Perfect Road Trips for When You Need to Escape Austin
Take a break from it all.
With travel plans on hold and nice weather finally here, you’ll want to cure your cabin fever with a road trip to one of the many quirky and quaint destinations that are just a short drive away. Take in scenic views of the Texas Hill Country with a glass of Texas wine, eat at the oldest and most revered of BBQ joints, or feed a few bucks into the jukebox at a haunted honky-tonk bar. Here are eight road trip-worthy destinations—now all you have to do is to choose your adventure.
New BraunfelsDistance from Austin: 48 miles southwest; 50-minute drive
Texas Hill Country charm, historic German roots, and an abundance of natural beauty make New Braunfels a solid pick for a day trip or weekend away from home. Head downtown for kolaches, pretzels, and strudels at Naegelin’s Bakery, the oldest bakery in Texas before browsing 16,000 square feet of books, records, furniture, glassware, and jewelry at the Downtown Antique Mall. Then practice your “prost!” at Krause’s Cafe, in addition to traditional German eats, the cafe has an enormous Biergarten lined with communal tables and over 60 Texan and German beers on tap. During warm seasons, mega-waterpark Schlitterbahn and tubing along the Guadalupe and Comal rivers are the city’s largest draws. Just outside of town, the former highway oddity known as The Snake Farm is now the brand new Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo—a fully accredited zoological park and home to over 500 different species of animals.
GrueneDistance from Austin: 48 miles southwest; 50-minute drive
Greune (pronounced “green”) is technically a historic district within New Braunfels but worth a visit all on its own. Established by German farmers in 1845, Gruene had its cotton economy destroyed by boll weevils,and became a ghost town that was rediscovered in 1975. The tiny town is best experienced by a stroll through the main square of the Gruene Historic District. You’ll find live music every day at Gruene Hall, Texas’ oldest dance hall, Southern-style lunch at The Gristmill, and wine at The Grapevine with plenty of outdoor seating and fire pits. And, there are around a dozen locally owned shops and boutiques. We love the vintage appeal of Gruene Homestead Inn, a collection of historic homes that have been renovated to period-appropriate rustic perfection.
Dripping SpringsDistance from Austin: 24 miles west; 38-minute drive
Just a short jaunt outside of Austin proper, Dripping Springs is a boozy oasis and home to some of our best breweries and distilleries. Start at Jester King Brewery take the tour or just sample their award-winning farmhouse ales under the shade of ancient live oak trees. Just down the road, you’ll find gin and liqueur producers Revolution Spirits, Last Stand Brewing, and Beerburg Brewing, a beer hall with farm-to-table food offerings. However, if you want a one-stop-shop destination, Treaty Oak Distilling is hard to beat. The sprawling property of Treaty Oak’s ranch is comprised of their whiskey and gin distilleries, tasting room, craft cocktail bar, and BBQ joint/farm-to-table eatery, Alice’s Restaurant. And best of all, everything can be safely enjoyed outdoors, under shady trees or stars. On your way home, we recommend a pit stop at Pieous. Chewy sourdough crust and fresh toppings make their pies one of the best you can get, well, anywhere.
San AntonioDistance from Austin: 80 miles southwest; 1.25-hour drive
San Antonio has always been a buzzing cultural hub but in the last decade the city has gotten a seriously stylish glow-up. Spend a weekend exploring the city’s offerings with a stay at the Hotel Havana, the historic boutique hotel poised on the famous Riverwalk. Then head to Pearl, a massive mixed-use space built using the historic bones of the former Pearl Brewery, to shop, grab a bite, or just hang out at one of the green spaces. Cured, Best Quality Daughter, Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery, and Botika are top picks for foodie-approved dining while The Bottling Department food hall offers lots of fine-casual choices like Tenko Ramen, Mi Roti, and Chilaquil. Grab a fancy cocktail at Blue Box Bar or the Library Bar at Hotel Emma, the Pearl’s architecturally stunning centerpiece. The Jerk Shack is within walking distance and is a lauded Jamaican/Caribbean joint. Stroll through the almost 30,000 works at San Antonio Museum of Art followed by a “trip” through Hopscotch, a dizzying 20,000 square foot immersive, psychedelic art exhibit.
Round TopDistance from Austin: 73 miles east; 1.25-hour drive
Sure, Round Top has a reputation as a quaint town known for antique shopping and homestyle pies but a closer look reveals lots of quirky and high-end places to eat, drink, and stay. Rest awhile at Flophouze, a crop of funky shipping container accommodations, the modern farmhouses of Farmstead Round Top, or the wonderful kookiness of Rancho Pillow.
For shopping, the options are vast—there are tourist favorites like the Round Top Antiques Fair and Junk Gypsy, the eclectic shop and inn selling a curated mix of antique and vintage with boutique goods. Enjoy a glass of wine at Prost on Block 29, the rustic cottage with ample outdoor seating before grabbing lunch at the picturesque cafe, The Garden Co. Whiskey enthusiasts should venture just 9 miles down the road to Kooper Family Whiskey Co. for aged and blended rye and bourbon whiskey tastings, cocktails, and tours.
Distance from Austin: 33 miles south; 35-minute drive
Every weekend folks flock to Lockhart, "The Barbecue Capital of Texas," to make a pilgrimage to the town’s BBQ institutions. Kreuz Market is enormous and stuck in time in the best way, just don’t ask for a fork or sauce for your ribs. Go to the OG Black’s Barbecue for melt-in-your mouth fatty brisket and to Smitty’s Market for juicy, coarse-ground sausage with just the right snap. Immerse yourself in Lockhart’s cowboy-town history with a visit to the Caldwell County Jail Museum before sitting for a spell in the historic Dr. Eugene Clark Library. If you manage to work up an appetite, you’re in luck, Lockhart’s walkable main square has some great options: Commerce Cafe, from the chefs/owners of Austin’s Foreign & Domestic, is serving unfussy, elevated comfort food and is a must-visit. Grab a cold beer at historic saloon, The Pearl then peruse antiques at Fields Stables and Sol y Luna, also located in the main square. Don’t miss newcomer, Little Trouble, a hip speakeasy-style spot serving cocktails and a Texas-centric menu with Mexican and German influences from the former executive chef of Justine’s and Central Standard.
WimberleyDistance from Austin: 38 miles southwest; 50-minute drive
Wimberley is a lush oasis just outside of Austin, full of gorgeous swimming holes like Jacob’s Well, a 120-foot-deep clear spring, and tree-lined Blue Hole Regional Park with its sapphire waters. Visiting during sweater weather? No sweat, browse the many art galleries and boutiques of downtown Wimberley followed by wood-fired Neapolitan pies at Community Pizza & Beer Garden and drinks at The Shady Llama, a sprawling beer and wine garden with killer views. Wind down with a stop into Cypress Creek Reserve Rum—you can tour the distillery, sample their rums, and sip on tiki cocktails—before settling into the very cool accommodations at the stylish Hotel Flora & Fauna. If you have time, drive 9 miles southwest for a scenic drive and a cold beer at the Devil’s Backbone Tavern, a (haunted) hilltop ice house built in 1937 on ancient Native American campgrounds.
FredericksburgDistance from Austin: 80 miles west; 1.5-hour drive
The Texas Hill Country is considered one of the most beautiful places in Texas and the heart of it is the must-visit destination, Fredericksburg. The charming town has something for everyone—German culture, natural attractions, and a ton of wine. The Texas Hill Country is home to over 100 wineries and vineyards and dozens with tasting rooms in and around Fredericksburg on the Highway 290 “wine trail” that runs alongside the Pedernales River. Sip award-winning wines and stroll the idyllic grounds of Signor Vineyards, where the vibe is Texas meets French country garden. Ab Astris is a hidden gem in Fredericksburg, the family-owned, boutique winery produces vintages with Texas-grown fruit. Head to Fredericksburg Brewing Company for flights of German beer and bar fare. For ultimate Chip and Joanna vibes, stay at the Emma Haus, a modern farmhouse just off Main Street. On your way out, work off all the beer and brats with a hike to the soaring summit of Enchanted Rock, the massive, otherworldly pink granite dome said to be haunted by the spirits of Native Americans who considered the site supernatural.