The holidays are fast approaching (one already came and went), but despite this slow-for-some work season, my workload is steady and seems to be increasing! So, one of my dearest friends and I decided to take a low maintenance and simple vacation that would be low on travel time and cost last weekend. Fredericksburg, at 1 hour and 45 minutes from Austin, was the selected destination. We were inspired by the Rachael Ray Food Network show, $40 a Day, where she travels to new places and spends only $40 a day or less on dining, without skimping on quality or experience. I think I recall learning tips from her travel budgeting like ordering a half sandwich or a smaller version of a dish, ordering combos, or splitting a dish with a buddy. Although we had the show in mind, we weren’t obsessed with spending the least amount possible- instead, we focused on value and the experience we could have at the price we would be paying. Bottom line, our goal was to have fun, while remaining cost-conscious.
I think our original challenge to ourselves was to do Fredericksburg in $300 or less per person, and I’m proud to say we beat it by a lot, including lodging! I thought I’d share my Rebeccammendations with you for a future visit, including what each experience, activity, or meal cost.
*Disclaimer: Shopping/gift costs are not included, even though they only added up to about $100 more. These didn’t necessarily create our experience and would vary by person. I mention this though because their shopping is fun, and is a main attraction along Main Street, especially just before the holidays when window displays are looking their best!
So, here was our trip in a nutshell:
- Leave Austin by car at approx. 1 p.m., arrive at Fredericksburg at 2:30 p.m.
- First stop, Gastehaus Schmidt on Main Street (the central bed & breakfast booking office) to pick up keys for our pre-booked bed & breakfast room. (Total room cost: $53.68 per person)
- Next, drop off bags at B&B just off of Main Street and walk to the center of Main Street.
- Late lunch/early dinner at Auslander Biergarten & Grille (Smaller salad of 2 size options: $12.75)- this is one of the main and more traditional and authentic German restaurants in the town.
Day 1 Continues- After our late meal, we walked around Main Street. Stores like modern housewares purveyor Red (reminded me of a combination of West Elm and Anthropologie’s housewares department), the Fredericksburg General Store, Der Keuchen Laden (meaning ‘the little chef’, a kitchen shop where I 1) broke a potato scrubber when I dropped it on the floor and 2) purchased a gift for the upcoming Austin Food Blogger Alliance kitchen gadget white elephant winter social), and Eve Couture (I purchased a jacket I can’t wait to wear on New Years and was thrilled with the reasonable price), stand out among the many retail stores lining the central street of town.
After walking in and out of shops, it was time for a scoop of ice cream at Fredericksburg Ice Cream Parlor. (I believe the cost for each of us was $3 but my travel pard’ner took care of this one- I got her back with a drink later I’ll count). By this time, it’s about 8 o’clock p.m. and we’re ready for our evening activity- what would it be? We stopped at Hondo’s on Main, a restaurant/bar and Texas Hill Country live music venue resembling Guero’s/Jo’s on SoCo both inside and out. We had a recommendation from a friend who grew up in Fredericksburg to try their Long Island Ice Tea, so we shared one ($7.50). We sat outside just in time for a country band to start strummin’ and drawl-singin’.
After about 30-minutes, we were feeling antsy, so we walked around to explore the…err..nightlife? Turns out there’s not much action on a Saturday evening in Fredericksburg….except at one awesome find- the Crossroads Steakhouse & Saloon. We noticed a line forming to get in and realized a band called Two Tons of Steel (as in, steel guitars, get it?) were about to hit the stage in the saloon section of the establishment. When we discovered there was a $10 cover for entry, we debated. Would it be worth it or not? “We’re taking a chance on this band,” we thought. “There are a lot of people here though. Ha, well, it’s only 9 o’clock. Let’s go for it, we can stay for an hour and head back to the B & B.” So we went for it (Entry: $10, Beer: $4) after trying to tag along with a group led by a woman determined to get the cover waived, even after claiming it was our birthday- fail. Guess what? This was the best $10 we spent all weekend, I would say! The local Texas band was high energy, overly entertaining, and had the whole saloon moving, if not two-steppin’. Apparently this band has played at the Grand Ole Opry about eight times and is known throughout the Lone Star State. I think we got lucky, but if you’re in Fredericksburg, find out if a band is playing at the Saloon, it was a blast! Three! hours later, we walked back to the B&B.
The next day, we woke up to breakfast served at 9 a.m. sharp downstairs in the B&B owner’s home. We learned about his travels and a bit about his life over scrambled eggs, fruit, potatoes, and coffee. Then, it was off to Enchanted Rock about a 20 minute drive from Main Street for a morning hike ($6). The hike was refreshing and invigorating with a view of the Hill Country from the top of the natural stone dome.
Next up, lunch at Silver Creek Beer Garden & Grille outside on their front patio (Cashew Chicken Salad: $15.59), a free sample of Heavenly Chocolate pie at Tootie Pie Co., and a little more shopping (I picked up a gift for my baby niece at Beulah’s – an adorable baby store, and fudge for my parents at Lone Star Candy Bar).
We had one more stop on our way home – we couldn’t go home without visiting one of the dozen wineries lining the road leading to Fredericksburg and back to Austin. At the saloon the night before, we met Matt, local bar manager at The Herb Farm (at the top of the list for the next visit, a restaurant, B&B, bar, and, of course, an herb farm). He recommended William Chris for our winery stop. Since it was a new name and we wanted to venture off the beaten path, we went for it. This winery focuses on sustainable winemaking and their tasting room was made almost entirely out of recycled woods and metals! The wine is made down the road from the tasting room, but it didn’t prevent us from learning a bit about the wines, tasting, and bringing a bottle home for a gift. (Tasting: $10).
My total (minus gas & gifts/shopping items) came out to: $119.52! Overall, I would say most restaurants offer the same types of German-inspired food and you’ll find tourist pricing, although reasonable ($15 for a very generous-sized salad) (besides the one Asian restaurant called Panda, and a few Italian restaurants I’d give a shot next time). Also, arriving in the afternoon on a Saturday, eating a late afternoon meal (versus lunch and dinner in Fredericksburg that day), and only booking lodging for one night all helped us meet our goal and keep our travel costs down. We had a blast in a town that made us feel like we were living in the movie Hope Floats (p.s. this movie came out 13 years ago, how old are we??), reverting back to the simple life, where a dance, a drink, and spectacular live music was all we needed to be happy. I’m carrying this minimalistic inspiration with me this holiday season, I hope it inspires you a little too!