Beautiful weather and picture-perfect views means it’s road trip season all year round in Austin. So put together your playlist, pack up your car and get ready to discover the small towns and heartfelt experiences of nearby Texas Hill Country.
Credit Dean Fikar.
1. Drizzle and dip your way through extra virgin olive oils and flavored balsamic vinegars at Texas Hill Country Olive Company, where the sprawling olive orchards and sweeping views of rolling countryside enchant. Dripping Springs
2. Tucked in the curve of an overhanging cavern, the breathtaking Hamilton Pool Preserve is a naturally made swimming pool that beckons you to cool off in its jade green waters or beneath the gentle rush of its waterfall. *Reservations must be made online during peak summer months. Dripping Springs
3. Mouthwatering aromas of smoky, sauce-slathered meats will greet you before you even walk in the door at The Salt Lick BBQ. Yes, folks, this is the original location, so pick an outdoor picnic table at this cash-only (ATM on site), BYOB legend, and get ready to see what all the fuss is about. Driftwood
4. Bluegrass, Americana, folk, Southern rock ‘n’ roll — it’s all onstage at the 30th annual Old Settler’s Music Festival (April 20-23, 2017). Make a weekend of it, and bring your camping gear; there’s even a family-friendly camping area. Driftwood
5. Pair live music with a pint of locally brewed craft beer (such as the ultra-smooth Chocolate Pecan Milk Stout, brewed with Texas pecans and cocoa nibs) at Pecan Street Brewing. Johnson City
6. Follow in the footsteps of one of our country’s great leaders at the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, and tour the late President’s palatial ranch house — dubbed the Texas White House — that was once an epicenter of political activity. Johnson City
7. For a true taste of the Old West, stop by the Luckenbach General Store (a souvenir shop housed in a ramshackle 1800s post office) and the historic Luckenbach Dance Hall, still offering live country music concerts every night. Luckenbach
8. Escape to a rustic ranch surrounded by acres of serene countryside when you indulge in a day of spa pampering at The Back Forty of Fredericksburg. Don’t want to leave? It’s also a bed and breakfast, so you can stay overnight. Fredericksburg
9. Fill your face with some of the best eating around during the annual Hill Country Food Truck Festival in summer of 2017. This family friendly feast also features live Americana music all day. Fredericksburg
10. Play the firm, fast greens, and navigate your way around challenging water features at the 18-hole, par 71 Lady Bird Johnson Golf Course. Fredericksburg
11. Taste the best darn pickles you’ve ever had at the famed Texas Carousel Antiques & Fickle Pickles. (And yes, they really do have antiques, too.) Boerne
Courtesy Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort.
12. Unwind in a healing salt cave at the luxurious Pure Sol Spa at Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort, or play a round of golf on the Tripp Davis-designed course. Boerne
13. Swoon over pristine vintage automobiles at Dick’s Classic Garage Car Museum, or show off your own classic ride during the Monthly Cruise In. San Marcos
14. Marvel at colorful glass creations at Wimberley Glassworks, and watch local artists in action during free glassblowing demonstrations. San Marcos
15. Zoom down winding waterslides, let the kids loose in a water fantasy playground, or grab an inner tube and float down an endless river at Schlitterbahn Waterpark & Resort. New Braunfels
16. McKenna Children’s Museum is the place to let little ones explore, imagine and play in the many themed interactive exhibits. New Braunfels
Courtesy Gruene Historic District.
18. Who’s ready for a sky-high thrill ride? Harness up at Wimberley Zipline Adventure, and fly through the air over the canyons and creeks of Texas Hill Country. Wimberley
19. Dare yourself to take the plunge into the deep, blue abyss of Jacob’s Well, a popular swimming hole (literally) among locals. Or, just enjoy the scenic view as you sunbathe on the sidelines. Wimberley
20. Take a picture of the historic Caldwell County Courthouse, constructed of eye-catching cream- and red-colored sandstone, and then tour the prison cells of the castle-like Caldwell County Jail, built in the early 1900s. Lockhart
21. As the oldest barbecue joint in Texas, Black’s Barbecue knows a thing or two about slow-cooking meat to absolute perfection. Beef brisket, baby back ribs, barbecue chicken — it’s all good here. Lockhart
22. Fall in love with Tara Royer Steele’s Hill Country sanctuary, Royers Pie Haven. The Pie Queen makes her goodies from scratch with lots o’ love. Try Bud’s Chocolate Chip Pie or Ann’s Pecan Pie. Round Top
23. Go treasure hunting for rare antiques when you peruse the goods at The Original Round Top Antiques Fair, one of the largest events of its kind in the state. You never know what goodies you’ll find. Round Top
Inner Space Cavern. Credit Dr. Richard Wills.
24. Subterranean adventures await at Inner Space Cavern, a behemoth cave with delicate rock formations and prehistoric fossils. Bring the kids on an underground tour they’ll never forget. Georgetown
25. At San Gabriel Park, picnic in the shade beneath 200-year-old oak trees as you take in peaceful views of the San Gabriel River, or let the kiddos run free in the great outdoors at the park’s Creative Playscape playground. Georgetown
26. Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the production facility at Flat Creek Estate Winery to learn all about the winemaking process, and continue your wine education with a guided wine tasting and a stroll through picturesque vineyards. Marble Falls
27. Get a glimpse of life on the farm as you pick your own berries, pumpkins and more at Sweet Berry Farm. Your kids will squeal with delight (and it’s okay if you do, too) as they pet farm animals, explore the seasonal corn maze and indulge in fresh, homemade ice cream. Marble Falls
BBQ pit photo courtesy The Salt Lick BBQ, vase photo courtesy Wimberley Glassworks.