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31 July . 2015

Best Day Trips from Austin

Sometimes you just need a quick get away.  Check out these ideas on the best day trips from Austin.  Courtesy of Sam Sumpter from the Do Stuff Network. See the full article here.

EXPLORE STATE PARKS
Looking for adventure, exercise or just some fresh air and a sweet view? Break out the hiking boots! Pedernales Falls consists of over 5,000 beautiful acres, and is complete with swimming holes and with 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.

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 park and otherwise, including the phenomenal Enchanted Rock—in our list of camping spots in Austin.

Because sometimes a day trip just doesn’t cut it.

TAKE A DIP
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 has no fewer than 34 springs, plus 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 (but, like any treasure, 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. Trust us: no matter where you are, when you’re soaking up the sun in your bathing suit in March, all you’ll be thinking is “South by South what?”

TASTE TEST AT WINERIES AND BREWERIES
While some awesome breweries are located right in Austin (check 'em out here), if you venture out further, you can enjoy some scenery while you sip. Jester King offers a great, spacious outdoor setting complete with games and pizza, while at Thirsty Goat, you can get three big pours of your choice and a complimentary pint glass for under ten bucks. Alternately, if you’re okay with a longer commute, the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner is the oldest independent brewery in the state, with a hoppy history dating back to 1909.

In terms of places to test your palate and procure some top-notch vino,Duchman Family Winery in Driftwood is a surefire spot, and the town of Fredericksburg—while it may be full of German history and Oktoberfest fun—boasts an impressive selection of wineries, and even offers wine tour options that provide you with an easy, stress-free way to try a bunch of them out.

So maybe disregard what we said in the intro. We’re sure your liver will be just fine.

EXPLORE A DIFFERENT CITY
While we’re obviously “Team Austin,” there’s no denying that other cities and towns sometimes have a lot to offer as well. Take San Antonio, for instance. If you haven’t strolled down the River Walk or remembered the Alamo, there’s no time like the present to make the short pilgrimage south and see what SA has to offer. (We suggest you check out the pro picks at Do210.com - What To Do in San Antonio.)

In terms of more small-town options, New Braunfels is just down the road. Not only should you float the river, as mentioned above, but New Braunfels is also the site of the epic waterpark known as Schlitterbahn. Within the city limits is the historic town known as Gruene, where 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.

If you consider yourself a foodie—or you’re just interested in a nice rack of ribs—check out Lockhart, which has been referred to as the “BBQ Capital of Texas” and is home to popular spots like Black’s Barbecue, Kreuz Market and Smitty’s. (There’s also a state park (listed above) that’s worth checking out…because we know you like to get your hike and bike on post-brisket.) Then head to Driftwood, home of The Salt Lick, to play Iron Chef and compare the two towns’ selections of fall-off-the-bone barbecue.

Finally—don't mind the fact that so many of our recommendations have edible aspects—when it comes to satisfying your sweet tooth, we can’t say enough good things about The Blue Bell Factory in Brenham. Oh, and if you're more into history than dessert, the town is also home to Washington on the Brazos, the site where the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed. But we'd probably suggest prioritizing the Blue Bell Factory. Because ice cream, y’all.