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!

 

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!