It’s about that time of year to make summer vacation plans. Chances are you already gave a second thought to (and perhaps already planned) an epic summer vacation, whether it’s across country or the globe. You may think you only have time and money for one vacation, but lucky for you, Texas has a lot to offer. There are numerous sights worth exploring, so pick a weekend and a direction, and take a short road trip. And we’re not asking you to drive countless hours either; these road trips from Leander are one hour or less.
Bastrop – Travel time 1hr
Positioned along the banks of the Lower Colorado River, Bastrop is a great, historical escape. Filled with small-town charm, Bastrop has plenty of things for the visitor to do from shopping and seeing live music to wining and dining.
Get one-on-one attention from the Colorado River at Fisherman’s Park. Relax by the river, rent a canoe or kayak, or take the kids to visit the splash pad and playground. Be sure to also check out the river views from the Colorado River Bridge, also known as the Old Iron Bridge.
Grab a bite at Maxine’s Cafe & Bakery.
Located on Main Street, Maxine’s serves up cozy, homestyle dishes fit for a Texan. Locals rave about breakfast, but if you’re unable to get there in the AM, you can still indulge in their fine home cooking, like catfish and collards and chicken fried steak.
Stop by the Bastrop County Museum and Visitor Center.
Learn about one of the most historic towns in Texas. And if tons of artifacts, exhibits, and stories of Bastrop’s beginnings aren’t enough to pique your interest, the Visitor Center is located in an old fire and police station from the 1930s.
Don’t miss Bastrop’s festivals! They’ll give you an excuse to visit.
Burnet – Travel time 30min
Burnet is a short road trip from Leander. It sits nicely between Lake Buchanan and Lake LBJ. It’s known as the Bluebonnet Capital of Texas and is filled with rich history from the 1850s.
Step back into the 19th century.
Frontier or aviation history suit your fancy? Visit Fort Croghan Museum and learn about the fort built by the U.S. right after the Civil War. Hop aboard an antique plane at the Highland Lakes Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force.
Explore nature at Burnet’s area parks.
Want to get your feet wet? Go for a swim at Inks Lake State Park. If canoeing and kayaking are more your style, head over Lake Buchanan and ride through the falls or just around the lake. More of a hiker? Tour caverns at Longhorn State Park—it’s been around since the 1930s.
Take a scenic wine tour.
Grab a cheese plate and sample wines at Torr Na Lochs Vineyard and Winery, which overlooks Inks and Buchanan Lakes. Head 10 minutes south to Perissos Winery and take a wine tour with a royal view of Falkenstein Castle in the distance.
Dripping Springs – Travel time 1hr
An up-and-coming town and wedding destination, Dripping Springs is the perfect getaway for family and friends alike. Whether you want to tour a brewery, shop antiques and art, or go for a hike, Dripping encourages you to get outside and experience the Hill Country like you never have before.
Camping, swimming, hiking, rock climbing—Dripping has it all! Visit a popular Texas swimming hole at Hamilton Pool Preserve. Pack your tent and rent a tube or kayak for an adventure at Pedernales Falls State Park. Up for a rocky challenge? Spend an afternoon at Reimers Ranch and rock climb, bike, or ride horses.
Dripping has become a hot spot for breweries, wineries, and distilleries alike. Who wouldn’t want to sip and dine with a view of the hill country? There are far too many to list here and they all are too good to select only a few. Your best bet is to book a tour with Discover Texas Wine Tours or Texas Hill Country Brewery Tours to visit a few in one afternoon. Have kids? Believe it or not some locations are family friendly, like Jester King Farmhouse and Brewery.
Stay on a farm.
Bring the farm to the table, or rather, to the outside of your room. Juniper Hills Farm is located on 54-acre ranch and is run entirely by captured rainwater. Get greeted by wildlife daily and take a cooking or yoga class. Want to learn how to be a farmer? Venture over to Hills of Milk and Honey and sign up for one of many workshops including animal care and beekeeping.
Stop by the orchards at Texas Hill Country Olive Company and grab some home grown olive oil or balsamic.
Johnson City – Travel time 1hr
Johnson City is known as the crossroads of the Texas Hill Country. It was the hometown of President Lyndon Johnson and was founded by his uncle, James Polk Johnson. Visitors can explore the sights of the Hill Country and get a glimpse of the Presidential past—right here in Texas.
Tour the LBJ Ranch and Texas White House.
Lyndon B Johnson was born, lived, died, and was buried at the LBJ Ranch. Explore the grounds on self-guided tour of the President’s birthplace, Johnson family cemetery, hanger and airstrip, and Texas White House. Many of the rooms have been restored to their appearance during President Johnson’s time in office. Guided tours of the Texas White House are available.
Go on a Texas safari.
The Exotic Resort Zoo is home to 137 wooded acres, 500 animals, and 80 different species. Get up close and personal with these animals on a safari tour and play with baby deer, elk and other animals in the petting zoo. Buy a day pass, or even better, stay the night in a safari cabin.
Shop art and antiques.
Johnson City has numerous art and antique galleries. Shop local and visit Texcetera for fine arts and crafts from over 50 Texas artists. To see mixed media and partake in a wine tasting, visit Taste Wine Art. If antique shopping is more your style, visit Vintage 205 and Junque Dynasty. Want to get a hike in and see some art? Visit the Benini Galleries and Sculpture Ranch.
Go For A Drive, But Plan Ahead
Texas is rich with history, culture, and natural scenery. And while it may take countless hours to get across the state, you can explore over a dozen towns with a few short road trips from Leander. All you have to do is pick an interest, direction, and like most trips, plan ahead.
Do your research on admission costs, policies, and traffic. Most parks during the summer have peak periods, especially on the weekends. Be sure you don’t have to make a reservation ahead of time. Shops and restaurants in small towns may not have regular business hours or take credit cards, so make sure to visit websites or call ahead for details. Finally, living near Austin warrants having a GPS accessible for gauging traffic. You may not experience the typical weekend traffic in a small town, but plan your route should you have to travel through Austin or more populated areas.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post when we bring you even more places to visit on any given weekend.
Just outside Austin, Travisso is a master-planned community in Leander, surrounded by natural scenery and hill country views. Consider Leander your next home and live at Travisso.