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. Canion Kountry Bakery, 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 Pomegrante)

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!

Bluebonnets and Beyond

It seems that we barely finish ringing in the New Year before people begin to ask us ‘How’s the bluebonnet crop this year?’

It’s a true obsession. A rite of passage. A Texas tradition carried on throughout countless generations. Almost a primal need to find the perfect spot to plunk down your babies, both human and fur, to ensure the bluebonnet season (and said family members) have been preserved in history. No other wildflower will do, it must be bluebonnets for a true Texas bluebonnet baptism ... no disrespect meant ... but sometimes it does feel almost as important.

Let’s be honest, finding a giant field of bluebonnets is like walking into a picture painted by the hand of God. There really is nothing like it, especially if we are lucky enough to experience a ‘Super Bloom’... oceans of bluebonnets as far as the eye can see ... cascading wave after wave, adorning our fields and hillsides.

However ... what if the Spring doesn’t give us a Super Bloom, or perhaps you miss the blooming peak by a week ... but you still NEED that bluebonnet fix.

No worries ... all is not lost!wildflowers under large trees at sunset

Take a moment and look around. It’s beautiful here, regardless of Super Blooms. Really beautiful, with so much to take in and enjoy ... beyond the bluebonnets.

Wildflowers are everywhere, in every color and are ever changing depending the time of spring or summer you visit our area. Multi-colored phlox carpet the earth, then bluebonnets, Indian paintbrushes and wine cups reach for the warm spring sun and Indian blankets and coreopsis let us know that summer is in full swing.

Wildflowers can be amazing tour guides in Washington County. They can lead you to places and experiences both expected and unexpected.

old baylor ruins and bluebonnetsA favorite stop for bluebonnet hunters is Old Baylor Park in Independence. Centuries old, graceful oak trees gently shade the area where old Baylor Female College once stood. Situated just off Highway 390, it’s a perfect location for travelers who have driven the scenic highway to relax and take photos.

While there, take a look around and you’ll discover hidden sites. The Independence cemetery is nearby where you’ll gaze on a treasure of old graves that lie beneath mounds of wildflowers that seem to understand they are gracing our ancestors who are at rest beneath. Truly a beautiful and historical place.

Texas Baptist Historical Museum welcomes visitors to discover the area’s past. This is where Sam Houston attended church ... you can even see where he carved his initials in the pew!

monument and bluebonnets

classic cars at old fuel station

 

 

 

 

 

Plan your visit around the lunch hour and come hungry! The Independence General Store (circa 1900) serves the best hamburgers around. Grab your sodas and longnecks from the coolers and order at the counter. Then, head out back and enjoy the breeze on the raised deck while waiting for your burger. No doubt you’ll be visited by the resident goat who will meander up the wooden stairs and peer through the gate to check for any leftovers ... and he’s usually not disappointed ... there’s always a bite or two left to share. Forgot to mention this is a casual affair, no tie needed. Ha!

garden and windmillTime to walk off lunch. Luckily, just five minutes up the road you’ll find the Antique Rose Emporium. This eight-acre botanical garden center offers views from every angle and antique rose varieties of all types ... not to mention a ton of native plants. It’s the perfect place to take a walk and breathe in the fresh air while surrounded by nature.

There’s so much to do and see, you’ll want to plan a weekend ... or a few days to take it all in!

Chappell Hill’s Official Bluebonnet Festival of Texas, Burton’s Cotton Gin Festival, and Brenham’s Cool Nights, Hot Tunes all land on the same date this year, April 18th. Enjoy the festivals by day and head to downtown Brenham that evening for a free outdoor concert under the stars, around the courthouse square. It doesn’t get more fun or more Texan than this ... it’s great fun for the whole family.crowd of people around cotton gin museum

Super Bloom? Only time will tell. Super Fun? Definitely … come exploring all the sites and sounds our area has to offer. There’s no better way to unwind, relax and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us in Brenham and beyond.

See you soon!band performing in downtown brenham people dancing in the street

Finding Holiday Magic in Brenham & Washington County

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 Christmas at the Mansion, a home tour and Christmas fair held at Brenham’s beautiful Giddings Stone Mansion. The mansion’s exterior and eight rooms will feature different holiday themes, designed and decorated by Jennifer Hermann of Hermann Furniture.  There is inspiration at every turn.  Self-guided tours are available all weekend and even two separate seatings for a special lunch on Saturday (reservations required).

Antique Rose Emporium’s 32nd Annual Fall Festival of Roses is a favorite outdoor experience in November. Breathing in the cool rose scented air while taking in spectacular blooms and learning how to care for them is a unique seasonal event not to be missed.

And, 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!

Photos by: Natalie Lange