Buckle up and get ready to cruise the incredibly scenic Texas Hill Country. We’ve rounded up 16 towns worth a day trip where you can browse charming shops, tour historic landmarks, dine on true Texas barbecue, float on pristine rivers and catch a live show at a dance hall.
Winery in Driftwood. Credit Laolu Onabanjo.
Chow down on slow-cooked pork ribs at The Salt Lick BBQ and sample wines at neighboring Salt Lick Cellars. Follow the Driftwood Wine Trail and try wines at six scenic wineries. Sample sotol, an earthy Texas spirit, at Desert Door Distillery. Stroll around the ranch with a beer in hand at Vista Brewing. Stop by Hays City Store & Ice House for live music, local eats and 50+ beers on tap.
2. Dripping Springs
Step into the 1850s at Dr. Pound Historical Farmstead Museum and trace the history of Dripping Springs. Take an orchard tour and taste olive oils at Texas Hill Country Olive Co. Get pool passes for the day or stay overnight at Camp Lucy, a sprawling two-acre resort nestled on a bluff overlooking Onion Creek. At Dreamland, play mini-golf and pickleball, see outdoor art installations and watch a live concert.
Courtesy of Lakeway Resort & Spa.
Stay at the family-friendly Lakeway Resort and Spa, the only resort on Lake Travis. Just outside Lakeway, experience the all-inclusive Lake Austin Spa Resort, named the #3 destination spa resort in the United States by Condé Nast Traveler. Also near Lakeway is Miraval Austin, sprawled across 220 rural acres, offering wellness packages that include spa services and gourmet meals.
Climb the iconic pink granite dome at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. Make your way along Fredericksburg Wine Road 290 and visit 22 award-winning wineries. Learn the history behind WWII in the Pacific at the National Museum of the Pacific War. Shop for chic boutique finds and dine in the bistro at Vaudeville. Explore a working wildflower farm, complete with a wine tasting room and beer garden, at Wildseed Farms.
Pedernales River. Credit Victor Mata.
5. Johnson City
Tour the LBJ Ranch and see the 36th president’s childhood home at the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park. Hike or bike trails that lead to the twin waterfalls at Pedernales Falls State Park. Taste wines, dine at a brewery, listen to live music and enjoy pampering at Carter Creek Winery Resort & Spa. Or take a tour of the Garrison Brothers Distillery and taste sweet mash right from the stills at the state’s oldest whiskey distillery. Kids will have fun learning as they play with the technology-based exhibits and games at the Science Mill.
Pick up a T-shirt to prove you made it to the legendary Luckenbach Texas General Store, a combination souvenir shop/saloon housed in an 1800s trading post. Catch a country concert and do some lively two-steppin’ at Luckenbach Dance Hall.
Hill Country Mile. Courtesy of Visit Boerne.
Check out the charming locally owned shops and restaurants along the Hill Country Mile in the heart of historic Boerne. Enjoy live music and try a pint of beer brewed on site at The Dodging Duck Brewhaus. See underground wonders on a guided cave tour through Cascade Caverns.
8. San Marcos
Kayak or float on a tube along the San Marcos River that winds through the center of town. Tour a cave and ride the train through a wildlife park at Wonder World Cave & Adventure Park. Just try to resist the designer deals at two area outlet malls: San Marcos Premium Outlets and Tanger Outlets.
Schlitterbahn New Braunfels. Courtesy of Schlitterbahn, credit Mikie Farias.
9. New Braunfels
Spring-fed river waters fuel the thrilling slides and coasters at Schlitterbahn Waterpark & Resort. Raise a glass at 15+ unique breweries on the scenic Hill Country Craft Beer Trail. Grab an inner tube and ride the currents of the Comal and Guadalupe Rivers that pass through New Braunfels.
While not technically its own town, Gruene (pronounced “green”) is a historic district within New Braunfels that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Browse antique and specialty shops housed in 19th century brick storefronts in the Gruene Historic District. See live bands at Gruene Hall, Texas’ oldest dance hall, where stars like Willie Nelson, Lucinda Williams and Garth Brooks have commanded the original small stage.
Swimming at Jacob's Well. Credit Pierce Ingram.
Splash in the cool, clear waters of Jacob’s Well (limited activities such as hiking are currently available at Jacob's Well, although swimming is NOT currently allowed), home to one of Texas’ longest underwater caves (be sure to make a reservation). Wander through the town’s many art galleries and watch a glassblowing demonstration at Wimberley Glassworks. Arrange a tour of the family-run Bella Vista Ranch and pick up a bottle of fresh-pressed olive oil.
The Barbecue Capital of Texas is known for famed restaurants like The Original Black’s Barbecue, family-run since 1932. Visit the charming shops, galleries, restaurants and historic theater that dot Lockhart’s town square. Peek inside the stately Caldwell County Jail Museum and landmark Caldwell County Courthouse.
Courtesy of Visit Bastrop.
Bring the kids to dig for fossils at Dinosaur Park, or hike and fish at Bastrop State Park. Explore the indoor-outdoor marketplace at Community Gardens, complete with a plant nursery and aquaponics. At night, fill up on pizza and craft beer while watching live music at Neighbor’s Kitchen & Yard. Or take a seat in the 1889 Bastrop Opera House for musicals and vaudeville shows.
14. Round Top
Round Top is a shopaholic’s dream. Make a beeline to Henkel Square Market, where stores and eateries are housed in buildings that date back to the mid-1800s. Find vintage treasures at The Original Round Top Antiques Fair, held every spring, fall and winter.
Courtesy of Visit Marble Falls.
15. Marble Falls
Reel in a catfish or go paddling on picturesque Lake Marble Falls. Jump on a dirt bike or ATV and tackle the trails at Hidden Falls Adventure Park. Indulge in a slice of homemade pie from the quaint Blue Bonnet Cafe, open since 1929.
Home of country music legend Willie Nelson, Spicewood features beautiful vineyards, fantastic barbecue and incredible scenery. Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area is known for its blooming fields of bluebonnets in spring, but it’s also a draw in other seasons for its hiking trails and swimming lake. Pick your favorite ‘cue from the huge smoking pit at Opie’s and side it with tater tot casserole. Snack on a wood-fired pie while listening to live music on the family- and dog-friendly patio at Pizzeria Sorellina. Stay overnight in an eco-friendly treehouse at Cypress Valley, located on a working ranch with American bison.
Be sure to check out the many fun Texas Hill Country events held year-round!