Spring has sprung in Texas and if you’re ready for a great weekend escape, then perhaps it’s time to take a journey to a place where you can stop and smell the roses. Or in Brenham’s case, the wildflowers. Known as “the birthplace of Texas,” Brenham offers a perfectly sweet weekend retreat just a 50-mile jaunt up Highway 290. It’s here that you can get away from it all and witness the spring season ushered in on a blanket of wild blooms.
Brenham is as legendary for its wildflowers as it is for being home of the world-famous Blue Bell Creamery. In fact, Brenham is the ideal jumping-off point to explore the 80-mile wildflower trail that takes you through Washington County to see nature’s wildflower bouquet of Indian paintbrushes, purple cornflowers, buttercups and of course the pride of the Texas Hill Country, the bluebonnet. This drive is beautiful at any time, but April generally treats visitors to the most glorious spread, sometimes lasting through parts of May depending on the weather.
The wildflower legacy in Texas runs deep. Starting around 1917 when the Texas Department of Transportation was first organized, officials noticed that wildflowers always returned before any other vegetation following road building projects. As a bonus, they recognized that wildflowers also helped prevent soil erosion and looked pretty to boot.
By 1934, TxDOT had hired its first landscape architect and began to eliminate mowing, except in cases when safety required it, and began planting and reseeding wildflowers. Today, officials sow some 30,000 pounds of wildflower seeds annually resulting in a unique marvel of nature that helps conserve water, protect wildlife habitats and control erosion on Texas roadways. Brenham visitors continue to see wildflowers descendants from those original seeds planted back in the early 1930s.
Visitors who want to experience the full thrill of the wildflower trail can hop over to VisitBrenhamTexas.com and pull up the wildflower driving map. The trail features mile after mile of the prettiest wildflowers, plus fun stops in other charming towns like Chappell Hill, Independence, Washington and Burton.
For further flowery inspiration, stop by the Antique Rose Emporium to shop for plants and flowers or explore the eight miles of exquisite display gardens that are sure to inspire. Next door Old Baylor Park At Windmill Hill is a lovely spot for a stroll that has a walking trail, houses the ruins of the original Baylor University, and is a prime spot for springtime bluebonnet-peeping.
If lavender is more your game, take a field trip to the Chappell Hill Lavender Farm, just a 15- minute drive from Brenham. Explore rows of fragrant lavender, have a picnic near the pond or gazebo, enjoy the rolling acres of panoramic scenery, or browse the shop for goodies like local aromatic bath products or lavender-infused culinary items.
Official Bluebonnet Festival of Texas
Chappell Hill Historical Society & Museum
April 10th & 11th
Free admission; Parking $5. Saturday 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
This event, voted one of the most popular festivals in Texas, offers culinary delights, entertainment, music and unique merchandise from artisans and craftsmen.
Food And Drink
Visitors to Brenham have no shortage of sweet eats to choose from. From steak and seafood to award-winning barbeque and everything in between, visitors can eat their way through town. For a romantic meal where you can cozy up with your honey, the intimate Volare Italian Restaurant will treat visitors to the traditional flavors of the Matera, Italy countryside.
If you’re seeking family fare, you can’t go wrong with the BT Longhorn Saloon. Housed in a historic building with a western vibe, BT Longhorn Saloon features hearty fare like chicken-fried steaks, fried catfish, burgers and more. For lighter fare, try the Funky Art Cafe in downtown Brenham. Part gallery and part cafe, the Funky Art treats visitors to artfully prepared lunches such as sandwiches, wraps, salads and more.
Vineyards and Breweries
Check out the emerging wine and beer scene in and around Brenham:
Brenham has no shortage of hotels, bed and breakfasts and more.
Ant Street Inn. Bed down in this historic boutique hotel, located right in downtown.
The Inn At Dos Brisas. Part luxury hotel and part organic ranch with sweeping views and fine dining.
Ross Carroll Bennett House Bed & Breakfast. Lodge in this stately 1898 home with period interiors & antiques.
For The Kiddos
If you’re enjoying a weekend with the kiddos, fun family adventure awaits in Brenham. The little ones will have plenty to do at Fireman’s Park which has a skate park, playground, and StoryWalk®, an outdoor reading experience. A special highlight in the park is the Flying Horses Antique Carousel, one of only five surviving classic wood carousels in Texas that kids can still ride.
For a truly kid-centric experience, pay a visit to Peeka Ranch in nearby Burton. The ranch is home to more than one hundred alpacas and a quaint gift shop with alpaca products like stuffed animals, hats and clothing.
If you want to expose your children to a dash of history, pay a visit to the historic Brenham Fire House, complete with friendly firemen and pristine antique fire engines. A not-to-miss highlight is nearby Washington-on-the-Brazos, a state historic site where the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed on March 2, 1836. The Star of the Republic Museum, Independence Hall and Barrington Living History Farm, give visitors the chance to step back in time and imagine the Hill Country of our forefathers.
If you have a longing to escape the hustle and bustle with a quick weekend getaway full of nature’s bounty, you can’t go wrong in the birthplace of Texas.
Did You Know?
Brenham is near the heart of the bluebonnet region in Central Texas.
Brenham was established in 1844 and named for Republic of Texas hero Dr. Richard Fox Brenham.
Many German immigrants settled here following the German state revolutions in the late 1840s.
Fun Facts About Texas Wildflowers
In 1901, lawmakers dubbed the bluebonnet -- known scientifically as Lupinus subcarnosus -- as the state flower. In 1972, lawmakers expanded the state flower title to include all varieties of the Lupinus flower species.
Texas is the only state where you will find the native Lupinus texensis and Lupinus subcarnosus bluebonnet species.
There are more than 5,000 wildflowers species in the state.
Wildflowers attract pollinators like bees and butterflies, making them good for the environment.
While beautiful, bluebonnets are toxic, so keep kids and animals from ingesting them.