This article is a part of the 2023 Summer Travel Guide, a sponsored collection brought to you by our travel advertising partners. You can find more summer travel destinations and events here.

When you visit the towns of Brenham, Burton, Chappell Hill, Independence, and Washington, you’ll feel the real pride of Texas in a scenic area rich in Texas history—a “Texan’s Texas” according to CNN Travel!

Rolling hills, winding roads and green meadows frame history at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site showcasing Independence Hall where the Texas Declaration of Independence was drafted and signed in 1836. Barrington Plantation features period-costumed interpreters working with 19th century farming and homemaking techniques to portray the daily lives of those who lived here 150 years ago.  

You’ll feel stress melting away as you stroll Brenham’s peaceful historic streets and experience its small town friendliness and charm. Take a moment to relax in the shade of huge oak trees surrounding the Courthouse; don’t be surprised if you get a friendly wave or two.

Visit Toubin Park in Downtown Brenham to see a fully restored underground cistern from the 1800s used to collect rainwater and battle fires. This large system of public cisterns in early Brenham was rare; cisterns for private homes were abundant, providing water for bathing, drinking, and cooking.

Experience more history at the Flying Horses Antique Carousel in Brenham, open weekends through October, and the Brenham Fire Museum, open for visitors on Saturdays. Brenham Heritage Museum next door focuses on the story of this area.

Drop by the Visitor Center in Downtown Brenham to collect a passport and map of local murals painted by famous muralists from around the country. As you admire each one, take a selfie and tag it #BrenhamArtWalk!

Visit a working artist’s studio or a local potter creating functional and decorative pottery, and Brenham’s Downtown Art Gallery to find the works of area artists. Creative genius is alive and well here!

There’s nothing that says “this is a special place” like a great glass of wine or frosty mug of microbrew. From four boutique wineries producing classic varietals, to spectacular views from a hillside vineyard, it’s easy to savor the flavors of Washington County. Near Brenham’s historic downtown, Brazos Valley Brewing Company is a craft brewery that boasts a delightful outdoor patio area and kids’ space, a food truck, live entertainment, and a comfortable Taproom offering a wide variety of beers.

Of course, no trip to our area would be complete without visiting the Blue Bell Creameries and touring their Visitor Center displaying company history. Savor a generous scoop of your favorite Blue Bell Ice Cream from the Parlor (only $1 per scoop) and stop in the Country Store for a unique gift. From the Observation Deck, watch the ice cream making process as it happens.

While you are visiting Washington County, take a side trip to Burton where history comes alive at the 1914 Burton Farmer’s Gin, the oldest operating cotton gin in the U.S. The museum is full of cotton memorabilia and the store offers fun, cotton-inspired shopping. 

In Independence, the Antique Rose Emporium’s eight-acre complex features nature in all its glory, a definite “must see.” This scenic garden center offers native plants and antique rose varieties of all types for gardeners inspired by the creative uses of plants and found objects. Time for lunch? The Independence General Store (circa 1900) serves the best hamburgers around. Grab your sodas and longnecks and order at the counter. Then, head out back to enjoy the breeze on the raised deck while waiting for your burger.

May kicks off with the 133rd Brenham Maifest while Summer Sip & Art Walk and the Juneteenth Heritage Celebration at Washington-on-the-Brazos are June highlights.

July’s Hot Nights Cool Tunes Concert Series includes four free outdoor concerts around Brenham’s historic downtown square. Visitors bring lawn chairs and listen to great live music from a different band each evening. July 8 – Ashmore, July 15 – Skyrocket, July 22 – Shekere, and July 29 – Spicolis. Also find the Stray Katz Classic Car Cruise-In, food and beverage vendors, and tasty selections at local restaurants. 

Be ready to enjoy more summer fun as you celebrate our country’s July 4th birthday in historic Chappell Hill with “the Biggest Little Small Town Parade in Texas” and family-friendly activities at the Chappell Hill Historical Museum. Wander the downtown shopping area for both great shopping, relaxing patios, and delicious wine and food.

What do a cotton gin, live music, wineries, award-winning barbecue, comfy lodging, and long strolls on historic streets have in common? They are among the discoveries to be made when visiting Washington County, an easy drive halfway between Houston and Austin—and a world away from the hustle and bustle of big city life.

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