Planning a Texas Hill Country road trip?
You’re in for a magical experience!
The Hill Country is one of my favorite places on the planet and incorporates everything from whimsical small towns to magical swimming holes, from magnificent rivers to a national historic site, from fantastic wildflowers to some of the absolute best food on the planet.
I’ve spent countless days on road trips in the Texas Hill Country when living in both San Antonio and Austin.
Here are the best Hill Country road trip itinerary ideas to help you start exploring this magical corner of Texas!
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How We Structured These Texas Hill Country Road Trips
There are truly limitless numbers of ways to design a Texas Hill Country road trip, and once you account for all of the lakes, small towns, swimming holes, barbecue joints, waterfalls, and beyond, it can easily take a lifetime to discover all of the secret corners and hidden gems that the region has to offer.
That being said, we’ve designed these road trips in the Hill Country to show off the most remarkable corners of the region.
These road trips are targeted to first-time visitors to the region, but even locals (myself included) are bound to find plenty to love here.
We’ve structured each road trip to last for 5 days, though of course, you can easily add or subtract days depending on how long you have available to road trip the Hill Country.
Each route begins in either Austin or San Antonio, and at the beginning of each itinerary, we’ve noted which.
However, since the drive from Austin to San Antonio is both short and (if you take the scenic route) beautiful, you can easily adjust each road trip to your preferred starting point.
Each of these Texas Hill Country road trips is fairly geographically compact, and it’s rare for a point-to-point drive to last longer than 2 hours.
Additional Texas Hill Country Travel Resources
We’ve intentionally kept this guide to road trips in the Texas Hill Country fairly high-level, and avoid getting bogged down into too many details about how to spend time in a particular place.
When you are ready to plan your stays in certain destinations in detail, though, we have you covered!
You can also use the search bar in the top-right hand corner of the screen (or on mobile, as part of the main menu) in order to search for any destination that we’ve covered here on Lone Star Travel Guide!
The Best Road Trips in the Texas Hill Country
The Classic Texas Hill Country Road Trip
Starting Point: Austin
Day 1: Dripping Springs + Waterfalls
Start your Hill Country road trip in Dripping Springs, the self-declared “Gateway to the Hill Country” and home to the famous Hamilton Pool!
On your way, stop in Driftwood for Salt Lick BBQ, then set off to go chase waterfalls.
In addition to Hamilton Pool, Westcave Preserve is also nearby and is home to one of the most–if not the most–stunning waterfall in Texas.
Day 2: Pedernales Falls State Park + LBJ National Historic Area
A mix of history and beautiful nature awaits on the second day of this Texas Hill Country itinerary!
Start your morning enjoying beautiful river views and subtle waterfalls in popular Pedernales Falls State Park, and then head to the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park to visit the former president’s birthplace, ranch, the famous Texas White House, and more.
On your way to the main park, be sure to stop in Johnson City to briefly check out the Johnson Family Homestead (the home of LBJ’s grandparents and part of the national historical park).
You’ll also find a wine castle in Johnson City if you’d like to break up your day.
Day 3: Fredericksburg + Wine Road 290
The ultimate classic Texas Hill Country itinerary destination is the beautiful town of Fredericksburg.
Known for its German heritage (complete with German food!), many museums, access to dozens of the best wineries on Wine Road 290, and proximity to popular stops like Enchanted Rock and Luckenbach, it makes a fantastic central attraction to your road trip.
Check into a beautiful bed and breakfast in Fredericksburg, head to Main Street, and start exploring immediately!
Day 4: Boerne + Guadalupe River State Park
Both Cascade Caverns and Cave Without a Name are located in Boerne and are a great way to experience a totally different side of the Hill Country.
Day 5: Wimberley and/or Canyon Lake
To wrap up your Hill Country vacation, head to the delightful town of Wimberley!
While you’re there, browse the many galleries and shops, enjoy views from Mount Baldy, and (during the summer) go for a swim in one of the town’s legendary swimming holes.
Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the many painted boot statues around town, either!
During your drive from Boerne to Wimberley, consider also stopping to spend some time at gorgeous Canyon Lake.
Waterfalls + Swimming Holes Road Trip
Starting Point: Austin
Day 1: Dripping Springs + Hamilton Pool
This TX Hill Country road trip is all about waterfalls and swimming holes–two things the region does exceptionally well.
Like the above itinerary, start your trip in Dripping Springs, the self-declared “Gateway to the Hill Country” and home to the famous Hamilton Pool.
On your way, stop in Driftwood for Salt Lick BBQ, then set off to go chase waterfalls, starting with Hamilton Pool.
Day 2: Westcave Preserve + Pedernales Falls State Park
On the second day of your road trip, get started with a visit to Westcave Preserve, home to one of the most magnificent hidden gems in Texas!
You’ll need to plan ahead and make a reservation to visit this waterfall, but it’s worth it.
From there, spend the afternoon at Pedernales Falls State Park.
In addition to the main falls, you can also take a short hike to visit the beautiful Twin Falls (though fair warning, you can’t get too close to this one).
Day 3-4: Wimberley
Wimberley is one of the most popular small towns in the Hill Country for good reason.
Be sure to take the time (you won’t need much of it) to climb Mount Baldy, too!
Day 5: Canyon Lake and/or McKinney Falls
Whether you want to dive into one of the most beautiful lakes in Texas or go swimming amongst the delightful McKinney Falls, the final day of your Texas Hill Country road trip is bound to charm!
Looking for something a little different and visiting during lavender season?
Blanco, AKA the lavender capital of Texas, would also make a great stop and boasts a swimming hole of its own!
State Parks + Horseback Riding Road Trip
Starting Point: San Antonio
Day 1-2: Bandera Dude Ranch
What could be more iconic on a Texas Hill Country itinerary than spending a couple of nights at a dude ranch?
The self-declared Cowboy Capital of the World is home to several world-class dude ranches where you can stretch your riding skills, learn about the care and keeping of the ranch, and eat excellent home-cooked meals while staying in cozy cabins.
Day 2-3: Garner State Park
Float the river one day and hike the next at this beautiful park!
Day 4-5: Lost Maples State Natural Area
Known for having some of the most stunning fall foliage in Texas, Lost Maples State Natural Area is a magnificent addition to any Texas Hill Country road trip!
Don’t miss quirky Monkey Rock or the sweeping views from the East Trail during your visit!
Highland Lakes Hill Country Road Trip
Starting Point: Austin
Day 1: Spicewood + Lake Travis
Rather than heading southwest of Austin, this road trip turns north!
Start your day by heading to Spicewood, where you’ll find Krause Springs (one of the best swimming holes in Texas), delicious Opie’s Barbecue (order the sausage + cobbler), and beautiful Lake Travis views.
If it happens to be bluebonnet season, don’t miss Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area, and if you want great views, don’t miss Pace Bend Park (bring cash for the entry fee).
Alternatively, you could start your morning with a boat rental on Lake Travis and head to Spicewood once you wrap up!
Day 2: Marble Falls + Longhorn Cavern State Park
The small town of Marble Falls is known for its excellent bluebonnet blooms, the incredible pie at the famous Blue Bonnet Cafe, and its proximity to Lake LBJ and Longhorn Cavern State Park.
As one of the most unique-looking caves in Texas, touring Longhorn Cavern is a great way to mix up this lake-heavy Texas Hill Country itinerary.
Day 3: Inks Lake State Park
Popular Inks Lake State Park is perfect for swimming, hiking, or enjoying a boat day–all of which are excellent options for this day on your itinerary for the Texas Hill Country.
Consider taking a short hike to visit (and swim at) the beautiful Devils Waterhole while you’re there!
Day 4: Llano + Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
Start your morning with a visit to downtown Llano, where you’ll find everything from one of the most beautiful courthouses in Texas to gorgeous views of the Llano River to lots of interesting street art on Shakedown Street!
After having an excellent barbecue lunch at Cooper’s Old Time Pit BBQ or nearby Inman’s Kitchen, head over to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area to climb the most famous piece of granite in Texas.
Day 5: Burnet + Lake Buchanan
Above all, the small town of Burnet, Texas is known for its Bluebonnet Festival each spring–but it’s a delight to explore year-round!
Be sure to visit Fort Crogan for some hands-on 19th century Texas history, and then potentially visit either the Highland Lake Squadron Commemorative Air Force to see historic aircraft or the Hill Country Motorheads Motorcycle Museum.
In the afternoon, hop on a boat tour to visit the Falls Creek Waterfall in Lake Buchanan, which just may be one of the best hidden gems in the Hill Country!
Texas Hill Country Road Trip Tips
Don’t change hotels every night.
We’ve intentionally designed these road trips in the Texas Hill Country to be geographically compact, so there’s no reason to move hotels every night!
Depending on your itinerary, we recommend staying in 1-3 hotels (or bed and breakfasts, or cabins, or treehouses) throughout your 5 day trip.
Plan your activities around the season.
From bluebonnet season to peach season to swimming hole season to fall foliage season, there’s always something special happening in the Hill Country, and your road trip will be greatly enhanced by planning your visit around when you’re visiting!
In April, for example, we’d absolutely choose to head to the Highland Lakes for their legendary bluebonnet blooms.
Meanwhile, in late October, Lost Maples State Natural Area’s famous foliage is the clear winner.
Be very cautious when driving at night.
Driving in the Hill Country at night means lots of dark country roads, limited street lights, and plenty of wildlife that like to wander into the road.
Pay close attention when driving at night!
You may need reservations.
Other attractions like Enchanted Rock and some wineries may require reservations as well, so be sure to book in advance when planning your road trip in the Hill Country!
Don’t spend your whole Texas Hill Country road trip on the road!
While the Hill Country is a fairly compact region, you can still end up overstretching your itinerary if you try to see the whole region from end to end in less than a week!
We highly recommend focusing on one small corner of the region during a fairly short Texas Hill Country road trip to ensure that you spend most of your time exploring rather than on the road.