We recently returned from a few days in the beautiful Texas Hill Country and here are a few of the highlights and our recommendations for exciting things to see in the Texas Hill Country.
There’s something special about Texas. If you live there, then I’m sure you know what I mean. If you’ve visited before, I’m sure you feel it too. It takes a day to drive (non-stop) from the top of the state to the bottom and nestled close to the center is the beautiful Texas Hill Country, real Texas to me.
The Texas Hill Country is the hilly area a little north and west of Austin and north of San Antonio. It’s home to beautiful lakes, family attractions, breathtaking views, nature parks, caverns and good ole’ foot-stompin’ entertainment.
My family and I drove the short three-hour drive to the Hill Country from our home in Houston last week . Our kids were out of school for spring break and it seemed like a perfect time for a family get-away. We decided on our trip right before we left so many of the hotels were already booked, but through VRBO, we found this quaint little cottage in the city of Wimberly, just west of New Braunfels.
Built in 1920, this cozy cottage was formerly a dairy farm. We loved all the vintage accents throughout the house. It felt as if we were visiting someone’s family home.
The only drawback was that there wasn’t a washing machine or a dishwasher. We honestly didn’t miss not having either, but I can see if we were staying longer or tubing down the river, a washing machine would have been nice. But then again, there are washaterias located in the city if we truly needed one. For this trip, it was perfect.
On our drive west, we decided to drive a little past Wimberly to a winery near San Antonio called Bending Branch Winery located in the city of Comfort. This little winery produces some great wines, with one of our favorites being the Old Vine Petite Sirah. They have a lovely tasting room where we felt so comfortable, we didn’t want to leave.
After our stop in Comfort, we headed back in the direction of Wimberly, stopped at a little grocery along the way for something to make for dinner that night and settled into our little home away from home.
On our first real day in the Hill Country, we took a drive to Enchanted Rock near Fredricksburg. This massive pink granite dome is fun to hike up and provides beautiful views of the area. We enjoyed a picnic lunch, did a little hiking, then visited Lewis Wines in Johnson City.
We love Lewis Wines, especially their 2012 Texas White Wine which is a blend of Viognier and Chenin Blanc and their 2010 Texas Red Wine which is a blend of Tempranillo, Mourvedre, Syrah and Grenache. Their tastings are by appointment only and are given in an upstairs loft among the wine barrels. We loved it! Definitely give them a call to schedule a tasting. You won’t be disappointed!
On the way back to our vacation house, we stopped at the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm in Stonewall. We remembered visiting when we lived in Austin years ago and knew our kids would enjoy going back for a visit. This is a real, working farm with the volunteers dressed in clothing reminiscent of the early 1900’s. The volunteers work the farm growing vegetables, cooking meals for the other volunteers, making soaps and tending to the animals just as they would years ago. It’s a fascinating learning experience and one not to be missed.
On day two, we packed a picnic lunch and headed to Pedernales Falls State Park in Johnson City. There are a number of trails throughout the park to hike, but since we had a zipline adventure scheduled for later in the day, we went straight to the Falls to climb on the rocks. After a few hours, we went to the river to have our picnic and were so surprised that we met up with friends of ours from back home.
The zipline tour was the highlight of the trip for my kids. We scheduled a 3:00 tour which was perfect for us. We were so impressed with Wimberly Zipline Adventures and can’t wait to go back again. Since I’m afraid of heights, I didn’t zipline but after watching, I think I will next time. I was able to travel by truck to the different zipline courses to take pictures and the view were great.
On day three, we headed into Austin. There is so much to see in Austin, it’s a destination all it’s own. We lived just north of Austin for year about eight years ago so we didn’t do a lot of sightseeing.
We had lunch at the original Chuy’s then headed downtown to take in the excitement of SXSW which was going on that week. We didn’t buy tickets to any events, but were still able to listen to street musicians and see some of the fun sights associated with the event. We ended our day trip to Austin with a glass of wine for EJ and I and a soda for the kids at the W Hotel. We love stopping at the W Austin. It’s in the heart of downtown and was a wonderful break from all the activities.
The next day, we packed up and left the house around 10:30. On our way home, we stopped at Duchman Family Winery in Driftwood. We recently enjoyed a bottle of wine from Duchman back home and wanted to visit the winery for a tasting. We were in search of a GSM wine (Grenache, Syrah, and Mouvedre blend) and it was suggested to us that we visit Salt Lick Cellars just down the road.
Our last stop before heading home was at the Texas Hill Country Olive Company also in Driftwood. They sent me a message on twitter and after looking at their website, I knew we needed to visit. They give olive oil and balsamic vinegar tastings daily with their delicious homemade bread. I loved the garlic olive oil and the fig balsamic and picked up a couple of bottles. Next time, we’ll have to try the olive oil gelato.
No stop between the Hill Country and Houston would be complete without a stop in the lovely town of Brenham, home to the Blue Bell Ice Cream Factory. We had lunch downtown at the Must Be Heaven Cafe which makes the best chicken salad I have ever tasted.
Then, we went a few miles down the road for a scoop of Blue Bell Ice Cream. We didn’t schedule a tour so we just stopped in for dessert which you can’t beat at one dollar a scoop. Plus, it’s just the best tasting ice cream in the world!
We really just scratched the surface. There’s so much to see and do in the Texas Hill Country. If your travel destination is Houston, consider making the drive west to the Hill Country for a couple of days. Or, make it a destination all it’s own. For more information on this area, here are a few resources to check out.
Have you visited this beautiful part of Texas? What are some of your favorite places to see?
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