Road trips from Austin often mean passing through charming small towns, taking in hill country views, encountering good food, and finding unique stops along the way. For a roundup of the perfect Texas road trips, check out these must-see destinations.
About 6.5 hours west of Austin is the coolest desert city you ever did see. Marfa is a major tourist destination known for its growing minimalist art world and music scene comparable to Austin’s. Head down during Marfa Myths – a cultural festival taking place in March – which will also give you a chance to see the spring wildflowers along the highway. You can also check out the Marfa Lights, said to be the work of UFOs – you be the judge. Before reaching this art lover’s paradise, however, you’ll pass through small, almost forgotten towns. Make sure to stop in Alpine to see the numerous historic adobe structures, and then grab a raspa (Mexican snow cone) to go.
About a 45-minute drive from Austin, Wimberley is a great place for families, artists, and those just looking to take it slow. This charming small town features gorgeous cypress trees, a large river, swimming holes, art galleries, and boutique shopping. It’s one of the most delightful towns in Texas, and the drive is equally enjoyable. When you get there, check out Blue Hole, a forested swimming area complete with rope swings, or drive further south for a hike up Devil’s Backbone – be sure to look up the unsolved mysteries of the area before your trip – where you’ll find beautiful views.
Travel an hour west of Austin and you’ll hit Johnson City, the hometown of the 36th US President, Lyndon B. Johnson. At LBJ’s ranch, or ‘The Texas White House,’ you can enjoy the grounds, get an overview of America’s political history, and find out what it’s like to be a Texas rancher. The Johnson City area also has some of the best wildflower sightings during springtime.
If you’re looking for an antique haven, then Round Top is a perfect destination. Located an hour and 20 minutes southeast of Austin, this small town is known for its antique show, which happens every spring and fall. You’ll find jewelry, apparel, vintage collectibles, industrial salvage, and more. Then head 30 minutes southwest and visit Fayette County’s well-known four painted churches. The beautifully designed churches include St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Sts. Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, and St. Mary’s Parish, all built over a hundred years ago by German and Czech settlers.
One hour and 45 minutes north of Austin is Waco, Texas. It’s known widely for two separate things: the Dr Pepper Museum and HGTV’s show Fixer Upper. Take a tour of the Dr Pepper Museum or head over to Fixer Upper stars Joanna and Chip Gaines’ Magnolia Market at the Silos. You might also want to check out the Waco Mammoth site where they’ve uncovered over 20 mammoth and sabertooth tiger skeletons in the last 30 years.
Often referred to as a Texas paradise, Utopia really lives up to its name. The geography alone makes it a worthwhile trip; with lakes, rivers, pecan trees, and changing colors during the fall, it’s a beautiful place to simply take a drive. You can also go bird-watching, fishing, hiking, or swimming, and stay in one of the many delightful bed and breakfasts around town.
Just about 1.5 hours west of Austin is a great German-influenced town in the middle of Texas. The drive to Fredericksburg is filled with scenic views of the hill country and vineyards. Head to Enchanted Rock for a hike that ends with a gorgeous scene, and then stop by Das Peach Haus for some homemade jam; if you’re fortunate, they might have some warm peach cobbler you can enjoy while overlooking their breathtaking peach vineyard.