Austin is consistently named one of the best cities in Texas to visit. I mean, it is the “hipster” cool city of Texas. There are truly so many things to do in Austin that you could easily stay busy for weeks.
If you’re like us though, after a few days in the big city, we are ready for a break.
Austin is in a prime location for some excellent day trips. Sitting on the edge of the Texas Hill Country means that you have several awesome locations within a few hours of Austin.
When the need to get out of the city arises, grab your road trip essentials and head out to explore this list of great day trips from Austin.
The surrounding area is perfect for day trips. For it is in this area that you will find some amazing small Texas towns, outstanding Texas wineries, and some awesome state parks which are great camping spots near Austin!
So let’s dive in and see all of the fabulous things there are to do on a day trip from Austin!
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Day Trips from Austin
If you are looking for a charming small town that has plenty to do, then you need to check out all of the things to do in Wimberley, TX.
Wimberley is located just 45 minutes from Austin, making it one of the easiest day trips from Austin that there is!
This little community packs a big punch. The town square boasts lots of cute boutique shops, art galleries, and some fun restaurants.
We love quaint towns that offer so much variety, especially when that variety includes wineries, good food, and lots of outdoor activities.
Not only that, but Wimberley also offers loads of unique accommodations, making it one of the great romantic getaways in Texas also!
Things to do in Wimberley, TX
- Cool off on a hot summer day by visiting Jacob’s Well. This awesome site is part of the Jacob’s Well Natural Area and is one of the best swimming holes in Texas as the water is a cool 68-degrees! Be sure you make a reservation as this place is really popular and they limit capacity.
- Another awesome swimming hole to cool off in is the Blue Hole. Here, the cypress trees shade the beautiful spring-fed waters allowing you to beat the heat and have some protection from the sun. The park itself is over 126-acres and has restrooms, parking, and nice spots for a picnic lunch. Like Jacob’s Well, this place fills up fast, so be sure to make a reservation.
- Sip some wine at Wimberley Valley Winery. One of our favorite Texas wineries, Wimberley Valley Winery not only has some great wines for you to enjoy, but their outdoor areas are amazing. They have a great deck area complete with giant Jenga and fountains for you to enjoy. If you would rather have a quiet spot to yourself, then just choose one of the many areas around their property where they have spread out tables and Adirondack chairs.
- Visit one of the many art galleries in Wimberley. Wimberley prides itself on being an artistic community. It is apparent throughout the town. Take some time to enjoy the many art galleries.
- Looking to satisfy your sweet tooth? Then head to Sugar Shack bakery. Here you will find an incredible array of baked goods sure to please.
Pedernales Falls State Park
Texas is full of so many great state parks, and Pedernales Falls is no exception to this. located just 30 miles west of Austin, Pedernales Falls State Park is one of the many great day trips from Austin.
The cascading water that flows over the natural limestone in this area brings visitors from all over to enjoy this beautiful Texas gem. Here you can enjoy soaking in the cool river water after a spending time hiking on the many trails of the park.
The town of Canyon Lake proudly proclaims that it is the “Water Recreation Capital of Texas”. I assume that is because this area offers visitors so many opportunities to enjoy outdoor and water-related activities while visiting. That’s easy when the lake itself covers over 8,200-acres!
Canyon Lake is also one of the deepest lakes in Texas and is well stocked with fish. Here you can enjoy parks offering camping and picnic areas before heading out for a day on the water.
Things to do in Canyon Lake, TX
- Go tubing! If you are so inclined, you can even use this area as a starting point to go tubing down the Guadalupe River, a favorite summer activity in Texas.
- Birdwatch! Canyon Lake is home to a variety of sea birds, making it a great place to do some bird watching.
- Go fishing! As we said above, Canyon Lake is well stocked with fish. There is an abundance of bass and catfish that call Canyon Lake home.
- Enjoy skiing or boat riding. Canyon Lake is a fabulous lake to just have some good old fun in the sun. Bring (or rent) a boat for the day and enjoy skiing, tubing, or just sightseeing.
The historic town of Gruene will make you feel like you have stepped back in time. Boasting the oldest continually running dance hall in Texas, Gruene Hall, this small town is big on charm. We love strolling around the city center taking in all of the fun shops before grabbing dinner at the famous Gristmill Restaurant.
Honestly, the small town of Gruene is so relaxing and laid back, I could spend tons of time here!
Things to do in Gruene
- Shopping in the town center of Gruene is one of the highlights of a visit here. We love the charming county stores and the one-of-a-kind items that you can find here.
- Learn to two-step at Gruene Hall. A visit to Gruene is not complete until you have spent an evening kicking up your heels in Gruene Hall. Built in the early 19th century, this Texas dance hall has hosted singers from far and wide. We love that the hall hasn’t changed much since it’s inception.
- You have to float the river if you are visiting in the summer. Floating the river in this area is a tradition for Texans. We look for any way possible to beat the heat and have a good time!
Another great day trip from Austin is New Braunfels. This little German town is a fun destination that is an easy getaway from Austin.
Most Texans find their way to New Braunfels to float the rivers that cut through town. For you see, it is New Braunfels that boasts both the Comal and Guadalupe River. Don’t worry though, if you aren’t visiting in the summer, you can still have a great time in New Braunfels
Things to do in New Braunfels, TX
Consider checking out these things to do in New Braunfels during your time here:
- Float the river. As we mentioned above, both the Guadalupe and the Comal Rivers flow through New Braunfels. If you are looking for a short float, then you definitely want the Comal. This is a great introduction to river floating. If you are in the mood for more time on the river, then the Guadalupe is for you!
- Drink and eat at the many German establishments in town. We especially love visiting Guadalupe Brewing Company. Get their Chocolate Pecan Stout if it is available–trust us!
- Get wet at Schlitterbahn waterpark. This is a HUGE attraction for Texans during the summer. The waterpark encompasses over 70-acres and uses the spring-fed river water to help cool you off while visiting the park.
- See in a drive-in movie. Yep, it’s true, New Braunfels has a drive-in movie theatre. Here you can pull in, tune in your radio, and enjoy a movie from the comfort of your own car!
Located right off on Interstate 35, Salado is a charming artistic community nestled near Salado Creek. This one of a kind town has such a unique history and is the perfect place to spend a day.
Loaded with fun bed and breakfasts, restaurants, and loads of artistic charm, Salado will feel make you feel like you are worlds away from the big city.
Things to do in Salado, TX
- Check out the historic Stagecoach Inn. Even if you don’t spend a night here, it is still a great place to tour and learn about. The original Inn was built in 1861 and was part of the Chisholm Trail. You can also eat a meal here in their restaurant!
- Check out the local art scene. Salado prides itself on being an artistic community and this is apparent at every turn. Why not take time to talk to some local artists and learn about their craft. One of our favorite spots to do this is at the glass blowing studio in town.
- Visit one of the many wineries or breweries.
McKinney Falls State Park
One of the shortest day trips from Austin takes us to another great state park, McKinney Falls State Park. Located just 13 miles from the state’s capital, McKinney Falls State Park will make you feel like you are a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.
Here you can camp, hike, fish, picnic, or just enjoy being in the great outdoors. Of course, you can also cool off from the Texas heat by swimming in Onion Creek during your visit to McKinney Falls. (Are you sensing a theme here with water associated with summer activities? LOL!)
You can fish in either Onion or Williamson Creeks and get this, you don’t need a license to fish from the shore in a Texas state park. BONUS!
Located about an hour west of Austin, Johnson City is a great little town to escape to. Visitors here can immerse themselves in history, art, and Texas wine!
Named after the 36th President of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, this small town is home to the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park. Here you can learn all about LBJ and visit his boyhood home before heading out to his ranch located 14 miles west on Highway (Wine Road) 290. When you have had your fill of history, then spend some time exploring the other great things to do in Johnson City.
Things to do in Johnson City, TX
Believe it or not, there are actually several things to do in Johnson City, TX. Here are some of our favorites:
- Explore the LBJ Ranch. This self-guided drive-through tour of the ranch is a wonderful glimpse into history. During your time here, you can see the ranch home of the former President as well as experience the still working cattle ranch.
- Get hands-on at The Science Mill. Located near the town square, the Science Mill is a great museum that is filled with hands-on exhibits to engage kids and adults in STEM concepts.
- Enjoy one of the many restaurants, wineries, and breweries in the area. We love Texas Hills Vineyards, be sure to check out their many award-winning wines!
- Visit from late November to early January to enjoy the Lights Spectacular!
Another one of the great day trips from Austin is to visit the charming town of Driftwood. In our opinion, Driftwood is the definition of Hill Country town.
You can enjoy great food, breweries, and wineries while in Driftwood, making it the ideal place to come and unwind a little!
Things to do in Driftwood, TX
For such a small town, there really are so many things to do in Driftwood, Texas! Check out some of our favorites:
- You have to visit Salt Lick BBQ! Known far and wide for the amazing smoked meats that they produce, you won’t be disappointed with a trip to Salt Lick. Please note that they only accept cash, so come with some money.
- Visit Jester King Brewing. Known for their great brews and ciders, Jester King is a fun, quirky place to hang out. They have gorgeous outdoor views and even a goat or two that you can play with!
- Visit the wineries. There are several great wineries in and around Driftwood. One of our favorites is Duchman Family Winery. They have great wines, an amazing restaurant, and a beautiful outdoor area!
- Learn to dance at Mercer Street Dancehall.
Colorado Bend State Park
Colorado Bend State Park is a nature lovers paradise. Here you can camp, fish, take a cave tour, or enjoy hiking and biking trails on over 5,300-acres.
Some of the most popular hikes in the park include Spicewood Springs, Gormon Falls, and the river hike. Spicewood Springs is a gorgeous trail that takes you along the edge of the water to enjoy the creek, the gorgeous views from the canyon and the falls that are spread by Spicewood Springs.
If you want to feel like you have truly been transported out of Texas, then just hike to Gormon Falls. This 3-mile round trip hike is over rocky terrain and can get really hot in the summer, but the reward when you reach the falls is well worth it. You will think you are standing in front of a waterfall in the tropics!
You can also go on a caving adventure while in Colorado Bend State Park. For this outing, a guide will lead you through the caves that are in this area. This is a fun experience for the adventurous at heart!
The charming German town of Fredericksburg is one of the favorite day trips from Austin. While there truly so many things to do in Fredericksburg, TX, it is most popular for its WINE!!
With new wineries popping up daily (it feels like at least), it is hard to keep track of all of the Fredericksburg, TX wineries! Don’t worry though, if you aren’t into wine, Fredericksburg also offers some great historical sites, fun shopping, and yummy restaurants, making it a great day trip for everyone!
Things to do in Fredericksburg, TX
- Visit the many wineries. Just drive down Highway 290 and take your pick, they are everywhere. Some of our favorites include Becker Vineyards, Grape Creek Vineyards, Fat Ass Ranch, and Fiesta Winery.
- Taste all things peach. Fredericksburg is also famous for the peaches that are grown in this area. Head to Das Peach House to sample some delicious delicacies created with these yummy peaches.
- Learn some history while here. The Fredericksburg Pioneer Museum will allow you to see how the founders of this area lived. This museum houses 11 historic buildings that guests can tour for a glimpse back in time. Another great museum to visit is the Pacific War Museum. Here you can learn all about the Pacific War and Admiral Nimitz, a leader in the battles of WWII, who was from Fredericksburg.
- Go shopping. There are so many great little boutique shops to visit in Fredericksburg. You can spend the day not only exploring the shops on Main Street but also all around the town!
If you are looking for a cute little town to visit, then why not consider the “Most Beautiful Town Square in Texas”? Well, Georgetown is the place just for that as that is exactly what they are known for.
Lined with cute shops and fun restaurants, the Georgetown Downtown Historic District might be just what you need to fill your day. If shopping isn’t your thing, don’t worry, there are plenty of outdoor activities in this area as well.
Things to do in Georgetown, TX
- Spend the day exploring the historic downtown area. Shop at all of the great shops and grab some lunch at the restaurant of your choice.
- Explore the Inner Space Caverns.
- Cool off in one of the many swimming holes including Blue Hole Park and Lake Georgetown.
Luckenbach may be tiny, but it is definitely one of the most unique little towns in Texas, making it a must on your list of day trips from Austin.
Located just outside of Fredericksburg, Luckenbach is a true Texas legend of a town. Seriously, there is even a Waylon Jennings song written about it! Here you can grab a cold drink, attend a music concert, and just enjoy a little piece of true Texas history.
Considered the barbeque capital of Texas, Lockhart will not disappoint if you are looking for some great smoked meat to sink your teeth into! Sitting between Austin and San Antonio, this small town is big on hospitality.
Here visitors can enjoy some incredible Texas BBQ, take in a little history, and enjoy some quirky fun while visiting.
Things to do in Lockhart, TX
- Sink your teeth into some great barbecue. Of course, there are several places in town to do this, but if this is your first visit to Lockhart, then you have to eat at Kreuz Market. Kreuz Market has been serving up authentic Texas barbeque since 1900!
- Explore some of the unique stores in Lockhart. One of particular note is Manny Gammage’s Texas Hatters. Manny Gammage has been creating hats for celebrities and politicians for years! I mean they made a hat for Willie Nelson and Ronald Regan, that alone is reason to visit!
- Visit Lockhart State Park. Lockhart State Park is unique in the fact that is has a 9-hole golf course on site. You can also enjoy picnic areas, hiking, fishing, and swimming while visiting.
Ok, this one isn’t necessarily an escape from the “big city” as San Antonio is a big city also, but it still makes for a great day trip from Austin!
San Antonio is truly unlike any other city in Texas. Combine the awesome River Walk with the history and charm of all San Antonio’s Missions and you have the makings for a great outing. Honestly, there are so many free things to do in San Antonio that you could make several day trips here and never spend a dime!
Things to do in San Antonio, TX
- Tour the San Antonio Mission Trail and see all of the great missions that helped to build this area of Texas. Of course, The Alamo is the most famous, but there are so many other missions in this area that are worth exploring also.
- People watch on the San Antonio Riverwalk. The Riverwalk is great for so many reasons. I mean, it is such a cool environment lined with great restaurants and fun shops. One of our favorite things to do is to grab a balcony seat at one of the many restaurants on the Riverwalk and watch the people go by below!
- Eat some Mexican food! We love so many restaurants in San Antonio, but one that we visit EVERY time is Nichas. Located across the street from Mission San Jose, Nichas is authentic Mexican food that is well worth your time. I recommend the puffy tacos and/or the cheese enchiladas served with their amazing house gravy!
- Do some shopping in Market Square or the Pearl Brewery district.
- Visit one of the many museums in San Antonio.
If you love to be out in nature, then Boerne is a great day trip from Austin for you. Located just outside of San Antonio, Boerne is a fun little town for those looking to escape city life (even if only for a little while).
There is a little something for everyone when it comes to things to do in Boerne. You can enjoy shopping, restaurants, nature trails, and caves when you visit this small Texas town!
Things to do in Boerne, TX
- Shop on the Hill Country Mile, Boerne’s Main Street. Here you will find eclectic art galleries, boutique shops, and quaint cafes just waiting to welcome you.
- Visit the Cibolo Nature Center. This natural area has picnic areas and trails for you to enjoy and explore.
- Enjoy one of the many wineries or breweries in this area.
- Visit the Cave Without a Name or Cascade Caverns.
Enchanted Rock State Park
Located by Fredericksburg, TX, Enchanted Rock State Park is a great place to visit if you enjoy hiking.
Enchanted Rock is a giant granite rock that welcomes hikers to come and explore year-round. Hiking isn’t the only thing to do here though. Visitors are welcome to camp, picnic, geocache, and stargaze. It is important that you need to make reservations as this park is very popular and fills up fast!
Guadalupe River State Park
Another popular state park that is on our list of day trips from Austin, is Guadalupe River State Park. Guadalupe River State Park is most popular for people who want to go tubing or swimming, but there are many other things to do here also.
Visitors can enjoy the numerous hiking/biking trails, picnic facilities, geocache, and camp within the park. Of course, the river is still the main draw. While on the river you can fish, tube, canoe, and swim!
If you mention Marble Falls while visiting Texas, most people will tell smile big and tell you about the pie shop in town! And while it is true, the Bluebonnet Cafe is a huge draw for visitors, there are other things to do in Marble Falls as well.
This little town offers fun boutique shops, some great galleries, wineries, and of course, the lake!
Things to do in Marble Falls, TX
- Head to the adult playground that is Hidden Falls Adventure Park. This 2700 acre park is a mecca for ATVs, jeeps, and dirt bikes. Oh, and not to worry if you don’t have one, they will rent you one!
- Eat pie (and whatever else, but definitely pie) at Blue Bonnet Cafe.
- Check out the cute shops and art galleries around town.
Final Thoughts on Day Trips from Austin
Well, there you have it, our recommendations for great day trips from Austin. Of course, this list isn’t all-inclusive, but hopefully, we have shown you that there are so many fabulous things to do in the Texas Hill Country.
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About the Author
Michelle Snell is a travel writer, history buff, wine lover, and enthusiast of different cultures. While she is a professional educator by day, her passion for travel has her jet-setting all over the world during her free time.
Michelle enjoys bringing places to life through her informative writing style on her blog, That Texas Couple. Her practical tips and suggestions help make travel dreams a reality while immersing her readers in the history, culture, and food of a region. She is happiest sipping wine in Italy or chilling on a beach with her husband, Marty.