All Texas families know that when they take a road trip, there’s a lot of Texas to cover before we get out of Texas. That’s one of the reasons we find Texas travel with our kids so attractive: we can always find a fun new place to discover in the Lone Star State that will fit into our budget and fit in the amount of time we’ve got for a trip. One of those newly-discovered places for our family is Bastrop Texas.
I don’t know why it’s taken Bastrop so long to get on my radar. We’ve searched for fun destinations within a two-hour drive from our home near San Antonio and this has never come up as an option. We love a good weekend trip destination and Bastrop not has more than enough fun for a weekend plus some more. I’m excited to share what I found in Bastrop Texas and I hope it inspires you to plan your own trip this summer.
This post was part of a sponsored project in conjunction with members of the Texas Travel Industry Association to feature their members. The partnership included lodging, food & beverage, and compensation for the trip. The opinions reflected are honest and based upon the individual blogger experience.
WHERE IS BASTROP TEXAS, ANYWAY?
The city of Bastrop (in Bastrop County) is located along the Colorado River, about 30 miles Southeast of Austin. Its population is approximately 8,000 and it is considered to be a part of the Austin metro area, although it doesn’t have an “Austin vibe” whatsoever. If you’re a minutes versus miles person, like me, Bastrop is located about an hour and a half from San Antonio, about two hours from Houston and three hours and change from Dallas.
THINGS TO DO IN BASTROP TEXAS
No matter what your family enjoys doing, Bastrop will have something for you.
Bastrop Visitors Center:
I’m a firm believer that every traveler who lands in a new city, big or small, needs to make their first stop the visitor’s center, even if it’s just for a few minutes. You might have your time in that city completely mapped out. You might have done your research and know exactly what said city has to offer. Go anyway.
In every visitor’s center, you’ll find someone who knows and loves the city, amenities such as restrooms and a gift shop, and more. The Bastrop Visitor’s Center has an entire wall of brochures with info on things to do around the area as well as a gift shop that sells local souvenirs and other merchandise.
What’s really cool and unique about this visitor’s center is that it also houses a small museum. Included are the history of Bastrop and the surrounding area as well as an exhibit solely dedicated to the fires of 2011. You definitely get a sense of where you’re at by visiting this small but respectable museum. Admission is $5 for adults. Going through and reading all the plaques takes less than an hour and your ticket is good for re-reentry if you want to return that same day.
There’s also a really cool and free kids’ activity at the visitor’s center. There’s a lot of street art in Bastrop, to include a lot of frogs. The visitor’s center has prepared a kid’s scavenger hunt where your kids find all the frogs and record their locations. Turn your completed scavenger hunt in for a prize.
I found a couple of them, in the name of research, and they’re not too difficult to find. Your kids will have fun with this one.
Shopping and dining in the Bastrop Texas historical district:
Bastrop has a plethora of cute and quaint shops in their historical district, which is very walkable. It’s easy to get lost in the selection of antiques, jewelry and unique gifts, it’s easy to get lost in the shops. Whether you’re looking something for your home to remember your time in Bastrop by or a “just because” splurge of jewelry or clothing, I’m confident you’ll find it in Bastrop. And, if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, that’s OK. It will probably find you.
Be aware that a lot of shops and other businesses are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Early in the week is a great, un-busy time to visit and explore but if you’re a hardcore shopper or window shopper, you’re probably going to want to go Wednesday through Saturday.
It’s hard not to have a favorite and mine was the Lost Pines Art Bazaar on Chestnut Street. They have an eclectic selection of home goods, cookbooks, Persian rugs, handbags, jewelry, and a phenomenal stock of unique greeting cards.
If you find high-end baby items to be even a little tempting, well, you were warned. There are some unique things here that are so tempting and it’s almost worth a return trip back for me just to buy gifts. I wasn’t in shopping mode on my recent visit, but I would absolutely drive the hour and a half to this store to shop. It’s light and airy and spacious and I pretty much wanted all the things in here.
I’ll break the restaurants down separately, because eating deserves its own subheading, but I will say there are a huge amount of food choices for such a small area.
I explored the downtown area on my own and had a blast. This probably wouldn’t have been my choice of activities if my kids had been in tow, but I could have easily spent an afternoon strolling and browsing with my husband or a girlfriend.
The historic downtown area is also adjacent to the river walk area. There are stairs behind the visitor’s center that lead down to a beautiful and peaceful walkway along the Colorado river.
Now Texans, pay attention. This is not a “mariachi and margarita” kind of river walk like you’ll find in San Antonio. It’s more of a hike/bike/walk/stroll/jog kind of trail that you can enjoy with your family or all by yourself. The river scenery is lush and beautiful, you’ll have a great view of the historic suspension bridge, and if you really want to take adventure up a notch, you can rent a paddleboard, canoe or kayak and explore via water. Check out the Bastrop River Company’s website for more info on rentals.
Visit Bastrop State Park:
Bastrop State Park has over seven miles of hiking trails as well as campsites and cabins if you want to overnight it. I remember visiting Bastrop State Park when I was a girl and the two trails, I hiked during my recent visit brought back some great memories.
The evidence of the 2011 fires is still very present, although it is encouraging to see the resiliency of the land. To give you a great appreciation for what you’ll see in Bastrop State Park, I recommend you take a minute and learn about the fires of 2011 to give you some background. The even though this happened eight years ago, this is still a major event in Bastrop’s history and if you get to talking to the locals (which you should) someone is bound to mention it.
The trails at Bastrop State Park are generally pretty easy to navigate. If you’re visiting from out of state, know that Texas is warm and sunny most of the year, so make sure you take water with you and have that sunscreen.
Bastrop State Park is a great place to hike and to unplug. Even though the park is located very near “civilization” it’s still very restorative to get out and walk the trails and appreciate nature and, in the case of this terrain, resilience. For more info about Bastrop State Park, visit their website.
Zip Lost Pines:
If ziplining over the top of the pines sounds like your thing, make sure you reserve a tour at Zip Lost Pines. They offer three different tours – a six line, a three line and a night zip tour. Prices (per person) range from $95-$115. Yes, this is a pricey activity, but e six-line tour lasts two-and-a-half to three hours, so that’s half the day’s activities knocked out. We’re on the thrill-seeking side so we’d pay that and call it our big activity for the trip. However, one of our kids is still under the minimum weight requirement for participating. Check out those requirements plus other info here.
Zip Lost Pines overlooks McKinney Roughs Nature Park, which offers such activities as hiking and equestrian trails, UTV tours, picnicking spots and more. If that sounds like something your family would enjoy, check out their website.
Visit Lake Bastrop:
If you’ve read this far then you know Bastrop isn’t short on outdoor fun. If you like camping, fishing, and nature, not and not necessarily in that order, you’ll want to check out Lake Bastrop. Lake Bastrop North Shore Park is a great place to fish. The lake contains bass, crappie, perch, and catfish. You can fish from the pier or from a boat. On-site boat rentals are available.
If fishing and boating isn’t your thing Lake Bastrop North also has a day-use area where you can swim, play volleyball or have a picnic. If you want to stay overnight, they offer various campsites, including five Airstream campers that are available to rent for the night. These are so adorable that I might decide I like camping just to stay in one of these.
Lake Bastrop South Shore park offers similar amenities. There’s fishing and camping available, but if you’re set on the Airstream like me, you’ll have to go to North Shore Park. South Shore Park offers camping sites as well as cabins and also includes a mini-golf course. For more information on the amenities at Lake Bastrop, go here.
WHERE TO STAY IN BASTROP TEXAS
Depending on where you’re coming from, you can explore Bastrop as a day trip. For example, hiking in Bastrop State Park could be coupled with lunch and shopping in town and you can go home and sleep in your own bed. For visitors coming from the San Antonio or Austin areas, this just might be your next place to explore as day trippers.
However, if you plan to stay a night or two (or more) you have some choices. In addition to the campsites (and Airstreams!) available at Lake Bastrop, there are some options if you want something a little more…well, not camping. No judgement from me if camping or even glamping isn’t your thing.
I recommend staying at The Pecan Street Inn or the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa. These places don’t have a lot in common so your choice will depend on your family’s budget and what kind of trip experience you are seeking.
The Pecan Street Inn
The Pecan Street Inn is a family and pet friendly bed and breakfast just a couple of blocks away from Bastrop’s historic downtown area. All of the downtown shops, restaurants and the Riverwalk are walkable from the Pecan Street Inn. Bastrop State park is also just a short drive away.
I stayed here on my recent visit to Bastrop. I spent most of my time exploring the downtown area, eating and hiking in Bastrop State Park. It was easy for me to leave my car parked at The Pecan Street Inn and walk downtown. Bastrop State Park was a short (like five-minutes short) drive away. If you like the charm of a Victorian House with turn of the century antiques, The Pecan Street Inn might be for you. When my husband and I traveled before we had our boys, we’d frequently stay in B&Bs and it had been a long time since I’d stayed in one. The owners, who live across the street were both delightful.
I stayed in “Maria’s Suite” which sleeps three. It has a king size bed that’s so high you need steps to get up onto it with a feather bed on top. It was the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a long time. There’s an adjoining “sleeping porch” that has a pull-out couch that sleeps one. We could have probably made this one work for our family of four and let’s be real: half the time I wake up and both kids are in my bed anyway.
Maria’s Suite is spacious and light with lots of windows. I didn’t love that you had to walk out into the hallway to access the bathroom. There was a privacy curtain between the door to our room and our bathroom door and it ended up being a non-issue because there were no other guests staying upstairs but I wouldn’t have liked it if there had been guests up there with me. That’s something that is inherent to B&Bs and many of the places we’ve stayed had shared bathrooms…it’s all about what you’re used to and what makes you comfortable.
The room came equipped with fast Wi-Fi and Direct TV. There was also more reading material in in the shelfs throughout the house than I’ve ever seen in any B&B or anywhere outside of a library or bookstore. Kids toy and gently used bicycles available for use – just ask.
What I loved most about The Pecan Street Inn (other than the breakfast, I’m getting to that) was the porches. Even though the house sits on the corner of a busy intersection (well…busy for Bastrop) the grounds are so spacious and so secluded (they’re canopied with pecan trees) that you feel like you’re in a private garden. It’s been a long time since I did some front porch sitting during the golden hour and it was exactly what I needed in that moment.
The rooms run from $119 to $209 and include parking, Wi-Fi and hot breakfast, which puts it in the “very reasonable” category in my book. If you’re looking for a place to stay while you hike at Bastrop State Park or explore downtown Bastrop, I definitely recommend this one, if you are comfortable with B&Bs. The lack of certain amenities, such as a pool, and the close proximity to other guests might not be for every family. I think it depends on your comfort level and how well your kids travel.
The Pecan Street Inn offers a gourmet, sit-down breakfast served in their dining room. You can also request a continental breakfast served in your room.
This breakfast, y’all. I requested to eat at nine and I came downstairs to a place set for me, a pot of coffee and a newspaper. I had a pecan waffle, fruit, sausages and orange juice. You have to try the pecan waffle. Trust me on this.
Absolutely and completely worth the splurge. These waffles were perfect and crisp and nutty with warm, flavored syrup. It was the best breakfast I’d had in a long time and the owner/chef was a delight to chat with. When I asked him how long he’d been making waffles, his answer was “Oh, I’ve been making them a while.” Yes, there’s a story behind those waffles and no, I’m not going to tell you. You’ll have to go and try them for yourself.
Hyatt Lost Pines
If you want a different kind of experience, try Hyatt Lost Pines Resort and Spa. I didn’t stay here but I spent the morning here and came away kicking myself that I didn’t stay an extra night and have the Lost Pines experience a little more fully. I was very happy with my stay at The Pecan Street Inn, but it is impossible to compare a family-owned B&B with a luxury property owned by Hyatt.
Hyatt Lost Pines resort and spa is nestled deep in the woods and feels very “away from it all” and secluded. The property has an almost rustic and unpretentious vibe while offering every luxury imaginable. There’s an onsite spa, a golf course, kid’s activities, walking trails, lawn games, two pools (one of them is adults only) and a fabulous slide with a seriously legit lazy river. There are lots of little places to sit and relax on the property as well as seven different restaurants to enjoy. See also if you stay here, you’re probably not going to want to leave. It is that kind of place.
If I’d have opted to stay here, I wouldn’t have explored downtown Bastrop the way I did and I might not have hiked at Bastrop State Park, since the property has on-site trails and is adjacent to McKinney Roughs Nature Park, which has other hiking and adventure experience as well, that you can book through Hyatt.
The rooms are in the $285 and up range, although in comparison to the rooms, the smaller suites are extremely reasonably priced, starting at about $400. There is a $40 per day resort fee that covers certain amenities, such as use of the pools and lazy river and fitness center, as well as other things. Many other things are is priced separately, to include some kid’s activities. However, there is a healthy list of free kids activities that are included in the resort fee as well as other activities that are priced separately. When booking directly through Hyatt, you’re given a “with breakfast” option that seems reasonable, and, if you shop around on third party sites, you’re likely to see lower rates.
Obviously, the price is quite a jump up from The Pecan Street Inn, but it is hard to beat that resort vibe, especially the lazy river. I think it’s all in what your budget is and what you want out of your trip: do you want to move around a lot and see everything or lie in a beach chair and wave at your kids as they float by on the lazy river.
WHERE TO EAT IN BASTROP TEXAS
This is important info, right? I think it is. For a small town, Bastrop has a large amount of choices. Many restaurants are closed on Mondays.
Neighbors Kitchen and Yard:
I usually let Trip Advisor pick my restaurants for me, but I ate lunch at Neighbors based on the recommendation of my new friends at The Pecan Street Inn. This one was waaaay down the list on Trip Advisor and I can’t figure out why. I am giving you my enthusiastic recommendation and will be leaving them a great review on Trip Advisor to hopefully get them bumped up on the list.
I had a chicken salad sandwich on gluten free bread that didn’t taste like cardboard and a moonshine margarita on a patio overlooking the Colorado River. It doesn’t get much better than that. They have a fun selection of pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, and inventive cocktails.
The Grace Miller (Gracie’s):
Gracie’s chicken fried steak is top notch. The atmosphere is casual/cafe style and they have an attached patio bar with live music on the weekends. The service was great – very fast and attentive.
Tough Cookie Bakery:
Tough Cookie Bakery is a mostly vegan bakery that serves a variety of breakfast and lunch items, to include vegan biscuits and gravy. I had a gluten free snickerdoodle, which was pretty darn tasty. I had a bite and put it in my pocket and finished it on hike. Tough Cookie Bakery is a short walk from Neighbors, so I recommend you skip desert and grab something here.
Piney Creek Chop House:
This is upscale dining. The sommelier at Colorado River Winery recommend it and I opted for something a little more casual but if you’re a foodie, they’ve got a great menu.
Maxine’s Cafe and Bakery:
I really regret not trying Maxine’s. So much to eat…so little time. They’re open for breakfast and lunch, and if I’d have fully realized that when I chose to eat at Neighbor’s for lunch, I’d have probably chosen Maxine’s instead. Their breakfast menu is so mouthwatering that I’m planning on convincing my husband that yes, we really do need to drive an hour and a half to eat brunch there. And, they have fried green tomatoes that I didn’t get to try, and I pretty much consider myself a connoisseur of those.
Paw Paw’s Catfish House:
If you’re a catfish person, then obviously, this is a must-try. They have a few other menu items but it’s mostly a catfish and burger place. They have banana pudding on their desert menu, which makes it a must-try in my book.
The 602 on Main:
This is a trendy and creative menu and I’d love to eat there. They have a lot of lighter fare, such as a great selection of salads, grilled veggies with balsamic reduction, lobster mac n’ cheese, Ahi tuna and more. If you want something more rib-sticking, they have a chicken fried ribeye.
The 602 on Main partners with the Bastrop Opera House for dinner and a show. If you’re in downtown Bastrop over the weekend, definitely see what’s playing at the Bastrop Opera House and even if you’re not, definitely go have a look at the building. It’s a very “Instagram worthy” place.
Most of the restaurants above serve spirits. You might also like…
Colorado River Winery:
I did a pre-dinner tasting here and it’s a fun little place to visit. Purchase two bottles and your tasting is free (regularly $4 for four wines.) wine tasting fee is waived with the purchase of two bottles.
Copper Shot Distillery:
Located on main street, Copper Shot Distillery makes a variety of spirits in a small still. If you’re a whiskey drinker, this is probably one that needs to be on your list.
Bastrop Beer Company:
I do like a good craft beer and I like trying new beers. This is on my “must do” list for next time.
If all this goodness doesn’t convince you that you need to put Bastrop Texason your Texas Travel Bucket List, I’m not sure what would. Bastrop is my favorite small town in Texas. I can’t wait to go back.
This post is part of the Summer Family Travel Planner created for members of the Texas Travel Industry Association. Read about the other destinations featured in the planner here.