The Best Day Trips To Take From Austin

As much as we love all the things you can do within our city limits...


You'd be missing out if you didn't try one of our recommended day trips. In just an hour or two of driving, you can find yourself out in gorgeous hill country expanses, sipping craft beers at inventive breweries, soaking in hidden swimming holes, or chowing down on some of the best BBQ in Texas. Hell, use our list below and you can do all of that in a day. Our friends over at Pacifico helped us pick out The Best Day Trips to Take From Austin.


Contributed by John Laird and Sam Sumpter
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photo via instagram @bluestarartscomplex


Check out San Antonio's art scene on a First Friday


Sure, there's the Riverwalk, but San Antonio also has a neat up-and-coming arts scene that really shines on the first Friday of every month. Head to the Blue Star Arts Complex or Southtown to kick off your artwalk through the neighborhood, checking out tons of open galleries, tasty food and beverage vendors, and all sorts of local talent. (For more stuff in SA, we suggest you check out the pro picks at Do210.com - What To Do in San Antonio).


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photo credit: kreuz market by Ahn D. via yelp


Take your Tastebuds to Lockhart 


You could drive to Lockhart in the time it’ll take you to get through the interminable line at Franklin Barbeque. Hell, you could probably even hit up the town's classic spots – Smitty’s Market, Kreuz Market and Black’s Barbeque – wander around the town square, return to Austin, realize you forgot something in Lockhart, drive back, have one more round of food, and then come back to Austin for a long nap before you get your hands on Franklin's coveted BBQ. Put on some sweatpants, head to Lockhart, and escape the hustle-bustle of the big city. 


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photo via yelp / Hippie Hollow Park


Get Nekkid at Hippie Hollow


Looking to get an all-over glow without the tanning bed? Go au naturel at Hippie Hollow Park, a clothing-optional nook of Lake Travis. This rocky cove is a great place for sunbathing and jumping into the cool water even if you do keep your swimsuit on, and it's the kind of thing any Austinite should witness at least once in their lives. Grab a couple of margs at The Oasis on Lake Travis afterward to forget any traumatizing imagery you might leave with.


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Photo Credit: Window to Wimberey


Explore nearby Wimberley and Gruene, TX 


Everyone always drones on and on about Fredericksburg, the quaint wine town outside of Austin. But you could have an equally snazzy time in Wimberley or Gruene, Texas. The former offers wine tours and tastings, pretty parks, museums and more, while the latter has Canyon Lake, a vibrant zoo, a drive-in theater and more. Within the city limits of historic Gruene, you can enjoy some delicious grub at The Gristmill and then work it off with some two-stepping at Gruene Hall, the oldest continuously running dance hall in Texas. Each town offers something unique and exciting. 


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photo via awsfzoo.com


Go wild in New Braunfels at the Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo


This isn't your average zoo experience. At Animal World, you can cozy up to gators, pythons, baby fennec foxes, and more. Book an animal encounter in advance for an experience you're sure to remember. And if you aren't squeamish, plan to arrive in time for the feeding of the carnivores (daily at noon). New Braunfels is also home to the original Schlitterbahn, which isn't a bad way to spend an afternoon, either.


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Photo Credit: Stephanie Friedman Photography


Visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center


Summer is here, so why not head out to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and stroll through the fields of flowers? Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has over 7,000 native plants on-site. It's a beautiful and colorful sight that'll cure any hangover. The center also offers a ton of events, activities and more for you to enjoy. Plus, getting in touch with nature will probably do you some good. 


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photo credit: hsbresort.com


Relax lakeside at Horseshoe Bay Resort


If you're feeling posh, head out to the Hill Country and check in to the Horseshoe Bay Resort. This full-service spa and golf resort offers dining, shopping, golfing, lake water-sports, and more against the backdrop of Lake LBJ. Reserve a resort package here!


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Photo Credit: Blueag9 via Wiki


Explore Texas State Parks


Looking for adventure, exercise or just some fresh air and amazing views? Break out the hiking boots! Pedernales Falls consists of over 5,000 beautiful acres and is complete with swimming holes and terrain that’s ideal for hiking, biking and more. McKinney Falls is only 10 miles away and is an awesome destination for hiking, biking, swimming, fishing and wildlife spotting, while Lockhart State Park is home to the only staff-operated golf course in the Texas State Park System. Fill your thermos with water and go detox over at one of Texas's state parks. 


Bastrop State Park is also a nearby awesome option, and is an excellent destination for hiking, backpacking, canoeing and more, while Palmetto State Park is a prime pick for hiking and swimming, while also offering pedal boats and canoes for rental. Overwhelmed? Well, buckle your seatbelt (literally get in the car, buckle it, and go), because there’s also Inks Lake State Park, Guadalupe State Park, Arkansas Bend State Park…and, yes, even more.


Check out more awesome Mother Nature-approved spots—state parks and otherwise, including the phenomenal Enchanted Rock—in our list of camping spots in Austin.


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Photo Credit: Rio Frio Loding Facebook


Relax in an adult-sized treehouse at Rio Frio Lodging


Relive your nostalgic childhood days of yore in a treehouse that is undoubtedly more comfortable (not to mention safer) than whatever half-baked structure you constructed as a youngin'. Rio Frio Lodging also has the added benefit of being located right on the brink of an absolutely gorgeous body of picturesque water. Wake up and smell the nature in the most picturesque digs imaginable. Find more information about their accommodations here


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hamilton pool by Amy L. via Yelp


Get Wet 'n Wild at a Natural Watering Hole


There's no shortage of lakes, rivers and watering holes in Texas, and plenty of them make for easy and delightful day trips. Krause Springs—only 30 miles outside of Austin—is listed in the Natural Registration of Historical Places and offers 34 springs, a waterfall, and natural pool! An incredible oasis by the name of Lost Creek is a mere 15 miles away and, as its name implies, is a bit of a hidden gem. Like any treasure, it is definitely worth the hunt. Meanwhile, Hamilton Pool is equipped with an incredible 50-foot waterfall, and Blue Hole in Wimberley is situated on 126 acres of forest and grasslands and surrounded by rope swing-equipped cypress trees.


Looking for more aquatic options? You can take a dip at many of the state parks mentioned above (a great way to cool off after a hot hike), or you can head south to New Braunfels or San Marcos, rent a tube, and spend a few fun hours floating the Comal, Guadalupe or San Marcos Rivers. We've got even more info on Swimming Holes Around Austin here.


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Photo via Yelp / Duchman Family Winery


Take a Taste Test at Central Texas Wineries


In terms of places to test your palate and procure some top-notch vino, Duchman Family Winery in Driftwood is a surefire spot to become a sommelier. Duchman boasts incredible wines and tour options that provide stress-free ways to taste wine.


Looking for more places to sip vino? Fredricksburg is another wine-filled town to visit; this quaint locale offers an impressive selection of wineries and great restaurants. One of Texas's most celebrated small towns, Fredricksburg is a great place to escape Austin. While you're at it, check out our list of things to do in Fredericksburg here.


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Photo Credit: Flickr User Daxis


Take a trip to Dallas


Do214 is the place to find out what to do in DFW. From the coolest concerts to the best happy hours, Do214 is your first stop to find out what's happening in Dallas! Win tickets to shows, find out where to drink, eat, and more. Check out their site for the freshest takes on what to do in Dallas and surrounding areas.


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Got a great day trip to take from Austin?

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