Exploring Austin: Best Places in Hill Country
While everything going on in Austin could easily eat up all your free time, for those days when you just need to get out of the city, do as the locals do and turn to the quick and easy getaway that is Texas Hill Country. Drive 30 minutes outside of Austin, and you hit this breath-taking stretch of over 10,000 square miles — its dazzling rolling hills, natural pools, and great spots to grab grub and drinks make it an ideal trip to suit a variety of tastes. Whether you’re looking to spend a day sitting in the sun on the banks of an awe-inspiring pool, or spend a few hours taste-testing some of the best barbecue in the entire nation, our picks for the best places to see in Texas’ Hill Country might make you think, “Austin, who?”
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Coolest Places in Hill Country
The Salt Lick BBQ
Where is it? Driftwood, Texas
What is it? Any foodie worth their weight in reruns of Top Chef will recognize legendary brisket hot-spot, The Salt Lick BBQ. Located in Driftwood (about an hour drive outside of Austin proper), you’ll get the meat sweats from the moment you walk into the restaurant’s door and their huge, indoor, old-school barbecue pit greets you with hunger-inducing smells. That pit has been smoking all the best protein Texas has to offer since the 1960s — and has been winning accolades by everyone from Adam Richmond to Bobby Flay ever since. Not only does the Driftwood institution serve up all the pork ribs you can dream of, its on-site wine shop will help you pick the perfect red to pair with your red meat. If you aren’t already in a food coma by the time the barbecue portion of the meal is finished, don’t skimp on dessert — their homemade peach cobbler is as worthy of praise as their savory selections.
Where is it? Dripping Springs, TX
What is it? When looking at photos of this natural wonder, you could easily be led to think that the stunning grotto and pool preserve is located in Thailand, Bali, or some other exotic location. However, Hamilton Pool is only an hour drive away from Austin in Driftwood, although it clearly feels and looks like a whole world away from the Downtown skyline. While they forbid swimming in the pool as part of a long-term effort to preserve the space, you and the crew can still bring a picnic and some brews and sit by the blue-water show of this historic spot. You can also hike around its circumference, observing many of the plants and animals that call the environmental sanctuary home, and even take a trail that goes underneath the pool’s trademark waterfall.
Jester King Brewery
Where is it? Cedar Valley, TX
What is it? Jester King Brewery is world-renowned among beer enthusiasts for their farmhouse ales, barrel-aged wild-ales, and sours, but they should be equally known for the guaranteed good times you are certain to have there. There’s no better spot in Hill Country for a Sunday Funday. Not only will you have plenty of pints to taste-test, but the beautiful location and on-site pizzeria will alleviate all worries about the workweek ahead. Additionally, Jester King is dog-friendly, so Fido can join the whole crew while they eat, drink, and play corn hole on the brewery’s expansive property. Be sure to grab a growler of whatever brew was your favorite before you leave — they consistently update their menu every season, so you may never get a chance to sip the same thing twice.
Where is it? Fredericksburg, Texas
What is it? While Enchanted Rock might be a bit further of a drive than the other places on this list, the two hours of car time will be more than worth it to take in the amazing Hill Country views this iconic pink granite mountain has to offer. Like the Lone Star state’s very own version of Pride Rock from Lion King, no pictures do justice to the gasp-inducing beauty of this 425-foot natural structure — and, if you think the sights at the bottom are stunning, the paranoiac view of Hill Country from the top will be enough to take your breath away. With additional trails in the vicinity and camping spaces available on-site, it’s easy to pack your tent and make a whole weekend out of it. Pro tip: Go during the cooler fall and winter months since hiking during the Texas August heat creates a recipe for disaster.
Access Hill Country from Your New Austin Pad
This list of the coolest places to see in Texas’ Hill Country may present some extraordinary weekend trip options, but once you get your fill of the country, explore more of Austin for some big city fun. We can direct you to the best margaritas, the best cafes, the best brunch, the best street art, and the best apartments. In fact, we’ll happily perform your apartment search for you! Our local experts know the best buildings in the best neighborhoods. Tell them what you want, and we’ll find it for you for free. Reach out to an Austin apartment locator today.
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