We’ve all been more cooped up this summer than we would have liked, due to the coronavirus pandemic. So with many people still uncomfortable with the idea of long-distance travel, we’re looking closer to home for some much-needed R&R.
Fortunately, we live in Central Texas where the sun is (almost) always shining and there’s plenty to do just a short drive away. Here are five of the best day trips from Austin to give you a change of scenery and a real good time!
Tour the Hwy 290 Wine Trail
The Texas Hill Country is great. But the Texas Hill Country with wine? That’s sublime.
Although it’s much hotter in Texas than in Europe, the dry, rocky soil of our hills is similar to the soil in parts of France, Italy, and Spain. So you’ll find well-loved old world varietals grown in central Texas, like cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, and tempranillo.
Some wineries also specialize in less well-known types. Try a carignan from Becker Vineyards, or an Alicante Bouschet from Bell Springs Winery. With over 50 distinct wineries in the area, there’s something to suit every wine enthusiast.
And when you get tired of wine (as if that’s possible), there are also cideries, breweries, and distilleries where you can cleanse your palate.
Some tasting rooms may be closed due to state restrictions, so make sure to check in with each before you plan your day trip from Austin. And if you’re concerned about driving, there are bus tours that will chauffeur you among the wineries!
Spend a day at Barton Hill Farms
Just east of Austin, Barton Hill Farms provides a place to escape the city and slow wayyy down. Our Fall Festival and Pumpkin Patch is on the horizon, and there’s no better way to spend a day trip from Austin.
While there are attractions here for kids of all ages, there’s plenty for adults to do, too. Get lost in the Scooby Doo-themed corn maze. Pick up pumpkins for carving or baking into delicious fall treats. Dance to live music by favorite local artists.
And relax in the shade in our new Hugël Apfelwein & Biergarten — that’s the Hill Cider and Beer Garden, in case you don’t speak German. We’ll have ice-cold drinks served out of the side of a repurposed 1960s snow cone trailer.
There’s also plenty to eat, with hand-dipped chicken tenders, pulled pork sandwiches, and burgers from all natural Barton Hill Farms beef.
To keep the experience safe, we’ve gone cashless for the season. We’re also adding more farm days, reducing capacity by 50%, and selling all tickets in advance. Learn more about our COVID-19 farm policies here.
After your farm experience, you can head back to Austin or hop over to Bastrop for some small town nightlife!
Have fun in Fredericksburg
A visit to Fredericksburg is one of the most popular day trips from Austin. An appealing combination of small town charm and nature attractions makes it a desirable destination for both city and country folk. And located an hour and a half from downtown Austin, it’s the perfect distance for a one-day escape.
Get on the road early, and visit Enchanted Rock State Natural Area before it gets too hot. Climb to the summit and take in the 360-degree views from atop the granite dome.
When the temperatures rise, head into town for lunch on a shady patio. Within the historic downtown, you’ll find wine tastings, German food, sweets, and more. Then wander around the shops and pick up some souvenirs from your trip.
Or if you prefer to stay on the outskirts of civilization, skip through downtown and head south. Stop at Alamo Springs Café for one of the best burgers in Texas (according to Texas Monthly, anyway.) And when the sun sets, head next door to Old Tunnel State Park to watch 3 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from the tunnel.
Cool off at Canyon Lake
Although Lake Travis gets more press, Canyon Lake has earned the title “water recreation capital of Texas.” Located an hour and 20 minutes southwest of downtown Austin, this beautiful blue lake features 80 miles of shoreline and plenty to do for the day.
Hiking, biking, and horseback riding are all available at trails along the lake. Plus there are opportunities for boating, fishing, and swimming in several parks on the lake’s edge.
Make a reservation to visit Canyon Lake Gorge as well! Back in 2002, a week of torrential downpours caused the lake’s Emergency Spillway to overflow for the first time since its construction in 1964. This deluge carved a 64-acre gorge out of the earth, revealing an exposed fault line right beneath the surface. Ancient fossils, dinosaur footprints, and limestone formations from the Cretaceous period are all on view during a tour of the gorge.
Go underground at Longhorn Cavern State Park
An hour and a half northwest of Austin, Longhorn Cavern State Park lies in wait. Descend into the depths to experience a series of geological “rooms” with one-of-a-kind rock formations and natural wonders.
The Walking Tour is a leisurely 90-minute jaunt through many of the cave’s most beautiful spaces — 130’ underground. More athletic adventurers may prefer the Wild Cave Tour, crawling and climbing their way over, under, and through. Expect to get muddy!
After your tour, stop in at Double Horn Brewing or Save the World Brewing on your way back into Austin. Sip a pint and reminisce about your adventure underground.
Plenty of fun close to home!
Located right near the center of the state, there’s no shortage of options for Austin day trips. While we may prefer to stay close to home during this pandemic, that doesn’t mean our choices are limited.
When you’re ready to get out of town, book your tickets online for a day at Barton Hill Farms!