Each year thousands of vacationers flock to the Hill Country, the Central Texas destination that often draws comparisons to Tuscany for its tree-covered hilltops and rolling valleys. Fredericksburg is the hub of this tourist activity; there crowds amble through antique shops and boutique B&Bs fill up faster than an IHOP after church. But not all towns in this area require advance reservations for a plate of schnitzel.
For travelers in search of a Hill Country destination that is a bit less touristy and a touch more rugged (read: authentic), visit Kerrville, a small city of roughly 22,000 residents off of Interstate 10 an hour northwest of San Antonio. “We’re like Fredericksburg’s stepsister,” said Julie Land of the Kerrville Convention & Visitors Bureau, noting that the F-word often soaks up the entire region’s attention.
Head straight downtown, the place where Kerrville’s relaxed charm unfolds, thanks in large part to the sparkling Guadalupe River, which runs through the city’s center. “Even our Starbucks has water views,” Land said.
Skip the coffee chain and head for Grape Juice (623 Water Street, 830-792-9463, grapejuiceonline.com), a gem of a restaurant off the city’s main street, which is currently being redeveloped. Original art adorns the walls in a loft-like space that is conceptually divided into