Take a peek at these fabulous places near Austin for a day trip.
Austin, TX, is known for barbeque, Tex-Mex, a fun city to play in, and traffic! Yes, it’s a diverse city with so much to do. But you may want to get out and enjoy other parts of Texas. Just minutes outside the borders of Austin is a paradise of hotspots, including scenic drives and wildflowers. Read about these places to visit near Austin, and I bet you’ll want to skip the busy city altogether.
Places To Visit Near Austin
Austin is one of the most visited cities in Texas. In case you’re not aware, Austin is quite a busy city. Interstate 35 can be frustrating when driving into and away from the city. With happenings on 6th Street, the University of Texas, the eclectic live-music scene, and not to mention the Capitol, it’s easy to see why many people flock to the area year-round. But if you want to get out of the busy city to relax and maybe soak up some meditation, there’s much to do outside of Austin that’s worth visiting.
You can drive north to tour a cave, drive south to play in the river, head into the deep Texas Hill Country, or go west for antiques. I’ll clue you in on some of these places to go after you’ve had enough of the busy city.
I suggest you not get in a hurry when driving in or away from Austin. Take your time, and adjust your schedule to allow more time on the road. If it’s not traffic, it’s construction — consider this your warning.
1. Stop By The Texas Travel Information Center
Before heading out of Austin, your first trip might be to the Texas Travel Information Center. You’ll find a wealth of brochures on things to do near Austin and around Texas, probably more than you want to know! The travel center is at the Capitol Visitor Center, 112 E. 11th St., Austin, TX 78701. Did you know there are only 12 Texas information centers? Most are around the border of Texas, but Austin’s is inside the city.
2. Head To Lake Travis
West of Austin is Lake Travis, a popular lake for locals. There’s a variety of great places to eat in Lake Travis, where you can also rent a party boat for the afternoon. However, there is also Lake Austin nearby too. I’m sure both are busy on weekends.
3. See The View From Mount Bonnell
You can head over to the nearby Mount Bonnell and go for a hike. Once you reach the top, you’ll see a nifty pavilion and jaw-dropping views of Lake Austin and downtown Austin. Plus, visitors get a picture-perfect view of the Colorado River and the illustrious mansions that line its shores from the top of Mount Bonnell.
4. Visit Bastrop
In about thirty minutes, you’ll be in Bastrop, where you can enjoy kayaking on Lake Bastrop, enjoying your favorite beverage just about anywhere in town, and doing lots of shopping. That’s what these two did on a recent girl’s trip.
5. Head To Deep Texas Hill Country
A few short miles from Austin in Dripping Springs, known for the “Gateway to the Hill Country.” Someone told me it’s the only Hill Country town with all three: wineries, brewers, and distilleries. I think you’re drinking is covered in this town. I’ll be headed there in a few short weeks and can’t wait to visit the Hamilton Pool Reserve. After looking it up, I’m almost positive you’ll want to see it. I believe reservations are needed.
6. Swing A Putter Or Go Caving In Georgetown
Besides being a small-town charmer, Georgetown has three distinguished 18-hole golf courses, Inner Space Caverns, and Texas’s most beautiful town square. And, if you plan your visit around April, the red poppies are out, and the town celebrates with a Red Poppy Festival.
NEXT READ: Top Attractions In Georgetown, TX
7. San Marcos
Pack your swimsuit! San Marcos is only thirty minutes from Austin, where you can take a scenic drive on RM 12 NW to 32 – also called Devil’s Backbone for gorgeous views of the Hill Country and spring wildflowers. And while you’re there, dip your toes in the crystal-clear water of the San Marcos River or swim.
NOTE: I was told by a reader that Devil’s Backbone is a ways from San Marcos, but closer to Wimberley.
8. Pedernales Falls State Park
About 30-40 miles west of Austin is Pedernales Falls State Park – a popular destination for locals and visitors. There’s camping, hiking, biking, and an excellent place for wildlife viewing. Swimming in the river is allowed, but it’s a rough 1/4 mile walk to get to the area. The admission fee is $6 for 13 years old and up.
Travel Pro Tip: You MUST buy your entrance pass online, especially if you want to go on the weekend. The park gets super busy then, and they sell out fast.
9. Bee Cave
Less than a 20-minute drive west of Austin, you’ll be in Bee Cave unless the traffic is terrible! This town is new to me. Not that it’s new, but I had not heard of it until an event I was invited to was held there last year. Bee Cave has fantastic places to stay, great shopping, dining, golfing, water sports, and hiking. It’s the perfect place to get away from the big city for a day. The Bee Cave Sculpture Park is a sight to see. I have not been there, but the town boasts excitement about it.
10. Blue Hole Regional Park
After wandering through Dripping Springs and doing everything you wanted to in town, drive about 17 miles south to Wimberley. That’s where the natural spring-fed swimming hole at Blue Hole Regional Park is located. Swimming opens up in May, and you’ll need a reservation. Day passes are $6-$12.
11. Round Top
Set out early and head east on Hwy 290 for Round Top if you love antiques. It’s about an 80-mile car ride, so bring a snack or two and get ready to be dazzled in the antiques. And, if you plan your visit just right, the Round Top Antique Show is held in January, April, and October. See the site for the exact dates. I can’t believe I’ve never been to this. You’ll want to bring a big enough car for all the cool things you buy!