Updated: Dec 30, 2021
Austin is amazing, but sometimes you just need some time away from the city, even if it's for a day. As a recent UT graduate and practically a Hill Country part-time resident, I've had my fair share of day trips and determined the best ones. Here are my favorite day trips from ATX:
Fredericksburg - 1 Hour 30 Minutes Away
Not only does Fredericksburg boast small town charm, but it is also full of German character! With beautiful stone buildings, wineries, and lots of activities, you are sure to fall in love with this increasingly popular Hill Country town. Stop by Luckenbach on your wait out!
Check out these posts for great Fredericksburg tips:
Marble Falls - 1 Hour Away
Marble Falls is a cute lake town about an hour from Austin! There is a "downtown" area with shopping and there are some parks throughout town. One park is located on the lake where you can go fishing, kayaking, or canoeing!
Pedernales Falls State Park - 1 Hour Away
At Pedernales Falls State Park, which has over 5,000 acres, the Pedernales River flows over massive limestones slabs. The park is a great place for an adventurous day of swimming, hiking, biking, or kayaking! There are nine different trails, ranging from easy to challenging, with several points of interest.
Johnson City - 1 Hour Away
Johnson City has it all! As the hometown of former president Lyndon B. Johnson, Johnson City not only boasts history, but it is also full of charm. In the center of town are antique stores, art museums, a science museum, and Lyndon B. Johnson's childhood home, and on the outskirts of town are wineries and an exotic zoo. The Exotic Resort Zoo offers guided tours and drive-through experiences, where you can see camels, ostriches, gazelles, and more!
San Marcos - 45 Minutes Away
Halfway between San Antonio and Austin, San Marcos sits where the Blanco River turns into the San Marcos River. You can tube, canoe, kayak, or paddle board down the river or take a glass bottom boat tour! The water in San Marcos is simply beautiful! If you'd rather not spend a day on the water, shop 'til you drop at San Marcos Outlets. With over 1.2 million square feet and 240 stores (with incredible deals), San Marcos Outlets, made up of San Marcos Premium Outlets and Tanger Outlets, is the perfect place for a shopping spree. This little Hill Country college town is a great day trip destination!
New Braunfels - 1 Hour 10 Minutes Away
Not too far down the road from San Marcos is New Braunfels and it too has plenty of fun river activities! There is everything from swimming and paddle boarding to fishing or tubing. New Braunfels is also home to Schlitterbahn, one of the USA's best waterparks!
Canyon Lake - 1 Hour 30 Minutes Away
A great place to hit the outdoors, Canyon Lake is home to hiking trails, parks, and water activities! Head to Canyon Lake for some boating, fishing, scuba diving, or swimming. Some parks also have beaches! The water is blue and beautiful!!
Colorado Bend State Park - 2 Hours Away
Colorado Bend has over 35 miles of trails that lead you to springs, waterfalls, and the river! The park also offers so many other outdoor activities, like mountain biking, fishing, swimming, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, and even caving. Colorado Bend is an incredible state park to visit for the day!
Hamilton Pool - 45 Minutes Away
Hamilton Pool is... well... a pool hahah. More specifically, it's a natural pool with a 50-foot waterfall flowing into it! The trail to the pool, which is often open for swimming, is very short! It's a nice hike and the trail goes under the cliff where the waterfall spills over.
Wimberley - 50 Minutes Away
A small town near Canyon Lake and San Marcos, Wimberley is artsy and fun! Spend the day shopping in the square, zip lining, or swimming at Blue Hole Regional Park or Jacob's Well Natural Area! There's also a glassblowing company, Wimberley Glassworks, that hosts really neat glassblowing demonstrations.
San Antonio - 1 Hour 40 Minutes Away
There is so much to do in San Antonio! With the missions, River Walk, Alamo, and more, it's the perfect place to spend a day. Enjoy some delicious Mexican food at Mi Tierra Cafe or check out Pearl District for plenty of food options!
McKinney Falls State Park - 20 Minutes Away
The park has around nine miles of trails for hiking or biking! You can also fish or swim in some parts of the park. Pack a lunch before you head to the park and enjoy a picnic after you hit the trails!
Lake Travis - 35 Minutes Away
Check out one of the lakeside parks for swimming, picnicking, or fishing. You could also rent a boat, kayaks, or jet skis (you need a boater's license to drive a boat or jet ski in Texas). If you feel like being even more adventurous, you can zipline over the lake!
Waco - 1 Hour 30 Minutes Away
Did you know Waco is the birthplace of Dr. Pepper? You can even visit the Dr. Pepper Museum and try some sodas! Once you're done at the museum, head to the Waco Mammoth National Monument to see some remains of mammoths!
Fort Worth - 2 Hours 50 Minutes
Head to Fort Worth for a mix of cowboy and city! You can admire the Fort Worth Water Gardens before heading to the Stockyards! Fort Worth Stockyards, which started in 1887 as the Union Stockyards, hosts a cattle drive every day and also has a museum.
Houston - 2 Hours 35 Minutes
Last but not least, spend a day in the nation's 4th largest city! Stop by one of Houston's incredible museums or head to the zoo. Houston has so many great food options, so don't forget to eat before you leave!
Check out these posts for great Houston tips: