With such a picturesque setting, there is no doubt the people of Fredericksburg take recreation seriously. A combination of three state parks and numerous municipal parks create opportunities for historical exploration, gathering with friends and family, fitness pursuits and places to simply enjoy the beauty of nature.
State Parks Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historical Site Named for the 36th President of the United States, this park and historic site gives visitors an incredibly unique perspective into one of the country’s most noteworthy citizens and presidents. The facility encompasses Johnson’s boyhood home, the ranch (including the famous Texas White House) and his burial site. This “circle of life” story tells the history of President Johnson’s life starting with his ancestors all the way through to his final resting place on his beloved ranch.
The park has two visitor centers, located 14 miles apart, operated by the national and state park services. At the National Park Visitor Center, in Johnson City, visitors can plan their trip, with the help of park rangers, to visit President Johnson’s boyhood home where he spent his childhood and the Johnson Settlement where his grandparents first settled in the 1860s. In Stonewall, the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park’s Visitor Center Complex lies in the heart of LBJ Ranch, where Johnson entertained world leaders on the banks of the Pedernales River. The ranch is open daily for guided tours.
The state park site additionally includes the Sauer-Beckman Living History Farm. Dressed in period attire, the employees take visitors a step back in time as they perform the daily chores and duties of operating a farmstead more than 100 years ago. Depending on the day and time of year, visitors can learn about soap-making, canning, butchering, sausage making, woodstove cooking and more.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area Enchanted Rock, the second largest granite structure in North America, lies just north of Fredericksburg on the Gillespie-Llano county border. The huge, pink granite exfoliation dome rises 425 feet above ground, 1,825 feet above sea level, and covers 640 acres.
Tonkawa Indians believed ghost fires flickered at the top, and they heard weird creaking and groaning, which geologists now say resulted from the rock's heating by day and contracting in the cool night. A conquistador captured by the Tonkawa described how he escaped by losing himself in the rock area, giving rise to an Indian legend of a “pale man swallowed by a rock and reborn as one of their own.” The Indians believed he wove enchantments on the area, but he explained that the rock wove the spells. “When I was swallowed by the rock, I joined the many spirits who enchant this place.”
Visitors to the park can enjoy hiking, technical rock climbing, camping, picnicking, bird watching and geological study. Known for having minimal light pollution, the park is also an excellent stargazing venue.
Municipal Parks From public gathering facilities and sporting fields to historic sites and nature trails, the City of Fredericksburg operates and maintains a wonderfully diverse park system enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.
Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park & Golf Course Along the banks of Live Oak Creek, this 150-acre park bears the name of Lady Bird Johnson, the legendary former First Lady of the United States who was well known for her love of nature and efforts to preserve and beautify the landscapes of Texas.
Considered the “crown jewel” of the Fredericksburg parks system, Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park is truly a community park with RV and tent camping, baseball and softball fields, a swimming pool, tennis courts, picnic facilities, open air and enclosed pavilions and an 18-hole golf course.
Lady Bird Johnson Golf Course is a recreational destination for an avid or occasional golfer. The 18-hole, par 71 course underwent a $2 million renovation, reopening in September 2012. The updated course now features a new staging area for tournaments, re-contoured fairways, new golf carts, concrete cart paths and an updated grill for post or pre-game food and drinks. The course is open Tuesday through Sunday and boasts 6,686 yards of green with industry-leading Champion Ultra Dwarf turf.
Marktplatz When John O. Meusebach laid out Fredericksburg, he set aside a parcel of land in the middle of town and described it as a place “where mothers would meet their children.” And while his vision of a downtown park took nearly 150 years to realize, Marktplatz (located on the 100th block of West Main) is one of the most utilized facilities in town. With its covered pavilions, landscaped lawns, playground, catering kitchen and public restrooms, Marktplatz hosts wedding receptions, family reunions, the Fredericksburg Farmers Market and many of the community’s festivals and special events. During the holiday season, Marktplatz is bathed in hundreds of thousands of glittering lights, plus a custom-made German Christmas pyramid, over-sized community Christmas tree and Nativity crache. And one of the pavilions is transformed into Eisbahn, an ice-skating rink open Thanksgiving until just after the New Year.
Cross Mountain Cross Mountain Park lies on the city’s northern edge. In the night sky, one will see the lighted cross atop the wooded hill’s 1,951 foot elevation. Originally a lookout point for Indians prior to the early settlers, the park still offers the same great view. Rustic walking trails lead to the cross that was erected in 1946 and is now permanently illuminated. This park has been identified as the next facility the City plans to develop, with restrooms, picnic areas and enhanced trails.
Fort Martin Scott One of Fredericksburg’s most famous historic sites is part of the city’s park system, with plans for redevelopment when funding is received. City Parks Director Jimmy Alexander describes Fort Martin Scott as a “diamond in the rough.” The fort, which was used by the U.S. Army from 1848-1853, was later occupied by the Texas Rangers and at one time was even used by the Confederate States Army. In 1883, the first Gillespie County Fair was held on the property, which had been purchased by John W. Braeutigam in 1870 after the Civil War, and became “Braeutigam’s Garten,” a dance hall. The abandoned fort parade grounds were dragged by logs for use as the first racetrack. In 1941 the property was purchased by the City of Fredericksburg.
Play and Recreation In addition to these signature parks, the City of Fredericksburg maintains several other parks filled with amenities for play, fitness and recreation. On the north side of the city, Elementary School Park was built as a partnership project. The Parks & Recreation Department built the park on school district-owned property. During non-school hours it serves as a public park. This unique collaboration offers a playground, open-air pavilion, walking trail, outdoor basketball court and practice fields.
Frantzen Park, located three blocks south of Main Street on the banks of Barons Creek, is the perfect place to slip away from the office for some fresh air and a picnic lunch or to take the kids to play. There are picnic tables and plenty of wide open space to support a variety of activities.
Old Fair Park, near downtown Fredericksburg, and Oak Crest Park, on the south side of the city, both include regulation-sized lighted baseball, softball and soccer fields. Perfect for organized team sports, the facilities include concession stands, restrooms and playgrounds. In 2012, Oak Crest Park was dedicated in the memory of Fredericksburg-native Chris Staats, a Texas National Guardsman who was killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, while on a mission to help farmers in that country.