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19 Epic Day Trips from Austin

Not only is Austin the capital of Texas, the Live Music Capital of the World, and one of the best cities to visit in the state, it also happens to be located in the Texas Hill Country–which means there is no shortage of fantastic day trips from Austin!

Want to sip wine overlooking a vineyard? Explore a gigantic cave? Go antiquing? Float the river? Hit up another city? Hike in a state park? Eat some of the best barbecue in the world?

Anyone of those can be reached within a couple of hours of Austin–so no matter what your interests are, there are some Austin day trips for you.

We’ve noted the driving time from Austin under each of these day trip ideas, but note that they are calculated based on the distance from central Austin with minimal traffic. Depending on what time of day you travel and what corner of the city you’re leaving from, the distance can vary quite dramatically!

Lost Maples State Park in central texas during fall foliage season, one of the best central texas day trips from austin

Day Trips Less Under An Hour From Austin

Dripping Springs

Home to the famous Hamilton Pool Preserve, plenty of wineries, and some of the most popular wedding venues in the Hill Country, Dripping Springs is one of the easiest and most popular day trips from Austin.

Start your morning with a swim in the famous Hamilton Pool (don’t forget you’ll need to make reservations in advance!), and spend the afternoon sipping wine.

Have a little extra time? Stop in nearby Driftwood for dinner at The Salt Lick before heading back to Austin.

Driving Distance from Austin

35 minutes.

Hamilton Pool Preserve in Dripping Springs TX as shot from inside the cave. Hamilton Pool Preserve is one of the most famous Texas waterfalls.

Wimberley

Colorful and laid back, beautiful Wimberley is one of the best day trips from Austin for those looking for a combination of small-town charm (be sure to hunt down the many decorated boot statues to snap photos of and to stop in the town’s many great boutiques) and outdoor adventure.

In addition to a cute downtown, Wimberley is also home to Jacob’s Well and the Blue Hole, two of the most popular swimming holes in the Hill Country!

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Driving Distance from Austin

45 minutes.

Bright yellow building in downtown Wimberley with a small table with red chairs in front of it. Wimberley is one of the most romantic getaways in Texas

Lockhart

Home to several restaurants vying for the title of the best barbecue in Texas (and frankly, the world), Lockhart is the barbecue capital of the state and packed with fantastic flavors in every direction.

The most popular barbecue joints in town are Smitty’s, Kreuz Market, Black’s, and Chisholm Trail BBQ, but as for which one is the absolute best–that’s a matter of opinion, and the best way to find out is to try them all for yourself.

Driving Distance from Austin

35 minutes.

Plate of Texas barbecue served on a picnic table outside with a beer in the background. Barbecue is an important Texas food group!

Krause Springs

With turquoise water, beautiful gardens, greenery everywhere you look, and plenty of shade, visiting Krause Springs is not only a fun day trip from Austin, but visiting may also feel like you’ve left Texas entirely!

The property is privately owned and home to a whopping 32 natural springs that are used to create both manmade and natural swimming pools.

Come to kick back, relax, and enjoy a swim in one of the most beautiful places in the Texas Hill Country–but be warned, the water is an icy 68 degrees year-round, so you’ll be a bit chilly when you first jump in!

Driving Distance from Austin

45 minutes.

Krause Springs in Spicewood with a small set of falls visible in the back left among foliage

Georgetown

Located just north of Austin, Georgetown is home to one of the loveliest historic downtowns in Texas, with a main square that has been declared the most beautiful in the state.

Once you finish exploring downtown, experience a bit of Georgetown’s nature: depending on your mood, you can either head to the Blue Hole for a swim (not the same one as in Wimberley!) or get underground at the impressive Inner Space Cavern.

Driving Distance from Austin

35 minutes.

Interior of Inner Space Cavern near Georgetown Texas, one of the best day trips from Austin TX

New Braunfels

For a fairly small town, New Braunfels is positively packed with things to do, from the beautiful Gruene Historic District (home to the iconic Gruene Hall) to floating the river, to visiting Schlitterbahn, to touring the incredible Natural Bridge Caverns.

There’s no way to cover all the best things to do in New Braunfels on an Austin day trip, but you can definitely pick your favorites and have an incredibly memorable day out.

Driving Distance from Austin

45 minutes.

Exterior of Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, one of the best Austin day trips

Round Rock

While the Round Rock of today is more or less a suburb of Austin, the city has its own history dating back to 1848, along with a slew of fun things to do.

Visit Round Rock’s very own bat colony, explore its cute downtown center, check out a park or two, find the round rock that the city is named for, and–most importantly, if you ask us–try some of the absolutely legendary Round Rock Donuts.

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Driving Distance from Austin

25 minutes.

Street in downtown Round Rock Texas with limestone buildings with storefronts visible to the right of the photo

San Marcos

If you take a day trip to San Marcos, it’s generally with the intention of doing one of two things: floating the river, or shopping at the largest outlet mall in the USA… but there’s no reason why you can’t squeeze in both!

There are also plenty of other things to see in and around San Marcos, though: consider going snorkeling, hunting down some of the city’s colorful murals, or going for a glass-bottom boat tour as part of your day trip from Austin.

Driving Distance from Austin

35 minutes.

Woman paddleboarding in San Marcos Texas river, a great day trip from Austin

Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge

Home to excellent hiking trails, plenty of wildlife, and arguably some of the best sunset views in Texas from its observation decks, Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge is a fantastic destination for those hoping to leave the city behind for a day!

Driving Distance from Austin

45 minutes.

19th century cabin at Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuse, with a paved path to the left side of the photo

Getaways Less Than 2 Hours From Austin

Johnson City + Pedernales Falls

For a combination of US History, classic Texas countryside, and great swimming on your Austin day trip, head to Johnson City–home of the LBJ Ranch–to tour the former president’s childhood home, working ranch, and the Texas White House.

Once you wrap up, head next door to Pedernales Falls State Park for a bit of hiking and plenty of swimming in the subtle-but-beautiful falls.

Driving Distance from Austin

1 hour.

Pedernales Falls State Park with a swimmng hole taking up the majority of the photo

Fredericksburg

Known across Texas for its German heritage and prime location along the official Texas Wine Trail, Fredericksburg is a Hill Country favorite for a reason.

Whether you want to hit up half a dozen wineries (or more, who’s counting), go antiquing, hike to the top of Enchanted Rock, or pick your own peaches during the summer, Fredericksburg always has something to offer people looking for a day trip from Austin.

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Driving Distance from Austin

1 hour, 30 minutes.

2 glasses of wine with a bottle between them and a plate of crackers and fruit in the foreground near Fredericksburg Texas

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

Located just 17 miles north of Fredericksburg, you can combine both Enchanted Rock and Fredericksburg into one Austin day trip, but Enchanted Rock also works as a standalone visit!

This mountain of pink granite reaches more than 1800 feet into the air, and climbing to the top is one of the most unique hikes in Texas. Be warned, though: there is absolutely no shade on Enchanted Rock, so plenty of water and sun protection are absolute musts!

Driving Distance from Austin

1 hour, 45 minutes.

Kate Storm hiking on Enchanted Rock State Natural Area on a day trip from Austin

San Antonio

As one of the most popular tourist destinations in Texas, San Antonio is packed with fun places to visit, including the famous Alamo, the rest of the UNESCO-recognized San Antonio Missions, the Riverwalk, the bustling Historic Market Square, and charming La Villita.

Taking a day trip from Austin to San Antonio means getting a (very) early start to avoid the generally terrible traffic that clogs the highway between the two cities–but if you time it right, it’s absolutely worth it.

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Driving Distance from Austin

1 hour, 15 minutes.

San Antonio Texas River Walk as seen from above at night with colorful umbrellas on the left side of the photo

Marble Falls

Located on the banks of Lake Marble Falls (which aren’t set on marble at all, but that classic Texas staple of limestone), Marble Falls is a charming Hill Country town perfect for travelers looking to enjoy the outdoors and those hoping to hit up the small-but-lovely downtown.

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Be sure not to leave town without trying a slice of pie from the Bluebonnet Cafe, which serves up some of the best pie in Texas!

Driving Distance from Austin

1 hour.

Marble Falls Texas with one building in a field with bluebonnets on it

Shiner

Most Texans are incredibly familiar with Shiner, even if they’ve never considered visiting this small Texas town with a population of merely 2,000 people: this is the home of Shiner Beer, a staple of all Texas grocery stores!

This claim to fame means that, by far, the most popular thing to do in Shiner is touring the home of Shiner Beer, Spoetzl Brewery–but it’s worth staying long enough to check out the cute downtown after you wrap up your time at the brewery!

Driving Distance from Austin

1 hour, 30 minutes.

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Colorado Bend State Park

For a park so lush that you’ll almost forget you’re in Texas, head to Colorado Bend State Park, home to great hiking, beautiful waterfalls (including incredible 70-foot Gorman Falls), and great swimming holes.

Want a little more adventure? Consider signing up for a wild cave tour!

Driving Distance from Austin

1 hour, 50 minutes.

Gorman Falls in Colorado Bend State Park, one of the best waterfalls in Texas

Waco

Long known as the home of Baylor University, Waco has become one of the most popular day trips from Austin in recent years for a very different reason: the opening of Magnolia Market, owned by Chip & Joanna Gaines of HGTV fame.

Even beyond the immensely popular Silos, though, Waco has plenty to see: consider also stopping by the Dr. Pepper Museum, enjoying Baylor’s beautiful campus, or checking out the Wooly Mammoth National Monument during your visit.

Driving Distance from Austin

1 hour, 35 minutes.

Jacob's Well in Waco TX with a wooden path leading into a wooded area.

Longhorn Cavern State Park

As one of the most unique caves in Texas, touring Longhorn Cavern will take you through multiple rooms while explaining the history and geology of the cavern.

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The state park itself goes beyond the cavern, though: consider hiking on one of the trails or catching a glimpse of nearby Falkenstein Castle!

Driving Distance from Austin

1 hour, 15 minutes.

Interior of a cave in Longhorn Cavern State Park, one of the best day trips from Austin Texas

Austin Day Trips More Than 2 Hours Away

Lost Maples State Natural Area

By far, Lost Maples State Natural Area is the furthest of these day trips from Austin, but this beautiful park is definitely worth the drive… especially in the fall, when Lost Maples becomes one of the best places to spot fall foliage in Texas.

The foliage is typically best from late October through mid-November and lasts 3-4 weeks, but the season does vary by year, so if you have your heart set on catching the foliage at its best, be sure to check its status before heading out!

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Driving Distance from Austin

2 hours, 45 minutes.

4 photos of day trips in central texas: wimberley, san antonio, dripping springs, barbecue Black and red text on a white background reads "17 best day trips from austin texas"

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