Located about 65 miles Northwest of San Antonio, Kerrville has a population of around 23,000 people. However, its amenities rival municipalities several times its size, according to Charlie McIlvain, president and CEO of the Kerrville Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“The quality of life here is exceptional,” McIlvain says. “Most communities two to three times the size of Kerrville do not have the amenities that we have here.”
The Guadalupe River runs right through downtown Kerrville, providing opportunities for kayaking, swimming and canoeing. Other outdoor activities include hunting and shooting, as well as golf at Kerrville’s three golf courses: the private 27-hole Comanche Trace Golf Course; the private 18-hole River Hill Country Club; and the public 18-hole Scott Schreiner Municipal Golf Course. Kerrville’s Riverside Nature Center, located along the river, features a cacti garden, a native plant sanctuary and walking paths.
Kerrville is also well known for its art scene, boasting multiple live theater venues, the Museum of Western Art and the 75-piece Symphony of the Hills orchestra. The outdoor Coming of The King Sculpture Prayer Garden, a 25-acre garden park with $3 million worth of outdoor Christian art, is a draw for religious groups.
Kerrville is a destination for festivals and events throughout the year. Groups in particular enjoy the 18-day Kerrville Folk Festival in the summer and the month-long Texas Furniture Makers Show in the fall, McIlvain says.
The city will soon be home to more sports tournaments, with this year’s addition of a 118- acre sports complex that will open this fall. The complex will include 11 baseball fields, 20 acres of soccer fields and an indoor sports complex with batting cages.
To get to Kerrville, guests can fly into San Antonio International Airport or use the Kerrville/Kerr County Municipal Airport. The city’s location makes it a convenient drive-to destination. “Most roads lead to Kerrville,” says Jake Williamson, general manager of the Hill Country Youth Event Center in Kerrville. “People go through us to get somewhere else. Even if they’re passing on I-10, we’re right there.”
Hill Country Youth Event Center
The Hill Country Youth Event Center opened in 2015 following the renovation of Kerrville’s previous event center. Kerr County has contracted with private management company Spectra Management to manage the new event center complex. Spectra Management is based out of Philadelphia and owns the Philadelphia Flyers.
Located just south of Kerrville’s city limits, the center offers ample parking and outdoor activities are located nearby.
“Being just outside the city limits opens up a lot of things,” Williamson says. “We’re not concerned about residential areas, and we’re not constrained by downtown traffic.”
The event center is located adjacent to the Guadalupe River and across the river from Kerrville-Schreiner Park, a 517-acre recreation and camping park. During downtime, guests can fish off the bank or float in the river.
The event center includes three buildings, all of which are attached to each other. The first, a 20,000-square-foot, air-conditioned exhibit/convention space can accommodate 1,500 people banquet-style. For smaller groups, a dividing wall can split the space into two spaces: 11,500 square feet and 8,500 square feet space.
The second space, a 47,000-square-foot show barn, is enclosed and has fans for air circulation. Vehicles can drive into the space for easy loading and unloading. An attached indoor arena is used for equine events, barrel racing, dog agility competitions, rodeos and more.
Using the entire facility, the event center can accommodate about 5,000 people with 1,500 parking spaces. Groups can rent tables and banquet chairs on-site. The venue doesn’t offer catering on-site, so groups bring their own prepared food, work with a caterer or hire food trucks.
Inn of the Hills Hotel & Conference Center
Inn of the Hills Hotel & Conference Center looks deceptively small from its front entrance.
“From the street, it looks like this tiny, little place, but once you get into the property, it’s huge,” says Laura Russell, general manager of Inn of the Hills.
Inn of the Hills is located adjacent to the Guadalupe River and centers on a lush courtyard. “The courtyard area is its own little world, with pools, sitting areas and waterfalls,” Russell says. “Guests enjoy that it’s like a backyard where they can enjoy birds and trees.”
The country atmosphere provides a quiet retreat, Russell says.
Guests can access Guadalupe River from the hotel or overlook the river in one of the hotel’s three pools. Downtown Kerrville is also conveniently located about a quarter of a mile away.
Inn of the Hills opened in 1965. The hotel has 170 guest rooms with stone walls and wooden ceilings. Each room has its own character and can differ in size. The hotel is in the process of renovating all of its guest rooms and updating its audio-visual capabilities.
Inn of the Hills features 22,000 square feet of indoor meeting space, both in its conference center and in its main building. The hotel can accommodate up to 600 people for a seated dinner or 500 for a classroom-style event. Five rooms in its conference center total 17,000 square feet of space and can be combined or used separately. The 4,480-square-foot Gazebo Grand Master offers abundant natural light and an inlaid Texas Star hardwood floor. The room can accommodate up to 300 people.
The hotel has two dining options. The Inn Café serves a daily lunch buffet, Sunday brunch and a Hill Country dinner menu. Decorated like an Old Western Saloon, the Inn Pub has live music on weekends and a large dance floor.
Y.O. Ranch Hotel & Conference Center
Walking into Y.O. Ranch Hotel & Conference Center is like stepping back into the Old West, says Fay Abraham, director of sales.
The Y.O. Ranch Hotel & Conference Center gets its name from Y.O. Ranch, which once included more than 600,000 acres of Texas Hill Country. The hotel and conference center was built in 1984.
Y.O. Ranch Hotel & Conference Center’s design includes exotic game trophies, antiques and Western memorabilia. In the lobby, 390 branding irons hang from the chandelier; each iron represents a ranch that cattle were driven through on the Chisolm Trail from the panhandle to the tip of Texas.
The hotel’s 190 rooms and suites include Saltillo tile floors and wood furnishings. Some suites include wood-burning fireplaces or bunk beds for families. All of the hotel’s interior rooms are being updated, in keeping with Y.O.’s ranch-style theme, Abraham says.
Y.O. offers 11,000 square feet of meeting space. The 7,300-square-foot Live Oak Ballroom, which can accommodate up to 600 guests, features ornate chandeliers. The 973-square-foot Guadalupe room includes windows that look out at the lobby.
Catering is offered on-site, and Y.O. offers a dining option: the full-service Branding Iron Restaurant and the Elm Waterhole Saloon.
Abraham has worked at Y.O. for 26 years. She says Y.O.’s customer-first approach and experienced staff results in lots of repeat business. “[Groups] know that when they come back, they’ll work with the same people,” Abraham says. “That stability is here.”