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02 March . 2018

Spring fever: 5 Ideas for Hill Country day trips near Austin

When you live in the Austin area, the opportunities for fun day trips are plentiful and close at hand. Spring is one of the best times of the year to plan a Hill Country day trip: the wildflowers are blooming, the temperatures are warm but not too hot, everything’s green, and the bats and peaches are not far behind.

Here are our Top 5 ideas for Hill Country day trips. If you have any suggestions or ideas you’d like to share, we’d love to hear them in the comments!

Wildflowers. Country Living magazine has chosen the Texas Hill Country as the place to see "America's most beautiful wildflower bloom." We’re lucky we’re so close, because the magazine says “the countryside west of Austin and north of San Antonio explodes in a riot of colorful bluebonnets every spring.” Sweetwater is located virtually in the center of this loop that one travel website recommends as "perfect Texas Hill Country wildflower day trip."

Go batty. With its 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats, Austin’s Congress Street Bridge is famous as home to the world’s largest urban bat colony, but some caves and formations in the Hill Country host even larger colonies. Old Tunnel State Park near Fredericksburg is home to up to 3 million bats that live in an abandoned railroad tunnel. Devil’s Sinkhole State Natural Area in Rocksprings is also home to about 3 million bats. Late spring, starting in May, is the best time to begin watching these migratory bats. This great site from Texas Parks & Wildlife has the scoop on bat-watching locations, along with advice such as bat-watching etiquette.

Family fun. From natural attractions to manmade amusements, the Texas Hill Country is filled with family friendly adventures. Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch offers an African-style safari on a 400-acre ranch with 4 miles of driving trail, allowing kids to see giraffes, zebras, rhinos and other exotic animals. The Austin Zoo & Animal Sanctuary serves a dual purpose, as a zoo for public viewing and education, and as a rescue and rehabilitation center for animals. The Hill Country Flyer offers train rides from Austin, and it also has a museum. A special Spring Break Flyer excursion is planned for March. How about ziplining through a canopy of old-growth cypress trees? See more ideas for Hill Country day trips with the kids.

Wine down. For a grown-up adventure, why not explore some of the 52 wineries that dot the Texas Hill Country? Each winery has its own personality, terroir and style of winemaking, and many have won awards. The 2018 Wine & Wildflower Journey, from April 6-22, is a great way to discover Texas Hill Country Wines, with the added bonus of taking in the area’s beautiful blooms. Or plan your own day trip along the Texas Wine Trail. Several quaint wineries in Spicewood are very close to Sweetwater, including Stone House Vineyard and El Gaucho Winery. The latter offers a tasty menu of South American food.

Just peachy.  Did you know that peaches have long been an important crop in the Texas Hill Country? Several of the 18 orchards and farm stands selling peaches have been in operation as far back as 1928, with most concentrated around Fredericksburg and Stonewall. Many orchards allow you to pick your own peaches – a surefire way to get kids excited about eating fresh fruit. With Texas peach season starting around mid-May, put this on the calendar for a great late spring day trip idea. Check the Hill Country Fruit Council website for updates on this year’s crop.

For more ideas on what to do around Sweetwater, see some of our residents' favorite picks at our Area Guide.