Hill Country Culture
Unique for its fusion of Spanish and German influences, the Texas Hill Country is a twenty-five county region of Central and South Texas- with New Braunfels and the surrounding towns being included in one of those counties. While the Hill Country is thought of by visitors and locals as picturesque, there are many unique cultural aspects that remain a part of everyday life in the Hill Country.
Wildflowers, sunsets, and breathtaking views abound in this region, nestled in the heart of Texas. The Texas Hill Country definitely has something unique to offer, something that the locals believe and pride themselves on. In addition to its beauty, the Hill Country is home to some of the best wine, food, and good ol’ Texas hospitality. While southern charm and friendliness are a given, there is a mix of rustic and refined culture that coexist in a way that makes perfect sense. Amidst some of the best antique shops, are historic small towns settled by German immigrants, dude ranches and wineries, bringing an eclectic mix of both cowboy and cosmopolitan lifestyles. And the cultural influence doesn’t stop there; Given the area’s heavy German influences in food, beer, architecture, and music, many residents enjoy dining at Bier Gardens and dancing to oompah music. In fact, a few townies still speak the German of their ancestors, and many Hill Country towns, including New Braunfels, embrace their Germanic roots. At many venues, dancers still polka and schnitzel still sizzles in the communities founded by German immigrants. Historic eateries serve traditional breads and pastries, plus culinary staples like German sausage, sauerkraut and dark beer. Food and music take center stage at heritage festivals, such as Wurstfest, which occurs every November and celebrates beer and polka in a nod to Munich’s Oktoberfest.
The Hill Country is also know for its tourism, being listed by The New York Times as a top North American vacation destination. Perhaps it’s the 30+ wineries that sprawl over the landscape, attracting five million visitors a year. The picturesque wineries offer a look into the past, telling of grape vines that were cultivated in Texas as far back as the 1600’s, making the state one of the oldest and most abundant wine-growing states.
If wine and beer aren’t your style, there’s always the water features the Hill Country has to offer. From relaxing by the bubbling brooks of the Comal to extreme water sports on Canyon Lake, the range of options brings out many different ways of life. While the young and young at heart enjoy skiing on Canyon Lake or Toobing down the Guadalupe River, retirees and fisherman may enjoy a quiet day on Lake McQueeney, where they cast their lure out in hope of catching one of the many different species of fish the lake is stocked with. Perhaps the diverse amount of activities and ways of life is the reason behind the fact that the Hill Country has made Texas second to Florida as the most popular retirement destination in the United States- between visits to local restaurants, wine trails, lodges, dance halls, and golf courses there really is something for everyone.
Not only is the Hill Country literally the center of Texas and home of a diverse community, but many consider it the heart and soul of the state. Possibly it is only here that such an assortment of cultural and natural features come together to create such a uniquely charming region. The beautiful rolling hills, gleaming rivers and picturesque display of bluebonnets each spring are matched only by the independent spirit of the people and a level of cultural diversity Texans pride themselves on.