Blanco, the little Texas Hill Country Town that sits about 45 miles West of Lake Travis and 45 miles North of San Antonio, is a quaint community that aims to give Texas a good name.
“Texas Friendly Spoken Here” is one of the town’s official mottos, and after a day spent wandering the Square, you’ll start to realize just what makes this tiny town so special.
It’s not just the lovely rolling hills that the region is best known for, or the laid-back vibe the locals try to keep. It’s the Texas pride each person carries; from the farmers to the artists, from beer brewers to ranch hands — everyone has a story to tell.
The Lavender Capital of Texas
The aromatic fields of sprouting lavender are why Blanco is also known as the Lavender Capital of Texas.
In the beginning of summer, visit for its glorious lavender fields and the town’s annual Blanco Lavender Festival. As lavender farmers descend on the the grounds of Blanco County Courthouse for the yearly event, all manner of the flower is for sale, from soaps to lavender-laced food.
Take a short drive out to the various lavender fields to learn about the many stages of production and growth that the herb must go through before it comes to market. As a learning experience and as a shopping trip, it’s a fun expedition to take with the family for a very fragrant afternoon.
The History of Blanco
After taking a walk around the Square, you’ll be taken aback by the century-old frames that many restaurants and stores still inhabit. Several of the buildings that existed in the town since its founding can still be enjoyed today, as many have been painstakingly preserved over the years.
The Old Blanco County Courthouse is one of these, which has served as a courthouse in its earlier years, and dozens of other uses since its inception — such as when it was used as the town’s general hospital and schoolhouse for some years out of necessity.
These days, it assists patrons as a visitors center, gift shop and community center since its renovations began in 1986. At the visitors center, you’ll learn of the early townspeople that settled the area, and about the former Texas Rangers and pioneer stock men that were the first to bring commerce to this tiny town. Many of the first merchants to settle in the area had stores right on the Square.
Blanco State Park
Another one of the greatest features of the Blanco area is Blanco State Park, located along the banks of the Blanco River. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the early 1930s, it’s now one of the town’s best places to meet up and catch a glimpse of these flowing waters. Town Creek flows into the river, as you’re invited to relax and use many of the original benches and picnic tables that the CCC completed over 70 years ago.
All of the structures you see at the park are made out of this same stone that the area is best known for, including the stone chair just above the campgrounds, that was one of the premier look out spots that offered the best views of the park and the river. Over time, the growth of the woods would block the view, but many of these stone structures are still around today.
The Spaniards named the area after the white, or “blanco”, limestone that can be found at the bottom and outcroppings of the famous Blanco River. Native Americans used to camp around the flowing waters and today area farmers and ranchers still use it to water their crops.
Food and Brew
After you work up an appetite from walking and shopping, be sure to check out the town’s creative hub and cafe, Redbud Cafe, across the street from the Courthouse. The Redbud Cafe, which is so appropriately named for the stunning fields of redbuds native to the area, is attached to a pottery studio and gift shop, Brieger Pottery, making this one of the central meeting places for locals and out-of-towners.
Real Ale Brewing Company is just around the corner from downtown Blanco and is a mainstay of the historic town. Show up on a Friday to catch Real Ale Brewing Co.’s weekly tour and tasting. From 2-5 pm, you are invited to sample and savor some of the newest brew creations by head brewer, Brad Farbstein, and take a tour of the facilities. Tours begin around 3 and 4 pm and will give you some of the most in-depth beer education around.
Spend a day (or a weekend) exploring all the hidden gems just outside of the Lake Travis area. Take a trip out to Blanco to experience all this tiny Texas town has to offer.