Before I moved to Texas, I had only visited Austin. And now, three years after moving here, I still have so much left of this state to explore. I’d say I’ve only seen about a quarter of what this state has to offer.
That isn’t for lack of trying! We’ve done a lot of weekend and day trips around Texas.
But that’s not what I’m here to share…
Central Texas Day Trips
In this guide, I want to share with you all my favorite day trips around Austin (and San Antonio too!). I’ve listed ten places, and a few of them are still on my list to visit. You’ll get my recommendations along with what’s next on my travel list.
Below, you’ll find a handy dandy map with all ten of my central Texas day trips listed. If you’re up for it, print this bad boy out and put it on your wall to do the whole throw-a-dart-and-go-wherever-it-lands thing.
All ten of these Austin day trips are unique, small towns less than 90 minutes away from downtown Austin. And I’d like to point out that many of these towns, such as Marble Falls, Fredericksburg, or New Braunfels are best enjoyed with more time such as an overnighter or weekend trip.
But that’s up to you to decide! So for now, let’s get into my recommendations and tips for the best day trips around Austin and Hill Country.
Southwest, 35min from Downtown Austin, by car
I love Driftwood. Literally everything about it screams Hill Country.
If you need a quick escape from the city, come out to Driftwood and soak up the serene quietness.
Whatever you need to unwind, you’ll find it in Driftwood. Below are my favorite stops.
Things to Do in Driftwood
- Marvel at the massive and stunning architecture of the Radha Madhav Dham Hindu Temple. Keep an eye out for the free-roaming peacocks!
- Explore and enjoy local made beer at Vista Brewing, sotol at Desert Door distilling, Stinson Distillery for Texas brand, or try out the wine at Dutchman Family Winery.
- After you’ve worked up an appetite, head over to Salt Lick BBQ to indulge in heavenly Texas smoked meats. Tip: stop at an ATM first, Salt Lick BBQ is cash only! (They’re also BYOB!)
- Every Thursday through Sunday, Mercer Street Dancehall hosts local musicians for a night spent two-stepping with locals. Head here on Saturdays if you need a dance lesson!
- Stop by the Hays County Store for classic Texas eats, happy hour cocktails, and local craft beer. Come on a Wednesday, Thursday, or Sunday for live music!
South, 50min from Downtown Austin, by car
Dripping Springs is the land of the plenty when it comes to Texas craft beer booze.
Goodness, there is so much to do (ok, mostly drink) in Dripping Springs. And every bit is delicious. Probably thanks to all of that clean and tasty Texas Hill Country water, LBR.
Some of the original central Texas makers and brewers have been out here, doing their thing for ages. However, there are consistently new breweries/distilleries/wineries/cideries popping up.
It’s like a choose-your-own route type of adventure every time I come out here. But for now, below are my picks for your day trip to Dripping Springs.
Things to Do in Dripping Springs
- On your way out to Dripping Springs, stop at Jester King to drink farmhouse ales, Revolution Spirits for gin [my favorite], Argus for cider. (Two more of my favorite breweries that are actually in Dripping Springs include Twisted X and Family Business Beer.)
- Treaty Oak Distilling is my top recommendation. Dog and family-friendly, they have something for everyone at their gorgeous Texas hill country ranch. Stop at Alice’s Restaurant, if you’re feeling at all a bit hungry.
- Make reservations to visit Hamilton Pool Preserve, a natural pool that was created when an underground river collapsed thousands of years ago due to massive erosion.
North, 35min from Downtown Austin, by car
Just a jump, hop, and a skip north of Austin, is one of the most pleasant small towns in central Texas: Georgetown. Known for having the “Most Beautiful Town Square in Texas“, this is an easy and even family-friendly Austin day trip.
Things to Do in Georgetown
- Explore Georgetown’s Downtown Historic District, known as the c which includes local shops and restaurants.
- Looking to do some swimming? In Georgetown there are swimming options: swim in Blue Hole Park, which also includes picnic tables and walking trails. Or head out to Lake Georgetown for a proper lake day
- Hidden for 10000 years, Georgetown’s Inner Space Caverns are one of the best-preserved caves in Texas, and one of the few places where prehistoric remains are found.
- Stop by Mesquite Creek Outfitters to sip on local beer and wine while you do some shopping for outdoor gear and other Texan goods.
- Gaze at the moon, stars, and planets through a research-quality telescope during free public viewing nights at the Fountainwood Observatory.
Southwest, 1hr20min from Downtown Austin, by car
Wine, wine, and more wine!
There are more than 30 wineries and tasting rooms in Fredericksburg. In fact, one road alone (Wine Road 290) is home to 18 award-winning wineries!
Which means there is a little something for every wino on this Hill Country day trip.
Things to Do in Fredericksburg
- Of course, visit wineries! Here are some of my favorites: Barons Creek Vineyards, Becker Vineyards, Fat Ass Ranch and Winery, and Pedernales Cellars.
- Or if you’re more into craft beer like me head to the German-inspired Altstadt Brewery for a delicious cold lager or three and pub fare with mega Old World vibes.
- Hike up Enchanted Rock, and you’ll find yourself 1,825 feet. You’ll get a view of Hill Country that goes on for miles and miles. In case you have a doubt about how to choose gear for those types of activities to check this link: https://www.gearweare.com/category/reviews/hiking-and-backpacking/
- Pick your own bouquet of Texas wildflowers at Wildseed Farms, the largest working wildflower farm in the country.
- Once you’ve worked up an appetite, enjoy upscale traditional German fare using local ingredients at Otto’s German Bistro.
Southeast, 50min from Downtown Austin, by car
Lockhart is officially known as the Barbecue Capital of Texas.
You can’t go wrong with any of the four options in this small town of 13,000. Just a short drive southeast from Austin, it’s the perfect Texas day trip for BBQ lovers.
Things to do in Lockhart
- Visit Dr. Eugene Clark Library, the oldest operating library in Texas.
- Eat in the barbecue capital of Texas at one or all of these spots (just to get you started!): The Original Black’s Barbecue, Kreuz Market, and Smitty’s Market.
- Stop for a drink or two at The Pearl Bar built in1896, just off the historic courthouse square.
West, 1hr10min from Downtown Austin, by car
Marble Falls is the perfect little Hill Country town to plan your next day trip or overnight escape.
The drive is short, but it’s insane how much the scenery changes in just an hour. Just one of the many incredible things about central Texas.
Things to Do in Marble Falls
- Marble Falls has three breweries all in close proximity together. My favorites are Bear King Brewing and Save the World. If you’re a Belgian beer fan, you can’t skip the latter.
- This town is incredible for vintage shopping daytrippers. There are plenty of stores are the way into town and a few more once you arrive to Marble Falls.
- If you’re looking for a quick drive to take non-Texans, head to Marble Falls. It’s short, includes lots of scenery, and there’s a cute little town at the end of the route.
South, 60min from Downtown Austin, by car
New Braunfels is one of the most authentic German-American communities in the country.
This small Central Texas town is a fun destination, with adventures for every type of visitor. Located between Austin and San Antonio, it’s an easy day trip for those coming from either city.
Things to Do in New Braunfels
- New Braunfels has two rivers: the Comal and the Guadalupe. The Comal is “the longest shortest river in the world,” so it’s a short float. The Guadalupe, on the other hand, is the party river and floats can last up to six hours!
- Krause’s Cafe is a great place to start in New Braunfels. There’s an incredible selection of German beer mixed in with local favorites and pub grub.
- Bakeries and Breweries are my favorite places to stop in any town, and 2 Tarts is the cutest one in New Braunfels!
- Soak up the German vibes up at Friesenhaus Restaurant. This place will make you think you’ve traveled to Germany. There’s classic German dishes and German beer served by an intimidating bartender with a heavy accent.
North, 50min from Downtown Austin, by car
Salado has all you need for a fun afternoon day trip from Austin, possibly even a weekend trip.
With historic lodging, bed & breakfast, plentiful shopping, dining and only a short drive up I35, this charming town should be next on your day trip list.
Things to Do in Salado
- Visit (or stay at!) the historic Stagecoach Inn for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
- Visit Salado Glassworks or Ro Shaw Clay Studio for classes and locally made art pieces.
- A must stop is Barrow Brewing Company. Grab a beer and head down to the water to dip your toes in Salado Creek.
- Cool off in the water either in town at Salado Creek, or 10 miles away at Chalk Ridge Falls Park.
- End the afternoon with live music at Johnny’s Outback.
South, 45min from Downtown Austin, by car
San Marcos is has a friendly, college-town vibe with plenty of shops and restaurants. Plus, a sizeable weekend farmer’s market!
Side note: this town is one of my favorites on this list.
Things to Do in San Marcos
- On Saturdays, head to the San Marcos Farmers’ Market to shop all of the local eats and goods.
- Grab your tube, and float the day away on the San Marcos River.
- Eat your fill of kolaches at Dos Gatos Bakery.
- Re-fuel with a stop at one, or a few, of the many local breweries in San Marcos. Our favorites include Middleton Brewing, Aquabrew, and Roughhouse.
- Once you’re done at Middleton Brewing, head across the street to Silo Glass and shop pieces from glassblowers, potters, and other local artists.
Southwest, 55min from Downtown Austin, by car
Tucked away in the gorgeous hills of Texas Hill Country is a town full of swimming holes, wine, and enchanting parks.
Wimberley sits on prime Hill Country terrain where Cypress Creek meets the Blanco River. It’s home to towering cypress trees and Texas wildflowers.
Things to do in Wimberley
- 12 feet wide, and 120 feet deep… Jacob’s Well in Wimberley is a natural spring with clear water and a 10-15 foot ledges to jump off of. Not for the faint of heart! Learn more about tickets and reservations here.
- Swim in the crystal blue waters at Blue Hole Regional Park.
- Sip on Tiki drinks and more rum cocktails at Cypress Creek Reserve Rum Distillery.
- Eat locally sourced, seasonal American menu served in a modern, indoor-outdoor setting at Wimberley’s The Leaning Pear.
- My tip? For the drive, take FM 32 from Wimberley towards Blanco and drive across the “Devil’s Backbone” on Edwards Plateau for some amazing Texas views.