Some of the most beautiful views in "our country tis of thee" are along the Shenandoah National Park's Blue Ridge Mountains Parkway, also known as Skyline Drive.
It's a scenic ride to be enjoyed leisurely - and legally at 25 mph.
The Spring season, is one of my favorite times to take the drive with all of the trees so freshly full of green. It competes closely with the Fall when the leaves change to their oranges, and yellows, and reds.
As the saying goes - A picture is worth a thousand words - so now I'll let the images of Skyline Drive speak for themselves:
The Cinnamon Roll at Upper Crust Bakery has recently stolen my heart. I've indulged in the pastry more times than I'd like to admit in the past month.
It's just the right combination of butter and sugar and flakiness. Sweet, but not too sweet. Flavorful, filling, but not too full.
Inside it has that gooey goodness that is cooked but not at all over cooked. The long-time Austin bakery really has perfected their recipe, and definitely has me hooked, headed back for more and more...
Some seem to be calling it a wrap while others seem to be calling it a poncho. While I believe it to be the latter, whatever you want to call it, these coveralls are hot right now.
Image courtesy of Lilly Pulitzer
They make for a perfect season to season transition piece. And for me right now, expecting a baby in less than a month, I think it is going to be the crucial piece to my wardrobe on a day to day basis. Mothers of newborns, you know what I mean... style and practicality, ingenious!
San Antonio is a Texas city rich in history. Even myself having grown up in the northern Midwest always knew to Remember the Alamo. But since those days, the continuous growth of population has changed the city dramatically. What used to be known only a century ago as a small town has now become a city has house over one million residents.
While remembering the past and embracing the future, the city of San Antonio has a lot to offer from heritage and museums to dining and cuisine. And thus begins our San Antonio foodie tour at The Guenther House. Located in the old home of the Pioneer Mills family, this museum and restaurant serves up some delicious brunches right next door to the still operating, still family owned flour mill, and is open for tours.
The Guenther House
205 East Guenther Street
San Antonio, Texas 78204
Next up on the list of a mix of old and new is The Granary. Serving up the Texan's dream of beer and bbq, The Granary is located in a converted house of the old Pearl Brewery Complex. What was once the home of the original Texas Pearl beer now houses businesses, shops, restaurants, and a farmer's market. After feasting on some delicious brisket, sausage, ribs, or whatever 'cue might do it for you, stroll around and marvel at what used to be and what has become.
602 Avenue A
San Antonio, Texas 78215
Water has always been an alluring majestic to migrators both north and south, and San Antonio holds the same. One of the most popular attractions in San Antonio, which brought about the many settlers and today brings many tourists, is the San Antonio River Walk. Walk up and down the river, or take a ride on one of the many boat tours, but don't forget to pop into many of the delicious eateries along the way serving up food and spirits galore, one of my favorite being Casa Rio. For classic Tex-Mex and a great ambiance, there is no better place to go.
430 East Commerce Street
San Antonio, Texas 78205
Further inland is a restaurant that has been in operation since the 1930s, La Fonda on Main. Serving up Tex-Mex and more authentic interior Mexican cuisine, La Fonda never ceases to disappoint me, especially given the different various specials of the day, whether it be food, drink, or dessert.
La Fonda on Main
2415 North Main Avenue
San Antonio, Texas 78212
Last but not least, on the northern edge of the city is a breakfast one mustn't go without. Whether it be an in-house original omelet, a can't-ever-go-wrong hash, waffles, French toast, or the namesake pancake, it's all served up warm and toasty at Magnolia Pancake Haus. Sure, they serve up lunch items too, but I'm a breakfast all day any day kind of gal...
For many years one of the main attractions bringing visitors to the Hill Country town of Fredericksburg was a stroll along Main Street to pop in and out of the fabulous antique, artisan, and other specialty shops, and that is still the case to this day, 170 years after it was originally founded. What's more, many of the old, historic buildings have been preserved, so while the interiors may have changed over the years, the facades still maintain the original buildings and store-fronts. It's a timeless small-town Texas.
And speaking of time, celebrating over 40 years of family business is the wonderful cafe and gift shop known as The Peach Tree. It's a great stop for lunch, and to do a little shopping.
One of my favorite times to visit Fredericksburg is during Christmastime when the Market Square on Main Street is overtaken by a 30-foot Christmas tree, 26-foot German Christmas pyramid, skating rink, and chop chop train. It's a tribute to the town's founding German heritage and a wondrous joy to marvel for all ages.
Despite becoming increasingly popular for it's new association as Texas wine country, Fredericksburg was initially founded by Germans, which meant for many years the drink of choice was beer. And that still remains true to this day with beer gardens a'plenty! The Auslander and Der Lindenbaum have fun, traditional decor, or there's Fredericksburg Brewing Company for a more modern atmosphere. Get a Corned Beef Reuben and a beer (or two or three...) at any of these fine establishments.
Lastly, it may not be Fredericksburg proper, but 10 miles down the road is the music loving spot of Luckenbach, made famous by Waylon Jennings. There isn't much to this quiet little community, just the remains of a retired post office and a general store turned gift shop, but there is a Feed Lot and saloon, so pop on over and grab a beer, just for fun.
The sun truly shines over the old city of Bastrop, Texas (figuratively, and literally as pictured here at the Courthouse). This small country town makes you feel like you can step back in time with it's old-school southern architecture, each one well preserved and unique in its own. For Austinites, it's the perfectly close and quiet day trip escape.
Take a short walk or drive through the streets - Pecan Street, Walnut Street, and even Austin Street, just to name a few... The quaint Victorian houses are a perfect match for the lovely, historic southern town.
While quite small, with Main Street consisting of only two blocks, this tiny town still has a lot to offer, especially when it comes to cuisine. Here are a few of my favorites:
Starting with breakfast and lunch, I like to stop by Maxine's on Main Street, for both the food and the drink served up in classic Mason jars, some of the biggest you've ever seen. The breakfast menu is filled with many options, all delicious, and well portioned like the pancake that doesn't even fit on the plate. Good luck resisting the urge to finish your meal with a slice of pie, or a whole pie to go!
Another fun and popular lunch fare is at Paw Paw's. It's hard to go wrong with the fried catfish platter or the Po Boy. After all, Catfish is very southern comfort food. Don't forget to order up the house specialty of hushpuppies, yum! But heads up - they are closed on Mondays.
For fine dining and a classic Texas abode, Baxter's on Main is the perfect spot. The starters are all terrific with a Texas Shrimp Diablo, Thai Tuna Stack, or Jumbo Lump Crab Cake. I'm also always a sucker for a good French Onion soup and Caesar Salad. Main Entree selections allow for many options to please all palates.
Piney Creek Chop House
Just off Main, Piney Creek is a new restaurant in old digs. With a classic steakhouse menu, it's a bit more upscale if you're looking for a fancier finish to the day. Go for a pre or post dinner drink next door at the Colorado River Winery, housed in another oldy but goody - they kept the original gin and oysters sign.