6 Fun Day Trips From Austin
By Erin O'Brien
The sun is shining and temperatures are heating up! What better time of year to take a day trip in Texas?! Every place on this list is within a day's drive there and back, and ranging in activities from leisurely and relaxing to fun and exciting!
Austin is centrally located in the state of Texas and the beautiful Hill Country. There is much to do within a few hours’ drive.
Whether you’re looking to shop or to enjoy the quiet of the country, there’s a day trip for you. Hop in the car and head to one of these drivable destinations on your next free weekend!
An hour and a half north of Austin, Waco has become a bustling town. It is home to Baylor University and, most famously, beloved television stars Chip and Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper.
For fans of the show, the Magnolia Market is a must-see in Waco. The property was created by the Gaineses and includes shops, a restaurant, food trucks, lawn games, and a garden.
Waco is also becoming well known for its small by mighty food scene. Vitek’s and Health Camp are old favorites. Relative newcomer Milo All Day is a favorite for brunch, lunch, and dinner. For those of age, Balcones Distilling and Bare Arms Brewing are fun places to enjoy a beverage (or two).
Looking for more of a small town feel? Wimberley is a short, 45-minute drive from Austin, but it feels like a world away. A day trip to Wimberley is the perfect way to explore the Hill Country.
For outdoor adventures, visit Jacob’s Well Natural Area or Blue Hole Regional Park to swim, picnic, and hike. These popular parks are a desirable destination on summer weekends and may require advance reservations. Be sure to check online before visiting. If they are booked, Cypress Falls Swimming Hole is a great, less busy alternative.
Wimberley is a very small town, but it has several restaurant and shopping options around Wimberley Square. Admire locally made clothing and crafts at Dovetails of Wimberley, and grab a warm cinnamon roll from Sugar Shack Bakery for the drive home.
Further past Wimberley is Fredericksburg, a small town with many activities to offer. Fredericksburg is a nice place to stroll down the main street to shop or check out restaurants. The town is proud of its German heritage. It has several German restaurants, including Friedhelm’s Bavarian Inn and Old German Bakery and Restaurant.
In addition to great food, Fredericksburg is known for its many surrounding wineries and vineyards. Many of them are on the road between Johnson City and Fredericksburg. You can stop at your leisure or sign up for a guided tour. Grape Creek and Signor Vineyards are two popular stops for wine enthusiasts.
If you’d like to learn more about the history of the area, there are two museums to visit. The Pioneer Museum focuses on the German immigrants who inhabited Texas. The National Museum of the Pacific War is dedicated to those who served in WWII in the Pacific.
There is also the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site. This park showcases what life was like for the 35th president’s ancestors who settled in Texas. The park includes lots of walking trails and animals — great for children to explore.
Heading in the other direction from Austin, you will find a Texas barbecue mecca. Lockhart is only thirty five minutes southwest of Austin.
While many visit Lockhart strictly for the barbecue, its town square has a lot of historic buildings to explore and antique shops to peruse. We recommend walking around the downtown area before you indulge in some barbecue. After eating, you’ll just be in the mood for a nap.
Gruene is south of Austin on the way to San Antonio. It’s known for Texas’ oldest dance hall: Gruene Hall. Plan your visit around a show at the historic venue to experience a taste of Texas country.
Before the show, shop for art and antiques in the quaint downtown. We recommend a stop at The Barn to take home local, handmade pottery or Black Swan to wander through their antiques. Grab dinner at The Gristmill, underneath the town’s water tower and on the site of an old cotton gin.
Another favorite daytime activity in Gruene is tubing on the Comal and Guadalupe Rivers. The rivers have a slow current, so you can relax and enjoy the ride. Rent tubes from Rockin’ R River Rides and be sure to dedicate a full day for a tubing trip.
If another big city is what you’re after, San Antonio is a manageable day trip from Austin.
San Antonio has a lot of history. To learn about it, visit the Alamo, rent bikes to explore the other historic missions along the River Walk, or pay a visit to the Witte Museum. If you prefer art, the San Antonio Art Museum is also located along the River Walk.
For lunch or dinner, the Pearl district has a variety of restaurants to choose from. The area became a food and shopping destination in San Antonio, but it was previously home to the Pearl Brewery from 1883 to 2001. The King William district also has a lot of popular bars and restaurants to walk between, in addition to beautiful old homes.
04-11-2022 08:47:26 CST