They cover roadside meadows like a carpet from late March to mid-April, these wildflowers that are Texas’ official state flower. Bluebells are a welcome temporary break from the cold, wind and slush still clinging to life back home on the Plains. And the locals in and around Fredericksburg, Texas, know it. You can buy towels, sweatshirts, Christmas ornaments, note cards—well, just about anything, really—with bluebells on them.
For me, it’s enough to drive with the windows rolled down and drink in the colors. And driving in the comfort of your own car is a big MS equalizer.
It’s a rite of spring for Texans to hit the highway in hopes of spending just a few hours among the fragrant fields. But for those of us who live a little farther away, Fredericksburg has more than flowers to round out a sojourn south. U.S. 290 teems with 15 upscale, accessible wineries. The Lyndon B. Johnson Historical Park reveals a nuanced look at the president who became known for his Civil Rights successes and Vietnam war failures. The National Museum of the Pacific War unspools a stunning, heartbreaking story of the people and battles that led to the end of World War II. Art galleries and restaurants with alfresco dining line the main street of this German-settled town of 10,530. Wildseed Farms boasts the biggest variety of wildflower seeds the country.
All of it is wheelchair and scooter accessible. It would be easy to spend a few days here and feel like you’ve seen it exactly as able-bodied travelers do: sipping wine, learning history, dining at the excellent Cabernet Grill, where they pair wine with native cuisines; and, of course, snapping pictures of the bluebells. Hiking trails await out in the hills; I skipped them because they are pretty strenuous, and I just can’t make my feet go where I want them to these days.
“Sunday houses,” refurbished cabins that German settlers used years ago, have become posh places to stay in Fredericksburg. But for an easy, accessible option that you won’t find anywhere else, stay at the Hangar Hotel out by the airport. Its classy common areas and rooms reflect the 1940s glamorous era of airline travel, and it’s a treat to imagine what flying was like back when. But this trip itself won’t make you yearn for what your abilities were before MS. It’ll just make you grateful that you get to see this all for yourself.