As much as we love our fair city, sometimes it’s nice to get away and spend some time outside the Austin city limits. Luckily, there are plenty of great places just a short drive away, offering beautiful scenery, awesome food and drink, kid-friendly attractions, and outdoor activities galore.
If you’re itching for a brief sojourn outside the city, check out some of our favorite spots below.
San Antonio, Texas
Distance from Downtown: 80 miles (approximately 1.5 hours)
You basically can’t call yourself a Texan until you’ve made the pilgrimage down to the Alamo in San Antonio. But beyond the history and the great photo op, San Antonio has plenty to offer visitors. There’s the Riverwalk, of course, with its many restaurants, bars, and shops. But we also recommend taking a stroll around the city’s Japanese tea gardens, featuring gorgeous year-round foliage and a 60-foot waterfall, or heading down to the Historic Market Square for some handmade crafts and great Mexican food.
Distance from Downtown: 35 miles (approximately 45 minutes)
No offense to Franklin’s, but the tiny town of Lockhart has some of the best barbeque in the state. Known as a mecca for meat lovers, Lockhart is the home of the legendary Black’s Barbeque, Smitty’s, and Kreuz Market, all of which have been serving slabs of beef since the early part of last century. With open pits inside and smoke lining the walls, you’ll know you’ve just stumbled across the genuine article. Black’s, in particular, has a formidable reputation among barbeque aficionados and was even featured on the Travel Channel’s Barbeque Paradise. No wonder the state legislature named Lockhart the Barbeque Capital of Texas!
Distance from Downtown: 47 miles (approximately 55 minutes)
If it’s quaint you’re after, Gruene has it in spades. Best known for its Gruene Hall, the oldest dance hall in Texas, the town is a hub for folk and country acts of both local and national renown. Even if you’re not headed in for a show, the city center offers plenty of gourmet eats and shopping for days. Make sure to check out the Fickle Pickle, which has some of the best sweet pickles you’ll ever taste!
New Braunfels, Texas
Distance from Downtown: 50 miles (approximately 55 minutes)
When the weather is blistering hot, there’s no greater joy than dragging out the inner tubes and floating the river. New Braunfels, located just down the road from Gruene, sits right at the intersection of the Comal and Guadalupe Rivers and boasts some of the best tubing in central Texas. Bring your own tubes or rent one from one of the many rental services on the river — and prepare to spend a lazy day chilling on the water.
McKinney Falls State Park, Austin, Texas
Distance from Downtown: 11 miles (approximately 22 minutes)
Let’s face it: the parking situation at Barton Springs on a hot Saturday can easily get a little out of control. If you’re not willing to spend an hour driving around Zilker Park, consider heading south to McKinney Falls. Take the morning to hike the park’s miles of trails, then head to the falls to spend the afternoon in the water. Kids will love jumping from the top of the falls into the swimming hole below, and everyone in the family will appreciate the scenery and the chance to cool off.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, Fredericksburg, Texas
Distance from Downtown: 97 miles (approximately 1 hour 45 minutes)
For over 10,000 years, humans have traveled to this national landmark. Local Comanche and Tonkawa tribes revered the site as a spiritual location, while the Spanish and Texans coveted the rumored mineral and gold deposits. Today, the rock is protected by the state and is a favorite locale for hikers, nature lovers, and anyone looking for a unique Hill Country experience. Spend the day gazing from the heights of the huge pink dome or walking the 11 miles of trails, then head to nearby Fredericksburg for dinner and some local wine — and you’ll definitely return to Austin with renewed spirits.
With so many great attractions surrounding the city, it’s easy to see why people have been flocking here in droves for the past decade! If you’re looking to make the move to the Austin area yourself, you’re going to need a first-rate home first. Contact us here at Paradisa Homes to learn more about our custom houses — and start planning your Austin-area day trips for real.