Holiday Happenings

The Holidays are just around the corner! This magical time of year is the perfect time to visit Washington County. Here are a few of the things to do throughout the holiday season in Brenham and Washington County.

Christmas Magic presented by Hermann Furniture – Nov. 4-6

Hermann Furniture will be decked wall to wall with all the seasonal decor. They will have mini-seminars, door prizes, and wine and hors d’oeuvres. Designers will be on hand to help with floral or any interior decor needs.

Ladies Night Out in Downtown Brenham – Nov. 17

Many of the Downtown business will stay open for late night shopping and drinks, Thursday, November 17, 5:00 – 8:30pm.

The Downtown Brenham Christmas Stroll & Lighted Parade – Dec. 2-3


Downtown Brenham looks like a holiday movie set with the holiday magic of the annual Christmas Stroll. The lighted parade on Saturday, Dec. 3 is the highlight of the festivities, but the weekend also includes the First Friday Farmer & Artisan Market, Breakfast with Santa at The Barnhill Center, Jingle Bell Market at Ant Street Inn, rides on the 1950 Invader Firetruck following the parade, and more. For a complete schedule of the weekend festivities, click here.

A Taste of Christmas

Join the Downtown Brenham businesses on Saturday, December 10, for a tasty stroll! Shops will be open until 6:00 pm, offering drinks and treats to enjoy while you shop. Stay late for more Downtown fun during the Brenham Bounce Santa Crawl. Dress up in your favorite Christmas costume and visit your favorite Downtown venues for dining, drinking and live music.

 

Photos with Santa

Several retailers offer portrait sessions with Santa. Appointments with Brenham Portrait Gallery are offered on several days each week at Hermann Furniture throughout November and December. Other businesses including Puppy Dawgs and Cat Tails, Silverwings Ballroom, and South Texas Tack also offer Santa photo ops on select dates.

 

Christmas Concerts at The Barnhill Center

The spirit of Christmas is captured in music at the historic Simon Theatre at The Barnhill Center. Catch the Texas Tenors on Friday, December 2, and the Grand Ol’ Christmas Show on Saturday, December 17. Purchase tickets online.

 

Unity Theatre “Coney Island Christmas”

Weaving together nostalgia, music, and merriment, this is a holiday show for people of all ages and faiths. An older Shirley Abramowitz tells her great-granddaughter the story of when she was cast in the role of Jesus in her school’s Christmas pageant.  As a young Jewish girl, her immigrant parents are horrified and will not allow her to participate. This is a charming story of what it means to be an American during the holidays.

 December 1-18. Tickets available online or by phone, 979-830-8358.

Live Nativities

Celebrate the reason for the season with one of the area’s live nativities. The Greatest Gift Live Nativity by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is December 2-3, 6:00-9:00 pm, at 1400 Niebuhr Street, Brenham. The following weekend is Bethlehem in Independence, December 10-11, 6:00-8:00 pm, at the Independence School House, 9325 FM 390 E.

Christmas in Chappell Hill

Saturday, December 10, is the perfect day to visit Chappell Hill. Festivities begin with the Christmas Home Tour by the Bluebonnet Garden Club, . That afternoon, 3:00-5:00 pm, the annual Teddy Bear Parade is a family favorite. Kids are invited to bring their favorite teddy bear and enjoy Christmas crafts, cookie decorating, and a cocoa bar. Santa will be there, and Christmas music will be part of the scene.

Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site

Celebrate Texas history and Christmas at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site for a “Candlelit Christmas,” December 9-10, 4:30-8:00 pm. Walk the candlelit paths at Barrington Plantation and experience a Texas Christmas in the decade before the Civil War. Discover the origins of some favorite Holiday traditions as costumed interpreters bring to life the festivities of the season with musket-fire, music, dancing and more. Tour the historic home of the last President of the Republic, Dr. Anson Jones, as the family enjoys their Christmas gathering. Visit the plantation quarters to hear how those enslaved at Barrington celebrated the season. Sip a hot cup of cider, cozy up to the fire and begin your holiday season with Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site!
On December 18, return to Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site for “Dickens-on-the-Brazos” Yuletide Celebrations in the Republic of Texas.

Christmas in Burton

Burton’s Christmas Market on Saturday, December 10, 12:00-400 pm, at The Burton Railroad Depot, has something for everyone in the family. Enjoy shopping, kids’ crafts, Photos with Santa, and Christmas caroling.
Be sure to check our event calendar for a complete list of everything happening in Washington County!

Burgers in Brenham

When Brenham comes to mind, you may think of Blue Bell and rich Texas history. While that is all true, one thing you might not expect when you are here, is that you are in the middle of a foodie’s paradise. From authentic Italian food to award winning BBQ, Brenham/Washington County has it all! One staple that can be interpreted a million different ways is a big juicy hamburger with all the toppings and your favorite sides.

We’re celebrating National Cheeseburger Day by providing a bucket list of places to get an amazing burger in Washington County! Our inspiration came from local resident Michael Mullins on his quest to try all the hamburgers in the county. He has been documenting his journey on Facebook. Visitors and locals alike can appreciate this quest, as you might get the chance to have your favorite burger raved about, or even find a new hidden gem! Watch for Michael’s comments in quotes.

1.  Bevers Kitchen

Bevers is famous for their homemade pies, but don’t miss out on their burger. “Bevers Kitchen sells pies and is not known for their burger, but they should be,” said Michael. “This is a solid old-fashioned hamburger just like you would have in your mom’s kitchen on a Sunday afternoon.”

2.  Brossa’s Cibo e Vino

Burgers aren’t typically what you would expect at this authentic Italian restaurant, but like the rest of the food on the menu, this burger is made from only the best ingredients… Wagyu. Served during lunch, covered in caramelized onions, their parmesan Reggiano cheese sauce, and sandwiched between a brioche bun, you will be licking your fingers non-stop!

3. Burton Short Stop

Convenience store, restaurant, and gas station all in one in Burton! You won’t want to miss their daily specials, especially their hamburgers. Make sure to grab either a piece of pie or one of their homemade cookies on your way out.

4. Country Sunshine

The Country Sunshine food truck has found its new home at Brazos Valley Brewing Company. These burgers are unlike anything you have ever tried before. “This burger doesn’t come with the lettuce, tomatoes, and onion salad that some great burgers have.  It didn’t need to. It stands alone in taste and looks.” Filled with homemade pickles, the burger is perfectly paired with amazing tater tots. Make sure you ask for them “dirty” next time queso is on the menu. Trust us. You will not be disappointed.

5. Dairy Bar

If you want an iconic establishment in Brenham, then try Dairy Bar. Established in 1985, it still makes one of the best burgers in the county. You will most likely always find a long drive through line and the inside packed with locals. “This is as local as it gets.” Be sure to add curly fries and a chocolate shake to your order!

6. Independence Store

When you arrive, you might be confused by the look of a gas station, but not to worry – you are in the right spot. “The burger came wrapped in silver foil and it was hot, the fries looked like they were made for a TV commercial.” This is the best hole in the wall you can find. “Remember when you come here to eat, don’t be in a hurry, slow down and relax. Take in the history and the wonderful folks who run it.”

7. LJs BBQ

LJ’s is known for its award-winning BBQ, but have you ever tried their burgers? “Let me start by saying this is no normal hamburger. It’s cooked to perfection. The secret for this bad boy? Smoked then grilled.” This is the type of burger you skip breakfast for and then are still too full for dinner later. They serve until they sell out, so make sure you get there early!

8. Nathan’s BBQ

Recently written up in Texas Monthly magazine for its traditional style of BBQ-ing, this family-friendly restaurant is where you will find locals on a Sunday afternoon for lunch. “I enjoyed the atmosphere and decor and, rest assured, that delicious, juicy hamburger.” Nathan’s is another staple in Brenham and a place you do not want to miss.

9. Pioneer Smokehouse

Didn’t we say Brenham has great BBQ? Well, great BBQ means great burgers. Pioneer will give you an amazing atmosphere with an even better burger. You choose your toppings to your liking and then be prepared to have to use two hands to tackle this thing. Right in the heart of downtown, Pioneer has the atmosphere, the drinks, and the burger!

10. Smitty’s Cafe & Bakery

For a place known for their chicken fried steak, they sure can do a burger right in an old gas station turned into an amazing restaurant. “Their list of burgers is long, but they do not disappoint. They make their own buns and that is what made this burger stand out.” Make sure to have a slice of pie before you leave!

11. TABU

Right in downtown Brenham you will find a restaurant that specializes in Tacos and Burgers (TABU). “Their burger made me stop and say WOW! It hits just right. I don’t know if they have a secret spice, but something was going on.” With a wide variety of burgers on the menu, you are sure to find one that speaks to you. Try the onion rings as your appetizer!

12. Wild Bill’s

When you are heading out to Lake Sommerville, you will not want to miss Wild Bill’s, adjacent to the entrance to Rocky Creek Park. You’ll walk into a nice wooden bar where you will be welcomed and order a burger where they don’t skimp on the meat. With three choices of fries for your side, you will not be disappointed with the atmosphere and the burger.

So tell us! Where is your favorite burger in Brenham/ Washington County?

 

Burton Cotton Gin Festival

Did you know that the oldest operating cotton gin in the United States is located in Burton, Texas?

Every year, this historical treasure is celebrated at the Burton Cotton Gin Festival. A day filled with FREE fun for the whole family kicks off with a parade followed by a classic car & tractor pulling contest, demonstrations, live music, shopping, family activities & contests, and all the food and refreshments you would expect from a small town of German heritage!

Experience the sights and sounds of the old cotton gin in action as festival goers witness the baling process. And don't miss out on a tour of the Texas Cotton Gin Museum, where you can learn about the foundation of the gin and the story of how it was saved from becoming the site of a convenience store.

 

Burton Cotton Gin Festival - Burton, Texas

April 23, 2022 |  10:00am - 6:00pm

Free Admission

10:00am - Parade

11:30am - Bubble Gum Blowing Contest

12:00pm - Tractor Pull Contest Begins

12:00-2:30pm - The Jodie Mikula Orchastra

12:30pm - Pie Eating Contest

1:30pm - Cotton Seed Pulling

2:30-4:00pm - Sean Orr & Texas Gold

3:00pm - Cotton Gin Produces a Bale

4:00-6:00pm - Black Cat Choir

 

Demonstrations throughout the day

Visit the Texas Cotton Gin Museum for more information.

Finding Holiday Magic

Finding Holiday Magic

This is my favorite time of year … waiting and anticipating the first cold snap of the season … when the air turns crisp, leaves begin to float gracefully to the ground, coffee tastes better and animals and children alike seem to get a boost of extra playfulness. It’s magical.

Sounds a bit like the opening of a Hallmark movie, but … it is real. Brenham and Washington County can’t be replicated. This is true Texas. Unapologetically Americana. Authentic.

Fall wouldn’t be complete in Brenham without candy-littered streets from the annual homecoming parade, including of course, homecoming queen hopefuls waving from convertibles. It doesn’t get much more Americana than this, right?

October boasts creatively dressed scarecrows posed in front of Downtown Brenham shops. Each one lovingly put together by dozens of schoolchildren and individuals alike, who have put their hearts into these straw creations, in hopes of winning one of the many prizes. Local spirit and pride are reflected in each entry.

Our community of Chappell Hill, located just 15 minutes east of Brenham, throws its annual Scarecrow Festival. This popular event draws huge crowds to its tiny town to shop, eat and welcome the season with a smile. Tent-lined streets are full of holiday shoppers, happy to escape big city mass merchandise to enjoy unique street vendors and small-town life.

November continues the holiday spirit with what we’ve all been looking forward to all year long … the Christmas Stroll and Lighted Parade in Downtown Brenham … an event that will melt the heart of even the worst Scrooge. Downtown Brenham comes to life with residents and visitors mingling on the streets and throughout the shops. No crowded malls here, just a hometown atmosphere of genuine Christmas spirit. Brenham’s Downtown shopkeepers dazzle and surprise unsuspecting visitors with unique finds. Inside some of the antique architecture, new hip ventures are alive and well and waiting to be discovered.

The Stroll is kicked off with the tree lighting ceremony where onlookers are serenaded by a Girl Scout choir singing carols. As night continues to fall, the parade begins. Beautifully decorated and fully lit floats, marching bands, horses and dancers parade through Downtown, all to the delight of friends, family and visitors. And of course, the man of the hour SANTA makes his grand entrance to the squeals of excited children lining the streets, frantically waving to him as he passes by, perched atop a Fire Truck.

People passing, children laughing, meeting smile after smile … doesn’t just happen in a song or a Hallmark movie. It’s in Brenham, Texas and Washington County … where It’s a Wonderful Life! Sorry, couldn’t help myself!

 

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

Isn’t that what mom always said?  We have locally owned restaurants who proudly specialize in creating ‘love on a plate.’  Imagine steamy, fluffy biscuits the size of your fist slathered in creamy sausage gravy; buttermilk pancakes piled high, dripping with real melted butter and syrup; farm fresh eggs, thick slabs of bacon with a side of hot coffee.  The list of morning eateries is extensive and we all have our ‘go-to’ places that help us push the reset button to face the day with a smile and albeit, tight pants!

Here’s a list of places in Washington County to get your day started off on the right foot!

  1. Andrea’s Taco Shop – open 24-hours (Friday & Saturday only) – authentic mom & pop taqueria
  2. Blue Willow Café (Burton) – Tweaked Eggs Benedict are a favorite, but so are the Banana Pancakes Banana pancakes with bacon
  3. Brenham Grill (located inside Ant Street Inn, serves breakfast only on weekends) everything from granola to eggs Florentine
  4. The Dreamliner Diner, home of a HUGE bacon, egg, & cheese biscuit (lovingly referred to by some staff members as a “baby head biscuit” because that’s how big it is)bacon egg & cheese biscuit
  5. Chappell Hill Bakery & Deli - Sausage & Fruit kolaches and traditional breakfast
  6. Chappell Hill Sausage Company (closed Sundays) – can’t get more fresh than where the sausage is made
  7. Daisy’s Mexican Food – authentic Mexican breakfast including menudo and migas migas and breakfast taco
  8. Las Americas Latin Cuisine (Downtown Brenham)– weekend brunch specials like Fried eggs & chorizo with mimosasFried egg & chorizo sandwich
  9. Manuel’s Mexican Restaurant – breakfast only available Saturdays
  10. Ninety-Six West (Downtown Brenham) – another weekend brunch favorite like smoked salmon eggs benedict along with mimosas & bloody mary's Bloody Mary and Mimosa
  11. Santa Fe Café – only open weekdays in Downtown Brenham, but a local favorite
  12. Smitty’s Café & Bakery – where everything is homemade & made from scratch chicken and waffles

And who doesn’t need a JOLT of caffeine??  Try our locally-owned coffee shops!

  1. Independence Coffee Roastery – that’s right, roasted right here in Brenham
  2. Mescalito Coffee (inside Ballad of the Bird Dog)
  3. Wired & Inspired Coffee Shop (inside The Pomegranate)

In a hurry?  Try these places for a quick & easy bite.

  1. Weikel’s Bakery – kolaches, just like homemade
  2. Max’s Donuts - donuts, kolaches and breakfast tacos

Sometimes the best things in life are FREE … or pretty close …

TOP TEN FREE THINGS

to do and see in Washington County!

 

The ‘dog days’ of summer are here and you are dreaming of having fun—something beyond the blow up pool in the backyard. You NEED to get out of the house, experience a complete change of scenery, make some memories, feed your spirit … without breaking the bank! No worries. Head to the Brenham and Washington County area! It’s an easy drive away—halfway between Houston and Austin—and a world away from the hustle and bustle of big city life.

 

  1. Window Shop in Historic Downtown Brenham and Chappell Hill

You’ll feel the stress melting away as you stroll our peaceful historic streets and experience small town friendliness and charm. Take a moment to sit in the shade of huge oak trees surrounding the Courthouse in Brenham or the historic buildings in Chappell Hill and don’t be surprised if you get a friendly wave or two. FREE!

Downtown Chappell Hill stores

  1. New Splash Pad near Fireman’s Park

Take a seat at a nearby picnic table and watch the kids laugh and play in the cool, clean water. You might just want to join them! Good, clean fun for all. FREE!

Splash Pad at Fireman's Park

  1. Peeka Ranch Alpacas

Get up close and pet these beautiful animals. You’ll fall in love as soon as you gaze into their sweet eyes, complete with enviable long eyelashes! FREE for those under 17, $5 for adults! Appointments required.

Alpacas

  1. Texas Cotton Gin Museum in Burton

History comes alive with this one-of-a-kind experience. Built in 1914, the Burton Farmer’s Cotton Gin is the oldest operating gin in the U.S. The museum is full of cotton memorabilia and the store offers fun, cotton-inspired shopping.  Open Tuesday – Saturday from 10-3. The Museum is FREE for everyone.  Tours at 10 am and 2pm are FREE for children 5 and under; Students $4; Adults $6.

Model T's in front of Cotton Gin

  1. Let Giant Murals Inspire Your Creativity

Drop by the Visitor Center in Downtown Brenham and pick up a passport or download a map  here, that will direct you to all the breathtaking murals that have been painted by famed muralists from around the country. Truly inspiring—and great backdrops for selfies! FREE!

Sam Houston Mural

  1. Pleasant Hill Winery

Call and make an appointment to harvest juicy grapes that are ready for the perfect homemade jellies and jams … or your own wine making. The winery is not open on the inside for tasting, but on weekends you can always buy a bottle and enjoy a glass from the safety of the great outdoors. Grape picking is FREE while supplies last, typically through the second week of August. 

Grapes at Pleasant Hill Winery

  1. Chappell Hill Lavender Farm

Ahhhh, the sweet smell of lavender! Take a scenic drive to the Chappell Hill area and walk among the rows and rows of gorgeous lavender plants. The shop offers a variety of lavender-inspired soaps, food, gifts and more. Fresh air and lavender are FREE !  Open Thursday – Sunday, see website for hours.

Lavender fresh cut in basket

  1. Antique Rose Emporium

This 8-acre complex features nature in all its glory and is a definite “must see.” Photographers love the endless vignettes (charges apply for professional photo shoots). Gardeners are inspired by the creative uses of plants and found objects that dot the gardens. Nature lovers get their ‘fix’ of all things beautiful in these display gardens. FREE! Open Thursday – Sunday, see website for hours.

Antique Rose Emporium gardens

  1. Old Baylor Park

Sprawling old oak trees shade this historic site, where stone ruins remain from Baylor University’s earliest days. Picnic tables and a playground make this a favorite stop for traveling families. An easy two-mile round-trip walk (or drive) takes you to Independence Cemetery, one of the most soulful historic cemeteries in the area. FREE!

Ruins of Old Baylor

  1. Blue Bell Creameries

No trip to our area is complete without visiting the creamery. Browse the Blue Bell Visitor Center for all kinds of history, pictures, and videos. Savor a generous scoop of your favorite Blue Bell ice cream from the Parlor (only $1 per scoop) and a trip to the Country Store for a unique gift. Important Note: Observation Deck is not currently open, but the Parlor, Visitor Center and Gift Shop are FREE and open Monday – Friday 8am-5pm.

Blue Bell ice cream in a cup with spoon.

Plan a weekend stay to do it all!  There’s plenty to do and see in the fresh open spaces of our area—without breaking the bank. You are FREE to roam our area. See you soon!

Summer Fun

So, you want to run away from home?

THREE HUGE reasons why you should head to Brenham and Washington County this summer!

Reason #1  -  Amazing, Delicious, BBQ from Texas’ best Pit Masters featured on Brenham’s BBQ Trail

Reason #2 - FAMILY FRIENDLY GRAPE-STOMPING FUN AT LOCAL WINERIES

Pleasant Hill Winery  - Experience “Crush for Fun”, offered four consecutive weekends in July and  August. You get to pick the grapes and stomp “Lucy-style” and put your footprints on a T-shirt.

Windy Winery - the Harvest Grape Stomp offered weekends in July and August is summer classic fun with picking and squishing grapes … and of course, making purple feet T-shirts!

More wine tasting and micro brews

Saddlehorn Winery - Escape to the picturesque countryside of Burton, TX to sip and savor award-winning wines. Open daily.

Texas Star Winery  - Nestled in beautiful Chappell Hill, enjoy award-winning wines in a charming tasting room or out under the trees.

Brazos Valley Brewing Company - Located a block from historic Downtown Brenham, this independent craft brewery is a ‘must do’ while here.

#3  FESTIVAL FUN FOR EVERYONE

 

July 4th Picnic at Barrington Plantation  - Experience an 1850s style Independence Day celebration! Musket firing, toasts and a reading of the Declaration of Independence will commemorate the day. Bring your own picnic basket, and enjoy al-fresco dining.

 

Hot Nights, Cool Tunes  - Saturday evenings July 11, 18 and August 1st; Bring your lawn chair and gather around the historic downtown square to listen to the sounds of live music and walk through the classic car show. Admission and parking is FREE!

 

 

Summer Sip  - August 8th; stroll through unique shops in historic Downtown Brenham while tasting signature drinks offered by local merchants.

 

Chappell Hill Lavender and Wine Fest - August 8th; fields of lavender provide a beautiful backdrop for this annual event that features tastings, crafts, music, demonstrations and a place to unwind.

When you’re ready to run, make Brenham your finish line!