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Texas Hill Country

Rolling hills, live music, and bright fields of Texas Bluebonnets -- this is what Texas Hill Country is all about! This gorgeous area is filled with sparkling lakes and rivers, a thriving arts culture, and cities that boast some of the most unique offerings you'll find anywhere. Take this tour from the capital city of Austin, west to Johnson City and Fredericksburg, then south to the toe-tapping metropolis of San Antonio and get a taste for life "deep in the heart of Texas."

Start your visit in beautiful Austin, home to the capitol dome, the University of Texas at Austin, and the sumptuous Texas Governor's Mansion. Austin is known as the "live music capital of the world," and it features music that ranges from country and western to jazz, rock, blues, and classical. You can catch a jazz or rock show on Sixth Street, head to the Warehouse District for dinner or drinks at a trendy restaurant, then visit the dance halls of South Austin to really kick up your heels.

You'll find something for every member of the family in Texas's capital, from the Austin Children's Museum to golf courses and shopping centers. Take a walking tour along Congress Avenue, seeing the Opera house and Old Bakery buildings that date back to the 1800s. You can find fresh flowers and tasty treats at the Austin Farmers Market, fun exhibits at the Austin History Center, and thrilling waterslides at Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Wonderworld Park. Climb aboard the Hill Country Flyer Steam Train or take in the April Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival. And be sure not to miss the animals at the Austin Zoo and the bats at the Congress Avenue Bridge!

From Austin, take Highway 290 west toward Johnson City. For a fun day trip and some excellent fishing and boating, you can take a detour to lovely Lake LBJ. It's a terrific place for waterskiing, jet skiing, swimming, and a picnic lunch. In Johnson City you'll find art galleries, waterfalls, shopping centers, and the unforgettable native plants and flowers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. You can see zebras, giraffes, and kangaroos at the Exotic Resort Zoo, just four miles north of Johnson City. Then head to Pedrnales Falls State Park for a day of hiking, tubing, bird watching, mountain biking, and horseback riding in the great outdoors.

Heading west along Highway 290, you'll encounter the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, where you can learn about the life and times of our 36th president. You can hike the trail to the Johnson Settlement, take a ranger-guided bus tour of the LBJ Ranch, view the timeline exhibit of the President's life, and watch the two 30-minute videos: Ladybird Johnson and LBJ the President. Ladybird Johnson passed away in July 2007 -- ask the park ranger if you can take part in any special events related to her life.

Continue west on Highway 290 until you reach the town of Fredericksburg. This Texas Hill Country town celebrates its German heritage in a big way. You'll find historic churches, fresh-grown peaches, locally crafted wine, and plenty of great food with a German flare. You can tour one of the many lavender farms, take a picnic lunch to Enchanted Rock park, or spend an afternoon on the golf course. Frederickburg is the home of the Pioneer Museum (and Vereins Kirche), the Hill Country Children's Theater, and a number of idyllic vineyards and orchards.

From Fredericksburg, take Highway 16 southwest to Kerrville, a charming community in the Guadalupe River Valley. With a mild climate and plenty of waterways, Kerrville is a natural spot for outdoors people. Whether its fishing at Louise Hays Park, golfing on the Scott Schreiner Golf Course, or canoeing and swimming at Kerrville-Schreiner Park, you'll find just what you're after in Kerrville. Be sure not to miss the Lost Maples State Natural Area, the only maple forest in Texas. This 2,174-acre park has rugged limestone canyons, plateau grasslands, wooded slopes and clear streams for you to explore. Kerrville is also home to the Museum of Western Art, the Kerrville Folk Festival, and the Kerrville Wine & Music Festival, an annual labor day weekend event.

After your visit to Kerrville, take Interstate 10 southeast to San Antonio, the land of the Alamo. San Antonio has plenty of attractions for visitors of all ages, from SeaWorld San Antonio to the historic River Walk. You can take the family to Splashtown, Schlitterbahn Waterpark, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, or to the famous San Antonio Zoo and Aquarium.

Spend a day exploring the Natural Bridge Caverns or tour through the historic Alamo building. You can go shopping at Market Square (El Mercado), see the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, or visit in April for the amazing Fiesta San Antonio event. With its superb Tex-Mex food, live music, and south-of-the-border hospitality, San Antonio is an incredible place to visit.
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