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Everyone loves a good road trip, right? All things considered, there’s never been a better time to take a road trip than right now. So pack a bag, grab your car keys, and consider the nine best road trip destinations from Austin, Texas.
Drive 15 miles south of Austin towards San Antonio and you’ll find the town of Buda, (pronounced BYOO-dah). Their motto is “breathe easy here” and you truly can. Shopaholics will reportedly find antique shops offering rare collectibles at “old-timey prices.”
There’s also Cabela’s on Highway I-35, which is big enough it has a whole street named after it. Veteran visitors say you should not underestimate this place based on its relatively small size either. It has its own voice and culture. Here you’ll find delectable salsa, karaoke, an “old-school” arcade, a soda fountain, and more within the town’s six square miles.
The small town of Lockhart is about 25 minutes southeast of the busy Austin airport or half an hour east of the city itself. Lockhart is well-known for its barbecue. Two family-owned restaurants that were once united now vie to provide visitors with famous “good smoke” as they say in Texas.
Lockhart, the “little city with a big heart,” still shows its cowboy roots revealing a unique perspective on Texas. Stop by the old Jail Museum and see the Norman castellated architecture which was popular back in the mid-1800s. Other highlights include the Lockhart State Park Golf Course, Barton Springs, Bull Creek, and Lady Bird Lake.
Wet and Wild!
3. Go Tubing On The River
If you hit Austin in the summer, the most popular pastime is tubing. It’s relaxing to float down a river in an inflated tube with your favorite cold drink in hand. In fact, the locals recommend tubing down three rivers that are all less than 40 minutes out of the city. There’s the San Marcos River, situated in the town of San Marcos between Austin and San Antonio, the short Comal River, located in New Braunfels south of San Marcos; and the Guadalupe River. Tie your tubes together. Some tubers rent an extra tube for the ice chest although you’ll need to bring your own beverages.
4. Krause Springs
Krause Springs is 35 miles west of the city. This lesser-known but popular park features a forested campsite, hiking trails, a small waterfall, a watering hole, and 32 natural springs. It’s a great place for an outdoor weekend getaway or just a day trip. All you need is a picnic lunch, some towels, and maybe a bit of sunscreen. In between dips into this refreshing spring you can sun yourself on one of the huge rocks that face the popular watering hole.
5. Jacob’s Well
Image @christysmith5 via Twenty20
The Jacob’s Well Natural Area is located roughly 35 miles southeast of the city. Here you will discover an attractive artesian spring that has a year-round temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Swimming is permitted from May 1st through October 1st.
There are two other great places to cool off: Hamilton Pool and Blue Hole. Reservations are required for water play at all three places. There are also public hiking trails that are free to use. The underwater caves are potentially dangerous and therefore they’re reportedly “only accessible to licensed professionals.”
6. Enchanted Rock
Head west out of Austin for about 95 miles and you can marvel at the monolith known as Enchanted Rock. This icon is a large mound of natural pink granite. It has quite a distinctive shape. Additionally, there are a number of different ways to enjoy this area. Go on a nature walk, relax and commune with nature, or go hiking. Indeed, veteran visitors say this is a great place to hike in the fall.
Antiques, Drinks, and Local Color
Drive about 80 miles west of the city to the very heart of Central Texas wine country. Here you will find the city of Fredericksburg. If you’re a big wine lover and you’d rather not drive out there yourself you can always sign on with one of the local wineries that offer a pick-up service in Austin.
The locals confirm that this area is especially beautiful in the spring. See the beautiful wildflowers amidst the verdant landscape. If you’re not big on wine, fret not. Central Texas is also home to distilleries and breweries. In fact, drive south of Austin and you’ll discover the popular Deep Eddy Vodka Tasting Room.
8. Round Top
Roughly an hour’s drive east of Austin is the tiny town of Round Top. Texas Monthly calls this place the “Texas version of Aspen.” Here in this quirky, quaint spot, you will find all the collectibles you could ever want.
If you’re big on antiquing, this intriguing locale becomes a veritable antiquing heaven a few special times each year with its popular Round Top Antiques Show. The event lasts for almost a week and draws buyers, sellers, and other interested parties from across the nation. If you miss the show then be sure to at least stop to check out what some travel writers call the shop “equivalent of the coolest grandparents’ attic”, Uncommon Objects located in south Austin.
An Artsy Desert Experience
Marfa is a little West Texas desert town situated a good six hours out of the city. It was founded in the 1880s as a railroad water stop. Decades later, in the early 1970s, it began to attract artists and other creative types.
While Texas has a legal speed limit of 85 miles per hour, you’ll probably still want to at least spend the night here. Veteran visitors suggest staying at the well-known boho glamping hotel known as El Cosmico, where you’ll probably sleep in a fancy tent or even a remodeled RV camper. Stop at the hybrid laundromat-coffee shop, the fun Frama Coffee at Tumbleweed Laundry. Then gaze at the stars at the McDonald Observatory. Finally, don’t forget to see the famous fake Prada shoe store and art installation either.