Cotton Gin Village. photography courtesy of Cotton Gin

4 Great Texas Escapes

Not a lot of money to travel? No problem. Get in the car and go to one of these four terrific Texas towns. Your wallet will thank you.


This small town with a German flair boasts something to do for foodies, wine lovers, and shopaholics.

CUTE AS PIE: Enjoy the sweets at the Cabernet Grill at the Cottin Gin. photography courtesy of Cotton Gin
Just seventy miles west of Austin sits Fredericksburg, a city well known for its German heritage. These days, however, the Hill Country town is also sought out for its award-winning wine. With a darling main street and wineries dotting both sides of State Hwy. 290, there is no shortage of activities in this thriving community.

LOG CABIN LUXURY: Steer your car off Main Street to the Cotton Gin Village (2805 S. Hwy. 16. 830-990-5734., located just a few minutes from the historic main drag. Accommodations at the Cotton Gin are 19th-century log cabins named after the major rivers of Texas, and your home-away-from-home includes a Jacuzzi tub, satellite TV, working kitchen, and a private porch for taking in a sultry Texas evening. Granola and homemade pastries are some of the goodies you can expect for breakfast, served in the privacy of your own room.

WINE DOWN: The Fredericksburg Wine Trail 290 ( includes nine wineries along 290 in and around Fredericksburg, making it possible to visit several of the state’s finest vineyards in one weekend. We started at Woodrose Winery (662 Woodrose Ln., Stonewall. 830-644-2539., a smaller operation 14 miles east of Fredericksburg. The best part? The tasting comes to you “restaurant style” at tables or on the precious patio (no crowding at the bar for a sip). Next, hit Pedernales Cellars (2916 Upper Albert Rd., Stonewall. 830-644-2037. for a tour of the high-tech underground barrel cellar (the largest in Texas) and stunning views of the Pedernales River Valley. Becker Vineyards (464 Becker Farms Rd., Stonewall. 830-644-2681. was our next stop, and the well-known—and highly acclaimed—winery boasts an enormous tasting room and ample outdoor space for sampling wine. Last up was Chisholm Trail Winery (2367 Usener Rd. 830-990-2675., a Texas-centric winery where winemaker Paula K. Williamson does the pouring. Haven’t had enough Texas wine yet? At the Cabernet Grill at the Cotton Gin, chef and owner Ross Burtwell has an all-Texas wine list with more than 75 choices from across the state. (Local connection: in 1989, chef Burtwell did his apprenticeship in Dallas at the Westin Galleria Hotel.) Dinner is intimate but casual, and dishes range from pan-seared rainbow trout to a Tejas mixed grill featuring Bandera quail, Angus cap steak, and smoked pork tenderloin.

MAIN STREET MEANDERING: Historic Main Street may be where all the tourists hang out, but for good reason: it’s adorable and dotted with big city-worthy boutiques and restaurants. Stop in at Red (218 W. Main St. 830-990-0700. for eclectic vintage and modern home furniture and accessories. Designer Carolyn Moore (seen on HGTV!) can even help you style your own space. Shop Root (306 E. Main St. 830-997-1844. for clothing lines such as Saint Grace, Tom’s Shoes, Paige, Ella Moss, and Joe’s Jeans, as well as vintage cowboy boots, handbags, and accessories. For lunch or dinner, a meal at The Auslander (323 E. Main St. 830-997-7714. satisfies your craving for authentic German food (try the bratwurst and warm German potato salad), and live music nearly every evening draws crowds. For those who want one last glass of wine, (327 E. Main St. 830-997-2665. is an original shop that combines funky home furnishings with a cozy wine bar. Just don’t drink and buy.