What to do in Wimberley, Texas
FROM NATURAL SPRINGS TO ANTIQUE SHOPS, THERE'S PLENTY TO ENJOY IN THIS HILL COUNTRY TOWN
“Take off your shoes,” says Ulli Johnston, owner of the Wild West Store, a small shop within walking distance of Wimberley’s main square. She looks at my feet, rubs her hands together, and waves her fingers in the air before disappearing into another room lined with boots arranged on floor-to-ceiling shelves.
Johnston is famous for being “the Boot Whisperer,” a term coined by a customer more than 10 years ago. She memorizes her inventory and usually can fit people in three tries based on their price range and style request. It took years to build her inventory of vintage and custom-made boots crafted from the best quality leather. Roughly 30 percent of her inventory has never been worn, the rest is in mint condition—and every pair has the original sole.
“They are a little big,” says Johnston as I slip on my second pair. “I can tell by the sound.” She reappears with a third—tall black boots made by Lucchese Boot Company in San Antonio more than 40 years ago. Most boots are too big for my skinny calves, but these fit perfectly with just enough toe room. As I admire them in a mirror, Johnston turns to a group of customers to extend her customary greeting: “Welcome to boot heaven!”
With its stellar selection of cowboy kicks, Wimberley is a haven for boot shoppers. The postcard-perfect town is also an ideal spot to enjoy the outdoors, take a dip, and sample local treats like savory pie or quirky-flavored popcorn. Whether you’re visiting Wimberley for the weekend or just passing through for an afternoon—the town is less than 40 miles from Austin, after all—here are some of its must-see attractions.
One of the best known sites in Wimberley is the Blue Hole, a natural swimming area lined with cypress trees that are draped with rope swings. It’s located in a 126-acre park that includes 3.5 miles of trails, picnic areas, and an amphitheater. Swimming season starts during weekends in May and runs daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Traveling this month? Jacob’s Well Natural Area is another beloved swim spot, home to a 140-foot deep artesian spring lined with limestone cliffs and one of the longest underwater cave systems in Texas. Take note: advanced online reservations are required for swimming.
Tuesdays through Sundays, watch one of the glassblowing demonstrations at Wimberley Glassworks, located just south of town. Stroll through the showroom to view the elaborate collection of vases, sculptures, and lighting. Owner Tim deJong opened the business after falling in love with Texas while on vacation and will celebrate the shop’s 25-year anniversary in June. For vintage treasures, wander through chick-a-dee’s collection of vintage and antique collectibles displayed through five rooms of an old stone cottage, or check out Broadway Paul’s Collectibles, filled with old gas tanks, roller skates, and vintage signs. Some shops are only open on Fridays and weekends, so call ahead before visiting. And, of course, no trip to Wimberley is complete without a visit to the Wild West Store to see the Boot Whisperer. The boot mecca is only open by appointment. Be sure to call a few days in advance (512-293-4890), or keep an eye out for her hot pink “The Boot Whisperer is in!” sign on weekends, just in case she happens to be open.
Pack a few chairs, and grab a lawn spot at The Corral Theatre, an outdoor cinema that’s been around since the late 1940s. The theater runs the latest releases on Friday nights and weekends from May through September with special showings other times of year. While in town, stop by the Wimberley Valley Visitor Center to pick up a free map of the Bootiful Wimberley outdoor art exhibit, which highlights 50 giant cowboy boots painted by local artists on display across town.
There’s a flavor for everyone at Papa Hoo’s Hill Country Popcorn. Top sellers include sea salt caramel, dill pickle, and zebra caramel (milk chocolate, white chocolate, and sea salt caramel). Grab a slice at Brewster’s Pizza and try a micro-brew from Wimberley Brewing Company, which is housed in the same building. For slightly more upscale fare, order the chicken breast served in a skillet with green chile–bacon grits from The Leaning Pear. The restaurant’s interior is just as impressive as the food, with floor-to-ceiling windows and a large scenic patio. Craving dessert? Satisfy your sweet tooth with a pie from Wimberley Pie Company or a cookie from Sugar Shack Bakery.
Sample a beer or two at Middleton Brewing, an award-winning brewpub six miles south of Wimberley. Try one of its 14 taps, such as the Bourbon Barrel Funk, the spicy Pepperhead IPA, or the Black Lab Porter, which won a medal at the 2016 U.S. Beer Open Championship. If you’re in town on a weekend, start your morning with a cup of locally roasted coffee at Fisticuffs Coffee Roasters.