Things to do in Brenham Texas: The Cutest Small Town in Texas
Things to do in Brenham, Texas to Escape the Big City
As a teenager I watched Gilmore Girls religiously. I was Team Jess, practiced my witty verbiage and wanted to live in Stars Hollow. It took me years before I realized I was already living in a Texan Stars Hollow. I was born and raised in Brenham, a tiny little town with a population of under 17,000 just an hour northwest of bustling Houston.
Brenham is quintessential small town Texas, with a beautifully restored 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, so come and spend the day in my hometown. There are so many fun things to do in Brenham, Texas!
How to Get to Brenham
Brenham is smack dab in the middle of Houston and Austin on Highway 290. If you’re driving from one to the other, you’re driving through Brenham. So there’s really no excuse to not stop and spend the afternoon here! This central location makes Brenham an easy escape for anyone desperate for a day in the country.
What to do in Brenham, Tx
Growing up, I was always aware of the omnipresent three B’s of Brenham: Blue Bell, Beer and Baseball. Unfortunately for me, I never cared for the latter two B’s but Blue Bell and I have always been fast friends. Blue Bell Ice Cream (the best ice cream in the world, if I do say so myself) may have put us on the map, but there are so many other things to do in Brenham, TX from brunch to bluebonnets (see what I did there?).
In this post, this Brenhamite gives you all the local favorites including how to see the famous bluebonnets, where to eat and how to spend a night out on the town.
Washington County: The best Place to see Bluebonnets
Texas’ official state flower blooms in full force each spring in Washington County, making Brenham the best place to see bluebonnets. You don’t even need to have insider knowledge or a special map to find them, they bloom right in town in the fields off of Hwy 290. You’ll find them behind Home Depot and Wal-Mart and behind the Las Fuentes restaurant.
Bring your camera, a cute quilt and your human or fur baby to get the epitome of Texas photos. If you don’t have a picture of yourself surrounded by bluebonnets, are you even from Texas? Please do be respectful, don’t trespass into private pastures and never, under any circumstance pick the flowers.
When do Bluebonnets Bloom in Texas
Bluebonnets paint the fields of Brenham blue every spring. April will be the best month to see bluebonnets in Texas but it will depend on the weather that year. Sometimes they bloom as early as March, or if it’s a cooler year they may bloom later and hang around into the early days of May. Check the Brenham website’s wildflower watch to be sure. Brenham is near Houston but if you’re in Dallas, plan on visiting the Ennis Bluebonnet Trail.
Where to Eat in Brenham
Where to have Lunch in Brenham
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 house made pie a la mode with a scoop of local Blue Bell Ice Cream.
Where to Have Dinner in Brenham
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 on the weekends!)
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.
LAS AMERICAS LATIN CUISINE | Las Americas opened since my last trip home so I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s on the top of my list of things to do when I go home next. They serve cuisine from across Latin America from tacos to pupusas.
Best BBQ in Brenham
NATHAN’S BARBECUE | Ain’t no fib about their rib. 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. We all know the meat is great (check out the photo from their Instagram above), however, the unsung hero here is the delicious homemade cake, so save some room for dessert!
LJ’S BBQ | LJ’s is open from Wednesday through Sunday, from 11 am until 6 pm or they sell out, whichever comes first. My dad and husband are big fans of LJ’s. They have all the greats you see at any BBQ joint plus delicious sandwiches and tacos (the way to my heart). Check their menu and read their story here.
Fun things to do in Brenham
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 Brenham and choose your favorite! Mine is this big cat pictured above.
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.
Go Antique Shopping Downtown
For decades, people have been driving from Houston to Brenham in search of antiques, and downtown is still home to great antique shops today. In Brenham’s historic downtown you’ll find shops selling antiques as well as cute boutiques and cafes. My favorite shops are Today and Yesterday and Hermann’s Furniture.
Appreciate History at Washington on the Brazos
Washington-on-the-Brazos is the birthplace of Texas. The Texas Declaration of Independence was signed here and it plays just as important role in Texas history as the more famous Alamo in San Antonio. This official Historic Site is worth a visit, especially if you’re exploring Brenham with children. Spend the afternoon at the expansive park, visit the Barrington Living History Farm, and tour the museum.
If you had told me I’d be writing about the Brenham nightlife scene when I was in high school, I would have laughed at you. Nightlife in Brenham? You mean going to a movie at the 3 theater cinema, then getting a Route 44 at Sonic then driving the back roads?
Well, things have changed and grown (including the cinema which now has 6 screens!). There are bars with live music worth driving up from Houston for featuring well-known musicians and local favorites alike. Here are some great things to do in Brenham for a night out on the town.
HOME SWEET FARM | This is my favorite addition to the downtown scene. It's a farmers market selling local produce with a patio featuring live music. They also have a pretty good wine list, which I love in a town that tends to lean towards beer. Check their schedule for live music performances.
FOUR STAR CONCERT HALL | I don’t think I’ve ever seen this building occupied before, so I’m thrilled to see it open and functioning as a concert venue in Brenham. Some great artists (including my favorite, Austinite Bob Schneider) have played here. Check their schedule to catch a show.
BRAZOS VALLEY BREWERY | If your one to 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. Brazos Valley Brewery is located in historic downtown, so duck and try one of their beers on tap.
Where to Stay in Brenham
Want to turn your day in Brenham into a weekend in Brenham? There are some adorable B&B's filled with antiques in town, check these out:
ANT STREET INN | I may be a bit biased because I had my wedding at Ant Street Inn, but I would only have my wedding there if it were truly great, right? This historic building was originally a general store. The store has become a reception hall and the offices upstairs are now 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. Read the reviews on Tripadvisor here.
HISTORIC HOLLE HOUSE | If you have a bigger group (girl's weekend?) or need more space for a family, consider renting the Holle House. You can rent the entire upstairs of the home and really spread out. It's a historic home and is well located. Check rates here.
WAKEFIELD FARMS | I didn't even know this place existed and now I want to stay here! You can rent your own little farmhouse and they're adorable! It's in the country and is a great option if you're looking for an escape from the city for the weekend. Check rates here.
HWY 290 | There are also a number of chain hotels like Hampton Inn and Comfort Suites on 290. They're very convenient if you're visiting from Houston or Austin and you always know you're going to have a nice stay at one of them.
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