Kerrville, Texas: A Small Town Paradise

Lisa Fritscher January 27, 2012 No Comments

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Kerrville Texas

Kerrville is quaint and picturesque

When Dad and I traveled through the American Southwest in the summer of 2011, we did a lot of base camping–staying in membership campgrounds, federal lands or state parks within an hour of major cities. This allowed us to pay lower nightly rates and explore the countryside, rather than exclusively focusing on known tourist destinations. For our trip to San Antonio, Texas, we chose a membership park in Medina Lake, an hour outside of town. While there, we met a family that lived nearby. They suggested that we take a day trip to Kerrville, approximately 45 minutes from Medina Lake and an hour from San Antonio. The town proved well worth the drive.

About Kerrville

Charles Schreiner Home Kerrville Texas

The former home of Charles Schreiner is now a grand museum

Located in the heart of Texas Hill Country, Kerrville was founded as a shingle-making camp in 1846. Kerr County was established ten years later. Interestingly, the town was named not for its first resident, Joshua Brown, but for his friend, Major James Kerr. Historical records indicate that although Major Kerr, who was born in Kentucky, eventually settled in Texas, he never actually set foot in the region that bears his name.

The shingle business proved an instant success, driving Kerrville to prosperity and expansion. In 1857, a pair of millwrights started a grist and saw mill in town, providing reliable power and going on to become one of the biggest operations in that portion of Texas. In 1869, entrepreneur and former Texas Ranger Charles Schreiner moved in, opening a general store and eventually expanding into a wide range of business sectors.

Kerrville boomed following the Civil War, becoming a key player in the cattle industry. Unlike many Wild West towns, which focused primarily on a single industry and folded when that industry was no longer needed, Kerrville continued to grow and diversify throughout the 20th century. Today the town is home to just over 20,000 year-round residents.

Our Experience

Kerrville Texas Used Books

We're suckers for well-stocked used bookstores

Like all of Texas, Kerrville gets quite warm during the summer months. The temperature was around 105 on the day of our visit, but a brisk wind kept us from being too hot. Our first stop was the Visitor Center, conveniently located downtown. After picking up brochures and recommendations from the helpful staff, we wandered outside and down the block, poking around in interesting shops and reading restaurant menus. The town is quaint and beautifully manicured, and every local we encountered was extremely friendly and welcoming.

Hill Country Museum Antique Phone

Ask about the old phone on the wall!

After a not-so-brief detour into a wonderfully well-stocked used bookstore, we made our way to the Hill Country Museum. Housed in the former home of Charles Schreiner, the museum is open only limited hours–Thursday through Saturday from 11:30 to 3:00, as of 2011. The docent was actually running a bit late that day, but when she opened the doors at around 11:40, she warmly welcomed us and apologized for the delay.

The docent gave us a brief guided overview and then allowed us to explore the museum at our leisure. She had detailed responses ready for every question and offered fascinating tidbits about Kerrville’s early history. When she saw that we had more than a passing interest, she pulled out old record books and other documents and allowed us to peruse them at length. Be sure to ask about the old phone on the wall for a special surprise!

The museum’s collection features a wealth of artifacts that tell the history of the town’s affluent past. Unlike many historic collections, items were accessible rather than hidden behind glass. Children are welcome, but keep a close eye on them, as many of the artifacts are priceless today.

On a recommendation from a local, we stopped for lunch at the excellent and low-priced Hill Country Café. Featuring honest home cooking and friendly wait staff, the spot is a wonderful choice for families. After lunch, we headed to the Museum of Western Art.

Museum of Modern Art Kerrville Texas

The Museum of Modern Art is a true must-see

Opened in 1983, the museum is a work of art in its own right. The building is designed as a fortressed hacienda, flanked by life-sized bronze works outside. Inside, the museum features mesquite wood and Saltillo tile floors, along with brick arches and other artisan touches.

As of 2011, the Museum of Western Art is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 to 4. Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors aged 65 and above, $5 for students, $4 for military members with ID, and free for kids aged 8 and below.

The museum is dedicated to Western artists who tell the story of the West’s past and present. Cowboys, Native Americans, pioneers and explorers are all given equal recognition, and some exhibits focus on the women of the West. Special exhibits, tours and educational programs are frequently offered, so be sure to ask what might be going on during your visit.

Guadalupe River Kerrville Texas

We ended the day in a comfortable shelter overlooking the Guadalupe River

After leaving the museum, Dad and I headed to the Guadalupe River. A covered overlook provided informational signs on the history of Kerrville along with comfortable benches with a great view of the water. It was a terrific spot to end the day.

Tips for Parents

Clean, safe and slow-paced, Kerrville, Texas is a relaxing respite from the hubbub of San Antonio. Warm, welcoming locals, interesting things to do and plenty of space for kids to play make the town well-worth a day trip. Keep an eye on your kids as you would in any unfamiliar town, but allow them the freedom to explore.

Wear comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat, particularly if you visit during the long, hot summer. Cafés and shops are easy to find and virtually everyplace sells inexpensive bottled water. Stop frequently to rest, and ensure that everyone remains well hydrated.

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avatarAbout the Author:

Lisa is a full-time travel writer. She lives in an RV with her disabled father and writes about their experiences. Although she has no children of her own, Lisa loves being an Aunt to her own relatives and the children of all her friends. You can follow her adventures on her blog, Travel Confessions.

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