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New York state has its Big Apple, and that's fine as far as that goes; a lot of hustle-bustle in a crowded and fast-paced atmosphere. In the Texas Hill Country, they do things in a more laid-back style, and nowhere is it as true as in Medina (pronounced Muh-DEE-nuh), a tiny town of just over 500 souls in northern Bandera County.

Though originally settled in the 1860s, Medina didn't earn itself a post office until 1880—and from there, it grew steadily. Though the challenges of the Great Depression chased several Medina residents to other places for more financial stability, shortly thereafter the population rebounded, and has held steady at its current population since the late 1940s. Its history is similar to many towns in the Hill Country, in which ranching and hunting licenses were the main sources of income for its residents. Interestingly enough, Medina didn't really adopt the lifeblood for which it has become famous until the 1980s: apples.

Experimental apple orchards were first planted in the Medina area around 1980, and those trees started to bear fruit in 1984. The popularity of the region's apples exploded, and by 1990 there were over 300,000 apple trees that called the Medina area home. In 1989, The Texas Department of Agriculture named Medina the “Apple Capital of Texas,” not only for the sprawling and productive orchards for which the area is famous, but for its innovations in the apple growing industry. As a result, the town was the home for the International Apple Festival, traditionally held in Medina in late July each year.

Sadly, the International Apple Festival is no longer held, but Medina is still known for its apples, and at the center of it all is is Love Creek Orchards. This orchard was one of the main attractions and vendors for the International Apple Festival, and they carry on the festival's spirit on their grounds. During the spring and summer, you can pick your own blackberries, peaches, figs, and—of course—apples. In October, they hold the Great Hill Country Pumpkin Patch Festival, with hayrides, a hay bale maze, cider pressing, barrel train rides, and much more! Grab a bite to eat at their Patio Cafe, and take a souvenir or fresh-baked favorite home from the Apple Store.

Hungry for authentic Texas barbecue? Keese's BBQ in Medina has you covered! Locally famous for their pulled pork and hearty meat sandwiches and entrees, they've got something for every appetite that comes their way. Be sure to leave room for one of their homemade desserts! If you're in the mood for more traditional American fare, the Chuckwagon Cafe is a local favorite for their simple but delicious burger-and-fries combos.

If you're touring the Texas Hill Country by motorcycle, you owe it to yourself to check out the Twisted Sisters trail, named after the three farm-to-market roads that make up its route. If you ride the trail departing from Bandera to the east, Medina will be your first stop on this challenging, but rewarding, 100-mile ride. Some of the most breathtaking views of the Hill Country are yours for the taking on this route, so plan time to take it all in. Please keep in that many parts of this trail are twisting and challenging—they didn't give it the name for nothing—and that novice bikers should be extra-careful. Car traffic is allowed, too, of course, but take a moment to pull off to the side before taking pictures.

The Medina River flows through the heart of the Texas Hill Country, with the town named after it situated on its shores. Whether you're looking to go hiking, fishing, wildlife-watching, or you're just seeking a place to relax, there are spots along the Medina River that will fit the bill perfectly. Looking to unplug from your day-to-day pace? Sit back, close your eyes, and let the tranquil sounds of the Medina River take you away. If you'd like to go tubing on the Medina, the Medina River Company (in nearby Bandera, 14 miles to the south) will set you up with all the gear you'll need, and they'll shuttle you to your start point.

Small-town simplicity in the heart of the Texas Hill Country awaits you in Medina. Cap off your relaxing visit with a one-of-a-kind rental from Backroads Reservations! You'll get amazing amenities and spectacular views in homey and comfortable settings. Don't settle for a cookie-cutter hotel room that you'll forget days after your visit ends; make your “downtime” in your Medina getaway as memorable as the rest of it. We look forward to seeing you there!