Among all the Hill Country towns, Boerne has always managed to stand out. From its very beginnings, the town has remained somewhat of a paradox: independent yet communal; quintessential yet unique; a small town yet “the keys to the Hill Country.”
In no better part of town is this unique nature displayed than in downtown Boerne. The “Hill Country Mile”, a stretch of locally-owned shops and restaurants in the historic heart of downtown, reveals the local penchant for shopping, hospitality, history, and culture. If you’re in town for a weekend or for life, here are a few musts for anyone visiting downtown!
1. Explore the Local Architecture
Image Courtesy of myesperanza.com
Though it is ever-evolving, growing, and moving forward, perhaps one of Boerne’s best characteristics is its ability to acknowledge, appreciate, and honor the past. The town’s sense of timelessness is unmistakable: though it was founded over 150 years ago, Boerne’s deep sense of history almost feels like stepping back in time. In their building days, the local examples of architecture were considered the very standard of design and excellence. In one description, the original Boerne High School was described as, “absolutely the last word in modern construction!” Now, after they have stood the test of time, these same buildings retain an old-world sense of character and story.
2. Antique Shopping
Maybe one of the best ways to get to know the personality of downtown Boerne is to rummage through its proverbial attic. Practically made for antique lovers, the local second-hand scene is a treasure trove of vintage furniture, decor, memorabilia, and everything in between. The width of Boerne’s antique market spans over ten different locations to “make every antiquer giddy.” Boerne Emporium, Flashback Funtiques, and Redbird Retro are just a few places to stop and find your own piece of the past.
3. The Local Art Scene
Image Courtesy of artalfresco.org
Though Boerne may be a small Hill Country town, its local art scene is anything but limited. Between the beauty of the surrounding landscape, the rich historical-cultural roots, and an incredibly supportive community, Boerne artists have plenty from which to draw inspiration. This delightfully unique atmosphere encourages young artists to pursue their craft, burgeoning artists to show and discuss their work, and established artists to continue starting fresh. This sort of attitude is not only beneficial for artists...the local community is honored to enjoy and celebrate the fruits of their labor! If you’re walking through downtown Boerne, you can’t help but notice the splay of art, whether in local galleries or hanging on the walls of coffee shops and restaurants. From the Visitor’s Center showcase (which currently houses pieces from local artist Judy Seros) to Bill Zaner’s Art Haus to the collection of permanent and temporary sculptures at Art al Fresco, exploring the local art collection is a downtown Boerne must!
4. Hill Country Passport
There’s a reason Boerne is known as “The Key to the Hill Country”. Even more small-town charm is right down the road in any direction! In case you needed even more of a reason to explore historic sights, the Texas Hill Country Trail is now offering a “Texas Hill Country Passport” to local adventurers. This passport program is designed to help you enrich your knowledge of the area AND win prizes! Grab a friend or round up your family, start in downtown Boerne, and start collecting stamps. If you mail in your passport with 18 of the 24 total stamps by December 31st of 2017, you can win event tickets, outdoor adventure packages, tours, and more. Pick up your Hill Country Passport at any of these places.
5. Festivals in the Main Plaza
The best way to experience the vibrancy, quirkiness, culture, and history of downtown Boerne is to attend a local festival! While San Antonio can host big-name concerts and some massive gatherings, Boerne offers 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 in downtown Boerne 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 way more.
6. The Boerne Village Band
Image Courtesy of Livability.com
Organized by Karl Dienger in 1860, the 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 these quintessentially Hill Country tunes. The sound of the Boerne Band is sure to spark memories and nostalgia from any native Boerne-ite. Check them out on Main Plaza every other Tuesday during the summer!
7. Free Historic Walking Tour
While some may prefer to wander through the historic architecture, iconic landmarks, and hidden gems (like the rare, illustrated 1614 Low German Bible at the local library) at random, others prefer a more informational, story-based approach. For the latter, we strongly recommend grabbing a Historic Walking Tour to learn more about Boerne’s historic churches and buildings! Available online or in the Boerne Visitor Center, this tour will guide you through St. Peter (built in 1923), Phillip Manor (a 153-year old historic home, now restored and transformed into a boutique hotel, pub, and event center), and far beyond. Along the way, you’ll discover some of the small stories that have contributed to the greater story of Boerne, TX.
Image Courtesy of Kendall County History
8. The Cibolo Trail
Image Courtesy of Active Rain
Lest you’re tempted to believe that downtown Boerne is made up purely of cobblestone and historic architecture, take a walk on the natural side of the Hill Country Mile! The Cibolo Trail, which stretches for almost two miles along its namesake waterway, allows residents and visitors alike to enjoy a refreshing taste of the Hill Country directly from the source. Tip: Plan to stop and take in the scenery at the pedestrian bridge (located at the junction of the Cibolo and Currey Creeks), which offers sweeping views of the iconic waterfall and sparkling waters.
This prized greenbelt begins at Waterworks Terrace (just behind the Main Plaza) and follows the Cibolo all the way to the City Park trailhead (near the entrance to the Municipal Pool). Both dog and bike friendly, the Cibolo Trail is perfect for your morning run, an outing with your pup, or a leisurely walk-and-talk session with a friend.
9. Sense of community
Perhaps one of the qualities Boerne residents hold most dear is a sense of community Walking through downtown, you’ll see locals supporting local businesses, waving to neighbors, and overall striving to make the town a better place. 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 now than it was back then, 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.