BOERNE, TEXAS: THE HILL COUNTRY GATEWAY
Before we dig in, let's address the elephant in the room: Boerne is one of the toughest town names to pronounce in the whole state of Texas. If you pronounce it “born” or “borny,” you're likely to get a raised eyebrow or two in response. It's bur-NEE, like the name “Bernie,” only with the accent on the second syllable. There! Now you sound like a native!
Boerne, the county seat of Kendall County, was founded in the late 1840s by German immigrants. It was originally called Tusculum, after Roman Emperor Cicero's mansion. When it was officially laid out in 1852, the name was changed to honor noted German author Ludwig Boerne. The town had its share of prosperous ranches, like many communities in the Hill Country, but Boerne got more of a reputation in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a health resort. Though the impact of the Great Depression all but eliminated the health-tourist trade, Boerne stayed strong, and has since become somewhat of a “bedroom town” for nearby San Antonio.
That isn't to say Boerne is humdrum; quite the opposite! Tourism has rebounded there, and for good reason: this community of 16,000 or so has a lot of history and local down-home Texas personality to offer to its visitors. Backroads Reservations is happy to share the following list of highlighted events and attractions in this picturesque Hill Country setting.
The Boerne area has two major locations for the intrepid cave explorer. Cascade Caverns offers guided one-hour tours that will enlighten you on the underground wonders of the Hill Country. They also have nature trails and a picnic area for you to explore. The nearby Cave Without a Name also offers tours of their cavern's splendor, and watch their calendar for unique concert and performance events from within the cave, with acoustics you won't experience anywhere else!
Of course, to get the full impact of the beauty of the Hill Country, you need to check out things above ground, too—and there's no better place to do that than the Cibolo Nature Center and Farm. Whether you'd like to hike on your own, or take advantage of their guided tours and educational lecture series, there's something fascinating to do and learn here. Nearby Herff Farm also offers a farmers market every Saturday, March through December.
More of the local natural beauty is available at Boerne's City Lake Park. Their facilities include picnic areas with grills, a disc golf course, a butterfly garden, and bird observation blind. They have a full schedule of events, including everything from an Easter egg hunt to concerts and movie nights in the park. Whether you're feeling solitary or social, there's a perfect day awaiting you at City Lake Park. For a more laid-back natural experience, River Road Park—on the banks of Cibolo Creek—is a great place to kick back and observe the local wildlife.
Is shopping more your speed? Boerne has that covered in style with their Hill Country Mile. Before you step foot into one of their shops, the public art displays and historical architecture of Boerne's Main Street tells the town's story visually. The shops themselves offer up everything from antiques to original art to the latest clothing styles. When it's time to have a bite to eat, the Mile presents choices from classic country fare to high-end formal dining. You can also wet your whistle with the finest wines and brews around!
Special events abound in Boerne! Topping the list is Bergest Fest, their Okoberfest in June. Translated, the name means “Festival of the Hills, and this three-day celebration of the town's German heritage starts with a parade, and also includes a carnival, horseshoe tournament, wheelbarrow races, and even multi-day Dachshund (wiener dog) races. All throughout the weekend, dances and live musical entertainment is featured, as well.
For vintage and classic car lovers, the Key to the Hills Hot Rod Run is held every mid-October. This event is more than just a car show; in fact, it's the largest exclusively pre-1949 automobile gathering in the country. This historic event takes place on Boerne's Hill Country Mile, and live entertainment and shopping is also available to those who stop by for a look. In addition, the Texas Corvette Association also holds their Open Car Show in mid-April on the Hill Country Mile each year. Last, but not least, Soda Pop's Bar & Grill hosts Hot Rod Saturday Nights, two Saturdays a month from March through October. Stop by, enjoy the live music, and check out the local hot rods!
Dickens on Main kicks off the holidays the weekend after Thanksgiving. The Hill Country Mile is transformed into several Christmas villages, and live theatrical and musical performances help to further set the holiday mood. Special merchandise vendors line Main Street, flea market-style, and you can even watch ice sculptures come to life before your eyes!
As you can see, Boerne has a lot going on! We've shared highlights of the major events and attractions here, but even so, space doesn't allow for us to list absolutely everything. For more details on what has Boerne has to offer, conveniently sorted by category, the Hill Country Portal has put together a fantastic listing.
Whatever you plan to do in Boerne, you'll need a “home base” to return to and unwind. You could do that in a cramped, cookie-cutter hotel room—or you could savor the amenities of a more homey setting that showcases the breathtaking vistas of the Texas Hill Country. It's surprisingly affordable to do the latter, thanks to Backroads Reservations. Check our Boerne listings, and let us help you get the most out of your getaway dollar. Boerne awaits—we'll see you there!