From downtown San Antonio, it’s a straight shot north on I-10 to Boerne (rhymes with “journey”), located on the banks of Cibolo Creek. The little (2 1/4 miles long) town was founded in 1849 by freedom-seeking German intellectuals, including Jewish-German political writer and satirist Ludwig Börne (1786–1837), for whom the town was named. In the 1880s, Boerne became a popular health resort. It’s now the seat of Kendall County, with more than 16,000 residents. The Boerne Visitors Center, 108 Oak Park Dr., off Main Street (www.visitboerne.org; tel. 888/842-8080 or 830/249-7277) is open 8am to 5pm Monday through Friday, 10am to 2pm on Saturday (it’s closed Sun). 

Exploring Boerne

Close enough to San Antonio to be almost a suburb, Boerne is working hard to retain its small-town atmosphere—and its heritage. One of the things it’s known for is the Boerne Village Band, which occasionally holds concerts in the gazebo on the main plaza; it first oompahed in 1860, and bills itself as the world’s oldest continuously operating German band outside of Germany. A number of 19th-century limestone buildings cluster in the city’s historic district, called the Hill Country Mile; a free self-guided tour pamphlet is available at the visitor center. 

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Boerne’s biggest draw, however, is the antiques shops, art galleries, crafts shops, and clothing boutiques that line Main Street. The second weekend of each month, Boerne Market Days (www.boernemarketdays.com/boerne.html; tel. 210/844-8193) draws artists, crafters, and musicians to the town’s main plaza. One of the best places anywhere to buy Mexican folk art is just 2 1/2 miles north of Boerne; take exit 537 off I-10 W. to Cosas, 39360 I-10 W. (www.cosasonline; tel. 830/249-1500). The store does most of its business online, but if you’re in town Friday or Saturday from 11am to 5pm, you can browse a warehouse full of south-of-the border treasures. Alternatively, call ahead to make an appointment.

Those who want to spend their time outdoors can explore four distinct ecosystems—grassland, marshland, woodland, and river bottom—at the Cibolo Nature Center, 140 City Park Rd., next to the Kendall County Fairgrounds (www.cibolo.org, tel. 830/249-4616). Behind it, on 33 Herff Rd., restored Herff Farm is open to the public on Saturday mornings, when it hosts a bustling farmers market.

Beneath the Hills of Hill Country

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One of Boerne’s most popular attractions is Cascade Caverns (www.cascadecaverns.com; tel. 830/755-8080), an active cave with huge chambers, a 100-ft. underground waterfall, and comfortable walking trails. To get there, head 3 miles south of Boerne on I-10, take exit 543, and drive 2 miles east. It’s open year-round 9am to 5pm, with tours on the hour from 10am to 4pm. A 1-hr. tour costs $20 adults, $13 ages 4 to 11; reserve ahead if you want to take the 90-min. flashlight tour ($25 adults, $16 children) or the 2 1/2-hr. adventure tour (adults only, $100). A little farther from town (11 miles northeast via Route 474 and Kreuzberg Rd.) lies the even more impressive Cave Without a Name, 325 Kreutzberg Rd. (www.cavewithoutaname.com; tel. 830/537-4212), which has more chambers, a greater amount of living rock, and a wider variety of features. Hour-long tours are offered throughout the day. From Memorial Day through Labor Day it’s open daily 9am to 6pm, the rest of the year daily 10am to 5pm. Admission is $20 adults, $18 seniors and military, $10 ages 6 to 12. 

Guadalupe River State Park, 13 miles east of Boerne via Hwy. 46 to 3350 P.R. 31 (www.tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/guadalupe-river; tel. 830/438-2656), features 4 miles of river frontage at a particularly attractive section of the river, above Canyon Lake. You’ll find a number of excellent swimming spots and some hiking trails leading through beautiful, rugged hill country. Keep an eye out and you might spot white-tailed deer, coyotes, armadillos, or even a rare golden-cheeked warbler. Camping is available; make reservations on line. Check ahead for ranger-led interpretive tours. The park is open daily 8am to 10pm; the entrance fee is $7, free for kids age 12 and under.

More and more these days, Hill Country is also wine country, and it starts 12 miles north of Boerne on FM 1376, where Sister Creek Vineyards, 1142 Sisterdale Hwy. (www.sistercreekvineyards.com; tel. 830/324-6704), is set in a converted century-old cotton gin on the main—actually the only—street in Sisterdale. The winery creates traditional French wines using traditional French techniques, but the attitude is Texas friendly.

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Where to Stay & Eat in Boerne

Peggy’s on the Green, 128 W. Blanco (www.peggysonthegreen.com; tel. 830/249-9954), created by Mark Bohanan, chef/owner of Bohanan’s steakhouse in San Antonio, offers upscale Southern cooking—think chicken-fried quail—along with steak and seafood; entrees run from moderate to expensive. It’s open for lunch and dinner Tuesday to Saturday, brunch and dinner on Sunday. Peggy’s is the dining room for Ye Kendall Inn (www.yekendallinn.com; tel. 830/249-2138), a Territorial-style boutique hotel fronting the main plaza. Opened as a stagecoach lodge in 1859, it now offers a variety of rooms, suites, and cabins in the moderate to expensive price range.

The more casual and less expensive Bear Moon Bakery, 401 S. Main St. (www.bearmoonbakery.com; tel. 830/816-2327), is ideal for a hearty breakfast or light lunch. Organic ingredients and locally grown produce are used for the inventive soups, salads, sandwiches, and baked goods. You can watch ducks frolic in Cibolo Creek’s old mill pond when you dine at Dodging Duck Brewhaus, 402 River Rd. (www.dodgingduck.com; tel. 830/248-3825). Sit out on the covered deck and enjoy lunch or dinner from an eclectic brewpub menu—everything from Cajun stuffed mushrooms to antelope burgers—as well as suds brewed on the premises. Prices are moderate.

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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.