Kickin’ it in Kerrville!

Kerrville is a part of the Hill Country that often gets passed by in favor of the burg to the north flowing with wine and German cuisine and its southern neighbors where the Frio runs clear. So I decided to give this town a chance, and I actually discovered that it doesn’t get enough credit for how cool it is.

Just like any Central Texas town, it’s got those hilly green valleys that roll through town, and it’s situated right on the pristine Guadalupe River — and if the nature’s not enough to get you there, there’s plenty to do in town!

As any great day trip should, I started my journey through Kerrville at the Hill Country Cafe. Small though it was, this nondescript building on Main Street was packed with folks grabbing a bite to eat before heading to work. It’s got all the classic decor and the overflowing breakfast plate of country chow we’ve all come to know and love at hometown cafes.

After scarfing down as much as I could of this countrified breakfast (which was probably about half), I discovered a newspaper article near the cash register proudly claiming that this cafe sits in the spot where Mrs. Florence Butts opened the first HEB in1905!

Next, it was time to tackle the main event: the James Avery Headquarters and Museum. Yes, before he was selling his famous silver bracelets and necklaces nationwide, James Avery was working out of his garage in Kerrville and selling his jewelry out of a cart in local neighborhoods and at nearby church camps.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect — a giant store, maybe a small museum? But let me just tell you — the headquarters is basically what I picture heaven to be like. Tucked away in rolling green hills of an old farm alongside duck-filled ponds, just driving around the campus, itself, is a glorious escape, but the real treasure is inside the on-site store.

Attached to the store is an awesome museum about James Avery’s life, including the bench where he used to work and some of his workshop tables that seem completely untouched, as if Mr. Avery might just walk right in and pick up where he left off.

For all you of who aren’t Avery-fanatics, there are exhibits on the jewelry-making process from sketching out new ideas and making models to the finished products. You’ll even see a haunting handwritten note from space shuttle Columbia Commander Rick Husband’s wife, Evelyn, which James received just two days before the space craft burned upon re-entry. In the note, she thanked him for the two silver charms he designed for Rick to take to space in honor of their family.

Out back of the store is a wide porch with a sweeping view of the Hill Country, but I was ready to get a little deeper into nature at the Riverside Nature Center. Inside the Center, they’ve got exhibits about the native plants of the area, but my favorite part was the Certified Butterfly Garden. Not only was it filled with Texas wildflowers and plants, but it was fluttering with butterflies!

I wandered back behind the Center to find that it is connected to the Kerrville River Trail which runs throughout the city along the Guadalupe River. What an awesome retreat in the heart of the city!

Heading back into downtown, I stumbled upon what may be one of the few remaining Gibson’s Discount Centers — a one-stop shop that started in Abilene in 1958 and grew to be a favorite store nationwide in the 60s and 70s. The famous chain eventually died out due to competition with Kmart and Walmart, but Kerrville’s little discount center still remains as a proud, over-packed and adoringly discounted relic of the “good old days.”

Next, I decided to explore downtown which wasn’t quite bustling yet. Down this little street right next to the Guadalupe (aptly named Water Street), I found the famous Grape Juice wine bar with a patio that backs up to the river. Word to the wise, get here early and be prepared for a long wait because the locals love this place!

On my way out of town, I stopped by the Museum of Western Art on the other side of the river. It was a beautiful gallery full of works (both paintings and bronze statues) depicting daring cowboys and life on the wild frontier! Out on the back patio, I took in the view of the sprawling hills.

Sure, its neighboring towns may get all the press, but Kerrville is a city truly deserving of recognition. It’s a little bit of everything all mixed together in one picturesque setting. Whether you’re a history buff, an art fanatic, James Avery’s biggest fan or just looking for a fun way to spend the day, this is the place for you!