Escape From Austin Archives - 365 Things to Do in Austin, TX

Photos by Tony Secker

It had been several years since we’d been out to Horseshoe Bay Resort, and as soon as we turned in off the highway, we were both asking ourselves why it had taken us so long to come back. This golf and vacation destination, located about an hour west of Austin, has a somewhat tropical feel to it that at times feels a bit more like South Florida than Central Texas. Vacation vibes were immediately in full swing.

The landscaping definitely plays a huge part in the allure of this place. From the moment you enter the resort, it appears that every flower and every palm tree is part of a grand design. We were also fortunate enough to visit in late spring when everything was in full bloom.

For this trip, we decided to stay in one of the villas, rather than the main tower. We were still only a short walk to the front desk, restaurants, and other amenities, but with the luxury of having what felt like our own town home—complete with kitchen, family room, and a parking spot right by the front door. The villas are also pet-friendly, which was the main selling point for us because we wanted to bring the pup.

After settling in (and a trip to the bar), we headed straight for the real bermuda grass miniature golf course, which was one of our favorite memories from the previous trip. The 18-hole, par 72 course is complete with sand traps and other obstacles, and is surrounded by beautiful waterfalls, ponds, and rose gardens. We have a standing rule that the loser has to buy post-round drinks, which is a tradition that I highly recommend for anyone (over 21) that plays here.

To claim my free drink, we wandered into the Whitewater 360 Sports Club, which is conveniently located right next to the mini golf course. This place had been remodeled since the last time we were here, and now hosts a full bar with 360 degrees of flat-screen TVs. We decided to order a pizza and watch the NBA Western Conference Finals, which was a perfect way to end the evening.

In the morning we took the dog for a walk around the resort (have I mentioned the beautiful landscaping?) before heading over to the tower for breakfast at Lantana. They offer an extensive buffet that looked great, but we both opted for made-to-order options off the breakfast menu.

I asked for a cup of coffee for the road and we hopped on the resort shuttle for an early tee time at one of four golf courses at Horseshoe Bay. Today we were playing Slick Rock, possibly the median of the four courses from a difficulty perspective, depending on who you ask. It’s home to the “Million Dollar Hole,” which includes a waterfall feature that you drive your cart across.

And that was that. We were unfortunately only able to spend less than 24-hours at the resort this time around. Not nearly enough time to hit the pool, the impressive spa, the other two golf courses, or rent jet-skis on Lake LBJ like we did on our last trip! But, we hear they just opened a waterfront bar, which has our name all over it, and their Ram Rock course recently reopened after extensive remodels; as if we needed more reasons to visit again.

 

Located just 25 miles from Downtown Austin, Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa is the ultimate summer staycation destination for Austinites.

Near the McKinney Roughs Nature Park and situated along the Colorado River, Hyatt Regency Lost Pines provides a wide variety of experiences to enjoy the Texas wilderness.

Throughout the summer months the resort will feature river activities including kayaking and rafting trips, as well as river float excursions and air boat rides that depart directly from the resort.

Guests can also enjoy the resort’s onsite Crooked River Water Park. The water park features everything from an active pool with a volleyball net and sandy beach for building sand castles to a lazy river, a two-story water slide, and a splash pad for children. It also includes an adults-only section with a relaxing pool and whirlpool. Throughout the summer, the Crooked River Water Park will feature family pool parties with a live DJ, pool games, and activities.

Guests also get the opportunity to meet and interact with its live-in mascots, including two Texas longhorns, miniature horses, and alpacas. There are also regular falconry shows by Sky Kings, an organization that is dedicated to the education and preservation of wildlife. The demonstrations feature free-flying birds such as hawks, owls, and falcons and wildlife expert discussing each bird’s traits and natural abilities.

Guests can also explore the Loblolly Pine region with guided horseback rides, explore more than 18-miles of hike and bike trails, or soar over the McKinney Roughs Nature Park with excursions to the Zip Lost Pines ziplining adventure.

Additionally, local residents can now enjoy “Daycation” opportunities to Hyatt Regency Lost Pines. The resort recently partnered with ResortPass.com to provide general, spa, and golf day pass options. The general day pass includes access to the resort’s water park, access to poolside food and drink service during the summer months, and complimentary Wi-Fi.  Rates for the general day pass begin at $35 for adults and $18 for children.

Spa Django, named after the famed gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, is also offering a spa day pass for locals. The passes get you full access to the spa’s facilities and amenities, including the spa’s outdoor pool and patio, which overlooks the resort’s pond and provides scenic views of the Wolfdancer Golf Course. You can also spend time in the spa’s eucalyptus steam rooms, dry saunas, hot tubs, relaxation lounges, and state-of-the-art fitness center. The spa passes are $40 per person.

The day passes to the resort’s Wolfdancer Golf Club are $75 and include a round of 18 holes as well as unlimited access to the full-scale practice facilities, which include a 13-acre driving range with target greens, a short game area, two chipping greens and bunkers, a practice putting green, a golf cart rental, and warm-up range balls.

Additionally, local residents have access to membership programs at Spa Django and Wolfdancer Golf Club. The golf club provides individual, family, and corporate membership opportunities in which locals can received special guest rates for tee times, complimentary guest passes, special rates on private golf instruction, as well as discounts at the resort’s food and beverage outlets and services and products at Spa Django. Memberships at Spa Django include unlimited access to the spa’s facilities during business hours, 24-hour access to the spa’s fitness center, monthly specials and promotions, discounts at the resort’s food and beverage outlets, and more.

 

It’s hard to fathom why anyone would ever want to leave the great city of Austin, but every blue moon, even we get a wild-hair, and set out to explore outside the city limits.

Our Escape from Austin series will provide guides for easy trips from Austin throughout the Lone Star State, and beyond. “What defines easy?” you may ask. For the purposes of this series, we’ll be exploring destinations that are a relatively easy drive from Austin (think cities like Fredericksburg and Port Aransas, as well as destinations like the JW Marriott Resort in San Antonio, and the BBQ Trail in Lockhart), OR destinations that Southwest Airlines flies to non-stop from Austin (think cities like Nashville, Denver, New York, and Portland).

In each post we’ll tell you why the destination made our list and provide insight on how to make the most of your trip. Happy travelin’ y’all.

Have a suggestion on somewhere we should visit? Somewhere you’ve never been that you’d like us to post about? Shoot an email to kristy@365thingsaustin.com

*Disclaimer: We receive compensation from some of the places we’ll visit, most often in the form of a free night’s stay. Just want to be up front with y’all and extend the guarantee that we will NEVER include a recommendation that we don’t fully stand behind. It’s just that we’re modest bloggers and in no financial position to turn our nose up at a free room!

We know what you’re thinking: Why is this Austin blog posting about things to do in San Antonio?! Before you get all “don’t move here” on us, take a moment to read a bit about the origins of this series, and what you can expect in the coming months as we (very) occasionally post about things to do outside the city limits.

The Why

  1. Depending on what part of Austin you live in (and traffic on 35), San Antonio is likely not much more than an hour and 15-minute drive South.
  2. This resort will make you feel like you’re worlds away from Austin—both with its natural surroundings, and comforting amenities.
  3. There are two AMAZING golf courses.
  4. And a massive waterpark complete with waterslides and a lazy river.

How to Make the Most of Your Trip

We only spent 48 hours at the JW Marriott San Antonio, but managed to squeeze quite a bit into our stay. We arrived at the resort early for a morning tee time on their Canyons Course, the easier of the two courses on the property, and honestly, a more enjoyable experience for high-handicap golfers like ourselves. The course is well-maintained and offers beautiful views of the Texas Hill Country from elevated tee boxes and greens. The carts also have GPS, which makes the first time on a new course a lot more manageable!

After finishing our round, we grabbed a quick lunch (and cocktails) in Cibolo Moon, one of several restaurants on the property. The restaurant has a great outdoor patio that was perfect on a breezy spring day, and the food and drinks were equally enjoyable. We snacked on several shared appetizers, but the barbecue burnt ends were the highlight of the experience.I also highly recommend any of the margaritas on the menu (opt for the chili salted rim).

From there, we checked into our room, which had a balcony with a beautiful view of the golf course and was also an easy elevator ride down to the pool. Pro-tip: Assuming the hotel isn’t fully booked, you may have the option to stay on the “conference side” or the “pool/golf course side” of the hotel busy weekends, the conference side stays a bit quieter (less families with kids) and is a good option for couples looking to enjoy a relaxing weekend. However, we had no issues with noise on the “fun side” of the hotel, and the room was spacious, and included several amenities like robes, a mini fridge, and a HUGE television that had complimentary Netflix and Hulu in addition to standard cable options.

Finally, we made it down to the water park which is definitely the most impressive area of the resort. It includes a ton of seating areas adjacent to several large pools, including one with a sandy beach area, and another that is exclusively for adults. There is also a massive hot tub, an impressive bar that offers several frozen drink machines, and an expansive cocktail and food menu. The 1,200-foot-long lazy river is way too easy to fall asleep in (don’t forget sunscreen!). But perhaps the most impressive part of the park, assuming you’re still embracing your inner child, are the waterslides. These aren’t your typical resort waterslides, they’re high-thrill slides that you’ll want to race down over and over again.

That evening, we ventured into town to meet friends. If you’re like us and don’t make it down to San Antonio very often, it is a nice change of pace from Austin, and the city’s culinary scene has come a long way in the last five years—but more on that in a future post. For your trip, think about spending a night out on the Riverwalk or the Pearl District.

The resort also hosts an impressive sports bar called High Velocity that features several massive projectors and countless flat screen TVs. The place was buzzing the first night of our stay with a pending playoff elimination game on the line for the hometown San Antonio Spurs.

For breakfast, the buffet at Cibolo Moon is quite impressive. It includes Texas-based favorites like homemade biscuits and gravy, as well as more standard offerings like bacon and scrambled eggs, a build-your-own omelet station, and fresh baked breads with jelly offerings made from fruit grown in the hotel’s garden.

On day two of our stay, we played The Oaks golf course, which was host to the PGA Tour Event, The Valero Texas Open, the weekend before. The course was in excellent shape from the tournament, with fairways beautifully crosscut and greens that were perfectly manicured. However, this course has a reputation for being one of the most difficult on the Tour and is not for the faint of heart! Professional golfer Kevin Na famously scored a 16 on the 9th hole of this course in 2011.

We capped off our trip with dinner at 18 Oaks, a traditional steakhouse adjacent to the golf course. Our final meal did not disappoint, from the sprawling wine list to the knowledgeable service staff, every part of the experience was perfect. We especially enjoyed the “choose your own steak knife” tray that was presented before our main course arrived. Texas y’all.

Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our trip, and would recommend a getaway to the JW Hill Country for couples, families, avid golfers, conference goers, or even as a wedding destination. We’ll definitely be back!