A Texas Hill Country road trip isn’t always about where you’re headed. The true beauty of this land can be found in the journey through it. Rolling hills, natural springs, meandering rivers and, come springtime, vibrantly painted landscapes of wildflowers up and down the highways and backroads. The destinations on this road trip are simply some of the perks when it comes to traveling around Texas.
Austin’s mixture of natural beauty and relaxed city life sets the tempo for this trip before you even hit the road. The State Capitol building sits in the heart of the city, surrounded by lush grounds where you can soak up the sun. A few blocks south is the bustling downtown lined with bars, great restaurants and endless live music.
Austin is also home to the largest collection of art in Central Texas at the Blanton Museum of Art. The Contemporary Austin, with locations downtown and at Laguna Gloria, showcases an eclectic collection of contemporary works. The Mexic-Arte Museum is located just blocks from the downtown Contemporary Austin and promotes the preservation and appreciation of Mexican, Latino and Latin American art.
One piece of Austin’s natural beauty runs right through the middle of the city: Lady Bird Lake. Also known as Town Lake, it’s a wildly popular spot for kayaking, rowing and paddleboarding or for jogging and biking along its banks.
Before you head out into the Hill Country, you’ll want to fuel up. Austin’s incredible food scene has you covered, from BBQ to food trucks or fine dining to local favorites. And, if you look hard, you might just find it all in one stop.
As you head west toward Fredericksburg, you’ll begin to see the landscape open up before you, with rolling tree-covered hills, exposed limestone cliffs and an array of colorful wildflowers.
After about an hour, you’ll hit Johnson City, home to the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park. Here you can tour the family ranch and view artifacts such as his boyhood home and first school. This is also the final resting place of LBJ, our 36th president.
Johnson City is also the heart of the Hill Country wine region. Why not take a detour and sample some of the best wineries in Texas on the 290 Wine Trail? Ab Astris Winery and Kuhlman Cellars are a couple of our favorites.
Once you reach the quaint town of Fredericksburg, you’ll want to visit two unique museums: the National Museum of the Pacific War, dedicated to those who served in the Pacific Theater of World War II, and the Pioneer Museum, honoring the lives of the early German settlers of this region.
Next, head toward San Antonio, but don’t be in a rush. We suggest taking the scenic route for serene Hill Country views through wildflower-lined back roads.
Follow the signs about 10 miles southeast to Luckenbach. It’s a stretch to call it a town, but for country music fans, it’s a mecca. It was made famous in the ’70s by outlaw country musicians like Willie Nelson. You can still regularly catch country acts performing on the outdoor stage.
Continue on the backroads south around Canyon Lake on your way toward New Braunfels. Just outside the city, stop at Texas’ oldest continually operating dance hall, Gruene Hall. Families will love a stop at Schlitterbahn Waterpark, but check their schedule online as they’re open seasonally. Families will also love exploring the vast caves at Natural Bridge Caverns and the exotic animals at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch about 20 minutes west of New Braunfels.
Finally, end your Hill Country road trip in the Alamo City, San Antonio. The Alamo is the Spanish mission made famous as a battle site in the war for Texas independence. But it is just one of five historic Spanish missions in San Antonio that make up a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The other four comprise the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. All five offer an incredible look back at the history and culture that still influence this proud city.
Just 10 minutes north of downtown, you will find the revitalized historic Pearl district. This area used to be the home of the Pearl Brewery. Today, you can walk the Pearl to explore trendy shops, delicious dining and even a weekend farmers market.
One of San Antonio’s—and Texas’—most famous attractions is the vibrant River Walk. Restaurants and shops line the banks of the San Antonio River, which you can explore on foot or take a boat tour on one of the colorful river barges.
A Texas Hill Country road trip is one you never want to end no matter which route you take. Stunning landscapes, exciting activities and hip, welcoming cities can all be found in this region of Texas. So hit the road, and remember to drive friendly, the Texas way.