Ennis is one of the nearest destinations to view bluebonnets for those in North Texas. (Photo by Travel Texas)
Wildflower fanatics, it’s time to start your engines and plot out your course. Peak viewing in Texas typically runs from mid-March through April. With a color palette of blues, reds, pinks, and yellows, the highways and byways, farms, and fields of Texas are painting themselves with vivid swaths of bluebonnets, Indian paintbrushes, pink evening primroses, Mexican hats, roses, and poppies.
Weekend excursions, day trips, and leisurely drives are a springtime right of passage in Texas. If you’re new to the wildflower fun, get ready for a real treat. We’ve found some of Texas’ most tried-and-true destinations for wildflower viewing along with the local festivals that celebrate this grand —and colorful — tradition.
Ennis Bluebonnet Trail
The entire month of April is a spectacle in Ennis as fans trek the Ennis Bluebonnet Trail. Located about 35 miles southeast of Dallas, the famous trail showcases more than 40 miles of scenic wildflower drives mapped in detail by the Ennis Garden Club.
These trails are the oldest known in the state, and tens of thousands of visitors take the tour each year. Bluebonnets typically peak around the third week of April. This year’s trail map will be released on April 1. Check the trail website for all the details.
Hill Country wildflower splendor begins in Austin. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is a stunning first taste, plus the education provided at the center is worth your time.
In Fredericksburg, you can see the largest working wildflower farm in the country — Wildseed Farms. Then there’s the Willow City Loop ― 13 miles of country road known for its spectacular fields featuring a multitude of wildflower varieties.
Don’t forget to stop at the Blue Bonnet Cafe in nearby Marble Falls for a slice of its famous pies. Fun fact: The popular diner is not named after the Texas state flower. Instead, it’s an homage to the bonnets worn by settlers of the 1800s. Finally, the scenic drive along FM 1431 towards the Balcones Canyonlands offers a showstopping display of blooms.
Brenham is home to some of the brightest blooms in Texas. The annual Wildflower Watch program tracks notable blooms throughout Washington County. Check out the wildflower driving map that guides troves of seasonal visitors through downtown Brenham and on to Chappell Hill, Independence, Washington-on-the-Brazos, and Burton. This is a flower-filled day trip worth taking.
Just past Brenham and Burton, you’ll find yourself in picturesque Fayette County. Head South on 237 and you’ll meander through the quaint antiquing haven of Round Top past lazy meadows and pastures filled with cattle as well as a profusion of bluebonnets and Mexican hats. Time it right and you can hit the Spring Round Top Antiques + Design Show, which runs through April 2. The traffic will slow down, so you might as well make a pitstop in Round Top while you’re passing through.
When you finally arrive in La Grange the choice is yours, either head East or West on Highway 71. You can’t make a wrong choice.
The Flower Festival Circuit
Texas is filled with spring festivals built around those colorful flowers too. These are community gathering events that welcome travelers to take part and make many of them feel right at home. Here are a few notable festivals dedicated to Texas’ abundant wildflower blooms:
— April 1 to April 16: Wildseed Farms Wildflower Celebration (Fredericksburg)
— April 15: Wild About Wildflowers Family Workshop (San Antonio)
— April 14 to April 16: Ennis Bluebonnet Trails Festival (Ennis)
— April 15 and April 16: Official State of Texas Bluebonnet Festival (Chappell Hill)
— April 28 to April 30: Red Poppy Festival (Georgetown)
— May 19 to May 21: Wildflower Arts & Music Festival (Richardson)
Yes, it’s Texas wildflower season. You need to get out there and take in the sights and smells of spring in the Lone Star State before it’s too late.