The Texas Hill Country is a twenty-five county region of Central Texas and South Texas featuring tall, rugged hills of limestone or granite and a rich history of Spanish and Central European influences. Today, the region is home to a wide variety of people, from families starting out, to ranchers and farmers, to retirees seeking a quiet respite. With the recent emergence of Texas' wine industry centered in the Hill Country, the area continues to attract increasing numbers of tourists.
Several tributaries of the Colorado River of Texas traverse the Hill Country region — including the Llano and Pedernales rivers, which cross the region west to east and join the Colorado as it cuts across the region to the southeast. The Blanco, Guadalupe, San Antonio, Frio, Medina, and Nueces rivers originate in the Hill Country.
The area is also unique for its fusion of Spanish and Central European (German, Swiss, Austrian, Polish, and Czech) influences in food, beer, architecture, and music that form a distinctively "Texan" culture separate from the state's Southern and Southwestern influences. For example, the accordion was popularized in Tejano music in the 19th century due to cultural exposure to German settlers.
In recent years, the region has emerged as the center of the Texas wine industry. The Hill Country is also known for its tourism. In 2008, The New York Times listed the Hill Country in an article about North American vacation destinations. The region has also made Texas second to Florida as the most popular retirement destination in the United States. The region has attracted Baby Boomers as they near retirement age.
Frederick Day, a demographer with Texas State University, said that the Hill Country lifestyle reminds one of the small towns of the recent past. "Like old America . . . [the] cost of living is pretty low. To people who have spent their work life in Houston or Dallas, the Hill Country is very attractive."