It is a beautiful 2-1/2-hour drive from La Vernia to the quaint town of Brenham in Washington County. This relatively small town, population less than 16,000, has a lot going for it.
No. 1 is the Blue Bell Creameries, founded right here in 1907 as the Brenham Creamery to make butter from excess cream from local farmers. The first ice cream was made in a wooden tub filled with ice in 1911, and could produce two gallons per day. In 1930, the company’s name was changed to Blue Bell Creameries, to honor a native Texas wildflower, and the rest is history. Tours are offered weekdays only from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. A fee of $4 to $6 includes a scoop of your favorite ice cream at the end of your tour.
More than ice cream
But Brenham has so much more to offer. It is also known for its antique shows, drawing people from all across Texas. There are three great wineries located in Washington County -- Pleasant Hill, Windy’s, and Saddlehorn -- where you can taste wonderful Texas wines in some of the most beautiful and peaceful countryside around.
The Antique Rose Emporium is an 8-acre paradise designed to showcase roses and plants native to Texas. It is like no other plant nursery you have ever visited; you can get lost meandering along the pathways, with something new and exciting around each bend.
We visited the Burton Cotton Gin and Museum, the oldest working gin in America, and learned not only how the gin works, but also how the cotton farmers survived in this industry -- from wagon to cotton bale. The museum, open Tuesday through Sunday, is free; the tour is well worth the $4 to $6 fee.
If you have the time to spend a couple of days in Brenham, there are many fantastic places to stay. The Ant Street Inn Bed and Breakfast is in the heart of the old town and is filled with elegant antiques, while still offering all the modern conveniences, such as free wireless Internet and a specialty coffee machine just outside your door. Oh, yes, next to the coffee machine is a refrigerator with sodas and other drinks and the freezer compartment is filled with -- yes, you guessed it! -- Blue Bell Ice Cream. There are dozens of marvelous B&Bs and guesthouses scattered throughout Washington County.
Expand your horizons
From mid-March to mid-April is a great time to drive the Bluebonnet Trails. August is cutting season for lavender and for a small fee, you can cut your own bouquet at either Chappell Hill Lavender Farm or the Lavende Lavender and Olives in Brenham.
Just 21 miles from Brenham is Round Top, population 90. What attracts visitors to this tiny town are two things -- antique shops and pie. Folks drive for miles just to get a piece of pie from “The Pie Man” at Royer’s Round Top Café, where you can also get a really good meal, or Royer’s Pie Haven, just for desserts and coffee.
There is also live theatre at the Unity Theatre, great music at the Round Top Festival Institute, the Brenham Heritage Museum and the Silsby steam fire engine, and valuable history lessons at the Barrington Living Museum and the Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historical Site. The Brenham Hook & Ladder Company No.1 Museum houses “Samanthe,” a 1923 fire engine, one of only three of its kind left. And at Fireman’s Park, you can view an antique carousel that dates back to the late 1800s.
Plan your trip at www.visitbrenhamtexas.com. A visit to Brenham is well worth your time and one you will always remember.
Harry and Linda Kaye Perez are freelance writers from just down the road from Floresville. Together they share a passion for traveling and writing, and discovering the very best in all corners of the world. Email them at Harry-Linda411@att.net.
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