The charming Hill Country  town of Kerrville (population 20,425) isn’t quite as quaint as it used to be, but it’s still well worth visiting—especially for the arts scene. It may not seem like a likely site for a cultural mecca, but artists, musicians, and writers are continually drawn to its rolling hills, cool breezes, and laid-back lifestyle.
Kerrville is best known for the annual Kerrville Folk Festival (830/257-3600, www.kerrville-music.com ), held for 18 days in late May and early June. The fest draws more than 100 singer-songwriters specializing in folk, Americana, country, and roots rock from across the globe for nearly three weeks of scheduled concerts and improvisational jams on stages and around campfires in the hills.
Several big-name artists played Kerrville early in their careers, including Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, Lucinda Williams, and Nancy Griffith. Other nationally known artists like Peter Paul and Mary, Judy Collins, and Janis Ian make regular appearances at the festival. While many people attend just the evening main stage shows, the true soul of the festival is in the campgrounds, where artists and amateurs spend hours singing and strumming in guitar circles under the majestic oaks and starry sky.
One of the city’s proudest and most impressive attractions is the Museum of Western Art (550 Bandera Hwy., 830/896-2553, www.museumofwesternart.org , 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Tues.–Sat., 1–5 p.m. Sun., closed Mon., $5 adults, $3.50 seniors, $2 students 15–18, $1 children 6–14). The first thing visitors notice is the building itself—hearty timbers and rugged limestone frame the exterior, and life-sized bronze statues occupy the grounds. Inside, the Wild West comes to life through artwork featuring cowboys, cowgirls, Native Americans, and frontier settlers.
A 5,000-volume library of art and history draws students and scholars, and the museum features distinguished artists in permanent and rotating exhibits following the tradition of Remington and Russell in their celebration of the Old West.
Accommodations: Kerrville offers a wide range of accommodations, from guest ranches to river cabins to bed-and-breakfasts to hotels, motels, RV parks, and campgrounds. The Kerrville Convention and Visitors Bureau offers a comprehensive list of lodging options at www.kerrvilletexascvb.com . The friendly staff is also happy to lend a hand via phone or in person.
Contact them at 800/221-7958 or drop by for a visit at 2108 Sidney Baker Street between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday, or Sunday between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.