Escape the city for a relaxing day in Brenham
I was born and raised in Brenham, the quaintest of quaint small Texas towns. Like most angsty teenagers, I couldn’t wait to escape. I wanted to travel the world, learn new languages, and to live abroad. Brenham was just TOO small for me, I thought to myself. I never fully appreciated all it had to offer until I left. Brenham is a gorgeous little town, with a beautiful historic downtown and green rolling hills in the surrounding countryside. Recent years have seen the opening of new restaurants and bars that even a big city hipster would enjoy showing off on their Instagram feeds. This unassuming small town has a lot to offer for anyone willing to look, come visit and spend a day in Brenham!
Where, What, When
Brenham is just an hours drive northwest from Houston on Highway 290 (smack in the middle of Houston and Austin). It’s an easy day trip for anyone desperate for a day in the country. Brenham is best known for being the home to Blue Bell Ice Cream, the best ice cream in the world. That’s a scientific fact. I’m not biased whatsoever…
The wide downtown streets are filled with antique shops, boutiques, and cute cafes. And just outside town, you can visit a piece of history at Washington-on-the-Brazos, the Birthplace of Texas. The best time to visit is in the spring to view the wildflowers when the bluebonnets turn the surrounding countryside blue.
Eat & Drink
Funky Art Cafe: This cafe, located in the back of the Pomegranate store on Alamo Street, is a great spot for lunch. They offer delicious salads, sandwiches, and wraps, including great vegetarian options.
Must Be Heaven: This local classic on the corner of Alamo and South Douglas has been open as long as I can remember. Enjoy the 50’s diner vibe with a sandwich and soup of the day. Don’t leave without a slice of housemade pie a la mode with a scoop of local Blue Bell Ice Cream.
Dinner & Drinks
96 West: 96 West is located just across the street from the courthouse. Enjoy tapas and a glass of wine on their outdoor patio. (They also have a killer brunch!)
Home Sweet Farm: This is my favorite addition to the downtown scene. It’s a farmers market selling local produce and also a biergarten. They also have a good wine list, which is not often the norm in smaller towns that tend to lean towards the beer. Check their schedule for live music on their great backyard style patio.
BT Longhorn Steakhouse: Come here for dinner if you have a hankering for a steak (sirloin or chicken fried). If you’re not hungry, at least come for a drink to see the massive, antique bar. It’s stunning.
Brazos Valley Brewery: If you search for local breweries every time you visit a new place and can’t wait to try the new craft something or other, this is your place. Is it good? I have no idea, I hate beer. But I hear good things.
Leave downtown to try some good ole Texas barbecue. There are two great spots, a local classic and a new stand out.
Nathan’s Barbecue: I grew up eating Nathan’s BBQ. When I was in high school it was part of a gas station. I’d go multiple times a week to pick up dinner, placing our order at the convenience store cash register. It’s grown since then and they’ve remodeled into a full-on restaurant. After all these years, it’s still my favorite BBQ!
Truth: Open 11 am until sold out, Friday-Sunday. Get in line early and be prepared to wait. Truth is only a few years old (open since 2015) but has quickly become a foodie destination. We all know the meat is great, however, the unsung hero here is the delicious homemade cake, so save some room for dessert!
Hunt Out the Street Art Downtown
The Texas Arts & Music Festival takes place every October. Aside from the live music and film screenings, it also features artists painting some gorgeous murals and street art throughout downtown. Keep an eye out for the street art when you’re downtown and find your favorite! Mine is obviously this st, I’m such a predictable cat lady.
Visit the Blue Bell Factory
I’ve been going on tours of the Blue Bell factory since I was in first grade. It was the go-to field trip every year. What kid doesn’t want to see ICE CREAM get made, ICE CREAM! I still love going for a visit, either to take a visiting friend or on my own for a scoop in the tasting room. Unfortunately, tours are only during business hours, Monday-Friday, when the factory is actually in production.
Where to Stay
Want to turn your day in Brenham into a weekend in Brenham? I recommend booking a room at Ant Street Inn. I may be a bit biased because I had my wedding at Ant Street. But I would only have my wedding there if it were truly the best, right? The building was originally a general store. The store has become the reception hall and the offices upstairs have become the guestrooms, decorated to the brim with gorgeous antiques. It’s merely a bonus that the freezer in the communal kitchen is stocked with Blue Bell Ice Cream.