish sailboat which we take out to Inks Lake almost weekly. Both my children have learned to sail in Inks. It is a great lake for teaching canoeing or sailing skills, again because of the no-wake zone and the ability to see across the cove (you know, for the first time you let them go solo).

Inks Lake State Park

There are many campsites along the shore line, so most sites are in view of the lake. If you need to cool off from the hot Texas sun, almost any place along the shore line is great for taking a dip. But the preferred place to swim is Devil’s Waterhole. Look on the park map and you can find the trail leading to the waterhole. This place is well known for its high cliffs and people willing to climb up and jump 30 feet or so to the water below. I never had a desire to climb up and jump-just watching is scary enough for me! The Waterhole can get crowded, so expect lots of swimmers. Also, the shore line at Devil’s Waterhole can be steep climbing out and the water drops off quickly, so life jackets are in order for children.

Inks Lake State ParkInks Lake State Park

Inks Lake is a beautiful place for families to relax and enjoy the great Texas outdoors. You can swim, canoe, picnic, camp, fish, or just relax under a shade tree and enjoy the beautiful views. You can visit the Inks Lake website for detailed information and maps. Over the past years our family has had great times and made fond memories on Inks Lake, maybe yours will too!

~Karin~

See more photos at Flick

Willow City Loop Wildflower Trail-Fredericksburg

April 19, 2010

This has to be one of the best seasons in a long time for wildflowers. With all the rain we have had, the trees are bright and green and there is an abundance of flowers in every color. Recently my husband, Joe, surprised me with a trip to Willow City Loop. “Get up, I’m taking you somewhere.” “O.K., sounds like an adventure!” So I grabbed my camera and we left; that’s how the two of us ended up on a scenic Texas drive.

Some of you might have heard of Willow City Loop. It has been ranked repeatedly as one of the top 10 drives in Texas, and without a doubt I would concur. I have lived in the Hill County for some time, but I have never seen vistas such as the ones on Willow City Loop. Majestic, rugged cliffs tower over bluebonnets, which resembled a blue river flowing down through the valley below. The rugged beauty of the area is awesome; Joe commented that the views on Willow City Loop were as nice as those we saw in Big Bend, and I would have to agree. Amongst the bluebonnets there were sometimes yellow and purple flowers scattered throughout, as well as whole fields of white prickly poppy-absolutely beautiful!

One traveler, Douglass from Massachusetts, was there on a week long vacation. He had read of the beautiful Hill Country scenery on the Willow City Loop and had come to do some painting.

The road known as ‘Willow City Loop’ is very narrow at times. In some places, you need to hug the road in order to pass other cars, and there are many cars – full of sightseers. Due to the crowded road, I suggest going early in the morning or late in the evening. We arrived around 5:30 on a weeknight and still there were many cars. Driving slowly, everyone is enjoying the scenery and snapping pictures. Most people park beside the road and get out to take pictures. Be VERY careful where you park. The land owners here are serious when they say “NO Trespassing.” They get hundreds of cars driving through during the peak wildflower season, and I can only imagine the property damage that could be done should visitors disregard the private property, so when parking or taking pictures, please respect the land and its owners.

To get there from Marble Falls, we decided to head down Hwy 281 and turn off between Round Mountain and Johnson City onto Farm Road 1323 toward Sandy. Farm Road 1323 is also an impressive place to view miles of bluebonnets. Once to Willow City, take Willow City Loop north, which ends up on Hwy 16, circle back south to Farm Rd 1323, and you’ve made the loop. You can also take Hwy 16 out of Llano or Fredericksburg. You’ll have to map out the route best for you (Willow City Loop, Willow City, Texas). The loop is about 22 miles long.

This would be a beautiful bike ride, but be aware that the road is narrow and there are many cars. You might try very early morning. On my next visit, I hope to go early in the morning to view the wildlife, and possibly drive it in the opposite direction to view it from a different perspective.

Of course. by the time we were through it was late and we were hungry, so we stopped in Fredericksburg for dinner. It was a nice ending to a beautiful day.

I hope you get a chance to visit The Loop

~Karin~

p.s. Thanks Joe for a lovely drive!

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Rather Sweet Bakery, The Fredericksburg Brewery, Altdorf Restaurant-Fredericksburg

April 7, 2010

Friday was a beautiful day for a hill country drive, so Joe took off work early and the family headed to Fredericksburg.  It was late in the day when we arrived, probably around 3:00. We parked on the corner of Adams and Main. From there we walked east on Main Street. Our plan was to shop till we reached Rather Sweet Bakery, enjoy some of their treats, and then shop the opposite side of the street on our way back. Fredericksburg’s Main Street has a variety of shops. If you are staying several days, I would probably spend two days just visiting the shops along or just off Main. First, I would visit the shops east of the court house, and then I would visit the shops west of the court house on my second visit, or vice versa. Main Street is usually filled with many strolling pedestrians, especially on beautiful weekends or holidays.

Main Street Fredericksburg

Walking along Main Street

As we walk along Main, Meghan and I venture into almost every shop, while Joe and Tyler pick and choose, sitting outside on one of the many benches and enjoying the outdoors.  The historic buildings are reminiscent of years past, and the old-world charm of the city is enhanced by the architecture. The shops cater to tourists, and they carry everything from toys, to Texas memorabilia, to fine clothing and home décor. Tyler’s favorite is the music shop, where he likes to try out the large selection of guitars. On several occasions when we have visited, there have been impromptu musicians playing for the customers-very fun!

Fredericksburg Music Store

By the time we reach Rather Sweet Bakery (they closed around two) we are in need of a little snack to tide us over till dinner. So we venture into the newest addition to Rather Sweet Bakery, Rather Sweet Too! (they stay open later). The desserts here are heavenly! There are many to choose from, although the best selection is always earlier in the day. We choose a Very Berry Bar to split among the four of us, not wanting to spoil our dinner, but also not wanting to miss a taste of something from this well know bakery. After deciding on our tasty morsel, we amble outside to the quaint court yard seating area.

Rather Sweet Bakery

Hmmm...Decisions, Decisions

Rather Sweet Bakery has been featured in many magazines and newspapers over the years, and Rebecca Rather’s cookbooks are hands down some of the best. Rather Sweet offers delectable treats such as buttery scones (the Apple Smoked Bacon and Cheddar Scone is my favorite) as well as luscious cakes (the carrot cake looks ooh so good!) They also serve breakfast and lunch, so check out their website for their full menu featuring organic and local ingredients. Don’t leave Fredericksburg without having a Rather Sweet treat!

Taking orders at Rather Sweet Too!

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Joe was feeling thirsty, so from Rather Sweet Bakery we back tracked two doors down to The Brewery Restaurant, where we chose a table at the bar. We have eaten at The Fredericksburg Brewing Company many times over the years, and they have something on the menu for everyone, from burgers to pizza to German food. The surf and turf consists of mouth-watering options such as grilled salmon topped with creamy sun-dried tomato butter sauce, or the pepper-crusted Choice strip steak topped with a portabella mushroom demi-glace. Like I said, there’s something on the menu for everyone!

Outside The Brewery Restaurant

Brewing Tanks

The Brewery Restaurant

Of course you’ll need a drink with your meal, so you’ll want to try one of their award-winning beers, which is brewed there on the premises. The unmistakable bright copper and stainless steel brewing tanks line the wall behind the bar. The tanks are visible from all the tables, allowing the patrons to experience the sights, sounds, and aromas associated with the brewing process. You’ll want to spend some time in this unique restaurant eating, enjoying a cold one, and catching up with friends!

Altdorf German Restaurant

Altdorf patio area

We opted to eat dinner later, so we crossed to the opposite side of the street, headed west down Main Street, and continued our walk back. The streets were crowded, but everyone was enjoying the pleasant spring day as we roamed from shop to shop. Once we were back to the car, we made dinner plans to eat at Altdorf’s. It was only a few streets away, so we decided to walk the few blocks to this German eatery. We took a seat in the outdoor seating area, which was starting to get crowded. There is also seating available inside, but on such bright sunny days I love being outside every chance I can get! Joe ordered the Jeager Schnitzel, Tyler ordered the Chicken Fried Steak, and Meg and I ordered large dinner salads. Both Joe’s and Tyler’s dinners were large portions, and everything came out hot and tasted great. My Cobb salad was good too-fresh, large portion, with bacon, eggs, turkey, and cheese arranged on top.

Highway 16 between Fredericksburg and Llano

It started getting late and the restaurant now had a waiting list. We wanted to get to Llano in time to make it to Fuel Coffee House for live music. So heading down Hwy 16, we came across miles and miles of colorful wildflowers-so far the best I’ve seen! We couldn’t resist stopping to take family pics. Arriving at Fuel around 8:00, we enjoyed the music, good coffee and later made our way back to Marble Falls. It was a lazy day in the hill country-roaming the hills and enjoying time with family.

Roaming the hills,

~Karin~

Enjoy more pictures on Flickr

Alamo Springs Cafe-Fredericksburg

April 1, 2010

On one of my many visits to Fredericksburg, a shop owner said, “Oh! Try the burgers down at Alamo Springs Café.”  Having just eaten, we reluctantly had to decline. The next week, as I was in line at the grocery store, the Texas Monthly magazine caught my eye. On the cover was a delicious, mouthwatering burger. I had to find out where I could get such a burger. Sure enough, it was the Alamo Springs Café’s burger on the front cover. I knew the general directions to Alamo Springs Café from the directions given by the shop keeper in Fredericksburg the week before. It promised to be a beautiful, hill country drive. After eight or so miles of hill country roaming, we were wondering if she had led us on a total goose chase. The scenery was beautiful, but it was getting late and I was starving! Could a burger place possibly survive in the middle of nowhere? Finally, about 10 miles south of 290, we came upon the small cafe. It is located next to the “Old Tunnel Wildlife Area.”

Alamo Springs Cafe

Alamo Springs Cafe

Upon arriving, I notice the outdoor patio seating, as well as a stage area for the live entertainment on Saturday nights. The place was small and crowded. The parking lot was mostly motorcycles. The guy behind the grill yelled, “Come on in, grab a drink out of the cooler!” and I immediately liked the place.

This place is down-home. It’s laid back. Don’t be in any hurry-you’re here to just enjoy company and good food, and possibly music if you arrive on a Saturday night. Missy, our waitress, was very attentive and engaging.  She and Joe discussed the merits of the best burger on the menu, as well as french fries or onion rings (we ended up with both). The menu offered much more than your usual burger joint fare. For appetizers they featured items such as roasted garlic and goat cheese served with crustini. They also served items like the Portabella sandwich, grilled quail salad, as well as nightly specials. The tempting desserts were listed on the chalk board, along with the homemade soup selection. All their items are made with fresh, local ingredients and they carry a nice selection of Texas hill country wines.

Joe and Missy our waitress

Joe and Missy our waitress

After ordering, we walked up to the self-serve cooler to select our drinks. When the burgers arrived, we were not disappointed. This was the best burger I have ever eaten! The meat patties were big and juicy. Hand-crafted, no two burgers were alike. The bun was soft and sweet, with a hint of spice from the jalapenos-I’ve never before had one like it.  Come hungry, because this is a huge burger. I usually half portions this large and take the rest home, but it was so tasty I couldn’t help myself!

If you happen to come during the summer, you can meander down to the Old Tunnel Wildlife Management Area for a short hike (you’ll need it after eating this burger) where you can view the bats emerging at dusk. The Green Chile Cheeseburger with grilled onions and avocado was the particular burger voted #3 in the state by Texas Monthly. I’ll have to try that one on my next visit. Going to the Alamo Springs Café was a perfect Texas Hill Country afternoon: a scenic hill country drive, casual atmosphere, live music and great food!

Enjoying The Burgers

If you have been to the Alamo Springs Café, I’d love to read your comments.

Happy Dining!

~Karin~