It’s not surprising to learn that Austin is an amazing city to raise kids, but have you had a chance to explore what’s just outside of “Keep Austin Weird”? The Hill Country is chock full of fun things to do with kids and most of them are close enough for a quick day trip.
In no particular order of favorites, here is a list of awesome day trips!
Krause Springs is a must-see if you’re into natural beauty and swimming holes. They also allow camping if you want to extend your day trip into multiple days.
Pace Bend Park is another Spicewood favorite. It’s surrounded by Lake Travis and there are a lot of shallow beach-entry points for swimming, fishing, kayaking, tubing, etc. There is also a part known for cliff jumping if you’ve got more adventurous kids!
Opie’s BBQ was one of Texas Monthly’s top BBQ spots in recent years. It’s worth a stop for their tater tot casserole if nothing else!
El Gaucho Winery is a fairly recent addition to Spicewood but it is a great spot with a fantastic view. Better than that, it is kid-friendly with teepees to let the imaginations run wild. And they, of course, have wine.
Johnson Park is worth the drive to Marble Falls. It sits right next to Lake Marble Falls and there is usually a gaggle of geese and ducks waiting to be fed. Lots of trees to climb and multiple playscapes. If you’ve got an older kiddo, they may appreciate the free outdoor skate park just adjacent to the park.
Bluebonnet Cafe is a Marble Falls staple. After a trip to Johnson Park, you can head to Bluebonnet Cafe for one of their famous pies. They also have a full menu in case your park trip renders you hungrier than just pie.
Sweet Berry Farm is one of the favorites for kids. In the Spring you can pick strawberries and in the fall you can pick pumpkins. There’s so much more than that as well. It’s quite an experience. Check their website for opening day in the fall.
Hidden Falls Adventure Park is for adventure junkies, hence the name. It’s an outdoor “playground” with trails for jeeps, ATVs, and dirt bikes. If you don’t have your own, you can rent one there.
Jolly Rodgers Paddle Company offers paddle boards and kayaks for rent at Lake Marble Falls. This is a great lake as it’s generally not as busy as Lake Travis or Lake Austin.
Hill Country Science Mill is a super fun museum that is pretty hands-on. Lots of neat science to learn for all ages.
Pedernales Falls State Park is a beautiful place to explore the Pedernales River. It is tranquil and calm in most parts and flows over and around beautiful limestone.
LBJ National Historic Park is a fun place to see where LBJ grew up and also see where LBJ’s grandfather lived during the Chisholm Trail days.
The Sculpture Ranch and Galleries is an indoor-outdoor ranch filled with 140 acres of artwork from over 40 artists.
Pecan Street Brewing is a great place to fill up after one of the above adventures. Not only can you drink a delicious beer to cool off but their food is pretty amazing as well.
Blanco State Park is one of the most popular things to do in this small town. The water is beautiful and refreshing, but be warned, there are some slippery parts.
The Old Blanco County Courthouse is now a museum and a movie set. While it was built in 1886, it only served as the courthouse for four years before it moved to Johnson City.
Blanco Buggy Barn Museum is definitely a neat way to see how technology improved during the era of horse-drawn transportation. The museum houses over 100 buggies!
Hill Country Lavender is a super fun place to pick your own lavender! But don’t worry, if you don’t want to pick it yourself, they have a lot of lavender items to purchase on site.
Fort Croghan Museum can teach your kids about frontier history and even has a fully-functioning blacksmith shop, powder house, and an old look-out post.
Highland Lakes Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force is a super fun place for aviation history. Your kids will even love it because they can hop aboard at least some of the restored planes.
Inks Lake State Park is known for the ability to cliff jump in Devil’s Waterhole. While that’s not the only thing to do there, it is certainly fun to do (and watch).
Longhorn Cavern State Park is different from other state parks in that there is no swimming or camping. It is, however, a beautiful cavern with a lot of history. Guided tours only, but well worth it.
Vanishing Texas River Cruise is a boat ride with the chance of seeing the elusive bald eagles (during the winter) but a definite view of the 25 ft Fall Creek waterfalls.
Reimer’s Ranch is a beautiful place to hike, swim, and rock climb. You’ll see some unexpected beauty if you hike the rock climbing trail.
Hamilton Pool is probably the most popular attraction bringing people to the area. It is a beautiful grotto and waterfall with swimming. A definite must-see. Check the website for required reservations.
Westcave Preserve is guided-tour only but an absolutely stunning and beautiful glimpse into the hill country. You’ll see a gorgeous waterfall and a cave. A kid favorite. (Note: this is not a swimming hole.)
Dr. Pound Historical Farmstead is a place to experience the flourishing rural life of a Central Texas pioneer farmstead and see the beautifully renovated barn, smokehouse, windmill, and garden areas.
Treaty Oak Distillery is a great place to let your kids run free under the trees and play on the cool slide while you sit back with a mojito in hand. They often have live music and family-friendly events, so definitely check their site.
Wildflower Ridge Alpaca Ranch is a place where you can learn about alpacas on an alpaca ranch. Gift shop on site. Please call in advance before visiting, however.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is a must-see. (In the cooler months, it’s even better.) It’s known for the massive pink granite dome, but you can also hike, backpack, camp, rock climb, picnic, bird, study nature, geocache and stargaze. (You cannot swim here or ride bikes on the trails.)
Marktplatz Playground is a playground that has numerous climbing, balancing and swinging apparatus.
Wildseed Farms is one of the largest working wildflower farms. See beautiful flowers from spring until the first of winter. Best thing is that you can even cut your own bouquet!
New Braunfels Historic Railroad Museum is a fun trip for your budding train conductors.
Landa Park and Pool is a New Braunfels treasure with 51 acres of riverside fun. Playgrounds, trails, and a beautiful natural (and cold!) pool.
Natural Bridge Caverns is a place to ogle over stalagmites and stalactites. Great for budding geologists and those just wanting to see a cool cavern.
Prince Solms Park is the place to go when talking about tubing the Comal River. While it’s the shortest river to tube, it does have one part called the tube chute that is known to knock over adults and kids alike.
Texas Ski Ranch is a super fun place to learn how to wakeboard without needing a boat! Just grab onto the rope and a cable will pull you in a circle around the lake.
McKenna Children’s Museum is one of our favorite museums as it’s indoor/outdoor and very open. There are so many fun things to do that are hands-on for the younger kids.
Animal World and Snake Farm Zoo is a roadside attraction for animal lovers (and reptile lovers alike). There are not only snakes but primates and a petting zoo.
Blue Hole is a very popular spot and is one of Texas’ best swimming holes. Once there, you’ll know why it’s called “Blue Hole” as the water is beautiful.
Jacob’s Well is a perennial karstic spring in the Texas Hill Country flowing from the bed of Cypress Creek.
Corral Theater is an old horse corral where they show current movies in the summer time. A super fun way to end the summer days.
Prayer Mountain or “Old Baldy” is actually a mound with 218 stairs leading up the mountain to the “bald” rocky top where you can see the hilly Texas landscape for miles and miles.
Wimberley Glassworks not only sells beautiful glass, but the best part is the glass blowing demonstrations.
Cypress Creek Nature Preserve is yet another place to cool off and play.
Granite Beach Waterpark is on Lake LBJ and is full of inflatable water toys. Super fun way to spend a hot summer day.
The Kingsland Slab is a place to frolic in the Llano River as it flows over outcroppings of granite.
The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment is a place to learn about the aquatic life in the San Marcos River and even take a glass bottom boat on the river!
Sewell Park is one of the most inviting and relaxing spaces on the Texas State Campus. The spring fed crystal clear San Marcos River runs through the park and remains 72 degrees year round. Open to the public.
Rio Vista Park is a great place to put your kayak in and paddle upstream or just swim in the deep watering hole.