72 Hours in Granbury, Texas

Growing up, one of our favorite places to go for a day of fun was Granbury, Texas.  Just 45 minutes from Fort Worth it’s a charming place for a long weekend or mid-week getaway.  Thank you to Visit Granbury for affording me the chance to re-experience Granbury in a whole new way.

My first day started at the Iron Horse Inn — where history meets hospitality. Throughout its history as a bed and breakfast the Iron Horse Inn has been featured in D Magazine, Southern Inns, Texas highways, and numerous Fort Worth and Dallas newspaper articles. Its owners, Don and Diana McBride, continue that tradition.  They greeted me upon arrival and gave me a tour of the grand mansion built in 1907 by Daniel C. Cogdell and his family after their 22-room Victorian mansion was completely destroyed in a fire. It has been lovingly restored to its original design by the McBrides.  I spent the night in the Cogdell Suite complete with a king sized bed with the most heavenly linens and a sun porch with a view of the neighborhood park.

The attached bathroom featured spa like amenities including toiletries and one of my favorite features — a monogrammed makeup removal cloth.  I love touches like this.

Before I headed to dinner, I sipped the complimentary wine they offer while sitting in the front living room glancing through books on the history of Granbury.  If I had more time, I would have curled up with one of the many books on the shelves available for guests to enjoy.

What I didn’t realize until I finished my stay in Granbury was that I was about to embark on some of the best food I have eaten in a long time.  First stop was dinner at Farina’s Winery and Cafe.  A family owned restaurant, their recipes date back to the owner’s grandparents.  As we enjoyed our meal, I noticed all the locals engaged in conversation and a glass of wine.  I had always thought of Granbury as a destination, so it was nice to sit back and see it’s a community as well!

The next morning I enjoyed a beautiful breakfast, hot coffee and fun conversation with the McBrides.  Diana is famous for her homemade cinnamon rolls that she serves on the weekends.  For weekday guests she takes leftover cinnamon rolls and makes bread pudding.  It did not disappoint — I ate the entire thing!  They also served a delicious egg and sausage strata, fresh fruit and Parmesan crusted potatoes.

With a full stomach it was time to explore the new Granbury Memorial Lane just next door.  The Jim Burks Firefighters Memorial Park is a place dedicated to the memory of those lost in the line of duty and honors all those serving or who have served. Situated on the Hike & Bike Trail at the North Travis Street intersection, the park offers a moving statue of a lone firefighter. At the time of dedication, this was one of only three such playgrounds in the world.

Renowned artist Mike Scovel has dedicated his time, heart, and skills to developing the one-of-a-kind life-size statues that enhance the park and lane. Within the Law Enforcement section, there is a statue of a young girl with her head bowed, holding a folded flag, entitled “Tears For The Fallen.”

From there I walked to the historic Granbury square lined with boutiques from home decor, clothing, gifts, and art.  I picked up some cute game day clothes at Hope Boutique, sipped a cup of coffee and spied the cutest glassware at The Pan Handle, purchased some pretty greeting cards at St. Helen’s, and found the cutest fall pumpkin at Spell Bound.  Visit Granbury has a link here to all the shops on the square.

All this shopping made me hungry and I decided on German Cuisine at Ketzler’s owned by Nathan and Angelika Wright.  This was an adventure for me and I was grateful to my server Amanda for all the helpful suggestions.  I decided on their original Schnitzel Teller — a center cut pork loin breaded and fried, topped with onions and sides of sauerkraut and red cabbage.  It was outstanding.   Amanda begged me to try their homemade apple strudel with a side of vanilla ice cream.  I was not disappointed in the indulgence of my entire meal.

It was time for me to check into my next stop the Hilton Garden Inn for my second night’s stay.  Located on the boardwalk it overlooks Lake Granbury.  It’s within walking distance to the square and is a beautiful property for visitors that prefer the privacy of a hotel room.  I enjoyed walking along the boardwalk before my afternoon appointment for a wine tasting and then again the next morning after breakfast.

My next stop was D’Vine Wine.  I enjoyed a one-on-one tasting with owner Diane Hedges.  She shared their story of how they came to be wine makers and took me in the back of their store to show me their wine making process.  All their wine is made and bottled on-site in their store producing up to 18,000 bottles of wine each year.  You can even create your own blend working with the staff to choose the grapes you want, bottle it and design your very own personalized label.  D’Vine Wine and Fossil Rim have teamed up to create a signature series of wines to benefit the wildlife center in nearby Glen Rose.   Wine with a cause!

After my wine time, I walked across the square for dinner at the 1890 Grille and Lounge.  It’s nestled inside a historic building with a wine bar on the first floor and would be the perfect place for a date night.  The staff was very friendly and accommodating.  Scott, my server, offered some terrific suggestions to enhance my meal including the addition of lump crab to my shrimp and grits — quite literally the best meal I have ever eaten!  The ingredients were farm fresh and beautifully plated.

And who could resist a dessert tray like this?  I honestly wanted one of everything, but decided to stay in the southern cooking realm and ordered “Not Your Grandmother’s Banana Pudding.”  With hints of Grand Marnier, crushed vanilla cookies, caramel, bananas, custard and homemade whipped cream, I licked the dish.

I walked around the square, did some window shopping and enjoyed the breeze then headed back to my heavenly bed at the Hilton.

The next morning after a walk along the lake, I ate a leisure made-to-order breakfast at the hotel, read the newspaper in the lobby by the fireplace and planned my morning shopping destinations.

I couldn’t miss meeting Cynthia James, an award-winning artist, and seeing her store Artefactz.  This ‘Gallerie of Gifts’ is the perfect place to find unusual and rare nature inspired artisan gifts.   Resident artist and owner Cynthia James creates one-of-a kind museum quality art glass jewelry and sculptures. Working in dichroic glass, mold-able precious metal, clay, and found objects, Cynthia James creates works of art for your home and art you can wear.  When I entered the store, Cynthia was sitting at a table creating and immediately welcomed me and introduced herself.  She showed me all of her works, both in the gallery and in her studio behind the store, explaining how she created them, their significance, and shared her personal story of embracing her love of and passion for art by making it her career.   

We finished our time together in her office talking about her labor of love to chair the Harvest Moon Festival of the Arts each year the third weekend of October.  It truly was a fantastic experience to meet her!

My time in Granbury, at least for now, came to an end and it was time to head back home.  I can’t wait to return to explore more treasures this historic little town has in store for me next time.  Be sure to check out Visit Granbury’s website for an extensive list of accommodations, events, dining and attractions to help you plan your visit.

 

72 Hours in Fredericksburg

Fredericksburg, Texas is one of my favorite places to visit for a long weekend.  Mr. Bee and I recently celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary with friends and I wanted to share with you all the fun!

First, I found this lovely house on VRBO to rent for the weekend. The Rustic Grape Guest House the ideal place to stay.  We stayed in the Farm House, a 1,500 square foot home with three bedrooms, 2 full baths, and a large open concept kitchen and family room with TVs in every room.  It was perfect for two couples to feel like they had their own private space (she has other smaller spaces to rent on the property, too).  The house welcomes you in with a big front porch with chairs and a daybed for reading or dreaming.  Nestled on 33 acres with cows, horses and views of the Texas Hill Country, you feel like you are the only person around. But, but you are conveniently three miles from downtown and along the 11 miles of all the wineries in Fredericksburg. Since the home is on the wine tour route, you can schedule door-to-door pickup to and from all the wineries you want to tour.  The owner, Lee, was great to work with, very responsive, accommodating and my deposit was returned within 24 hours of departure.

 

We arrived on Friday afternoon, checked into the house and had fun looking at all the artistic and personal touches.  Lee set out a complimentary bottle of wine and glasses on the kitchen table.  The kitchen was perfect for the dinner we enjoyed at the house that evening, and that large farm table beckoned us to play a card game of Liverpool Rummy as we sipped wine.

Before dinner we headed over to Barons Creek Vineyards for a tasting and wine appreciation class.  It’s a beautiful property with a wine tasting salon and condos to rent.

Saturday morning we ventured to the Lavender Festival at Becker Vineyards.  Tastings are $20 and include six generous pours of wine. While we were there, we signed up for their wine club where you can receive quarterly shipments of wines selected by Dr. Becker and their Winemaker, free wine tastings at future visits as well as invitations to events.  Check it out here.

From there we visited Garrison Brothers distillery in Hye, home of the first and oldest legal whiskey distillery in Texas.  We signed up for their Sit and Sip tour and it was fabulous.  You learned everything from A -Z on how to make whiskey and the best part — there were several tastings along the way.  I highly recommend this tour, but make sure you book in advance for the tours, especially on the weekend. Our guys really liked this tour and it was a nice break from wine.

One fun part of the tour was the opportunity to purchase, dip and label a signed and numbered, limited edition single barrel whiskey.  Mr. Bee had fun going through the process with the whiskey maker on just the right technique.

At the conclusion of the tour we finished with a generous pour of whiskey to sip while we took in the view of the beautiful hill country.

After this, yes there’s more, we went to the best German restaurant in down town Fredericksburg — Otto’s German Bistro.  There are several German restaurants we’ve tried in the past with good reviews, but we wanted to try something different – German with a spin.

Otto’s German Bistro opened in July 2013, introducing farm-to-table German cuisine to the Texas Hill Country using local, organic produce. Their culinary team crafts a seasonally focused menu that highlights not only what you can find in Germany and Austria, but explores the Germanic cuisine of Alsace, Northern Italy and even Texas!   We started with a cocktail from their creative menu — The Evy with botanist Gin, hibiscus, lemon and bubbles.

We enjoyed our cocktails over some yummy appetizers of  Flammkuchen, a flatbread with creme fraiche, gorgonzola, kale, caramelized onions, seasonal greens, bacon lardons and sherry gastrique, and Brot und Butter, homemade beet jam with warm bread.  I have already been researching how to make beet jam.  It is something worth trying even if you don’t care for beets.  I loved how it was presented on a wooden board — slices of bread and the salt, pepper, butter and jam dolloped onto the board.  So simple.

For dinner, we all tried something different and each loved what we ordered.  I ordered Petrale Sole with celery root puree, kale and farro.  It was as delicious to eat as it was to look at!

We passed on dessert because we had bubbly and peanut butter truffles back at the house.  And, we were full!

The next morning we cooked a bacon and eggs breakfast and enjoyed coffee while taking turns in the hammock swinging in the shade under the massive trees.

Our last stop was Pedernales Cellars — named by National Geographic magazine as one of the Top 10 vineyards in the world to visit during the springtime.  We each enjoyed a glass of wine, sitting in the Adirondack chairs just taking in the glorious views of the countryside.

Then, like that, it was time to drive home.  There are so many more things to do in Fredericksburg and dozens of wineries to try, easily making this a week-long place for adventure. I’d love to go back in the fall when the weather is crisp and cool.  Just image being cozy around the fire with a big glass of wine.  That’s my idea of a getaway!