ROAD TRIP TO HILL COUNTRY

Hill Country Wine TastingThe surrounding 14,000 square miles of Hill Country complement Austin's chic city life. The historic towns and over two dozen vineyards create a laid-back and soulful environment waiting to be explored. A short 1-2 hours from Austin, these Hill Country destinations are worth the day-trip. 

Experience Texas history in Gruene, an authentic town placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. Boot scoot to the best live music around at the iconic Gruene Hall, Texas' oldest continually operating dancehall. Enjoy a relaxing float down the Guadalupe River or dine on Texas favorites along the riverbank at Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar.

Journey to the German-founded town of Boerne, where history, culture and natural beauty combine. Take a historic walking tour to learn about structures from the early 1900s, such as the Robert E. Lee House and Kronkosky Tower. Thrill-seekers can take an underground adventure at Cave Without a Name, while beer-lovers revel in award-winning brews from The Dodging Duck Brewhaus.

For even more German-inspired attractions, head to Fredericksburg. The city features Bavarian-style buildings and traditional German food such as sauerkraut and knockwurst. Learn more about the area's early days at the Pioneer Museum, or hike the rocky pink domes of the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area.

The cowboy community of Luckenbach never disappoints with its dancing, singing and amusing local traditions. Watch some of Texas' finest musicians light up the legendary dancehall on weekends, join in a lawn game of horseshoes or, if you're lucky, catch Luckenbach's entertaining armadillo races.

Northwest of Austin, Marble Falls is renowned for its beautiful scenery. Enjoy boating and fishing on Lake Marble Falls and hiking and camping around Granite Mountain. The town boasts several award-winning restaurants cooking up savory delicacies like Mama's Famous Pot Roast at Blue Bonnet Cafe, as well as local vineyards for tastings of varietals like Shiraz, Sangiovese and Chardonnay.

A small town nestled on the banks of Cypress Creek, Wimberley is packed with history and entertainment. Take a tour of Wimberley Cemetery, the resting place of the area's original settlers and Civil War veterans. Find one-of-a-kind trinkets at art galleries and antique shops; and indulge in slices of rhubarb strawberry pie at Wimberley Pie Company.

Wine might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Texas, but the Hill Country is brimming with more than 30 local vineyards serving everything from pinots to chardonnays. Not sure where to start? Check out a special tasting tour, such as the Dripping Wine Trail.

5 Fabulous Hill Country Events:

1. Trade Days in Fredericksburg
Monthly (Fredericksburg)
Shop at more than 350 vendors selling antiques, crafts, furniture, jewelry, food and more.

2. Beer by the Bay Music Festival 
August (Marble Falls)
Three days of award-winning Texas microbrews and live music at Horseshoe Bay Resort.

3. Texas Wine Month Trail
October (Texas Wine Country)
More than 30 wineries open their doors to tasters for this month-long event.

4. Wurstfest
November (New Braunfels)
Savor a stein, sausage and tons of community events at this 10-day fest celebrating Hill Country's Germanic roots.

5. Second Saturday Market Days & Concerts
Monthly (Georgetown)
Shop for creative crafts, food and antiques at this music-filled downtown market.