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

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!