Top 10 Weekend Escapes From Austin

Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar | © Nan Palmero
Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar | © Nan Palmero
It’s true that there is never a dull moment in ‘The Live Music Capital of the World,’ however there are times when even Austinites need a break from the city. Luckily, there are many destinations to choose from to relieve a bit of that workweek stress. From delicious Junkberry Pie to the Enchanted Rock, to the famous Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, the options are limitless for a relaxing weekend away.
Guadalupe River, New Braunfels, Texas © Nicolas Henderson

New Braunfels

Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar
Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar | © Nan Palmero/Flickr
First founded in 1845 under a German Charter by Prince Karl of Solms-Braunfels, New Braunfels has become one of the most-loved weekend getaways for Austinites. For a relaxing time, pack some Shiner beer, some SPF 45 and head over to Texas Tubes for a float down the Comal River. Afterwards, stop by Guadalupe Brewing Company for a sample of local brews. If you’re looking to go a bit further out of town, then stop by Dry Comal Creek Vineyards (and yes, Uber does operate in New Braunfels).
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Not too far away from New Braunfels is the town of Gruene (pronounced Green). One of the top weekend getaways in the Hill Country, Gruene is also known for its Old Gruene Market Days, which are held every third weekend of each month. Take a tour of the many varied shops on Main Street, grab lunch at The Gristmill River Restaurant and Bar, and then head over to the historic Gruene Hall for an evening of country dancing. A weekend here never disappoints!

Dripping Springs

Restaurant, BBQ, $$$
Just 30 minutes southeast of Austin is the town of Dripping Springs, known as ‘the Gateway to the Hill Country.’ If stopping by in the summer months, make a point of visiting Hamilton Pool. Afterwards, plan to make a day out of visiting the various wineries and distilleries in the area. Top recommendations include the Twisted X Brewing Company, Deep Eddy Vodka Distillery and the Hawk’s Shadow Winery. Stop off at The Salt Lick Restaurant and Pavilion in Driftwood on the way back if you have time, the barbecue here is one for the books!
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Continuing on the theme of barbecue, Lockhart, the ‘Barbecue Capital of Texas’ is only a convenient 40-minute drive down from Austin. Come with Thanksgiving pants on because no visit is complete without sampling the barbecue at each of ‘the big three’: Black’s Barbecue, Smitty’s Market, and Kruez Market. For a more eat-where-the-locals-eat feel, check out Chisholm Trail Bar-B-Que as well.


Winery, Park
Ever dreamt of spending the day picking lavender, sipping wine and browsing local art galleries? Then come to Wimberley! Start the day at Rough Creek Lavender Fields. Stroll through the lavender fields, watch migrating monarch butterflies, and sample their famous lavender lemonade. From there, check out the many art shops in the area, such as Wimberley Glass Works and Gallery on the Square. Grab a glass of merlot at Wimberley Valley Winery or Driftwood Winery to wrap up the day.
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Johnson City

Take a weekend trip to nearby Johnson City to visit the birthplace of the country’s 36th president, Lyndon B. Johnson. Check out the permanent exhibit galleries at the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park Visitor Center, and later stop by the LBJ Ranch, which includes the Texas White House. Johnson City is also known as the ‘Wildflower Capital of the Texas Hill Country.’ Take some time in the spring to go drive around the town and experience the unique bursts of color.
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La Grange

Natural Feature
Not just a ZZ Top song, but also a city! About 60 miles southeast of Austin, La Grange is a unique little Texas-Czech town. Stop by the Texas Czech Heritage and Culture Center and check out their Genealogy Library, or take a tour of Texas Czech Village. A bit hungry after a day at the museum? Stop by Weikel’s and sample their wide array of homemade Czech kolaches and streusels. A crowd favorite is the poppy seed kolache.
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Natural Feature
Fredericksburg shops
Fredericksburg shops | © Dave G. Houser / Alamy Stock Photo
Founded in 1846 and named after Prince Frederick of Prussia, Fredericksburg is a very unique weekend getaway. Start in the town’s downtown area and visit all of the different stores and shops along the way. Be sure to make time to visit Enchanted Rock, a massive, pink granite dome, which visitors can actually climb. Take some time afterwards for a much-needed rest and visit the Fredericksburg Brewing Company or the Grape Creek Vineyards, which also have shops on Main Street.
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Bar, Pub Grub
One word: beer. Shiner is the mother country of Shiner beer, and the flagship for Shiner Bock. Take an afternoon to drive out to the Spoetzl brewery and take a tour! Visitors also get tokens to sample different Shiner brews. Learn how the Bavarian beer was first made by Kosmos Spoetzl, while touring the brewery (which started out as a tin house in 1909) and learn about its current brewmaster, who is only the 6th in the history of the company.
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Round Top

Round Top is primarily known for its role in the semi-annual Antique Weekend, however it has quite a lot to offer during the low season. Known for their freewheeling country-cool attitude, the Junk Gypsies, Amie and Jolie Sikes, have their Junk Gypsy World Headquarters here. Stop by and find out why stars like Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley are big fans of these funky sisters’ décor. Make a stop at Royers Pie afterwards for a healthy serving of one of their 17 (yes, 17) different pies. An uncontested favorite in the Junkberry Pie, named after their neighbors, the Junk Gypsies.

By Gabrielle Castagno

Gabrielle Castagno began traveling at the age of 16, and has been hooked ever since. Gabrielle has ventured to over 9 different countries, most recently residing in Milan, Italy. She now lives and works in Austin, Texas and can regularly be found sipping a mojito at a local bar and planning her next trip.

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