“Somewhere ages and ages hence: two roads diverged in a wood, and I-I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference,”-the renowned work of Robert Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken’ speaks to me as I enter the town of Kerrville, Texas. We all have a choice of paths to take in our leisure time and the path to this little gem won’t disappoint.
From impressive dining experiences right on the water to hiking, biking and strolling, Kerrville is the “do it” spot on the Guadalupe River.
From exotic game trophies and century-old antiques to the 390 branding irons dangling from the chandeliers, the spirit of the Old West can be felt in the entrance lobby of the Y.O. Ranch Hotel located in the heart of Hill Country. As impressive as it is comfortable all your needs can be met in one central location at the award-winning Branding Iron Resturant and Elm Waterhole Saloon. A perfect spot for holding a conference or any event where business and pleasure meet, the International Barbeque Cookers Association held their annual banquet and awards ceremony at the hotel during my stay. Guests enjoyed the outdoor swimming pool with a swim up bar and live music on Friday night and were comfortably housed in the hotel’s 11,000-square-feet conference rooms for their event.
After settling in and relaxing at the pool the evening before, I got up early and took a stroll on the grounds of the hotel whose landscaping team must be very busy. The outdoor amphitheater was a perfect spot for a morning stretch.
I ventured out into Kerrville early and found a trendy and bubbly coffee spot at PAX in downtown Kerrville. A perfect place for the health conscious, I found a delectable breakfast of avocado toast with roasted red pepper flakes and a creamy low-fat latte.
After breakfast I headed over to the Kerr Arts & Cultural Center inside the historic post office building. With three galleries and new shows every month, the Center has an extensive list of substantial art. From oils to watercolors and photos to crafts, impressive pieces are here. I found work that depicts life imitating art in the form of art imitating life-if you can grasp that concept. Images and reminders of photographers and artists of all kinds in the action of their craft. The sight of the sweat on the brow of the photographer whose breath is held as he takes the shot of the massive lion from less than 50-yards away or the calluses on the hand of the sculptor who completed the Mother’s Love sculpture erected in downtown Kerrville to honor the founder of James Avery Jewelry. These images portray the heart and soul of what goes on behind the scenes of artistic creation, and they can be found at Kerr Arts & Cultural Center.
I visited several shops in downtown Kerrville and then met Leslie and Julie from the Kerrville Convention and Visitors Bureau for lunch at Grape Juice. Named for the simplicity of grape juice, owners Patrick and Keri Wilt moved to the Hill Country after the birth of their second child to get out of the city and, “gain some sanity.”
A charming lunch, dinner or appetizer and beverage spot, this location is perfect for many occasions. With a simple menu and an extensive beer and wine selection, the Wilt’s philosophy is that at the end of the day it’s just Grape Juice, don’t over complicate the experience. In that, they have succeeded with a lovely list of appetizing meal options and choice beverages, the simplicity of Grape Juice makes it an easy, relaxed yet delicious choice.
After lunch I took in the displays and exhibits at Riverside Nature Center. On a 2-acre garden the Nature Center is the largest collection of Hill Country native plants, birds and butterflies. Within the garden I was able to bond with a butterfly for just long enough to capture the wingspan in a photo, which is about three seconds (one must be quick and quiet, with a steady hand). Also, in downtown Kerrville, along the Guadalupe River, the Kerrville River Trail can be accessed via the nature center.
In a fully-restored 1915 Kerrville Train depot, I found a restaurant with style, class and historical value at Rails A Cafe at The Depot. A special blend of flavor of yesteryear combined with a splash of crisp white, starched, button-up shirt class, this dining experience is one not to miss. From parmesan crusted tilapia to a selection of beef tenderloin, chicken Florentine and shrimp Alfredo, these meals are well-prepared. A single slice of their five-layer chocolate Irish cream cake signed, sealed and delivered the deal for me.
Just a short drive away the former owners of the Y.O Ranch Hotel have a truly unique experience and a must-see at the Y.O. Ranch Headquarters. With exotic game tours, trophy hunts and lodging available, this gem of a place is a rare, dramatic and awe-inspiring experience. With tours as short as two hours or as long as five, animals from across the globe can be seen, touched and photographed. I recommend the five-hour tour, if you’re going to do it, go all the way. You’ll receive a guided tour with an informative and fun Director of Tourism Debbie Hagebusch. You’ll learn about the history of the ranch and cover 5,400 acres of land animals and facilities. The tour breaks for lunch during the trip in a true ranch-style fashion with a home-cooked meal.
Rich in history, the Y.O. Ranch remained the property of the Schreiner Family since 1880 when Captain Charles A. Schreiner began amassing the 566,000 acres of ranchland in the aftermath of the Civil War. Historic properties such as the gravesite and massive home of “Charlie” are sights that will entertain your inner history buff. On October 5 of 2015, Byron and Sandra Sadler and their partners Lacy and Dorothy Harber purchased nearly 5,400 acres of the historical Y. O. Ranch Headquarters. Since then, extensive renovations have been made which include new roads, brush clearing, lodging and much more to come.
With majestic yet woodsy accommodations, the Y.O. Ranch Headquarters has hosted many destination weddings, retreats and conferences. For that extraordinary out-of-the-ordinary feel, the Y.O. offers special packages for many occasions. Activity options are plentiful including horseback riding, paintball, wildlife tours, trophy hunts, and others. In fact, if exotic game is your forte, the Y.O. hosts an annual Exotic Game Sale featuring consignment from top breeders. With extreme attention to detail, and a charismatic staff, each experience is truly, one-of-its-kind.
I couldn’t leave the town of Kerrville without visiting the Coming King Scripture Prayer Garden. Driving up a 1,930-foothill, a 77-foot and 7-inch tall cross overlooks Kerrville from a 23-acre sculpture and prayer garden. Larger than life itself, outdoor sculptures of biblical characters including Jesus on a horse and of Mary kneeling can be viewed along with a Cor-Ten steel alloy sculpture symbolically depicting the three giant nails that held Jesus Christ to the cross more than 2,000 years ago.
Praise music can be heard along the path in the Garden of Rocks, which features hand-written prayers displayed on rock after rock throughout the garden.
Max Greiner, Jr. said he was given a “vision” by the Holy Spirit to build beautiful Sculpture Prayer Gardens along major highways of the world, to bring glory and souls to Jesus Christ. another total stranger emailed the artist to say that God wanted Greiner to create a giant, 77-foot, 7-inch cross on Interstate 10, so people would come to Jesus. According to Greiner, a stranger named Marlon Quibodeaux of Beaumont, Texas, later drove eight hours to an artist’s studio to discuss his prophetic message in person and pray with the artist. It was Yom Kippur, September 22, 2002.
In the “vision,” the artist saw cars turning off the highway, into a beautiful garden park and reading the Gospel in their own languages, as they casually viewed monumental Christ-honoring sculptures. What exists today is an astonishing result of the vision of Christ through separate individuals who didn’t know one another coming together in the town of Kerrville.
By Michelle Keller