Trip Guide: Wimberley
A year after being ravaged by floods, the peaceful Hill Country town represents a new, resilient kind of Eden.
Most of the cypresses still standing along Wimberley’s stretch of the Blanco River arch dramatically, their leafless crowns pointed east, as if they’re all bowing to an unseen deity. It’s been a year since record-breaking floods wreaked havoc here on Memorial Day weekend, and the altered landscape bears witness to how hellish things got: a dozen lives lost, hundreds of homes battered or gone. Less than six months later, the Hill Country’s Little Bit of Heaven, as the area is often dubbed, was pummeled by another deluge, on Halloween.
Wimberley has suffered mightily, but it has by no means been wiped off the map. Nor has it lost its footing as the quiet, tree-shaded, swimming-hole-rich paradise that every other idyllic pocket in Texas is measured against. I’d been assured as much by local friends (and strangers posting #WimberleyStrong photos to Instagram), but I confirmed it myself with a return to my usual haunts: the jewel-hued Blue Hole and Jacob’s Well, nature’s ultimate one-two punch against summer’s air-conditioned ennui; Old Baldy, the overlook accessed by 218 stone steps that was recently emancipated from private ownership and turned into a city park; and the Corral Theatre, which may have had to finally spring for a digital projector to show first-run flicks on its Masonite hardboard screen but still charges only $1 for popcorn. Happily, these were all in fine form, as was Wimberley’s square, whose boutiques and restaurants have seen record foot traffic lately (Wimberley Market Days had its best sales ever in March). After showing my support the best way I knew how—by spending money on antiques I wanted and pie I didn’t need—I went for a drive along River Road to survey the Blanco. It’s unnerving to see the queue of uprooted, bark-stripped trees that frame the blue water, but landowners have been encouraged not to clear the damage in order to let the river heal itself. One business owner, talking of Wimberley’s “new normal,” put it this way: “It’s not better or worse,” he said. “Just different.” And, I’d add, as beautiful as it ever was.
SEE + DO
Blue Hole Regional Park // Mastering the jump-and-catch rope swing above Cypress Creek is the main event, but don’t ignore the 126-acre preserve’s three and a half miles of trails.
Jacob’s Well // Known for its karstic spring and (infamously chancy) underwater caves, this summertime favorite has become so popular that reservations are now required to plumb its depths.
Wimberley Zipline Adventures // Catch the breeze—and views of the 1,200-acre Winn Ranch—as you go whizzing from one rocky hilltop to another above the valley’s lush canopy of trees.
Bella Vista Ranch // Come prepared for wine tastings, weekend tours of the olive orchards (more than a thousand olive trees are planted here), and an insatiable desire to buy more than a few bottles of vino and olive oils (or even your very own estate-size olive tree!).
EAT + DRINK
Sugar Shack Bakery // Because why shouldn’t you have a cinnamon roll the size of your hand to start the day?
The Leaning Pear // The contenting views of Cypress Creek off the broad back patio will tide you over until that skillet of roast chicken and green-chile-and-bacon grits hits the table. Plan on a slice of triple chocolate cake (provided by the aforementioned Sugar Shack Bakery) for your first dessert (see next).
Wimberley Pie Company // A $2.75 wedge of goodness from this humble pie shop makes an excellent post-lunch, post-shopping, or post—first dessert treat.
Jobell Cafe & Bistro // Sit down to a nice dinner of rustic, French-inspired fare whipped up from ingredients sourced from local ranchers and farmers in this cozy cabin just off of Wimberley’s square.
Creekside Vintage // The cheerful kitsch of the fifties, sixties, and seventies—big-eyed porcelain owl figurines, Jello-centric cookbooks—fills this thoughtfully arranged, two-room antiques shop.
The Tree House // Perusing the exuberant wares, like handpainted Moroccan bowls and vintage kantha throws, at this eclectic shop will brighten your day, if not also your home after you make off with a haul of colorful pillows and wall hangings.
Wimberley Glassworks // Head seven miles south of the square to ogle the signature dragon-scale vessels and watch live glassblowing demos, held most days of the week.
Hotel Flora & Fauna // Each of the twelve studios at this new boutique hotel is equipped with a kitchenette, a record player, a reasonably priced stash of snacks, and beach towels for the pool.
Cypress Creek Cottages // If you want to be close to the water or have your whole family in tow and need room to spread out in, consider the Hotel Flora & Fauna’s sister property, which has a dozen stand-alone cottages also within walking distance to Wimberley’s square.
BEFORE YOU GO
Read . . . more about 2015’s devastating floods in Wes Ferguson’s “Wimberley Storm Warning.”
Bookmark . . . VisitWimberley.com for the latest news and happenings around town.