The 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2013
From the blues to the big top, we’ve picked the most intriguing small towns to enjoy arts and smarts
- By Susan Spano
- Smithsonian magazine, April 2013
(David Butow / Corbis)
Hill Country color and craziness, foot-tapping song and dance, wine and wildflowers, LBJ and Lady Bird—it’s all part of the Fredericksburg barbecue. Start with the town’s singular history, as told at downtown’s Pioneer Museum, dedicated to the German settlers who brought Oktoberfest, strudel and Lutheranism to the region in the mid-19th century. Sauer-Beckmann Farm explores rural life in the Hill Country; Fort Martin Scott describes the enforcement of treaties with Comanche; the Texas Rangers Heritage Center tips its Stetson to the territory’s fabled corps of rough-riding lawmen; and the National Museum of the Pacific War dedicates itself to hometown boy Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, who signed the Japan’s surrender document in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945. With LBJ’s beloved ranch in nearby Stonewall and the Luckenbach Dancehall, where Jerry Jeff Walker and the Lost Gonzo Band recorded country music classic “Viva Terlingua,” just down the road, people say Fredericksburg’s gone touristy. But there’s nothing touristy about driving Rural Route 1623 along the beguiling Blanco River and 13-mile Willow City Loop, especially in wildflower season. You’d have to be as dour as Martin Luther not to enjoy wandering through historic district galleries, theaters, biergartens and clubs where folk, rock, country and Tejano music is just as good as high-hat classical and opera. And even he’d dance the polka at the Fredericksburg Oktoberfest.
Editor's Note, March 25, 2013: The entry for Fredericksburg, Texas, originally had a photo of Mason, Texas. We have replaced the incorrect photograph with one that was captured at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall in Fredericksburg. Thank you to our readers for catching our error and we apologize for the mistake.
Sign up for our free email newsletter and receive the best stories from Smithsonian.com each week.