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Boerne turns on the charm for a relaxed weekend

Boerne turns on the charm for a relaxed weekend





BOERNE — My mom always made sure to pull over at Boerne’s River Road Park during long family road trips, letting my siblings and me burn off steam and feed the geese alongside Cibolo Creek.

Today, the city’s resident gaggle is still alive — and well-fed. But with downtown revitalization projects and a variety of new businesses including boutiques and breweries, Boerne has evolved from a leg-stretching pit stop into a lively weekend getaway.

The city, just 30 miles northwest of San Antonio, still features familiar hallmarks such as the mom-and-pop shops lining Main Street and the nearly 150 historic buildings scattered throughout town. Wanderers and window shoppers can now enjoy renovated pedestrian thoroughfares and public art installations along a 1.1-mile stretch of Main Street.

The ongoing Hill Country Mile initiative was launched in 2010 to promote downtown businesses; it also serves to extend and revitalize Boerne’s network of nature trails.

The Mile also leads to the Patrick Heath Public Library, a 30,000-square-foot facility with sleek, Hill Country-inspired interiors, such as the second story’s suspended Reading Porch, accented by a breeze blowing through a screened wall. The LEED Gold-certified library, next door to the city’s only bookstore (the Bookshop Under the Windmill), is part of Boerne’s emerging City Campus property, which will debut an outdoor amphitheater and nature trails by 2015.

Flashback Funtiques, a specialty antiques store run by husband and wife Billy and Heather Howard, relocated to downtown Boerne a few years ago after two decades of business in Houston. Billy, a self-proclaimed American picker, boasts a rotating inventory of colorful vintage collectibles and rare American-made products, from Wurlitzer jukeboxes to Coca-Cola iceboxes.

“We came here for a slower pace of life,” he says about his family’s move from Houston. “My daughters walk down Main Street to get ice cream from the Sugar Shack after school. ... It’s like living in Mayberry.”

After school, kids of all ages still swarm to River Road Park to feed the geese. The Dodging Duck Brewhaus, across the street from the park, attracts an equally excitable crowd during Ducky Hour (weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m.), when beers, all brewed on-site, are $1 off.

Law currently prohibits the sale of beer at the new craft brewery, Boerne Brewery, which made its first deliveries in January. Visitors will soon be able to tour the 6,000-square-foot brewery every Friday afternoon. The tour will include samples of four traditional ales, inspired by the recipes of Boerne’s 19th-century German immigrants, but then slightly modified, or “Texafied,” as owner and brewer Fred Hernandez says. The brewery’s offerings, including the newly released Hopstrasse IPA, can be found at area HEB grocery stores and liquor stores and on tap at popular downtown establishments like Ye Kendall Inn.

A new watering hole, Captain Turquand’s Saloon, opened last September in Boerne’s historic Phillip Manor Square after a bout of extensive renovations that included the addition of four guest suites on the second floor and an outdoor patio, soon to be an acoustic music venue.

The Paniolo Ranch B&B, 15 minutes from downtown, can still guarantee the classic quiet of a Hill Country escape, with upscale accommodations and full-service spa on 100 acres of private Texas ranch land.

Boerne is still a far cry from a big city, but it’s easy to see why more people are deciding to stick around.

Ramona Flume is an Austin freelance writer.

When you go

Art enthusiasts should schedule a visit during Boerne’s monthly Second Saturday Art & Wine events (secondsaturday, when downtown galleries and shops provide live music, free drinks and light hors d’oeuvres, in addition to various showcases from local artists. A free trolley runs every 20 minutes.

Boerne’s annual Berges Fest (, held Father’s Day weekend (June 13-15), celebrates the city’s German heritage with three days of Main Street festivities, from parades and German folk-music performances to a dachshund race.

How’s it pronounced? Like the name Bernie


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