Maybe it didn’t compute that the number of days your kids’ holiday break meant the number of days everyone would be cooped up in your house. Maybe your holiday travel plans were sidelined by the crud that’s going around (do I know anyone whose family stayed healthy between Thanksgiving and Christmas?!). Either way, you need a break from your break, and the Texas Hill Country is happy to deliver. Here are some of the best Austin-adjacent towns for day trips for holiday break.


Fredericksburg is a popular day trip option year-round, but Weihnachtszeit (Christmas in F-burg) is especially festive, being named the best small town for Christmas in the South. Main Street is festively decked out for wine tasting, shopping, and dining (the Auslander is my favorite, but it’s first-come-first-served for parties less than 15) with ice skating and appearances by Saint Nick himself (check the website for the day’s stops for Santa’s sleigh).

Fredericksburg’s Nights of Lights celebration takes place each night at 6 PM in the Marktplatz, featuring a 10-minute audio presentation of the town’s German heritage, holiday carols and concluding with a countdown to the lighting. Night of Lights, with its 30-foot Christmas tree and traditional German Christmas pyramid, runs through January 7.


People from all over the world take RR12 toward Wimberley to see natural wonder Jacob’s Well, but the town itself is a low-key gem. Wandering the shops and visiting the family-run restaurants in and around the square in downtown Wimberley is a great way to spend a day. Wimberley is home to many art  galleries, antique shops, and rustic gift boutiques.

The free holiday trail of lights at the Emily Ann theater and gardens is open through the end of the year, where kids can tire themselves out climbing the hill to the Veteran’s Memorial Plaza overlooking the Hill Country. Cap off the day at honkytonk Devil’s Backbone Tavern or designate a driver to visit the award-winning wineries in closeby Hye (William & Chris is well worth the trip).

Marble Falls

This Hill Country town settled on Lake Marble Falls has a great blend of nature and Main Street activities to fit your mood. The walkable downtown district is lined with independent retailers, wineries, art galleries, and a candy shop owned by a former circus clown. For those looking for an outdoor adventure, Marble Falls and the immediate area are home to a number of lakes for water activities, state parks, trail hikes, and other natural wonders.

The walkway of lights and the winter ice skating rink in Lakeside Park are open through the last day of the year, so you can squeeze in some last-minute holiday fun.

Dripping Springs/Driftwood

Mercer Street in downtown Dripping Springs, beginning at Veteran’s Park, is a wonderful place to wander boutique shops and stop in for small bites and libations. RR12 in Dripping Springs is also home to the Hill Country’s newest independent bookstore (and my personal new favorite): Sunday Bookshop.

The area between Dripping Springs and Driftwood is rife with family-friendly breweries and vineyards where the whole family can spend the day. Some of my favorite day trip combinations in the area are Trattoria Lisina + Duchmann Family Winery in Driftwood, Almost Grown Play Café + Jester King in Dripping Springs, Hamilton Pool + Treaty Oak in Dripping Springs, and the OG Salt Lick + Fall Creek Winery in Driftwood.

Johnson City

If you need to get the kids outside, taking a trip to Pedernales Falls or Blanco State Park followed by dinner at Pecan St. Brewing Co. or Ronnie’s BBQ is a perfect way to spend a day in the Texas Hill Country around Johnson City.

Johnson City is also home to Science Mill, a fun children’s museum where the kids can spend a couple hours tinkering, unique antique stores, and the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park. Named “the twinkliest town in Texas” for a reason, Johnson City’s Christmas Lights Spectacular in historic downtown runs through January 7, and is a sight to behold.


There’s a reason downtown Georgetown has been named “the most beautiful town square in Texas.” The Georgetown square is a great place to wander (with a cocktail in hand, if you like) and visit one-of-a-kind boutique shops and independent restaurants.

I look for any excuse to visit Lark & Owl Booksellers, my favorite bookstore in the greater Austin area. One such excuse is being out of Silverleaf salsa, sold exclusively at Mikey V’s on the square (and worth the trip), or a hankering for Monument Café or Kilwin’s ice cream. The downtown holiday lights will stay on until January 1.


Less than an hour east of Austin (and just a few minutes past Buc-ee’s) Bastrop has a charming downtown with a walkable Main Street lined with boutique shops and restaurants. A visit to The Painted Porch Bookshop, opening to adjacent Astral Records (if there were a wine shop next door, I’d probably never leave) and a delicious meal at Maxine’s across the street is one of my favorite ways to pass a random day off.

On the way to Bastrop on 71, you can take the kids to the Dinosaur Park or visit the Lost Pines zip lines. If you’re looking to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather with a New Year’s Day hike (our family’s tradition), Bastrop State Park is a quick jaunt away yet feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere.

For more Texas day trip ideas, I recommend exploring The Daytripper’s website and YouTube channel! Y’all stay sane for the rest of this holiday break, and happy 2024!

Kelly I. Hitchcock
Kelly I. Hitchcock is a literary fiction author, humorist, and poet in the Austin, Texas area. She is the author of three books and has published poems, short stories, and creative non-fiction works all over the country. Raised by a single father in the small town of Buffalo, Missouri, Kelly has fond memories of her poor rural upbringing in the Ozarks that strongly influence her writing and way of life. She’s a graduate of Missouri State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing. She has six-year-old identical twins and a full-time job, so writing and picking up LEGO are the only other things she can devote herself to. You can find all Kelly's work at


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