We’ve all heard it from the angsty teen in the first ten minutes of the movie: “I’ve gotta get out of this small town!" Cue the journey of self-discovery as the wide-eyed young person moves to New York City or Chicago or Los Angeles or...San Antonio? You get the idea. If Hollywood’s modern coming-of-age-in tales have taught us anything, it’s this: the ‘big city’ is the very height of our metaphorical ladder of success, and the small town is, well...considerably lower.
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But maybe these tales illustrate the small town and the city skyline with too broad a brush. While many city-dwellers assume that skyscrapers are superior to small towns, residents of Boerne have found the opposite reality to be true: smaller is better...and let’s keep it that way.
As Boerne’s population continues to swell, many outsiders view this as a clear sign of the town’s success! Growth is wonderful, right? But many residents don’t measure success with the same mile markers. Rather, the cry of Boerne-ites these days is, “quality over quantity”. Boerne doesn’t want to become a big city...or even a big town! Along with San Antonio’s borders, concern has steadily grown. Because, while San Antonio is wonderful and we wouldn’t change anything about it, it’s just not Boerne. Here are just a few unique Boerne treasures to prove it:
1. Space to take the long way home
Image Courtesy of National Geographic
While the city may have more amenities and things-to-do, the constant hum of activity can become a bit of a black hole for your free time and extra energy. Those who have transitioned from the city to the country have found that living in Boerne requires you to change your frame of mind...to slow down and take a break from the constant on-the-go mentality. Living in Boerne is an invitation to breathe a little deeper, notice the Indian Paintbrushes growing in that field, and snatch up the occasional opportunity to take the back roads home.
2. Small Town Festivals
Vintage Berges Fest Photo Courtesy of BergesFest.com
While San Antonio can host big-name concerts and some massive festivals and gatherings, Hill Country towns offer a whole new brand of community celebration. Residents are given the chance to enjoy the event, participate, and sip a cold one with longtime friends and neighbors. During these festivals, it’s clear that there’s a difference between being a spectator and being part of the community. Regular festivals and events include the Chocolate Walk, Berges Fest, Wings Over Boerne, Parade of Artists, Cibolo Songs & Stories, Harvest Moon Celebration, Dickens on Main, Boerne Market Days and the Key to the Hills Rod Run, among others.
3. A Sense of Community
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Perhaps one of the qualities Boerne residents hold most dear is a sense of community. Citizens value the collective whole...the “us” living peacefully, lovingly, but very much separately from “them.” This kind of tight-knit, independent mentality can be traced back to Boerne’s free-thinking founders, who set up camp across the Cibolo in search of an independent, utopian society. Though the town is different, the goal lives on: Boerne-ites fight for their community, earn the loyalty and respect of their neighbors, support local businesses, and know how to belly-laugh with old friends.
4. Kendall County Fair
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Though some might consider this a festival, The Kendall County Fair gets a section all its own. A Hill Country icon since 1905, this fair is a fusion of novelty and familiarity...carnival rides set on that old familiar Kendall County Fairground. The “homegrown fun” comes in the form of a carnival, rodeo and livestock show, Homestead Heritage exhibits, a parade, food & craft booths, live music, clowns, children's activities, and the traditional evening dance. The Kendall County Fair always takes place in Boerne and always leaves residents leaving with that familiar drowsy satisfaction of a stomach filled with funnel cake and a heart full of nostalgia.
Image Courtesy of Cibolo.org
Alright, so San Antonio claims SeaWorld. But if you told Boerne citizens that the Alamo City saw itself as #1 in the area’s aquaculture, they’d probably laugh a little and say, “That’s sweet.” Boerne residents know that these novelty exhibits and animals are nothing compared to the thriving local ecosystems of the Texas Hill Country. From the gorgeous Cibolo Creek that runs through downtown to the wide open expanses of Boerne Lake to breathtaking tree-studded Joshua Creek, Boerne wins the prize.
6. Texas Hill Country Views Up Close
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Some pieces of San Antonio have Hill Country views...but why settle for a view when you can plant yourself smack dab in the middle of all the beauty? The rolling Hill Country isn’t meant to be tamed into a window frame...it’s a wild landscape, meant to be experienced in every way. Boerne knows this well: this town doesn’t seek to dominate or conquer the surrounding landscape. Rather, Boerne-ites fully embrace the local ecosystem, hiking and biking on trails, kayaking down the Guadalupe, taking scenic Sunday drives through country roads, and spending Saturday afternoons on the lake.
7. Wide-Eyed Stargazing
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It’s common sense that country stargazing far surpasses city stargazing. Light pollution is a real thing. But even though Boerne already naturally lets you see the stars better than San Antonio, local officials took things a step further by instituting outdoor lighting ordinances to minimize light pollution and maximize the cosmic landscape. The stars at night are truly big and bright here in the heart of Boerne, Texas. Chec k out local weather and stargazing conditions here.
8. The “Oldest Continuously Organized German Band in the World outside Germany Itself”
Image Courtesy of Texas Public Radio
Organized by Karl Dienger in 1860, Boerne Village Band hails as the oldest continuing organized German band in the world (outside of Germany itself, of course). This troupe has lasted through the Civil War and both World Wars, performing traditional German music at fairs, festivals and other events. Needless to say, longtime residents are no stranger to the sound of the Boerne Village Band.
9. Live Caves
Image Courtesy of Cave Without a Name
Given the natural beauty of the Hill Country’s topography, it’s almost no surprise that an equally beautiful landscape lies beneath the surface. Touring the wide-open caves of the Hill Country feels like setting foot into another world. Over long periods of time, a steady flow of water hollowed out the natural limestone to create these rather mysterious formations. Boerne’s local claim to cave fame is Cave Without a Name...an underground adventure that you truly can’t find in the city.
10. Texas Wine Country + Texas Wine Trail
Image Courtesy of TexasWineTrail.com
These days, we can’t help but notice that “Texas Hill Country” is nearly inseparable from and interchangeable with the term “Texas Wine Country.” Not only is this region the epicenter of the Texas wine culture, it’s also growing rapidly in national recognition for its quality vineyards. In fact, Texas was recently ranked the fifth-largest wine producing state! In the past 10 years, the amount of wineries and wine cases in Texas has more than quadrupled.
Naturally, Boerne and the surrounding area is an integral part of The Texas Wine Trail. The same rocky hills and bluffs that create incredible views also create ideal conditions for vineyards and winemaking. Age-old skills and recipes have combined with Texas-quality soil, grapes, and other ingredients to grow and brew some of the best sipping in the country. Bending Branch Winery, Boerne Brewery, and Boerne Wine Co are several establishments that showcase this liquid gold.
11. The Cibolo Nature Center
Image Courtesy of Cibolo.org
San Antonio has a ton of great parks (see more about that here...), but nothing within city limits can compete with the Cibolo Nature Center. Featuring over three miles of trails, the Nature Center is the proud home and advocate of four distinct ecosystems: tallgrass prairie, riparian forest, live oak savannah, spring-fed marsh. This Hill Country oasis isn’t only beautiful...it’s cared for by people who are leading the way in innovative conservation efforts. The Cibolo Nature Center strives to keep the Hill Country not only alive, but growing and thriving.
12. A small town feel...or at least, a distinct memory of one.
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Though the “small town feel” might be gone (or so we hear), Boerne residents are not keen on letting it slip away quietly. Strong Boerne voices have been fighting for the town’s preservation in the midst of growth. A treasure trove of memories is shared faithfully with newcomers, children, and tourists alike in an effort to continue the legacy of Boerne. If you get the chance to hear an old-timer talk about the Boerne of his or her youth...listen. We promise you’ll be better for it.
13. Passionate Advocates
Image Courtesy of the City of Boerne
...Okay, maybe San Antonio has these too, but Boerne advocates are a breed all their own. Residents have shown that they want to preserve Boerne’s values and culture. This kind of passion speaks of residents who have truly been shaped by the town. Boerne is an integral part of who they are. Some true Boerne-ites are born in the Cibolo valley, while some are adopted in. Their commonality? When families set down roots here, Boerne is fertile soil: nurturing, teaching, and shaping the people who live here.