Head into the beautiful Texas Hill Country, and more specifically, Burnet County, and you are instantly introduced to the gorgeous Highland Lakes of Texas.
Driving the winding country roads, I found myself mesmerized by the beautiful landscape that surrounded me. A landscape that is very different from other parts of Texas. We were greeted by rocky cliff sides where cactus hung on for dear life, beautiful Texas oak trees, and wildflowers that lined the side of the road. We dipped down into valleys and found ourselves crossing streams and rivers before ascending to the hilltop where the sweeping views of the Texas countryside and Lake Buchanan arose.
There was no mistake that we were in the Texas Hill Country and the Highland Lakes of Burnet County had just greeted us with open arms!
Let’s dive into a few facts about the Highland Lakes region. In addition to Lake Buchanan, the Highland Lakes region boasts four other lakes within the county borders. These lakes are Inks Lake, Lake LBJ, Lake Marble Falls, and Lake Travis. This region of the Texas Hill Country is also home to six fabulous small towns, state parks, caverns, and sprawling hill country views.
The incredible Texas landscape, small-town charm, and true Texas hospitality will have you falling in love with this area of Texas just as we did!
Let’s dive into all of the great things there are to do in the Highland Lakes!
Full disclosure: Marty and I were guests of The Highland Lakes of Burnet County Tourism Board for this trip. As always, the opinions expressed here are completely our own and are unbiased based upon our experience during the trip.
A Weekend in the Highland Lakes of Texas
When to Visit the Highland Lakes of Texas
It doesn’t matter the season, the Highland Lakes of Burnet County has something to offer!
Spring brings the fresh blooms of Texas wildflowers, summer allows visitors to enjoy watersports on the lakes, fall brings the beautiful foliage changes along with cooler temperatures, and winter in this area offers an abundance of Christmas light displays and fun activities.
When planning your journey to the Highland Lakes of Texas, be sure and keep the weather in mind. I mean, this is Texas. Our summers are hot and sticky, making it perfect for water activities, while our winters are generally mild; Texas can also get down to freezing or below in the winter, so always check the weather.
Marty and I embarked on our getaway in the spring and were delighted to see that the Texas bluebonnets were in full bloom.
Of course, so was all of the other vegetation in the area. The trees were coming to life with fresh, new buds and the warmer days were perfect for exploring and being outside!
Where to Stay in the Highland Lakes
The Highland Lakes of Texas is full of unique places to stay. There are boutique hotels, individual guesthouses, and campsites, just to name a few. Lucky for us, our trip included the opportunity to stay at one of the unique properties in this area.
Our accommodations for the weekend were at the incredible Canyon of the Eagles Resort. The resort is located about 25 minutes from Burnet, and about 4 hours southwest of Dallas-Fort Worth, making it a great getaway from Dallas.
Canyon of the Eagles is a Calibre Resort Property that sits on 940-acres overlooking the gorgeous Lake Buchanan.
The 61 guest rooms are situated in little cabins sprinkled throughout the resort area of the property. This allows the resort to offer several types of guest rooms with varying views and amenities. We stayed in a deluxe room that included a refrigerator and microwave and boasted a glorious view of Lake Buchanan.
I would like to note that the guest rooms do not include televisions. This is because the resort is all about connecting you with nature. Trust me, you will not miss the television!
In addition to the guest rooms, Canyon of the Eagles also offers RV sites with full amenities, and several campsite site areas on the property.
Canyon of the Eagles Resort Amenities
The resort has an amazing on-site restaurant, Overlook Restaurant, that fully lives up to its name. Perched high above Lake Buchanan, Overlook Restaurant treats its guests to incredible sunset views while serving up scrumptious food from its chef-inspired menu.
For breakfast, guests can choose a “grab and go” breakfast sandwich or taco, or they can dine in-house and enjoy the delicious breakfast buffet. Lunch offerings include burgers, sandwiches, fresh salads, and more. For dinner, guests are treated to culinary delights such as crab cakes, fresh fish, steaks, pasta, and the house specialty of Chicken Fried Wild Boar.
We enjoyed several meals at The Overlook and all of them were delicious!
The Eagle’s Nest
The Eagle’s Nest is an “adults-only” (over the age of 21) area where guests can come to enjoy cocktails and a limited menu of food items. This is a great place to grab a delicious craft cocktail while watching the game (there is a television in the Eagle’s Nest).
One of the must-do activities while staying at Canyon of the Eagles is to experience Lake Buchanan, and there is no better way to do that than to get out on the water.
Canyon of the Eagles offers 2-hour guided sightseeing cruises that are incredible. Marty and I enjoyed our time with Captain Bill so much. We learned all about the history of Lake Buchanan and got to see some incredible sights, like the beautiful Fall Creek Falls waterfall. During our cruise, we also encountered a lot of wildlife. We saw deer, several bird species, and even a coyote swimming in the lake!
Be sure to book your cruise in advance because they fill up fast!
Eagle Eye Observatory
One of the most popular attractions at Canyon of the Eagles Resort is the Eagle Eye Observatory. According to the Canyon of the Eagles website, “Our dark-sky location is considered one of the best astronomic viewing sites in Texas.” With that in mind, it only makes sense that they have a private observatory on-site!
The observatory has retractable roof sections to create the optimal experience. There are also several telescopes and a qualified astronomer on staff to ensure that you know exactly what you are looking at while gazing at the stars.
Like the cruises, this activity fills up quickly, so BOOK IN ADVANCE! Marty and I were sad to have missed the Eagle Eye Observatory, as it was already booked for the weekend. We hope to go back soon and experience it. In the meantime, Marty still captured some great pics with his camera.
Kayak Rentals are available to the resort’s overnight guests with a 24-hour notice. The resort has both single and tandem kayaks available so that you can enjoy a fun day out on the water.
Hiking Trails and Guided Walks
With miles of trails right at your doorstep, you have to include hiking on your list of things to do while visiting the Canyon of the Eagles. There are well-marked trails for all abilities and skill levels.
In addition to setting out on your own, the resort also offers guided walks for visitors. On the guided walks, a naturalist teaches you all about the flora and fauna in the Highland Lakes of Texas region. Sounds like the perfect introduction to the trails of the resort!
For those of you visiting in the summer and looking to escape the Texas heat, the resort has miles of lakefront shoreline for you to enjoy. If you would rather swim in a pool, don’t worry, there is one of those also!
Things to do in the Highland Lakes of Texas Region
Spider Mountain Bike Park
For a fun and unique activity, plan a visit to Spider Mountain Bike Park. Spider Mountain’s is the only year-round lift-served bike park in the United States!
How cool is that?! Right here in the great state of Texas!
(Now, my non-adventurous readers do not skip this section! Spider Mountain is for you too! Keep reading to discover how.)
You will find Spider Mountain on the banks of Lake Buchanan about 10 minutes from the Canyon of the Eagles Resort. The first chairlift in Texas that allows mountain bikers to ride the lift up and let gravity pull them down the 350 vertical feet of the mountain.
Spider Mountain offers trails for all skill levels. I love how their trail system resembled that of a ski hill. There are beginner’s trails that are color-coded green and named things like “Itsy-Bitsy” and there are more advanced trails that are color-coded black and named things like “Tarantula.”
If you want to try out Spider Mountain, but don’t have a bike or gear, don’t worry, they have you covered. You can rent bikes and the necessary gear from the gear store located right on site.
Now, for my non-adventurous readers, you too can enjoy Spider Mountain. Do what Marty and I did and grab a scenic uplift ticket. This ticket allows you to ride the lift up the mountain, and then depart the lift to enjoy the incredible view from the top of the mountain. This is also a fun place to watch the bikers starting out on the trails!
You can then ride the lift back down, or hike down using the hiking trail. (Do be mindful that you are on the correct trail. There is only one that is safe for hikers. It is NOT SAFE for you to be on the bike trails.)
In addition to the bike lift and trails, Spider Mountain also has accommodations, the Thunderbird Lodge, and the Camp at Reveille Peak Ranch.
Torr Na Lochs Vineyard & Winery
Situated high above the Colorado River Valley, the views at Torr Na Lochs Winery and Vineyard will astound you. Overlooking Inks Lake and Lake Buchanan is fabulous in itself, but if you look off in the distance, you are treated to a view of Falkenstein Castle, and even Enchanted Rock! Add fabulous wines to that incredible view, and you have the makings for a perfect afternoon in the Highland Lakes region.
During our visit, Marty and I enjoyed a wine tasting on the gorgeous patio and had the opportunity to chat with one of the owners, Karen DeBerry. I knew immediately that we would get along great with Karen and Blake DeBerry. Honestly, I could have just sat and chatted about travel with them for hours.
We shared stories about our love for Scotland, where Karen and her husband, Blake lived for years. We reminisced about the places we visited, the weather, the food, and how nice the Scottish people are.
Interestingly, Blake and Karen actually lived in Scotland when they purchased the 180-acre ranch that now houses Torr Na Lochs. This love of Scotland inspired the name. Torr Na Lochs is Gaelic and roughly translates to Hill Over Lakes.
During our conversation, I asked Karen about the wine-making process. She stated that she loves the beginning stages of wine-making and that she does not like to add a bunch of flavoring to the wine. She would rather, “Allow the fruit to speak for itself.”
We found this apparent in every wine we tasted. All were easy to drink and had delicious but subtle flavoring. My personal favorite was the Fion Geal, a light, crisp white wine.
In addition to great wines and fabulous views, Torr Na Lochs also offers several food options. They have a variety of sandwiches on the menu, a cheese board, and a charcuterie board. Marty and I chose the charcuterie board which contained a great assortment of locally produced sausages, shaved ham, a delicious assortment of cheeses, several incredible pickled items, and some dried fruit and nuts. On Saturdays, they also offer fresh wood-fired personal pizzas!
Explore the Small Towns
As we mentioned above, the Highland Lakes of Texas is comprised of five lakes and several small towns. During your visit to Highland Lakes, you would be amiss if you didn’t take the opportunity to experience some true Texas hospitality that the small towns in Texas offer.
During our weekend excursion, we decided to visit Marble Falls, one of the six towns that comprise the Highland Lakes of Burnet County.
You will find Marble Falls about 38 miles northwest of Austin, making it one of the fun and easy day trips from Austin. Located on the edge of Lake Marble Falls (another one of the Highland Lakes of Burnet County’s lakes), the town of Marble Falls is so much fun and definitely worth visiting.
After eating breakfast at the Blue Bonnet Café (more on that below), Marty and I enjoyed an afternoon exploring Downtown Marble Falls. The downtown area consists of several charming boutique shops, a winery, art galleries, and restaurants. Here are a few of our favorites:
Now, it is no secret that I love Fiesta Winery, so I was thrilled to see that they have a nice, prominent location in Downtown Marble Falls.
Upon entering, Fiesta immediately puts a smile on my face. I love their play on rustic décor and their fun, colorful wine labels that line the walls.
Fiesta has a wide variety of wines, making it easy for everyone to find a wine they love here. The manager of the Marble Falls Store, Patrice, explained to me that she has “wines for all palates. If you like dry wines, I have them. If you like sweet wines, I have those. Only drink red? No problem!”
This is one of the reasons I love Fiesta. They have so many wine offerings and they are all delicious!
Sugar Mama Cookies
Across the courtyard from Fiesta, you will find a fabulous little bakery called Sugar Mama Cookies.
It’s hard to miss as the addictive scent of cookies will sweep you off your feet before you even enter the shop.
Once inside, you find yourself surrounded by delicious baked goods. Sugar Mama Cookies offers all sorts of cookies, cupcakes, cheesecake, and cake. You can even buy cake by the slice!
We could not pass up the cute sugar cookies, and, of course, I had to get the Texas bluebonnet one!
Choccolatte’s & Third Street Treasures
Another fun find in Marble Falls is Choccolatte’s & Third Street Treasures.
Choccollatte is home to delicious homemade chocolate delights, including, their famous Pecan English Toffee. They also have gelato, bon bons, and several chocolate dipped items like Twinkies, pretzels, and more!
While visiting, be sure to go into their adjoining store, Third Street Treasures. Here you will find all sorts of cute treasures for your home!
OH SO YUMMY!
OH SO YUMMY! houses a great assortment of Texas-made food products. Here you can find gourmet pickles, an assortment of jams and jellies, jerky, honey, and so much more.
After choosing the perfect products to take home, head to the back of the store and get a fresh scoop of delicious Blue Bell ice cream or grab some of their homemade fudge.
Eat at the Blue Bonnet Café
While exploring Marble Falls, you can’t miss an opportunity to eat at the legendary Blue Bonnet Café. The Blue Bonnet Café has been serving up great food and world-famous “mile high pie” since 1929! While the original location was on Main Street, the current location is right on Highway 281 just a couple of blocks from Main.
It doesn’t matter the day of the week or the time of day that you visit the Blue Bonnet Cafe, you are going to see a wait. That is just how popular this down-home restaurant is. Don’t worry though, the line moves quickly.
Once inside, you are treated to a wall displaying all of the awards and media attention that the Blue Bonnet has received, and believe me, it is quite impressive. They were named “Top 100 Breakfasts” by Travel and Leisure, and “Top 10 Restaurants in Texas” by Texas Highways Magazine just to name a couple.
On the way into the dining room, you will also catch a glimpse of the pie case, which houses the fabulous pies that Blue Bonnet is famous for.
The menu is good, down-home cooking with items such as homemade biscuits and chicken fried steak and eggs for breakfast. For lunch, you will find an assortment of salads, sandwiches, burgers, and house specialties that include hand-battered chicken tenders, farm-raised catfish, and pot roast. Of course, there are also specials of the day and plenty to choose from.
You absolutely cannot leave Blue Bonnet Café without a slice of pie, so save room! Their mile-high meringue pies include chocolate, lemon, and coconut. If you are not in the mood for meringue, don’t worry, there are plenty of other flavors to choose from. Some noteworthy flavors include German chocolate, cherry, peach, pecan, fudge, banana cream, peanut butter cream, and more.
You truly have not visited Marble Falls if you have not been to the Blue Bonnet Cafe!
Our Future Plans in the Highland Lakes of Texas
We had such a fabulous weekend in the Highland Lakes region. I honestly feel like we only scratched the surface.
Marty and I will definitely return to the Highland Lakes region. There is still so much that we want to explore here.
Our next trip will definitely include more time to explore the charming town of Burnet. We know that we want to plan a visit to Save the World Brewery and the Longhorn Cavern State Park. We would also love to explore Burnet’s historic square. I am hoping to get to visit in the summer so that we can take advantage of some of the fun water activities as well.
Maybe I will able to stay at and/or explore Falkenstein Castle on my next visit also. A girl can dream, right!!!
As you can see, we have only started exploring the Highland Lakes region. There is still so much left for us to discover.
Be on the lookout for another blog post outlining our next adventure of the Highland Lakes of Burnet County!
Until next time….SAFE AND HAPPY TRAVELS, FRIENDS!
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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.