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Spring fever

Bluebonnets rising: Where to go in Brenham for a weekend of flowers, food and fun

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We're convinced some couples decide to have children *just* to snap these bluebonnet pics. Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
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A poodle-skirt-clad waitress will serve your burger at the Southern Flyer restaurant in the Brenham airport. Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
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Grab a slice of Sawdust Pie after lunch at Must Be Heaven. It's the only place we've ever seen it. Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
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Staring contest: True Texas longhorns roam the fields near Brenham. Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
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Start your day with some Rocket Fuel, Pecan Roast or Settler's Blend from the Independence Coffee Co. Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
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Springtime in Brenham means you're sure to spot plenty of colts and calves. Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
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Bluebonnets abound in Washington County. Grab your camera! Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
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Veer off the main highways to find the best bluebonnet coverage. Courtesy Photo
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The Brazos Belle offers farm-fresh French favorites in Burton, Texas. Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
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Brenham is the star of Washington Country and the capital of the Bluebonnet Trail. Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
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The weekly fare varies at the Brenham Farmers Market, but each week brings tasty treats. Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
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We love the BLTA at Must Be Heaven in downtown Brenham. Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
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Bluebonnets rising: State flowers blanket our Texas fields at the end of March. Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
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Warm weather and generous rains foretell a prosperous spring season for bluebonnets. Wonderful news, considering last year’s rain-sapped crop was sheer misery.

What is it about bluebonnets that brings out the Texan in us? Heads mock-explode in rapt contemplation of this magical wildflower phenomenon, and cars line our highway shoulders as amateur photographers dot the roadside fields. I’m pretty sure some couples have children *just* so they can plop them down in a blue patch for a snapshot or twelve. Yes, it’s a rite of passage — but the ritual is fascinating and festive and fun, so make this your year to play along.

 What is it about bluebonnets that brings out the Texan in us?

 The best place to troll for bluebonnets is Brenham (and all of Washington County). A few patches have already popped up along Highway 290, but you’ll want to plan a trip for late March to catch them in full force.

Book a weekend at the Ant Street Inn, Mariposa Ranch, or (for a splurge) Inn at Dos Brisas — and follow our basic itinerary for a weekend retreat that will leave you calm, content, and copiously countrified.

Drive up Friday in time for dinner at Ernie’s American Bistro, a roomy spot in downtown Brenham. This place offers a mix of “regional” specialties (like tortilla soup and enchiladas) and more traditional far (like a baked spinach salad, pork chop, and meatloaf).

On Saturday, grab your morning pick-me-up at the Independence Coffee Company, a lovely, light-filled shop in downtown Brenham. Beans are roasted in the nearby tinytown of Independence, and the barristas are knowledgeable and nice.

Afterward, walk over to the Brenham Farmers Market, located in a one-room red building just off the square. Grab a fruit kolache, breakfast taco, or grilled sausage while you peruse the produce and handmade crafts.

Then take some time to stroll the square, stopping by stores like the Antique Gypsy or Fancy That, before hitting Must Be Heaven for lunch. Must Be Heaven is an old-fashioned eatery offering delicious sandwiches and pies. Sandwiches are made to order and served with a smile — plus chips or an apple. Grab a slice of Sawdust Pie on your way out; this is the only place we've ever seen it.

Ready for some bluebonnets? Jump in the car and head north on Highway 36; then turn down the smaller thoroughfares — like FM 390 — to find the best patches. If you hop out to take a photo, be careful to stay on public land.

 Ready for some bluebonnets? Jump in the car and head north on Highway 36; then turn down the smaller thoroughfares — like FM 390 — to find the best patches.

 On your way back to town, stop by the Blue Bell Creamery for an afternoon snack, fresh from the vats. Tours are available on weekdays only (and you’re *really* not missing anything without one) but the newly remodeled ice cream parlor is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Your "scoop" (which is more like two) will set you back a whole dollar.

For dinner, swing over to the Brazos Belle in nearby Burton. This classically French restaurant lives in a lovely historic building that dates back to 1875. French chef Andre Delacroix trained in Paris before working for ten years at the Four Seasons in Houston; as he grew weary of Big City Life, he concepted and opened the Brazos Belle, offering a simple, seasonal menu of farm-fresh French favorites — like a rockin’ cassoulet.

On Sunday, drop by Andrea’s Taco Shop for your breakfast taco fix; then head down Highway 105 to take in the landscape. You’ll see bluebonnets, sure — but you’ll also find farmhouses, wildflowers, cows and horses nursing their young, and legit Texas longhorns.

Hungry again? Hit the Southern Flyer for lunch. This 1950’s-style diner sits in the Brenham Municipal Airport. Young waitresses steal the show in poodle skirts and saddle oxfords, but the burger and patty melt are dreamy, too. Don't forget the chocolate malt — made with Blue Bell ice cream, of course.

Head, heart, and tummy full, you can head back to Houston relaxed and refreshed. Be sure to let us know how those photos come out.

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