Brenham Texas: Spring Has Sprung in the Birthplace of Texas
Brenham Texas, conveniently located halfway between Houston and Austin on Hwy. 290 in Washington County, is a popular visitor destination year-round.
In spring, tourism booms thanks to the beloved and prolific bluebonnets that burst into glorious bloom in the bucolic fields and pastures of Washington County.
Surround yourself with history in Brenham's picturesque downtown. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the town's vibrant and architecturally unique buildings line several blocks and reflect the town's mid-19th century history and charm.
Sign up for a heritage home tour of some of the town's majestic 19th-century homes, including the 1843 Giddings Wilkin house, the oldest standing home in Brenham.
Wine is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the great state of Texas, but don't be fooled. Texas is one of the oldest wine-growing states in America, with vines planted in the 1650s by Franciscan priests.
The reason Texan wine is not readily available in the U.S. markets is that most, if not all, of the delicious vintages are consumed by Texans themselves.
Take the opportunity to taste these excellent wines on the Bluebonnet Wine Trail, located right out of Brenham between I-45 and U.S. Highway 290.
Discover what treasures you can find along Brenham's delightfully funky antique row.
If antiques aren't your bag, you can find designer bags and clothing in any one of the many boutiques that line the streets of downtown, as well as classic toys, home decor, unique hand-made gifts, chocolates and candies, and Texas-made boots, jeans, cowboy hats, and saddles.
Brenham offers a wide range of accommodations, from quaint B & Bs and tried-and-true national chains, to rustic farmhouses and individual cabins on farms and working cattle ranches.
For a romantic trip back in time, the Ant Street Inn offers 15 rooms in the heart of downtown Brenham, all decorated with exquisite antiques reflecting a Southern theme.
Take a moment to smell the roses, and view the other spectacular blooming trees and plants, at the Antique Rose Emporium, an eight-acre combination of plant nursery, gift shop and theme gardens.
Many of the plants on display are living antiques from the past which were popular in the gardens of early Texas.
"Pasture-to-table" is the mantra at Texas Ranch Life, an 1800-acre working cattle ranch resort that offers finely appointed accommodations in restored historic buildings (some dating back to the 1850s).
Meals feature free-range meats, as well as vegetables plucked that day from the ranch gardens.
It's hard not to get goosebumps when you stand in front of Independence Hall where, in spring of 1836, a courageous group of 59 Texans declared independence from Mexico. Thus was born the Republic of Texas, which was made a U.S. state 10 years later in 1846.
Relive Texan history at the Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site, which features a state-of-the-art visitors center as well as expansive park and hiking trails along the Brazos River.
Brenham's Chappell Hill Lavender Farm boasts more than 3,000 lush lavender plants.
Stroll through the fragrant fields, relax with a cool glass of lavender lemonade in the picturesque gazebo, or sample some of the hand-made lavender products in the gift shop.
Get a first-hand look into the life and career of George Bush, 41st president of the United States, at the George Bush Presidential Library located in nearby College Station.
After an $8.3 million dollar renovation to the main exhibit, The Life of George Bush, the library now features an Oval Office replica where visitors can pose at the presidential desk.
Visitors can also view detailed exhibits chronicling the world's events that took place during the Bush presidency, including the fall of East Germany's Berlin Wall and Operation Desert Storm during the Gulf War.
Once you taste the stupendous home-made pies at downtown Brenham's "Must Be Heaven," restaurant, you'll know why the restaurant carries this name.
This family-owned eatery, whimsically designed with vintage decor, features home-made soups, salads, quiche and sandwiches as well as their locally-famous pies.
It also offers a full-service espresso/cappuccino bar.
Founded in 1971, the Round Top Festival Institute is not only a place where beautiful music is made.
It is also a venue of natural beauty, famed for its gardens, rare trees, herbal collections, cascades, fountains and unusual landscaping.
The institute strives to educate and train young musicians. The performance hall, with its strikingly beautiful carved wood interior, hosts more than 50 events each year, including the International Guitar Festival.
Step back some 100 years in time when cotton was king and the rhythmic hum of the 1914 Burton Farmers Gin was the heartbeat of the hard working cotton town of Burton, just outside Brenham.
The Texas Cotton Gin Museum features the oldest operating cotton gin in America.
Daily guided tours take you behind the scenes to experience the various steps involved in historic cotton production.
Brenham is understandably proud of its home-based Blue Bell Creameries, makers of a variety of ice cream products since 1907.
The company fell on hard times last year, but has since made a valiant comeback.
While tours of the factory are currently suspended, the ice cream parlor still invites guests to enjoy a generous scoop of their famous ice cream, in many flavors, for a nominal cost.
You'll never see Joanne without a camera or two strapped around her neck as she travels around the world, together with her photographer husband Tony, to unearth new and exciting destinations to share with her readers.
Her professional career includes a long tenure in communications with the San Diego Tourism Authority, where she gained expertise with both the camera and the descriptive word.
When she’s not adding fresh images to her Scenic Photos website, she's posting her current adventures on her popular Travel Blog.
Joanne is a member of the esteemed Society of American Travel Writers (SATW).