Best Day Trips from Austin

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Introduction

There are many great things about Austin. It is a great place to live with wonderful opportunities for the kids. But perhaps the best thing about Austin is that it is close to everything.

You can take off an hour in any direction and experience some of the best things the State of Texas has to offer. Below we have written about some of the best day trips from Austin that our family has recently done. Enjoy!

Day Trips North of Austin

Round Rock (10 Miles from Austin)

Next up is a second excellent day trip in Austin – Round Rock. It takes just 20 minutes to drive north towards downtown. Round Rock is best known for its historical sites. The best places to visit are Old Settlers Park, Dell Diamond, and Kalahari Resort.

Dell Diamond is home to the Round Rock Express Triple-A baseball team for the Texas Rangers. Throughout the baseball season, there are various theme nights for families. You can catch a game and stay after for fireworks and hear the band play live from center field.

Across the street is Kalahari Round Rock Resort. This is one of the largest indoor waterparks in the United States. The park has rides for all levels, from thrill-seekers to toddlers. They have an exceptional indoor lazy river and wave pool that the entire family will love.

They have tons of fantastic restaurant options, and the rooms are elegant and affordable. You can read our full Kalahari Round Rock Review here.

Georgetown (30 miles from Austin)

Georgetown is famous for its Historic Williamstown County Courthouse, which has been included on the 1977 National Register of Historic Places. Delicious dining venues and wine bars are showcased around the town courthouse square and many other shopping opportunities.

The Blue Hole Regional Park is one of the more beautiful destinations in the Georgetown, Texas, area. It is a large lagoon surrounded by limestone bluffs. The scenic park is open to the public from 5 am to 10 pm every day. The Blue Hole Park is found along the South Fork of the San Gabriel River.

Don’t forget to check out San Gabriel Park. It is a public park in the heart of Georgetown, near the banks of the San Gabriel River. The area includes 200-year-old oak trees that offer some lovely shade on a hot day. You can also hike or cycle the 1.6-mile loop that takes you through the park and connects to other attractions.

Inner Space Cavern is a great place to spend the day. The family will love the guided tour of this underground cave system. These caves are close to 10,000 years old and were discovered in the 1960s. They are considered to be some of the best-preserved cave systems in the Lone Star State.

Salado (50 Miles North of Austin)

Fifty minutes north of downtown Austin, Salado offers all the necessary supplies to enjoy an enjoyable afternoon day trip from Austin, possibly even for the weekend. This picturesque town is ideal for visiting for sightseeing. This small town is a great place to go antiquing.

Waco (100 Miles North of Austin)

Day Trips from Austin

Waco has several museums of historical significance. If you visit Waco, you can never overlook the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame or Museum and the Waco Mammoth National Monument.

Head over to the Dr. Pepper Museum. The Dr. Pepper Museum offers fun for the entire family. The admission prices are low and children under four get in free.

Sip on Dr. Pepper and learn more about the history of the popular soda company. You can even try making a soda or experience the consumer taste-testing process.

Best Day Trips from Austin

Cameron Park Zoo is one of the top day trips for children of all ages. They will enjoy watching white-handed gibbons, bald eagles, black bears, monkeys, and so much more.

The animal habitats are separated based on the native regions of the animals. The African Savanna area of the zoo houses giraffes, elephants, and rhinos. The Asian Forest has tigers, orangutans, and Komodo dragons.

Lowest Priced Flights to Austin

The Waco Paddle Company offers affordable rentals for those who want to experience the Brazos River. You can travel down the river in kayaks, paddleboards, or canoes. The company was founded in 2016 as a family-owned and operated outfitter.

You can rent equipment for a single hour, two hours, half a day, or a full day. Full-day rentals offer the best value, as you can take your time exploring the Brazos River, which is the 11th longest river in the United States.

The Mayborn Museum has exhibits that the whole family should enjoy. Visit the natural history exhibits to view the skeletons of the mammals that used to walk the central Texas area, including mammoths and the ancient sea turtle, and an interactive science exhibit for the children and a historic village to explore.

Mayborn Museum Historic village includes several old structures that help you visualize what life was like for residents in the area. 

Children enjoy the dinosaur exhibit, including several sets of real bones and a scale model of a 60-foot-long dinosaur. The museum is managed by Baylor University and opens between 10 am and 11 am.

Dont forget to take a tour of Magnolia Market. This distinctive high-end shopping market in downtown Waco was launched in 2015 by HGTV celebrities Chip and Joanna Gaines. The market spans two town blocks in an area built around two 120-foot tall silos built as a Brazos Valley Cotton Oil Corporation subsidiary.

Visitors can browse the store, which offers homes and décor that Joanna picked for the TV show Fixer Upper. Magnolia Seed and Supply garden shop features a wide selection of garden supplies and flower-grow kits.

Dallas

Dallas is a large metropolitan city with multiple things to do. Downtown Arts District is the largest arts district in the US. It houses notable museums, including the Dallas Museum of Art, Nasher Sculpture Center, Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, and AT&T Dallas Center for the Arts.

Families will enjoy attractions such as Perot’s famous Nature & Science Center, with six floors of scientific exhibitions. Dallas is an excellent place for the arts and culture. Head downtown town for rooftop dinner at one of Dallas’ top restaurants or head out of city limits to take in the great outdoor.

Day Trips South of Austin

San Marcos (30 miles from Austin)

The town has a pleasant college-town feel with an extensive range of shops and dining venues. Plus, it is an excellent weekend farmers’ market!

Check out the Glass-bottom boat tours. They are a great way to discover Spring Lake and get an up-close view of the endangered and threatened nearby species. The park is open from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm every day, and the first boat tour goes out 30 minutes after opening.

And, of course, stop by the San Marcos River for fun in the sun. Here, you will be able to participate in various activities, including swimming, camping, kayaking, and more. There is also no cost to use either river, and parking is free. This makes visiting the rivers a cost-effective yet fun way to spend time with your family.

If you are near campus, go to Westcliff Library. It is located on the seventh floor at Texas State University and has yearly exhibits, artist talks, lectures, etc. Admission here is free, and you are welcome to take tours and classes at your leisure.

Wimberley (38 miles from Austin)

A 45-minute drive from downtown Austin. The town lies in the beautiful hills of Texas Hill Country, filled with waterholes and wineries with beautiful parks.

Head to the Wimberley Market Days, an outdoor market where you can shop for just about anything with over 490 booths. Visit any time between 7:00 am to 3:00 pm March through December. 

Dont forget to check out Jacobs Well. Nature lovers will enjoy their time at this great swimming hole. Here you can swim, layout, or go for a hike any time between 8 am and 6 pm every day. Although reservations are required for anyone who wants to swim, you do not need one if you’re simply coming for a hike.

Finally, head to Wimberley Zip Lines. With 10 lines available ranging from 150 feet to 900 feet, you’ll be able to get an incredible bird’s eye view of the surrounding hills, meadows, and canyons. The zip lines certainly aren’t for the faint of heart as you go over 30 miles per hour down the cable.

Gruene

Gruene, TX, is a small town right outside of New Braunsfels. It is located on the Gualapue River with several vineyards and a local Bed and Breakfast nearby. The beautiful Gruene Historic District is on the Guadalupe River.

Gruene offers a wealth of historical buildings and is home to many restored historic structures spanning its history. The town is filled with local antique shops, restaurants, and a General store. Make sure you get a selfie in front of Gruene Dance Hall, Texas’s oldest dance hall that attracts stars like Willie Nelson and George Strait.

New Braunfels (48 miles from Austin)

New Braunfels has a charming day trip location close to Austin and San Antonio, known for its location along the beautiful Comal River and Guadalupe River. Popular spots for inner tubing during the summer season.

New Braunsfels is home to the Animal World and Snake Farm. Here you can get up close and personal with an alligator or become a part of the adopt-an-animal program.

If you are looking for outdoor water sports, check out Texas Ski Ranch. Here you can participate in wakeboarding, wake surfing, paintball, ax throwing, or simply relax on the one-of-a-kind beach.

Check out the Stars and Stripes Drive-In if you’re looking for some downtime. Here, you can watch current movies while dining at the ’50s café. A drive-in is a fun place for couples to go on date night or families to enjoy an evening together.

The Schlitterbahn Water Park is a legendary water park and resort located in New Braunfels and Galveston. Both parks have waterslides, amazing lazy rivers, and a variety of activities to take part in.

San Antonio (80 miles from Austin)

San Antonio is one of the loveliest cities in America. Many historic missions are included in citywide historic mission paths, including “Mission Concepción” and ” Mission San Jose “. Downtown – The charming San Antonio River Walk spans the banks of the San Antonio River and provides dining on the waterfront and other attractions.

The San Antonio Zoo is a place you don’t want to miss. Here, you can do everything from having breakfast with the giraffes to learning about caterpillars and butterflies at the interactive butterfly garden. 

At Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, You can go on a Texas-style African safari through 450 acres of the country ranch. Each safari ride takes you through four miles of the ranch, where you’ll be able to encounter animals you’d never thought you’d get to see in Texas.

Kids will love going toThe Doseum. There are over 68,000 square feet for your kids to play in and discover interactive galleries connected to STEM, the arts, and literacy. Kids can also partake in the hands-on experience where they can learn all about force and motion using inclined planes, pulleys, wheels, wedges, and levers.

Day Trips West of Austin

Lake Marble Falls (52 miles west of Austin)

Marble Falls is one charming town within Burnet County and is approximately 45 mins from the center. It was initially founded in 1887 and is known by its waterfall of a similar name.

It’s most famous for hosting a drag boat race every August in one of America’s most famous cities. Its central area houses quaint art galleries and good restaurants such as Blue Bonnet Cafe, a famous Texas pie restaurant.

You will love visiting Sweet Berry Farms, where you can pick your own berries and more. It is located at 1801 FM 1980, Marble Falls, Texas 78654.

In addition to picking berries, they offer activities for the kids. They have pony rides Friday through Sunday, sand art, Pot Painting, Berry Bounce, Goat Feeding, and a Barrel Train. You can buy tickets at the counter and use them for these fun activities.

You can bring the kids, visit the Strawberry Patch, and pick a pint of strawberries while you learn about growing fruit.

Johnson City (55 miles west of Austin)

Johnson city is just an hour and a half outside of Austin. There are two primary things to do in this small central Texas town.

The first is the Science Mill. A destination for the entire family that offers interactive experiences in science, technology, engineering, and math. They have exhibits, games, and programs that teach people of all ages how to appreciate the science around them.

The second place to visit is Johnson National Park. This place is designated as a park to protect the birthplace, home, ranch, and final resting place of Lyndon B. Johnson, who was the 36th president of the United States. 

You can visit the boyhood home of Lyndon B. Johnson, where he lived from the age of five until his high school graduation. When you look at it, it is furnished in a mid-1920s style, and it shows the rural Texas lifestyle from 75 years ago.

You can take a tour of Air Force One and the National Museum to learn more about how he lived. 

Pedernales Falls State Park (45 miles west of Austin)

Pedernales Falls State Park is perfect for the outdoor enthusiast. This park has opportunities for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and swimming.

You can get a campsite with electric and water hookups or a primitive site to stay overnight. Pedernales Falls State Park was voted one of our best camping spots in Texas.

Fredericksburg (80 miles from Austin)

Fredericksburg is a historic city of German origin with a population of citizens who speak the Texas German dialect. Visitors may view German heritage exhibits at Pioneer Museum, which contains preserved settlement homes and artifacts from the 18th Century.

The Fredericksburg Historic Downtown District is surrounded by historic buildings, local shops, and live music. Make sure to visit the Pacific War Museum when you are here. It is a fantastic tribute to the men and women who served in World War II.

People love visiting Wildseed Farms, where they can see fields of wildflowers that they have been growing for more than 35 years. They have close to 200 acres, and they are the largest wildflower farm in the country.

Hamilton Pool Preserve is a great day trip destination. It offers a beautiful natural pool created thousands of years ago by a submerged river dome collapse. Since the mid-2th century, the natural pool is situated about an hour west of Austin.

Hamilton Pool (30 miles from Austin)

In 1990 the county commissioner’s court declared the site a natural preserve. The site covers 230 acres and has an outdoor jade green pool area. The waterfall is accessed via a 50-foot waterfall. Beautiful stalactites hang above the pool floor, where there are cliff swallows and maidenhair ferns.

Dripping Springs is the “Gateway to the Texas Hill Country.” In recent years the city has become the destination of gourmets who have many culinary options and craft microbreweries.

Visitors can taste local extra-virgin olive oil by visiting the Texas Hill Country Olive Company. Live music concerts and free dancing lessons run throughout the weekend at the Mercer Street Dancehall.

Longhorn Cavern State Park (67 miles from Austin)

Longhorn Cavern State Park offers an excellent and fun day trip from Austin. This is just an hour’s drive from Austin.

It is also the best way to explore the caves. During this trip, you will learn from an expert local guide. The tour is last 90 minutes. There is even plenty of trail to explore here too!

Lockhart State Park (33 miles from Austin)

Located about 45 minutes south of Austin, Lockhart Park is a state park with over 80 acres is among Austin’s best day trips you will never forget despite the fantastic sights.

The park opened to visitors in 1948 and stretches over 270 acres for outdoor recreation activities. It is possible to go fishing, camping, swimming, or hit the hiking trails. It should be a fun time at the Texas Natural Park.

Luckenbach (75 miles from Austin)

Luckenbach is a small Texas town just 15 minutes from Fredericksburg. It is widely known for hosting a wide selection of country music legends. The small town was nearly a ghostly village in the 1960s until its purchase by folklorist Hondo Crouch and actors Guich Koock and wife Shatzi Crouch and Patricia Koock.

They operated its historical dance hall as the main country west music venue for the remainder of the 20th century. They were hosts of artists, including Jerry Jeff Walker, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Lyle Lovett.

Lake Travis (20 miles from Austin)

Lake Travis is a beautiful reservoir on the Colorado River located in Travis and BurnetCounties near Austin.

The lake covers approximately 330,000 sq miles and was originally the largest lake in the Highland Lakes reservoir system. Tourists have an extensive array of recreational opportunities at the lake, including sailing, fishing, swimming, diving, zipline, and overnight camping. At Hippie Hollow Park, visitors can swim at Texas’ only legally permitted beaches.

Colorado Bend State Park (100 miles from Austin)

Colorado Bend State Park guests can explore caves or sinkholes as guided cave tours led by experienced, honest guides.

A 2-mile spicewood spring trail traverses some wonderful creeks within the park, providing easy access to some spring-fed swimming pools. The Gorman Creek Path leads up to Gorman Falls, which descend at 63 meters.

Day Trips East of Austin

McKinney Falls State Park (20 Minutes from Austin)

Opened to the general public in 1976, McKinney Falls State Park in Austin was named in tribute to local businessman Thomas F. McKinney.

The 641-acre park is located along the historic trail El Camino Real de Los Tejas. McKinney State Park is an ideal place for swimming and fishing, bicycle rides, bird watching, and camping are

Driftwood (30 miles from Austin)

Driftwood is a small charming city about 30 minutes outside of Austin. This town is home to the legendary Salt Lick BBQ. If you are in town, eating here is a must.

Driftwood is also home to many local breweries, wineries, and distilleries. Check out these award-winning places: Dutchman Family Winery, Vista Brewing, and Stinson Distillery. Stop by the Old-time Texaco Gas Station for an instagramable picture moment.

Falls Creek Vineyards and Beckers Vineyards are the most beautiful wineries in the Texas Hill Country, located along the breathtaking hill country vineyard trail. Visitors can sample elegant Chardonnay, Chevaux Noir, and Viognier varieties at the renowned Becker Vineyards.

Autumn Creek Vineyards is spread across 400 acres across Lake Buchanan, producing gourmet wines like Mourvèdre Grenache Rosé and Sangiovese.

Lockhart (35 Miles from Austin)

Lockhart, the Barbecue Capital of Texas, is just a short drive from Austin. This town is a great day trip destination or weekend trip for families or anyone visiting Austin.

Lockhart is home to several annual events, historical landmarks, and antique shopping. It’s a great way to spend the day with the family.

Brenham (90 miles from Houston)

Brenham is a charming city an hour and a half east of Austin. The town is richly decorated with historic buildings and contains a blue-bell creamery that produces some tasty ice creams.

In Brenham, there are a lot of attractions to visit: Brenham Heritage Museum, Toubien Park, and Giddings stone mansion. April is a great time to head to Brenham to see the bluebonnets. You can read more about Texas bluebonnets here in our article.

Houston (165 miles from Austin)

Texas Houston is an international aerospace industry leader, with the Space Center Houston site being one of the largest cities in Texas. Visitors can see NASA activities at Johnson Space Center Visitor Center, Houston’s first Smithsonian Museum.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Museum of Fine Art, the Station Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Houston Zoo attract more than 7.5 million tourists.

Conclusion

Austin is close to it all. It is located in central Texas, making it ideal for family vacations. You can go 1-2 hours in any direction and have access to pretty much anything the Lone Star State has to offer. Fun things are waiting for you. Please feel free to share your experience in the comments.

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