Texas Travel

City Spotlight: Blanco

By Chet Garner 4.30.19

Blanco has all the trappings of a quintessential Hill Country destination: a county courthouse, a quaint historic district, and a fabulous river running through the town.

The courthouse in the square downtown isn’t even a real courthouse — they built it to be the county seat for Blanco County, but then they moved the county court for political reasons. It’s still one of the oldest courthouses in Texas, and even though it’s not in use, it’s got such the right feel that they actually filmed scenes for the 2010 True Grit remake there.

It’s a good place to start on your tour around Blanco, Texas.

The Square

Shops, cafés, and boutiques are beginning to fill up the rapidly enlivening square. You have to go to the Redbud Cafe and try their hand-squeezed lavender lemonade. And I’m not a big herbal guy, but I could drink 3 gallons of it in one sitting. The owners are potters by trade, but when they started a little sandwich shop next to their studio, it just got out of hand. By popular demand, they decided to expand to a full-blown café. They even make all their own sweets; if you go at the right time of year, you’ll get to try their famous potato chip cookies. And the pottery store is still adjacent.

The Fields

On the subject of lavender: Blanco is the lavender capital of Texas, and there are plenty of magically scented farms overgrown with it. If it’s the right time of year, they’ll give you scissors and you can go out and clip it to take some home. There are plenty of shops selling lavender products too. My favorite is Hill Country Lavender, which sells lavender soaps, lavender oils, lavender sleep aids — it’s all right there.

The Park

Most state parks are outside of town or out in the country, but Blanco State Park is the exception. It falls smack-dab in the middle of town, along the Blanco River, which is spring-fed, crystal clear, and the perfect spot to spend a few hours soaking in the sun, swinging on a rope swing, and enjoying the Texas afternoon in one of the park’s bricked-off swimming pools.

The German Tradition

The Blanco Bowling Club Cafe is a completely old-school bowling alley that does nine-pin bowling. The rules are completely different from 10-pin; if you just knock all the pins down, you’re not winning. That’s about all I remember about the rules. It’s an old German tradition that’s really only left in a few places in the Hill Country.

The Wild West

If you want to go really old-school, you have to go to the Buggy Barn Museum. This is one of the quirkiest museums in Texas for sure. The owner, a history buff and 1800s enthusiast, collects historic buggies and rents them out for Hollywood movies. There are more than 140 of them. His buggies have appeared in True Grit, There Will Be Blood, and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. He even has a buggy from Gone With the Wind. You can walk around the Western town he’s built behind the museum, which is like stepping into the Wild West. That’s the beauty of Texas small towns: You can be whoever you want to be and there’s the land to do it.

Chet Garner is the host of PBS’ The Daytripper. Join him on more of his day trips around Texas here.

Coverage and discounts are subject to qualifications and policy terms and may vary by situation. © 2019 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance