Being in Central Texas, Austin has some of the most beautiful views of the Hill Country and lots to discover in just under a 2-hour drive.
One of the easiest drives, and one of our favorite places to visit is Driftwood. Home to the famous Salt Lick BBQ Restaurant and Wine Cellars, there is plenty to do in a short day trip, or longer weekend getaway. Just 24 miles Southwest of Austin, Driftwood is home to many wineries and has beautiful views of the Texas Hill Country.
Our perfect Driftwood day would include starting out at the Salt Lick Cellars Winery getting a vineyard tour, followed by spending the day in a Private Cabana in the Star Garden, experiencing private wine tastings, followed by an afternoon on the shaded deck overlooking the vineyard.
After a day at the winery and purchasing a few of our favorite bottles we enjoyed, we would go over to the Salt Lick BYOB Restaurant for a night of great barbecue with friends. The Salt Lick is one of Texas’ most iconic restaurants nestled in a rustic setting in the Texas Hill Country. With legendary, pit-smoked barbecue available by the plate or “Family Style” (all you can eat), this is a favorite to Austinites and Texans alike.
For more information on Salt Lick, check out our full article here.
Known as the “Wedding Capitol of Texas”, Dripping Springs is just 25 miles west of Austin and is also considered the “Gateway to the Hill Country.” Home to tons of history, unique shopping, live music venues, and vineyards, this makes for a perfect getaway.
Eat: Pieous, Tillie’s at Camp Lucy, Epicure, Homespun Kitchen & Bar, Rolling in Thyme & Dough, Proof & Cooper
Hotels/Resorts: Camp Lucy, Lucky Arrow Retreat, Hill Country Casitas, Serenity Farmhouse Inn, Carter Creek Winery Resort & Spa
Vacation Rentals: Wimberley House on the Blanco River, Rio de los santos in Wimberley, Waterfront Estate on Cypress Creek with Heated Pool
Play: Deep Eddy Vodka Tasting Room, Texas Hill Country Olive Company, Hamilton Pool (& Vineyard), Dripping Springs Farmers Market, Board & Brush Creative Studio, Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center, Milton Reimers Ranch Park
Drink: Twisted X Brewing Company, Jester King Brewery, Grawlix, Sidecar Tasting Room, Frog Pond Distillery, Parmeson Wines, Bell Springs Winery, Treaty Oak Distilleries, Hawks Shadow Winery, Family Business Beer Company
Fredericksburg is a charming town in Central Texas known for its wineries. The town’s German heritage is on display at the Pioneer Museum, which features settlers’ homesteads and artifacts. In the nearby town square, Marktplatz, the Vereins Kirche is a replica of a 19th-century German church that once stood in the city. The vast National Museum of the Pacific War features WWII exhibits, including a recreated combat zone.
Check out our full Central Texas Wine Guide here.
Eat: Hondo’s (Best Burgers), Altdorf Biergarten, Crossroads Saloon & Steakhouse, West End Pizza Company, Squeeze In (Brunch), Sozial Haus (Pizza), August Es, Vaudeville, Wild Hare Bistro, Otto’s, Emma + Ollie, Sunset Grill, Cabernet Grill
Hotels: Gathering on Post Oak, Hoffman Haus, Sugarberry Inn, Carriage House, Barons CreekSide
Vacation Rentals: Great for groups, Small group near Main Street, Cottage off Main Street that Sleeps 8, Ranch Style Home on a Vineyard, Creek Haus with Heated Pool
Play: Tipsy Texas Tours, National Museum of Pacific War, Pioneer Museum, Japanese Garden of Peace, Fredericksburg Farmers Market, Oktoberfest Festival, Pedal Tour Party Bike Rentals, Fredericksburg Ghost Tours,
Drink: The Stable Cocktail Bar & Coffee House, Sweetbriar Rose Wine Bar, Becker Vineyards, Grape Creek Vineyards, Alexander Vineyards, Messina Hof (Try the Almond Sparkling Wine!), Fatass Winery (This place is more known for the party scene than the wine, but is a great place to end your winery tour day!)
Shop: Old German Bakery & Restaurant, Twisted Sisters Bake Shop
Johnson City is the county seat of Blanco County, Texas with a population just about 1,656 (as of the 2010 census).
Eat: Fat Boy Burgers, Bryans on 290, East Main Grill, Ronnie’s Ice House, Lady Bird Lane Cafe, Oli’s Kitchen Bar & Grill
Hotels: Rose Hill Manor Bed & Breakfast, Carter Creek Winery Resort & Spa, Walden Retreats Hill Country
Vacation Rentals: Riverside Retreat, Modern Ranch with Hill Country Views, Willow City Lodge with Mountain Views
Play: Science Mill Museum, Echo Art Gallery, Hike Johnson Settlement Trail, LBJ National Historic Park, Odiorne Feed & Ranch, Enjoy the Mountain ATV Adventures & Tours, The Exotic Resort Zoo & Safari Cabins, Pedernales Falls State Park, Travis P Trail Horseback Riding, Blanco State Park, Buggy Barn Museum, Vaaler Creek Golf Club, Blanco Lavender Festival
Drink: Pecan Street Brewing (Pizza & Music), Garrison Brothers Distillery, Arc De Texas Wine Bar, Moonshine Ridge Distillery, Tapz 32 Beer Garden, Andalusia Whiskey Distillery, Hye Cider Distillery, Old Ironhorse Salon, Tenuta Bianco Wine Bar, Ben Milam Whiskey Distillery, Tottie’s Bar, Horn Winery & Tasting Room, Albert Icehouse & Dancehall, Lewis Wines Tasting Room
Shop: Kirchman Art Gallery, Black Spur Emporium, Johnson City Flea Market, Pedernales Peddler Rock Shop, Whittington’s Jerky & General Store, Cranberry’s Antiques, Blanco Pharmacy & Wellness
Marfa, is a much longer drive from Austin, but it’s worth the trouble! It’s a small desert city in far West Texas known as an artists’ hub. The Chinati Foundation, founded by artist Donald Judd, displays huge indoor and outdoor installations on an old army base. The Ballroom Marfa arts center hosts exhibitions, concerts and the Marfa Myths cultural festival. Outside town is a viewing platform from which the mysterious orbs known as the “Marfa Lights” phenomenon can sometimes be seen.
Eat: Cochineal, Do Your Thing Coffee, LaVenture, Stelina, Jett’s Grill, Aster, Convenience West, Buns N’ Roses, Marfa Burrito
Hotels: Saint George, El Cosmico (Tee Pee Hotel)
Vacation Rentals: Upscale Private Compound in Town, Big Sky Marfa, Ranch Water House, 1920’s Two Story Adobe House
Play: Marfa Open Arts Center, Cibolo Creek Ranch, Marfa Theatre, The Chinati Foundation Art Museum, Stardust Motel Landmark, Prada Marfa Sign, City of Marfa Park
Drink: Bar Saint George, Planet Marfa, The Sentinel, Lost Horse Saloon, Marfa Wine Co., Al Campo, Capri
Shop: Marfa Museum Thrift Store, The Get Go Grocery, Ashley Rowe Women’s Clothing, RABA MARFA, Cobra Rock Boot Company, Marfa Book Company, Communitie John Patrick Hats
San Marcos is a city and the county seat of Hays County, Texas. The city’s limits extend into Caldwell and Guadalupe Counties, as well. It’s located within the Austin–Round Rock–San Marcos metropolitan area and on the Interstate 35 corridor between Austin and San Antonio.
Eat: Herberts, Palmers, Blue Dahlia Bistro, Italian Garden, Grins, Toro-Ramen & Poke Barn, Pie Society, Hopdoddy, Chuys, Mamacitas, Chimy’s, Prik Nam Pla, Garcia’s, Root Cellar Cafe, Ivars River Pub
Hotels: Crystal River Inn, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn
Vacation Rentals: Private River House on the San Marcos River, Serene Retreat at Cottonseed Falls
Play: Don’s Fish Camp, Wonder World Cave & Adventure Park, Paddle SMTX Paddleboarding Yoga Rafting & Kayaking, Sewell Park, San Marcos River, Texas Gamers Lounge Arcade, Snorkel TX Snorkeling, Wimberley Zipline Adventures, LBJ Museum, Longhorn Racing Academy Race Tracks, See a game at Bobcat Stadium, Take a tour of Texas State University,
Drink: Zelick’s, Patio Dolcetto, Nephews, Industry, Rooftop, The Marc, Railyard, Tap Room, North Street
Shop: San Marcos Outlets, Uptown Cheapskate, Heartworks Paper Bear
New Braunfels is a city near San Antonio, Texas. It’s known for the Comal and Guadalupe rivers, which wind past leafy parks like Landa and Cypress Bend. Original 1800s German buildings like Gruene Hall are preserved in the Gruene Historic District. To the west, walkways snake through underground limestone caves at Natural Bridge Caverns. The Schlitterbahn water park has rides, slides, and a wave pool.
Eat: Gruene River Grill, Gristmill, The River House, Muck & Fuss, Gennaro’s Trattoria, McAdoo’s Seafood Company, The Buttermilk Cafe, Wildflour Artisan Bakery & Grill, Huisache Grill, the Gruene Door, Adobe Verde, Myron’s Prime Steakhouse
Hotels: Gruene River Hotel & Retreat, Gruene Mansion Inn, Gruene River Inn, The Resort at Schlitterbahn, Prince Solms Inn, Faust Hotel
Vacation Rentals: Serenity Shores Home on Guadalupe River, Treetop on the River walkable to Gruene Hall, Riverfront Home on the Guadalupe, Sunset River Haus 6 miles from Schlitterbahn
Play: Whitewater Ampitheatre, Float the Guadalupe River and Comal River, Go to Schlitterbahn Water Park, Escape Haus, Animal World & Snake Farm, Wurstfest Festival, Canyon Lake, New Braunfels Ghost Tours, Hollow Tree Ranch Horseback Riding, Stars & Stripes Drive In Theaters, Gruene Historic District
Drink: Downtown Social, Pour Haus, Gruene Hall, Alpine Haus Restaurant, Mozie’s, Faust Brewing Company, Goodwin’s Speakeasy, Guadalupe Brewing Company, Phoenix Saloon, Devils Backbone Tavern
Shop: Gruene Flea Market & Antique Mall, Tipsy Gypsy, Gruene Outfitters, Gruene General Store, Rusty Bugs & Roosters
San Antonio is a major city in South-Central Texas with a rich colonial heritage. The Alamo, an 18th-century Spanish mission preserved as a museum, marks an infamous 1836 battle for Texan independence from Mexico. Following the San Antonio River, the miles-long River Walk is a landmark pedestrian promenade lined with cafes and shops. HemisFair Park’s 750-ft. Tower of the Americas overlooks the city.
Eat: Roasario’s Mexican Cafe & Cantina, Boudro’s on the River Walk, Magnolia Pancake Haus, Dough Pizzeria Napoletana, Zinc Bistro & Wine Bar, Lulu’s Bakery & Cafe, Rita’s on the River, Schilos Delicatessen, La Panaderia, The Smoke Shack, Cured, Guenther House, Bakery Lorraine, Ocho, Paesanos Riverwalk
Hotels: Hotel Havana, The Pearl, The St. Anthony, Omni La Mansion del Rio, Mokara Hotel & Spa, The Westin Riverwalk, Hotel Valencia Riverwalk
Vacation Rentals: Riverwalk Cottage, Riverwalk East Side Craftman Home, Pearl Place, Urban Farmhouse near the Pearl
Play: The Alamo, The River Walk, San Antonio Zoo, Japanese Tea Gardens, Tower of the Americas, Go Rio San Antonio River Cruises, Witte Museum, San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio Botanical Garden, Pearl Historic District, Bad Wolf Ghost Tours, Ripley’s Haunted Adventure, The Amazing Mirror Maze, Cool Crest Mini Golf
Drink: Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery, Esquire Tavern, Yard House, SoHo Wine & Martini Bar, The Friendly Spot Ice House, Paramour, Sanchos, 1919, Bier Garten Riverwalk, The Pigpen, Bar America, Burleson Yard Beer Garden, Sternewirth Bar, The Modernist
Shop: Shops at La Cantera, La Casa Frida, Historic Market Square, La Villita Historic Arts Village, Paris Hatters Hat Shop, Montage Vintage, Alamo Antique Mall
Horseshoe Bay/Lake LBJ
Horseshoe Bay is a city in Llano and Burnet counties in the state of Texas. Situated on Lake Lyndon B. Johnson and the south branch of the Colorado River, it is known in the region for its drag boat racing and other water sports.
Eat: Blue Bonnet Cafe, Doc’s Fish Camp & Grill, R Bar & Grill, Grand Central Cafe, Ginger & Spice, Julie’s Cocina, Russo’s Restaurant, Bella Sera
Hotels: Horseshoe Bay Resort, Lake LBJ Resort & Marina, Log Country Cove
Vacation Rentals: Waterfront Gem with Wraparound Deck, Townhouse with Boat Slip, Waterfront Townhouse near Yacht Club, LBJ Lakefront Home in Quiet Cove, Horseshoe Bay Townhome
Play: Longhorn Cavern State Park, Exotic Resort Zoo & Safari Cabins, Inks Lake State Park, Sweet Berry Farm, Cypress Valley Canopy Tours, Hidden Falls Adventure Park, Lake LBJ, Lake Buchanan, Sana Vida Wellness Spa & Tea Bar, Black Rock Park
Drink: Flat Creek Enoteca Winery, Perissos Vineyard & Winery, Double Horn Brewing, Tottie’s, Hiccups Sports Bar & Grill, Bear King Brewing Co., Double Horn Brewing, Fiesta Winery, Brass Hall, Boaters Bistro, Save The World Brewing
Shop: Bayside Fresh Market, Westlake Antiques & Old Book Shop, Birdie’s Market, ReDid, Draonfly Gifts
Waco is a city in Central Texas recently made famous by Chip and Joanna Gaines. By the Brazos River, Cameron Park Zoo is home to lions, otters and meerkats. The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum traces the history of the state law enforcement agency and displays vintage badges and weapons. The Dr Pepper Museum pays homage to the famed, locally invented soft drink. The Waco Mammoth National Monument is a fossil site home to the bones of Columbian mammoths.
Eat: Magnolia Table, Czech Stop, Cafe Homestead, George’s, Vitek’s BBQ, Ninfa’s, Baris, Moroso, Milo All Day, Lula Jane’s, Hecho En Waco, Jake’s Texas Tea House, DiamondBack’s, Cafe Cappuccino, Butter My Biscuit, The Olive Branch, Brazos Bistro & Bar
Hotels: Hotel Indigo, Hilton Waco, Hymnsinger House, Magnolia House
Vacation Rentals: Mid Century Modern Home as seen on Fixer Upper, German Schmear House as seen on Fixer Upper, Model Container Home 6 miles to Magnolia, Urban Myrtle 291 steps to the Silos, Classy 1927 Uptown Tudor, Three Little Pigs house as seen on Fixer Upper, Little Dutch Cabin,
Play: Magnolia Market, Dr. Pepper Museum, Cameron Park Zoo, BSR Cable Park & Water Park, Waco Mammoth National Monument, Baylor University, Waco Tours, Texas Ranger Hall of Fame, Mayborn Museum, Waco Escape Room, Hawaiian Falls Water Park, Waco Suspension Bridge, Urban Air Trampoline Park, Waco Farmers Market, Waco River Safari Boat Tour, Brazos Bluffs Stables Horseback Riding
Drink: Country Spring Vineyard & Wine Garden, Waco Winery, Taste by Kissing Tree Vineyards, Klassy Glass Wine Bar & Bistro, Crickets Grill & Draft House, Balcones Distilling, Barnett’s Public House, Salty Dog, Bare Arms Brewing, Southern Roots Brewing Company, Trojan Cork & Keg, Waco Ale Co, Brotherwell Brewing, Common Grounds, Dichotomy Coffee & Spirits, Coach’s, Brazos Bar & Bistro, The Backyard Bar, Old Chicago, Barnett’s Public House, Klassy Glass Wine Bar & Bistro, Dancing Bear Pub
Shop: Magnolia Market, Spice Village, Harp Design, The Findery, Junque in the Trunk, Savage Finds Antiques, Cameron Trading Co Antique Mall, Golden’s Book Exchange, Little Shop on Bosque, Junky Monkey, Iron Willow
Lake Travis is a reservoir on the Colorado River in Central Texas. The reservoir was formed in 1942 by the construction of Mansfield Dam on the western edge of Austin by the Lower Colorado River Authority, and was built specifically to contain floodwaters in a flash-flood prone region.
Eat: Steiner Ranch Steakhouse, The Oasis, Don Mario, SP Brazilian Steakhouse, Santa Catarina, Mangieris, The Grove, Cafe Lago, Apis, J5 Steakhouse, Sundancer Grill, The Lighthouse, Verona Ristorante Italiano, Toss Pizzeria
Hotels: Lakeway Resort & Spa, Vintage Villas, Reserve at Lake Travis
Vacation Rentals: Lakeside Home with 180 view of Lake Travis, Waterfront Pet Friendly Home with a Pool, Lake Travis Treehouse with Pool Hot tub Ping Pong & Kayaks,
Play: Lake Travis Zipline, Hike River Place Nature Trail, High 5 Laser Tag Bowling & Axe Throwing, Hippie Hollow Nude Beach, Sail Austin Boat Charter, Pace Bend Park, Waterloo Adventures Water Park, Volente Beach Water Park, Mansfield Dam Park
Drink: Hops & Thyme, Proof & Copper, The Backyard at Bee Cave, Beachside Billys, Woody’s Tavern & Grill, Infamous Brewing Company, Hudson’s, LT Corner Pub, Emerald Point Bar & Grill, Meridian 98
Shop: Magpie Blossom Boutique, Hill Country Galleria, Point of Origin, Fab’rik, Vintage Fresh, Leander Flea Market, Grit & Grace Boutique
Lockhart is the county seat of Caldwell County. According to the 2010 census the population of Lockhart was 12,698. Lockhart and Caldwell County are within the Austin-Round Rock metropolitan area.
Eat:Black’s BBQ, Smitty’s, Kreuz Market, Lockhart Chisholm Trail BBQ, Lockhart Bistro
Hotels: OYO Hotel
Vacation Rentals: Modern 1860 Farmhouse in Downtown Lockhart, Country House on 10 Acres,
Play: Lonestar Gun Range, Maverick Horseback Riding, Bastrop River Company Rafting Kayaking Paddleboarding & Tubing, Lockhart State Park, Caldwell County Museum, Haunted Magnolia Hotel
Drink: The Pearl Wine Bar, Load Off Fanny’s, Lilly’s Bar & Grill, Lockhart Arts & Craft (Wine & Beer Bar / Art Classes), El Rey Bar & Nightclub, Coconuts Bar & Grill
Shop: Upscale Resale Thrift Store, Flash Candy & Toys, Texas Hatters, Westy’s Pharmacy, Bluebonnet Records, Made for Walkin, Culinary Room Cheese Shop, Potters Field Vintage, Lockhart Shoppes on Main
Think you’re missing out because Round Top is a ways away from the big city? Think again. This town is the best of both worlds. It is the Round Top Antiques Show. It is country chic meets arts and culture. It is stellar shopping and southern hospitality. It is fine dining mixed with front-porch living. Yep, Round Top’s a way of life. The Texas version of Aspen (that’s according to Texas Monthly) is a year-round escape from the big-city bustle. No traffic, no smog, no place you’ll love more.
Eat: Royers Round Top Cafe, Mandito’s, The Stone Cellar, The Garden Company Feed & Fire Water, Lulu’s Italian, Round Top Coffee Shop, Popi Burger, Bader Ranch Brasserie, Bistro 108,
Hotels: Flophouze, Night Bird Ranch, Round Top Inn, Cottages at Mill Creek
Vacation Rentals: Newly Decorated House with Pool on 10 Acres, Private Farm with Pool minutes to Downtown Round Top, FlopHouz that Sleeps 5
Play: Round Top Antique Festival, Humble Donkey Art Gallery
Drink: Teague’s Tavern, Prost on Block 29, Blue Mule Winery, Rosemary’s Vineyard & Winery, Busted Oak Cellars,
Shop: Junky Gypsy, Blue Hills, Round Top Mercantile Company, Curate by Stash, Lark, McLaren’s Antiques & Interiors, Copper Shade Tree Art Gallerie, Paul Michael Company, D Little Gallery, Second Market & Company, Indian Creek, Bar W Field, The Apothecary
Smithville is a city in Bastrop County, Texas, near the Colorado River where the Sandra Bullock movie Hope Floats was filmed. The population was 3,817 at the 2010 census.
Eat: Comfort Cafe, Honey’s, Zimmerhanzel’s BBQ, Your Mom’s, Pockets Grille, Back Door Cafe & Coffee Shop, Olde World Bakery & Cafe, Bistro 71, Roadhouse, Maxine’s Bastrop, Neighbor’s Kitchen & Yard, The Grace Miller Gracie’s, Southside Market & BBQ Bastrop, Bastiano’s Pizzeria & Creamery, La Cocinas, Bassano Del Grappa, Coffee Dog Roastery & Coffee House
Hotels: Hyatt Lost Pines
Vacation Rentals: 20 Acre Retreat 35 mins from Austin, 12 Person House on the Colorado River
Play: Sherwood Forest Faire Festival, Bastrop State Park, Bastrop River Company Rafting Kayaking Paddleboarding & Tubing, Scream Hollow Wicked Halloween Park, Pine Forest Golf Club, ColoVista Golf Club, Crosshairs Fun Ranges, Lake Bastrop, Bastrop Farmers Market, Buescher State Park, Bastrop Opera House
Drink: Cripple Creek Wine Tasting Room, 602 on Main, Copper Shot Distillery, Iron Bridge Icehouse, Bastrop Beer Company, Colorado River Winery
Shop: Little Mexico Imports, Mosaic Art & Home, Carriage Stop Antiques, Midnight Monkey Mercantile, Smithville General Store, Dream Train Antiques, Consuela, Golden Girls Boutique, Main St. Vintage
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