With a population of about 20,000, Kerrville is larger than the most other Hill Country towns. It’s a good idea to make your first stop the Kerrville Convention and Visitors Bureau, 2108 Sidney Baker, Kerrville, TX 78028 (tel. 800-221-7958 or 830/792-3535; www.ktc.net/kerrcvb), where you can get a map of the area as well as of the historic downtown district.
Note: If you’re planning to come to Kerrville around Memorial Day weekend when the huge, 18-day Kerrville Folk Festival kicks off, and also when the Official Texas State Arts and Crafts Fair is held, be sure to book far in advance.
Seeing the Sights
The newly restored downtown area, flanked by the Guadalupe River and a pleasant park, is the most interesting part of town.
Hill Country Museum
For a glimpse of affluent Hill Country life in the early days, visit the Hill Country Museum, 226 Earl Garrett St. (tel. 830-896-8633), a mansion built of native stone by Alfred Giles for pioneer rancher and banker Capt. Charles Schreiner. Open Monday to Saturday 10am to 4pm; admission $5 adults, $2 students. A collection of ball gowns is among the antique treasures.
Old Republic Square
Old Republic Square (off Lemos, between Main and Water sts.) hosts a collection of quaint gift shops and boutiques, among them Hill Country Western Wear (tel. 830-257-7333), selling chic cowpoke duds. The Sunshine Antique Co., 820 Water St. (tel. 830-257-5044), another restored turn-of-the-century building, lets you retreat to a charming tearoom after searching for treasures. More interested in the present than in the past? Artisans Group, Inc., 826 Water St. (tel. 830-896-4220), sells beautiful contemporary crafts–but no food.
James Avery Craftsman
At the headquarters of James Avery Craftsman, about 3 1/2 miles north of town on Harper Road (tel. 830-895-1122), you can watch artisans work on silver and gold jewelry designs, many of which incorporate Christian symbols, then head for the retail shop.
Cowboy Artists of America Museum
Whether or not you think you like Western art, the Cowboy Artists of America Museum, 1550 Bandera Hwy. (tel. 830-896-2553; www.caamuseum.com), is not to be missed. Lying just outside the main part of town, the high-quality collection is housed in a striking Southwestern structure. Open Monday to Saturday 9am to 5pm, Sunday 1 to 5pm; $5 adults, $3.50 seniors, $1 ages 6 to 18.
Kerrville-Schreiner State Park
Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the nearby Kerrville-Schreiner State Park, 2385 Bandera Hwy. (tel. 830-257-5392), a 500-acre green space boasting 7 miles of hiking trails, as well as swimming and boating on the Guadalupe River.
You’ll need a reservation to visit the Y. O. Ranch, 32 miles from Kerrville, off Hwy. 41, Mt. Home, TX 78058 (tel. 800-O-RANCH or 830/640-3222; www.yoranch.com). Originally comprising 550,000 acres purchased by Charles Schreiner in 1880, the Y. O. Ranch is now a 40,000-acre working ranch known for its exotic wildlife and Texas longhorn cattle. Daily activities include everything from organized hunts and cattle drives to horseback rides and hayrides.
Where to Dine
Because of its focus on salads and its somewhat froufrou look, more women than men tend to lunch at the Old Republic Inn in Old Republic Square, 225 Junction Hwy (tel. 830-896-7616). But the guys are missing out on some incredible desserts. You can minimize the damage by getting a half order, but most people just end up trying two.
Although the menu at Patrick’s Lodge, 2190 Junction Hwy. (tel. 830-895-4111), is primarily French, and the tables are covered with white cloths, you can’t accuse a restaurant with wood-paneled walls, mounted deer heads, and a view of Goat Creek of not being macho. Delicious Gallic classics such as escargot and filet mignon au poivre turn up alongside venison and chicken-fried steak. Prices are extremely reasonable, and the excellent wine list includes lots of local bottles.