The cradle of Blue Bell and bluebonnets.
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1. April in Texas means roadsides and pastures gloriously awash in bluebonnets—and no more so than in and around Brenham. Tool around for that perfect photo op, then pick up a few Lupinus texensis trinkets at the Texas Store, where you’ll find mugs, tea towels, jewelry, and silk ties bearing our official blossom. Can’t get enough? Head to nearby Chappell Hill for the annual Bluebonnet Festival (April 12 and 13, chappellhilltx.com). 119 W. Alamo, 979-836-9849
2. It’s hard to find a good soda jerk these days, but you need look no further than the friendly faces behind the counter at Must Be Heaven. With its swivel seats, black-and-white-checkered floors, and chocolate ice cream sodas (made with Blue Bell, natch), this happy little spot has all the trappings of an authentic fifties diner. The meringue-laden pies and perfectly flaky quiches make it impossible to walk out hungry. 107 W. Alamo, 979-830-8536
3. There may be a lot of B&B’s to choose from in this region, but none so meticulously remastered as the Ant Street Inn. Proprietors Pam and Tommy Traylor spent three years restoring this nineteenth-century gem, from its hardwood staircase to the one-hundred-year-old freight elevator located in one of the guest rooms. This is an antique-collector’s haven upgraded with the creature comforts (whirlpool tubs, wireless Internet) of modernity. 107 W. Commerce, 800-481-1951
4. If you’re in town on a Saturday from mid-March through mid-December, don’t miss the Brenham Farmers Market, which is housed in a bright, tomato-red building just south of the main square. The market opens at eight o’clock; arrive early enough and you can join locals at an outside table for a cup of joe and coffee cake. Strike it rich this spring with fresh fig or peach preserves, homemade canned goods, tamales, warm banana-nut bread, or vine-ripened garden tomatoes. 307 S. Park
5. Whoever said Brenham isn’t fashion-forward obviously hasn’t been to Spoiled Boutique. Ample racks lining its walls overflow with stylish frocks, sassy dresses, and hip jeans from brand names Velvet, Citizens of Humanity, C&C California, and Lacoste. Linger long enough and you’ll get some expert tips on shoes and accessories from owner Amber Westerfield, whose bubbly personality has a way of coaxing a hefty tally at the register. 110 E. Alamo, 979-836-5150
6. French château meets country cottage at Beadboard UpCountry. Maryanne Flaherty opened this European-inspired shop in 2006 and has impressed locals with her penchant for interior design. Her airy store brims with luxury linens from Peacock Alley, French toiletries from Lothantique, and old-world home accents from Aidan Gray. She also specializes in custom upholstery, showcasing a number of chairs and sofas swathed in fresh French countryside styles. 101 S. Baylor, 979-830-8788
7. The dining room at Ernie’s offers pleasant views inside—there’s a colorful mural on the back wall—and outside: The art moderne–style Washington County courthouse sits right across the street. Chef Ernest Briggs moved into Brenham’s historic Navratil building (originally a late-1800’s tavern) five years ago, and his American bistro fare has drawn a steady crowd ever since. At lunch, don’t miss the Southwestern tortilla salad, with its punchy chipotle vinaigrette. 103 S. Baylor, 979-836-7545
8. So you’ll have to jump in the car to get to Blue Bell Creameries, but what’s a couple miles for the state’s best ice cream? The celebrated company offers weekday tours, which uncover the secrets behind Moo-llennium Crunch and the not-so-plain Homemade Vanilla; watching a vat of smooth, sweet creaminess churn has never been so appetizing. An added reward: a sample from one of 24 flavors at the end of your visit. 1101 S. Blue Bell Rd., 800-327-8135