Day Trips from Austin, Texas

In 2018, just like many years before, Austin topped several lists as the best place to live in the United States. Even a day in Austin will let visitors experience some of the things that make Austin special – including the city’s eclectic live-music scene and the numerous beautiful lakes and parks that are very popular for biking, boating, and hiking. In spite of the great activities within the city limits, you’d be missing out if you didn’t go on one of the several exciting day trips from Austin. Some of the best places to visit near Austin include Driftwood, the Texas Hill Country, the LBJ Ranch and childhood home, Luckenbach, and San Marcos. Whether you’d like to explore breathtaking hill country expanses, try some amazing BBQ, sip excellent wine, or soak in secluded swimming holes, you can do all that and more on a day trip from Austin.

Day trips from Austin, Texas

Day Trip from Austin to Driftwood

DISTANCE FROM AUSTIN

Driftwood, one of the more interesting little towns around Austin TX, is located less than 25 miles (40 km) southwest of downtown Austin.

GETTING THERE

If you want to go on a little road trip from Austin with Driftwood as your first stop, you can get there in under 35 minutes via the Texas State Highway Loop 1 (Mopac Expressway), the State Highway 45, and the Farm to Market Road 1826.

Driftwood
Driftwood, Author: Eric Rhoads, Source: Flickr

The public transport options are limited, making Uber the next best option if you don’t have your own car.

WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT

Driftwood is one of the best places to visit near Austin if you are into wine tasting, with several great options to choose from, such as the Duchman Family Winery, the Wimberley Valley Winery, and the Driftwood Estate Winery. Salt Lick BBQ is a world-famous Driftwood institution with the best BBQ in Texas, great hill country views, live music, and an extensive wine selection. You can also bring your own beverages; just remember that this rustic barbecue restaurant is cash-only.

Driftwood
Driftwood, Author: Nicolas Henderson, Source: Flickr

OPENING HOURS/TICKET PRICES

The world-renowned Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood is open every day from 11 AM to 10 PM, closing only for Thanksgiving Day and Christmas.The Duchman Family Winery is open from 11 AM till 8 PM (12-6 PM on Monday). The Driftwood Estate Winery’s tasting room hours are between 11 AM and 6 PM, 10-6 for the Wimberley Valley Winery. The tasting fees are usually between $12 and $18.

ACCOMMODATION OPTION

In case you decide to trade the big-city rush in Austin for the green spaces, lakes, vineyards, and the peace and quiet offered by the area west of Austin, Holiday Inn Express & Suites – Dripping Springs – Austin Area is one of the best properties to do just that. Only 7.4 miles (12 km) north of Driftwood, Dripping Springs is known for the cool waters and beautiful landscape of Hamilton Pool, not to mention the nearby distilleries, breweries, and state parks. Holiday Inn Express & Suites – Dripping Springs – Austin Area is an affordable accommodation option with spacious, comfy rooms, a large parking area, and an outdoor pool.

ORGANIZED TOURS

BOOK HERE

Austin’s Salt Lick and Winery Shuttle

A day of wine tasting, touring vineyards, and enjoying Salt Lick BBQ’s incomparable grilled meats, with a friendly driver/guide who will make sure you learn something new and enjoy this day trip from Austin to the fullest, without worrying about driving or bothering one of your friends or family members to abstain from drinking.

Salt Lick BBQ
Salt Lick BBQ, Author: Carlos Pacheco, Source: Flickr

Day Trip from Austin to the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park

DISTANCE FROM AUSTIN

The Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, with the Texas White House and the childhood home of the former president, is located about 50 miles (80 km) west of Austin in the Texas Hill Country, or approximately 62 miles (100 km) by road.

GETTING THERE

The fastest way to get there on a day trip from Austin is to take the Texas State Highway 290 to Johnson City and then keep driving west until you reach the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, just outside of Stonewall. The trip shouldn’t take more than 1h 15 minutes. Public transport options (buses and trains) are limited or nonexistent.

WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT

The Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park is an interesting historic site with plenty of Texas nature and numerous exciting attractions, even for visitors who are not necessarily fans of LBJ. His boyhood home is a well-preserved historic house furnished in the style of the 1920s, providing valuable insight into the life or rural Texans in the first half of the 20th century. Even more interesting is the Johnson Settlement, dating back to the 1860s, not to mention the large collection of presidential vehicles, including a number of Lincoln Continental Convertibles, a 1934 Ford Phaeton, and an Amphicar, the only mass-produced civilian amphibious passenger vehicle. The old rural school and the Texas White House, currently under renovation, are some of the other attractions. You can also stop by at Johnson City and check out the Science Mill, the Texas Hills Vineyard, or the Pedernales River Nature Park.

Lyndon B. Johnson State Park
Lyndon B. Johnson State Park, Author: Jerome Burg, Source: Flickr

OPENING HOURS/TICKET PRICES

The Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park Texas is open every day from 9 AM to 5 PM, except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. There is no entrance fee, so visiting the park itself is completely free, although you will have to pay $3.00 to see the ground floor of the Texas White House (ages 17 and older).

ACCOMMODATION OPTION

For those who fall in love in the Texas Hill Country and decide to spend an extra day or two exploring the region, the Best Western Johnson City Inn stands out as an excellent accommodation option. With adorable grounds, especially the park with the gazebo, the hotel has a pleasant home town feel to it, and if you ever grow tired of the comfortable, well-appointed rooms, you can go for a swim in the outdoor pool.


Texas Hill Country and LBJ Tour from Austin

With convenient hotel pick-up and drop-off and a knowledgeable, professional guide, this organized day trip from Austin is one of the easier ways to see the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park and at the same time familiarize yourself with the Texas Hill Country, its small towns, gorgeous parks, and numerous vineyards.

Day Trip from Austin to Fredericksburg and Luckenbach

Luckenbach
Luckenbach, Author: Woody Hibbard, Source: Flickr

DISTANCE FROM AUSTIN

Fredericksburg, the seat of Gillespie County, is located approximately 78 miles/125 km (road distance) west of Austin. Luckenbach is thirteen miles (19 km) southeast of Fredericksburg.

GETTING THERE

From Austin, you can board a bus to Luckenbach via San Antonio (operated by Greyhound), but the trip takes more than 4 hours, so it’s definitely not worth it. If possible, take the car and you should be there in an hour and a half. The easiest and fastest way to get to both Fredericksburg and Luckenbach is to just head west on Texas State Highway 290 from Austin, past Johnson City and Stonewall. For Luckenbach, turn left onto Luckenbach Road approximately one mile after you pass the Texas Wine Country Jellystone Park Camp-Resort. For Fredericksburg, keep driving for another 10 miles.

WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT

Luckenbach is essentially a ghost town and an outdoor music venue primarily famous for its association with country music. Even today, it is a popular venue for country, with a passionate and active local community. The place mostly stayed in the spotlight thanks to Willie Nelson and his yearly Fourth of July Picnic in the 90s.The U.S. Post Office in Luckenbach, dating back to the 1850s, is the only attraction, now a general store with a dance hall in the back. The locals maintain that Jacob Brodbeck, a resident of the small town, launched the first airplane many years before the much more famous Wright brothers. The rustic atmosphere of the charming and quirky town center, with its rickety boardwalk porch and rusted tin roof, is certainly unique and a sight to behold. Fredericksburg, which was founded by Baron Otfried Hans von Meusebach in 1846 and inhabited by German immigrants, displays an interesting mix of German immigrant and cowboy culture. The city is notable for being the home of Texas German, a dialect spoken by the early German settlers who didn’t want to learn English. The Fredericksburg Historic District is the most important part of the city, with other attractions including the National Museum of the Pacific War, the Pioneer Museum, and the Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park.

OPENING HOURS/TICKET PRICES

The Old-West style spot in Luckenbach is open daily from 9 AM to 1 AM, with live music every day of the week. Most of the stores in Fredericksburg are open 9 to 6 Monday thru Saturday and 11 to 5 on Sundays. The Pioneer Museum is open from 10 AM to 5 PM. The admission fee is $7.50 for adults and $3.00 for children. The National Museum of the Pacific War has the same opening hours, with a $15 basic admission fee.

ACCOMMODATION OPTION

If a short road trip from Austin turns into a whole day or two in Fredericksburg, consider staying at the Peach Tree Inn & Suites, with large, comfortable rooms, complimentary continental breakfast, a great location close to downtown, and beautiful, green surroundings with fire pits, a swimming pool, and a hot tub.

ORGANIZED TOURS

BOOK HERE

Texas Hill Country and LBJ Tour from Austin

The same 8-hour organized day trip from Austin to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s childhood home and the estate includes a 2-hour stop in Fredericksburg and a stopover in Luckenbach, where you can learn all about the legendary town’s musical history from the tour’s expert guide.

Day Trip from Austin to San Marcos

San Marcos
San Marcos, Author: Matt Harriger, Source: Flickr

DISTANCE FROM AUSTIN

San Marcos, home to Texas State University, is located halfway between Austin and San Antonio, approximately 30 miles (48 km) southwest of Austin.

GETTING THERE

San Marcos straddles the Interstate 35 corridor between Austin and San Antonio. By car, just take the I-35 south until you reach the city – it shouldn’t take more than 30 – 45 minutes tops.

You can also take the bus (Greyhound) from the Austin Bus Station at 916 E Koenig Lane, which takes between 45 minutes and 1h 20 minutes, for as little as $16. There are two buses a day, at 11:00 AM and 5:55 PM.

WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT

San Marcos, one of the oldest continuously inhabited sites in the Americas, is now primarily known as the home of Texas State University and its beautiful Victorian Gothic–style Old Main academic building. The sprawling San Marcos Outlet Malls, east of Interstate 35, have been listed among the top three places for shopping in the world by The View. The Outlet Malls attract 6 million visitors each year. The San Marcos Springs are another reason to visit. Home to multiple endangered species, the site is known for being the second largest natural cluster of springs in the state of Texas. The nature preserves, rivers, and creeks are very popular for recreation – a good reason to embark on a day trip from Austin if you’re into hiking, swimming, tubing, playing volleyball or soccer, or simply enjoying a nice picnic in a large green space next to a pool.

OPENING HOURS/TICKET PRICES

The San Marcos Outlet Malls are open daily from 10 AM to 9 PM, Sundays 10 AM–7 PM. Most of the parks, including the Rio Vista Park and the Purgatory Creek Natural Area, can be accessed from 6 AM to 11 PM. There is no admission fee.

ACCOMMODATION OPTION

In spite of its modest size, San Marcos is one of those cities that deserve a visit of at least two days or more. If you decide to spend one day shopping, with swimming and other outdoor activities reserved for the next day, you can stay at the Comfort Suites San Marcos, a comfortable, homey property with a great location next door to Premium Outlets. Other strong points include the complimentary breakfast, helpful staff, an exercise room, laundry facilities, and ample parking.

ORGANIZED TOURS

BOOK HERE

Half-Day River Tubing Experience on the San Marcos River from Austin This tour is one of the best day trips from Austin for the outdoorsy, adventurous types – an exciting river tubing experience with a professional guide, transportation by bus, free ice and coolers for everyone, and all admission fees taken care of.

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Anca One Day Itinerary
Anca B.

Anca is a travel writer and the founder of One Day Itinerary - the biggest collection of travel itineraries for those who are time-limited or just want to maximize their time while traveling. Although she easily becomes homesick for Croatia, she thinks travel is essential to her happiness. She has traveled to more countries than she is years old and doesn’t plan on changing that fact. In her travel guides she aims to inspire people to travel whenever they have a spare day (or two).

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