If you’re looking for concrete and crowds, downtown Austin is a safe bet.
But if you’re dreaming of open skies, plenty of greenery, and an easier pace of life, the towns to the east are where it’s at! Here are eight charming things to do east of Austin, just a short drive from the city.
1. Spend a Day at Barton Hill Farms
Life is better on the farm!
At the Barton Hill Farms Fall Festival, Pumpkin Patch, and Corn Maze, games and activities are spread across a massive lawn beside a sleepy stretch of the Colorado River. Choose the perfect pumpkin for the family Jack o’ Lantern from the U-Pick Pumpkin Patch. Solve the 5-acre corn maze, with special theme to be announced soon! And enjoy over 30 games and activities, like apple cannons, archery, and hay rides.
Adults can take a break in the Barton Hugel Apfelwein and Biergarten, with craft beer and cider from local breweries. Most days will also feature live music, plus special appearances from some to-be-announced entertainers.
Ticket pre-sales for the Fall Festival, Pumpkin Patch, and Corn Maze will open soon! Make sure to sign up for our email list so you’ll be the first to get festival details and pre-sale dates.
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2. Bring Home a Low Maintenance Plant from East Austin Succulents
The restaurants and bars in East Austin are a major draw. But there’s more to do here, like spotting some of the city’s best murals, following the Tejano Walking Trail full of historical sites, and boutique shopping.
Bring a little greenery into your home with a visit to East Austin Succulents. While it’s within the Austin city limits, this expansive nursery has the slow-life feel that we love. Pick up cacti and succulents from tiny little 2” pots perfect for indoors to large species for outdoor landscaping.
Wander their huge greenhouses, and you’re sure to find something you’ve never seen before. And great news for the black thumbs—succulents are pretty easy to care for.
3. Tour the Hives at Two Hives Honey
Working on a farm, we have a great love for our pollinator friends. At Two Hives Honey in Manor just east of Austin, visitors can get up close and personal with these little buzzers.
Suit up in protective gear and tour the hives with over 100,000 honey bees. Light a bee smoker to keep them docile, and taste honey straight from the hive. Tours are available for both adults and kids.
Want to start your own hives at home? Take a group class or private lesson so you’ll be prepared to keep your hives healthy.
4. Go Prehistoric at The Dinosaur Park
Just 12 miles east of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, dinosaurs roam the earth. The Dinosaur Park in Cedar Creek is home to 30 life-like dinosaur statues, ranging from 2 feet to 123 feet long.
Follow the ½-mile nature trail to spot them all, starting with the velociraptor. A small Texas symbol on select placards indicates which dinosaurs lived on the land nearby. There’s also a fossil dig for kids, and a picnic area for lunch.
After your visit, bring your wristband to select Bastrop businesses for a discount on your purchases!
5. Soar Through the Skies at Zip Lost Pines
A short drive East of downtown Austin, treetop adventures await. Zip Lost Pines offers high-flying thrills on six different zip lines. Do a single ride on one of their courses, or book the Full Zip Line Tour to try all six.
Some of the lines have expansive views of the surrounding valley, and the longest stretches an impressive ¼ mile. It’s the most exciting way to explore the Lost Pines ecosystem!
6. Relax at Bastrop Botanical Gardens
The Bastrop Botanical Gardens offer a peaceful oasis for wandering, thinking, or enjoying a cup of tea. Unlike more manicured gardens, this spot is made for meandering. Watch the pollinators flock to the butterfly gardens, and explore the labyrinth made of local stone, reminiscent of ancient sacred sites.
Visitors are also welcome to bring a book and spend an afternoon in the outdoor tea room, with a small menu of teas by the pot or mug. This is the kind of place where you relax and recharge!
7. Pick Up Something Sweet at Berdoll Pecan Candy & Gift Co.
If you’re nuts for pecans, you have to visit Berdoll Pecan Candy & Gift Co. They’ve got it all—pecan pralines, chocolate-covered pecans, candied pecans, and of course, pecan pie. Or try something different, like pecan bars finished with a bit of bourbon, or pecan fruitcake.
Not looking for something sweet? Start the day with pecan-flavored coffee. Their pecan oil is great for cooking, and has a higher smoke point than olive oil or butter. Or just get a big bag of pecans for snacking.
8. Hike at McKinney Roughs Nature Park
Just 13 miles east of the airport is one of the Austin area’s prettiest natural parks. McKinney Roughs Nature Park is an 1,100 square mile natural area with 18 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails. Four unique ecosystems live within this one park, including Post Oak Savannah, East Texas Piney Woods, Blackland Prairie, and a riparian zone along the edge of the Colorado River. This diversity makes McKinney Roughs one of the most interesting parks in Central Texas.
Check their calendar for special events, like Family Nature Quest days that send families on a self-guided natural mystery.