48 Hours In Brenham, Texas

When you hear “Texas,” perhaps the theme song for Dallas pops into your head, or you start salivating thinking of devouring ribs in Houston, or you see yourself checking out Austin’s live-music scene in Austin.  But if you’re vacationing in Austin or Houston, it’s worth taking your car rental and driving about 100 kilometres to Brenham to spend a couple of days. After all, big cities can often start to feel alike; but head to a smaller city and you can get the real feel of a place. Don’t worry—you’ll still find plenty of brisket and pulled pork.

Where to stay

Hold your horses (literally): you can have your dreams of living like a cowboy come true here. We dare you not to fall in love Texas Ranch Life, an actual working ranch. You’re sure to fall in love with the charming couple who own the property, John and Taunia Elick, just as we did. The eight family homes peppered around their property each have a unique feel, but all are cozy and rustic—think country chic bed and breakfast-style—and you’ll indeed wake up to sounds of a rooster crowing. During your stay, do not miss going horseback riding. It’s not a simple nose-to-tail  pony ride, though; the cowboys will teach you how to properly command your horse. Saddle up!

Where to eat

In Brenham, folks don’t refer to ice cream—it’s Blue Bell. Blue Bell Creameries originates from this town and for any sweet tooth (or just if you have a love for how things are made), set aside a half-hour for a visit to the Blue Bell Creameries to tour the facilities (and taste some ice cream, natch). Here, you’ll get tasty Blue Bell tidbits; for example, the bananas used in some of their flavours? Hand-peeled by 13 employees and they’re mixed in your favourite treat within 20 minutes.

If you’re planning a visit to the Washington on the Brazos Historic Site (or you’re a foodie who will drive where you need to go for a fun food experience), then make a stop for lunch or dinner (open only Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays) at R Place. Get your BBQ fix at this rustic resto (a former grocery store and gas station), or check their Facebook page to book one of their gourmet wine dinners (but whatever you do, same room for the peach cobbler served with, you guessed it, Blue Bell). As you may anticipate, Randy, the chef owner, is jovial guy’s guy—if he has time, chat him up for some history on the spot (for example, the door and area where the washrooms are now located? In the days of segregation, this is where African Americans were seated, giving their food order by standing at that doorway).

What to do

We admit, when we hear “living history farm” we have a vision of Schrute Farms on The Office, ie. one slightly terrifying and surreal experience. But Barrington Living History Farm (which is the farm founded by Dr. Anson Jones, the last president of the Republic of Texas) will entertain and interest you no matter what your age. The home is original—stand in the dog-trot passageway to enjoy the breeze just as the Anson family did. Yes, the staff is dressed in the clothing of the 1860s era, but rather than feeling forced, it helps paint the picture of life on the farm in the 19th century as you peek into the smokehouse and slave cabins.

You will not need a reminder to stop and smell the roses at the Antique Rose Emporium. This stunning garden (the retail home of its mail-order nursery business) features gorgeous pioneer, old roses—beautiful and hardy, what’s not to love. In business for nearly four decades, the owners are passionate about these blooms, and even if you are not remotely a green thumb, a visit with your partner is a well worth the breath of fresh (and sweet) air.

One of the busiest times of the year for Brenham? Around late March to early April; the droves of visitors are here for one thing: the wildflowers in bloom. Grab a visitor’s map (and stay tuned to the Wildflower Watch to best time your visit) to drive the trails and feed your soul with heady views of endless fields of wildflowers including not only the bright blue bluebonnets, but other species, too, such as the cheerful red Indian paintbrush.

Karen Kwan

Karen Kwan

Karen Kwan is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Flare, Elle Canada and ElleCanada.com, Glow, Metro, Huffington Post Canada, Travelife and Travel + Escape. She also runs her blog, HealthandSwellness.com, where she writes about health, beauty, fitness and lifestyle.

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