When you think about Texas, it’s easy to conjure up ideas about big cities – after all, everything’s bigger in Texas!
Austin, Texas, the state’s capital, is a booming metropolis and tourist destination with a nearly endless supply of recreation and entertainment and one of the best places to visit in Texas.
But some of Austin’s best kept secrets lie just outside the city limits, in the Texas Hill Country region!
No matter what type of recreation you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it on these convenient Texas day trips from Austin!
Hey! Want more Austin-based content? Check out these guides!
- One Day in Austin Itinerary
- 19 Fantastic Things to Do Alone in Austin, Texas
- 19 Unique Things to Do in Austin, Texas
- 23+ Incredible Things to Do in Austin at Night
- 47+ Best Things to Do in Austin, Texas
- 19 Romantic Date Ideas in Austin
- 19+ Free Things to Do in Austin
- 19 Things to Do in Austin Indoors
- The Perfect Weekend in Austin Itinerary (unique!)
and don’t forget our other Texas day trip ideas!
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How to get around Austin
Like most of Texas, the best way to get around Austin is to explore on your own by car!
If you’re visiting and need to rent a car, we highly recommend Discover Cars where they find you the best car rental deals from all of the competitors (has saved us so much money!).
1. Texas Hill Country
Known for its rolling hills, expansive skies, and abundant natural resources, Texas Hill Country is perhaps the most popular of Austin day trips!
More of a general region than a well-defined location, Texas Hill Country is located west of Austin in the southwestern central area of the state.
A mild climate and plentiful outdoor recreation make it a perfect year-round destination and a great Texas road trip.
If you don’t have your own car or want someone else to take you, this is the best Texas Hill Country day tour from Austin!
Satisfy your inner explorer with hiking and biking, rock climbing, and cave exploration at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area.
Ascend the summit trail to find 360-degree views of Texas Hill Country!
Designated as an International Dark Sky Park, it’s a perfect place for star gazing!
Pro tip: Reserve your “Save the Day” pass up to 30 days in advance to skip long lines and guarantee your spot in the park!
Enjoy outdoor events like Movies Under the Stars and fishing days at Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site.
You may even catch a glimpse of an American Bison or a Texas Longhorn, too!
Gaze at 200 acres of wildflowers at Wildseed Farms, the largest wildflower farm in the nation!
Birdwatch at Live Oak Wilderness Nature Trail at Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park.
Be awed by spectacular views on horseback at GF Ranch!
And when you’ve had your fill of outdoor fun, relax with a glass of wine at any one of the over 100 wineries in Texas Hill Country!
2. Texas Wine Country
Nestled within the beauty of Texas Hill Country is an area known as Texas Wine Country.
With over nine million acres of land dedicated to cultivating grapevines, Texas Wine Country is one of the largest and most visited wine regions in the country.
Over 50 wineries and vineyards draw millions of Texans and people from around the world to the region every year.
And, at just an hour away from the city, this makes visiting Texas Wine Country one of the most convenient day trips near Austin!
If you don’t have a designated driver, check out this awesome winery day trip from Austin with an expert guide.
The area is beloved just as much for its scenery as it is for its wine.
Texas Hill Country provides a breathtaking backdrop for enjoying the best wine Texas has to offer.
More than 20 tour and shuttle companies can be found in nearby Fredericksburg, so visitors can focus on safely sipping instead of driving.
Check to see if you’re visiting while the wine passport is being offered.
Available just four times each year, the passport allows visitors to sample wine at over 50 wineries, as well as offering discounts on bottle purchases.
German heritage might be the last thing that comes to mind when you think about Texas!
But that’s exactly what you’ll find in Fredericksburg, just over an hour west of Austin.
Settled by German immigrants in the 1840s, Fredericksburg has a unique blend of Germanic-Texan heritage visible in both its architecture and cuisine.
Dig into the area’s German history at the 3.5-acre Pioneer Museum.
Listen to tales of German settlers as you take a self-guided tour of the recreated 19th century buildings and artifacts, including an old county jailhouse!
War history enthusiasts will enjoy the National Museum of the Pacific War, and its extension – the Pacific Ocean Combat Zone, just a 5-minute walk from the museum.
You’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time viewing reenactments, gun fire demonstrations, period dress exhibits, and uniform and artillery displays.
Perhaps the greatest draw to the city is its proximity to wine.
Fredericksburg has 10 wineries and tasting rooms close to its Main Street, with this Fredericksburg winery tour being one of the best!
Located within 30 minutes of most wineries inside Texas Wine Country, and with more than 150 shops, stores and art galleries, Fredericksburg is one of the best day trips from Austin for sipping and shopping!
4. Johnson City
Find all the entertainment of a big city without all the crowds in Johnson City, a great place to wine, dine and shop!
As the gateway to Texas Wine Country, start your wine touring here and make your way west to Fredericksburg on the 290 Wine Trail, a stretch of Texas Highway 290 that is the second most visited wine touring area in the world.
Relax in this small-town Texas setting where you’ll find antique boutiques, art galleries and restaurants.
Sharpen your history knowledge with a visit to the childhood home of President Lyndon B. Johnson and view the historic buildings on his family’s log cabin settlement.
Entertain the kids at the Science Mill, an interactive children’s museum featuring STEM exhibits housed in a historic mill in downtown Johnson City!
And if hiking day trips from Austin are what you’re looking for, you’ll find that here in Johnson City, too!
Hike through beautiful Perdernales Falls State Park and enjoy Texas waterfalls and plenty of hiking trails with scenic views!
While you can’t swim in the falls, there is a dedicated swimming area inside the park!
5. New Braunfels
Less than an hour from Austin you’ll find New Braunfels, a year-round family friendly getaway popular with the locals.
There’s literally something for everyone here.
Splash the day away at Schlitterbahn, one of the most popular water parks in Texas!
Wave pools, lazy rivers, uphill water coasters and speed slides keep the Texas heat at bay!
Venture underground and marvel at the spectacular beauty of the largest cavern in Texas at Natural Bridge Caverns.
Then ascend upward, ziplining through the sky, challenging yourself at the 4-story ropes course, or putting your strength to the test on the climbing walls at Twisted Trails.
Encounter over 40 exotic species at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch!
Waterski, wakeboard and play paintball at Texas Ski Ranch!
Tube down Comal River or fly fish in the Guadalupe River.
After a full day of fun in the sun, grab a beer at one of New Braunfels’ three breweries and watch the sun set over the Comal River.
If you’re more of a land lover, head just past downtown to the historic Gruene district (pronounced Green!) for dining, shopping, live music, and the oldest dance hall in Texas!
Experience what the Germans call Gemütlich, that warm feeling you get when you’re among friends, when you visit New Braunfels.
Visit the place where “Everybody is somebody!”
Settled by German farmers and even named after one, Luckenbach is a tiny, scenic community hidden within Texas Hill Country.
How tiny you may ask?
A sign in the unincorporated town lists the population at just 3!
Tiny as it may be its reputation is the stuff of legend.
Known as a country music mecca, Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, and Waylon Jennings have all performed here.
Put on the map in 1977 with Waylon Jennings’ hit song “Luckenbach, Texas,” the town has since been revered as an escape from everyday life.
Luckenbach’s dance hall hosts annual events and live music, bringing in hopeful singer-songwriters and tourists alike.
Check out the town’s general store which serves as the gift shop, post office and bar.
It may just be a dot on the map, but Luckenbach is worth a visit to experience an authentic Texas town that refuses to change with the times!
7. San Marcos
Just a half hour outside Austin lies San Marcos, home to the San Marcos River.
Clear bottom boat rides, tubing, canoeing, kayaking, and fly fishing make San Marcos River a sought-after summer destination.
Explore underground caves at Wonder World Cave and catch spectacular views of Hill Country 190 feet up on the observation tower.
Hiking and biking enthusiasts will love the 850 acres of natural area at Rio Vista Park!
Spend the afternoon perusing the charming bistros and quirky boutiques of downtown San Marcos, then go mural and mermaid hunting!
Discover the giant and mini murals scattered throughout downtown San Marcos and challenge yourself to find all ten 7-foot-tall mermaid sculptures, each representing the culture and beauty of the city.
For a bit of history, visit the LBJ museum or the Commemorative Air Force Exhibit.
And don’t miss Veramendi Plaza, the most scenic, historic, and popular park in San Marcos!
8. Lake Travis
This reservoir on the Colorado River is a popular lake vacation community and summer getaway and one of the best lakes in Texas.
Just 20 miles west of Austin, Lake Travis boasts lake front restaurants, nationally renowned golf courses, lakeside parks, breweries, distilleries, live music, and events year-round!
Watersports is a huge draw to the area, with easily accessible boat rentals and marinas, and ziplines and waterparks for family friendly fun!
Where can you find “the most beautiful town square in Texas?”
Right here in Georgetown, just north of Austin!
Take a casual stroll through historic downtown and view its Victorian architecture, including the Old Williamson County Jail and the courthouse dating back to 1911.
Get your dose of vitamin D on the waters of Lake Georgetown, a 1200-acre lake known as one of the best fishing areas in the region and a great place for boating, water skiing, fishing, camping, and swimming.
If swimming holes are more your style, make a splash at Blue Hole Park!
Open from 5am – 10pm, this scenic lagoon on the South San Gabriel River is a preferred summer wading spot for locals!
End your day trip with a tour of Inner Space Cavern, a vast “living” cave with hundreds of stalactites and ever-changing formations, and one of the best-preserved caves in Texas!
10. Dripping Springs
A visit to downtown Dripping Springs is like a visit back in time to the 19th century.
Historic Mercer Street is home to some of the first businesses in Dripping Springs and many of its storefronts haven’t changed in decades!
View the actual dripping springs – fern covered limestone ledges that drip water into a small stream – where the city gets its name, and which served as a source of water for the first Anglo settlers.
Discover what life was like for central Texas pioneers at Dr. Pound Historical Farmstead, a 5-acre farmstead with meticulously restored buildings like the barn, storehouse, and windmill.
Enjoy the peaceful gardens on the grounds, including the 500-year-old Heritage Oak!
Hike to the Hamilton Pool Preserve, a natural swimming hole and waterfall (reservations are required!)
Campout at Dripping Springs Ranch Park, a 110-acre wooded park with trails for hiking and horseback riding.
Located where two bird migration patterns meet, Dripping Springs is a fantastic city for bird watching in any of its many natural area parks.
And as a craft beverage destination with the trifecta of wineries, breweries and distilleries, Dripping Springs is a favorite Austin day trip idea for taste touring!
Experience up to 4 tasting establishments in a single day with the Dripping with Taste Trail Passport (don’t forget your designated driver!)
11. Bend, TX
Bend is a great city for enjoying the great outdoors!
Located on the Colorado River, fishing is one of its main attractions.
Take a self-guided tour to Gorman Falls, a 70-foot waterfall (one of the best waterfalls in Texas,) swim in Spicewood Springs, or tour one of the more than 400 caves in Colorado Bend State Park.
(Be prepared for a 3-mile round trip hike over rough, rocky terrain to see the beauty of Gorman Falls!)
Swim, bird watch, play volleyball and canoe at Sulphur Springs Camp!
12. Round Rock
Boasting the largest indoor water park in the country – Kalahari Resorts and conventions – Round Rock, Texas is one of the most fun day trips from Austin there is!
This 1.5 million square foot resort includes 30 waterslides, 20 pools, restaurants, an indoor adventure park, and artisan style retail outlets.
You could spend an entire day in Round Rock and never have to leave the resort!
But you’d be missing out if you didn’t experience the rest of what the city has to offer – like legendary 2lb donuts from Round Rock Donuts, a Round Rock Express baseball game at the 11,000+ capacity Diamond Dell stadium, and the annual downtown festivals!
Before you leave, head over to Chisholm Trail Crossing Park to see the city’s namesake – a round rock jutting from the waters of Brushy Creek.
This rock indicated a low point in the water where settlers would cross with their wagons.
If you look closely, you can even see the wagon ruts in the rocks!
12. College Station
Home of SEC sports in Texas, College Station is a well-known Austin, Texas day trip for sports, entertainment, and nightlife!
Feel the 12th man spirit at a football game at Kyle Field on the campus of Texas A&M University.
Experience the Northgate nightlife in the area’s sports bars, pubs, and restaurants – like 12 Northgate, a popular spot with a rooftop bar and dance club!
Families can find plenty to do at the Grand Station Entertainment center.
Axe throwing, bowling, laser tag, mini golf, arcade, food and drink make this an all-inclusive fun spot for all ages.
And of course, you must document your day trip at the Selfie Museum, “the most instagrammable place in College Station!”
Big on fun but also surprisingly big on history, you’ll find impressive nods to the past in College Station.
View a replica of the Oval Office and a slab of the Berlin Wall at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.
See the well-preserved original tanks and uniforms of WWI and WWII soldiers at the Museum of the American GI.
Honor fallen heroes at Brazos Valley Veterans Memorial Park, a 12-acre site dedicated to veterans and featuring life sized statues, memorial sites, and a wall of honor.
13. Krause Springs
This 115-acre private property is a swimming and camping site in Spicewood, Texas just an hour away from Austin, making it a perfect day trip option!
32 natural springs create swimming holes that the locals love!
When you’re not swimming and tubing, enjoy a stroll through the butterfly gardens or a relaxing meander around the property listening to the wind chimes and the trickle of the water fountains.
Known for its natural swimming holes, Wimberley is home to two prominent swimming holes – Jacob’s Well, one of the longest underwater caves in Texas, and Blue Hole, one of the best rated swimming holes in the state.
(Make sure to make reservations if you plan to visit Jacob’s Well!)
If you’d rather stay on land, hike the 221 uneven limestone steps to the summit of Old Baldy for gorgeous 360-degree views of the Hill Country!
For the thrill seeker, choose from 10 ziplines at Wimberley Zipline course!
Tap into your inner thespian at the Emily Ann Theatre and Gardens, the epicenter for art and theater in Wimberley.
Featuring indoor and outdoor stages, numerous events are hosted here like Shakespeare Under the Stars and a butterfly festival!
15. Canyon Lake
Dip into 80 miles of gentle water on the Guadalupe River at the “water recreation capital of Texas” in Canyon Lake!
Find everything you need for tubing, rafting, jet skiing, paddle boarding and boating all along the lake!
Three parks around Canyon Lake also have official designated swim beaches.
When you need a break from the water, enjoy a scenic drive along the cypress tree lined streets.
Listen to live music at the Whitewater Amphitheatre, or play a round at the lakeside Canyon Lake Golf Club
Spend the evening relaxing with a glass of wine at Dry Comal Creek Vineyard.
Check the calendar to see if your visit coincides with their live music and food truck events!
16. Longhorn Cavern State Park
Just 90 minutes outside of Austin you’ll find Longhorn Cavern, the national cave of Texas!
Spend the day hiking a trail or taking a guided walk of this scenic Hill Country state park.
Adventure a little deeper on the wild side on a wild cave tour!
Little ones will enjoy the gemstone mining.
Admission to the park is free, but access to the cavern is only through guided tours.
17. Marble Falls
Part of the Highland Lakes on the Colorado River, Marble Falls has the largest chain of lakes in Texas, making it a great location for boating, swimming, and fishing.
A casual afternoon can be spent in the quaint restaurants, shops, and art galleries of downtown.
Pause for a reflective moment at the Before I Die wall in downtown and consider adding your own bucket list item to the list!
Kids will enjoy Harmony Park with its interactive music sculptures!
Enjoy a serene day bird watching and walking among nature at the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge or hike it up a notch (or ten!) at Hidden Falls Adventure Park, a family outdoor adventure park with over 200 miles of trails for ATVs, Jeeps, motorcycles, and 4-wheelers!
Situated along the Frio River, Concan is a quiet town and popular summer vacation spot for low key summer enjoyment like swimming, fishing, and tubing.
Nearby Garner State Park is a great place for overnight camping with screened shelters, cabins, and campsites to choose from.
Hike any of the 16 miles of scenic trails and boogie the night away at the summer juke box dance in the park’s concession building, an event that dates all the way back to the 1940s!
Check out Neal’s Lodges, a family-owned vacation getaway on the river with cabins, lodges, condos, RV hookups and tent sites for rent.
Besides river activities, families can also enjoy horseback riding, bat tours and hayrides!
Live music, dancing and cold beer at Joe Jimmy’s family friendly atmosphere is a favorite!
Don’t skip the great food at Neal’s Dining Room!
If you happen to be visiting in mid-March, you might catch the Rio Frio Fest, a huge annual food and music festival on the river!
Despite its proximity to nearby San Antonio, Boerne, Texas has kept much of its Old-World charm and German heritage.
A family friendly community with lots to do, people of all types will enjoy a day trip to Boerne!
Culture lovers can begin with a historical walking tour of the city by grabbing a free map at the Visitor’s Center.
History buffs will find tons to keep them busy, like the Old Jail Museum, the Kuhlmann-King Historical Complex and the Historic Herff Homestead.
Explorers will love the area’s two show caves – Cascade Caverns and Cave Without a Name.
Boerne also hosts many annual events, like the family fishing tournament each June, monthly night hikes, and the weekly Farmer’s Market at the Herff.
Plenty of dining options and live music spots make Boerne a great day trip option for kicking back and hanging out!
Don’t forget to get your selfie with the Wild Bill statue on South Main Street!
Possibly the most scenic Texas day trip, Kerville is a vibrant community on the banks of the Guadalupe River.
Considered to be the capital of Texas Hill Country, Kerville is nestled within majestic scenery and filled with friendly people!
Annual events are a big draw to the city, like the Official Texas State Arts and Crafts Fair or the Kerrville Folks Festival.
But the biggest draw is the city’s stunning natural beauty and its beautiful parks, like Kerrville-Schreiner Park, Louise Hays Park and Flat Rock Park that surround the Guadalupe River running right through the city!
Outdoor enthusiasts will love the easy access to the river through the Riverside Nature Center!
Watch for wildlife that abounds in the river valley, and meander through the abundant wildflower fields.
Home to three distinguished golf courses and several outdoor amphitheaters, visitors of all types can find something to enjoy in Kerrville!
21. Lake Hills
At just about two hours away, Lake Hills is a very doable day trip from Austin.
Filled with recreational activities, Lake Hill is home to Medina Lake, a perfect spot for fishing and watersports.
Jet skis, pontoons and ski boats are available for rent at Paradise Watersports.
They even offer delivery, making it easy for day visitors to enjoy a day out on the lake!
Stocked with bass and catfish, Medina Lake is a fishing utopia!
Animal lovers will enjoy a visit to the nearby We Care Wildlife Sanctuary, a wildlife rescue center where you can feed and interact with rescued elephants, tigers, monkeys, and more!