40+ Things To Do in Texas Hill Country: Hiking, Small Towns & More
January 21, 2022
Texas Hill Country is a region in Central and South Texas full of limestone rock formations, wildflowers, natural springs and more. In addition to many natural places, Hill Country offers many wineries, small towns and great food to visitors.
The region encompasses San Antonio and Austin, but also includes a large area of rural countryside. This 31,000 square miles area can be considered the border between the American Southwest and Southeast.
This list includes over 40 amazing things to do in Hill Country and is divided between small towns, outdoor activities, food & drink, unique activities and places to stay.
Small Towns in Texas Hill Country
Texas Hill Country has no shortage of small towns to visit. If you love small town charm, you will love exploring each town and seeing what makes each one special. These are my favorites based on my travels so far.
Fredericksburg is the most famous Hill Country small town for good reason. It is centrally located between San Antonio and Austin and has a unique German influence. It’s a great place to be based for a wine country tour, as there is a great number of wineries between here and Johnson City.
However, there is also a ton to do without leaving town. You can shop on Main Street, enjoy the restaurants in town and walk between tasting rooms sampling local wine. If you have never been to Texas Hill Country, Fredericksburg is the perfect place to begin.
Dripping Springs is known as ‘The Gateway to Texas Hill Country’ due to its proximity to Austin and is also the wedding capital of Texas due to the density of wedding venues there.
The town is surrounded by beautiful nature; it makes for a wonderful place to stay while exploring Hill Country wineries and distilleries. While in Dripping Springs, you can tour an olive vineyard, enjoy delicious breakfast from Rolling in Thyme and Dough and have dinner at Tillie’s, a high end restaurant inside of a former Vietnamese town hall.
Wimberley is located less than an hour from Austin and known for having some of the best natural swimming holes in Texas at Jacob’s Well and Blue Hole Regional Park. It’s a great place to visit in the summer for swimming, but can also be enjoyed year round. Downtown Wimberley is also a great place to shop and eat with amazing restaurants like The Leaning Pear.
Gruene is a neighborhood in New Braunfels known for having the oldest continually operating dance hall in Texas. The area is also full of cute boutiques and a great place to stay for floating the Comal and Guadalupe Rivers.
Castroville is located outside of San Antonio and known as the “The Little Alsace of Texas.” There is historic Alsatian architecture throughout the town, beautiful nature nearby and delicious food.
Boerne is a small hill country town full of history. It has the second oldest courthouse in Texas and has a western town used in movies. The town also has some beautiful parks and several quaint antique shops. It is a great place to stay if you are interested in hiking and floating the river in Guadalupe River State Park.
Outdoor Activities in Texas Hill Country
Hill Country is an incredible place for year round hiking and swimming in the warmer months. There are state parks, regional parks and unique outdoor activities to discover all across the region.
Float a River
Floating down a Hill Country River is a must-do activity to add to your Texas bucket list. Some of the most popular rivers are the Guadalupe River, Frio River and Comal River. There are companies that offer rentals, drop-offs and pickups and this is a great activity to enjoy with a group of friends!
Jump into Jacob's Well
Jacob’s Well is a unique swimming hole where you can jump off a rock and into a cave that extends down about 140 feet. It is the second-largest fully-submerged cave in Texas and located in Wimberley. Reservations are required to swim, but anyone can take the short hike to see the spring year round.
Hike and Swim at Inks Lake State Park
Inks Lake is a gorgeous state park known for great swimming opportunities and some beautiful trails. You can spend your time cliff jumping into the water, or unwind at their popular campground areas.
Hike at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
Enchanted Rock is an iconic state park just north of Fredericksburg known for a massive pink granite dome. You can hike to the top of the dome for incredible views of the area or hike around the domes and enjoy the interesting rock formations and plant life.
Explore a Hill Country Cave
There are several different caves in Texas Hill Country to explore. Check out Longhorn Caverns, Cave Without a Name, Cascades Caverns, Kickapoo Cavern or Natural Bridge. Each cave offers something different from live concerts and historic tours to zip lining above the ground.
See the Fall Leaves at Lost Maples State Natural Area
Lost Maples is most famous for it’s fall foliage! The park is home to Uvalde bigtooth maple trees that show off beautiful fall colors in early November, but is also a great place to visit year round. Be sure to make a reservation in advance if you plan to visit during foliage season.
Hike at Garner State Park
Garner State Park is known as one of the best Texas state parks for good reason. There are some incredible trails, like the Mt Baldy trail that leads to an amazing view of the Frio River. You can also hike to a cave that shines with crystals, float on the Frio River and enjoy the campgrounds. Be sure to make a reservation in advance to visit as Garner often reaches capacity.
Paddle in Austin
Lady Bird Lake, or Town Lake to the locals, is the perfect place to kayak or paddleboard! Paddling here is a very popular activity and there are several outfitters along the river that you can rent from.
Swim at Barton Springs in Austin
Barton Springs is a popular activity in Austin where you can swim in spring fed water. There is a fee to enter and it can get crowded on hot days. Keep in mind that the water is cold and you do have the option of swimming outside of the Barton Springs boundaries for free.
Swim at Blue Hole Regional Park
Swim in crystal clear blue water at Blue Hole Regional Park, a swimming hole surrounded by cypress trees in Wimberley. It’s a great place to spend several hours relaxing in the summer, just be sure to make a reservation in advance.
See a Bat Colony Fill the Sky
There are a few different places in Texas Hill Country where you can see Mexican free-tailed bats fly into the sky around sunset. The most famous is the South Congress bridge in Austin, where bats are best seen from late-spring to early-fall. In addition, you can see bat colonies in Old Tunnel State Park and Devil’s Sinkhole State Natural Area.
See the Texas Bluebonnets in the Spring
If you are visiting Hill Country in the spring, you will have the opportunity to see the beautiful bluebonnets in bloom. You will likely see them along the roads and all over, but some of the best places to go to see them up close include the Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Center, Wildseed Farms, Enchanted Rock and the Willow City Loop Drive. Bluebonnets are typically in bloom throughout April.
Take a Tour of WestCave Outdoor Discovery Center
WestCave is a beautiful grotto covered in green moss and situated next to a cave. It’s a magical place to visit with luscious plant life, blue water and interesting rock formations. It is only available to visit by guided tour and be sure to book your ticket in advance.
Hike to Hamilton Pool Preserve
Hamilton Pool is a giant grotto that includes a waterfall that feeds into a beautiful pool. Swimming was previously allowed, but is not allowed as of this writing due to falling rocks. Be sure to make a reservation in advance to hike down to this natural wonder.
Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg
The largest working wildflower farm in the country is located in Fredericksburg at Wildseed Farms. The farm is free to walk around and enjoy the flower fields, but you can also do a wine tasting, pick your own bouquet or purchase seeds for your garden.
Hike or Float the river at Guadalupe River State Park
Guadalupe River State Park has 4 miles of riverfront access to the Guadalupe River, making it a popular place for tubing in the summer. In addition to water activities, there are miles of hiking trails.
Swim at Blanco State Park
Blanco State Park is a popular place for swimming in the warmer months. There is a dam that passes through the river here and you can swim on either side of it. Tubes and kayaks are typically available to rent from the park or you can bring your own.
Hike at Government Canyon State Natural Area
Government Canyon is a park located just outside of San Antonio with several miles of hiking trails for all skill levels. The park is also home to the only known dinosaur tracks in the county and offers some amazing views.
Have a picnic at Canyon Lake
Canyon Lake is a beautiful lake surrounded by eight different parks that offer swimming, camping and picnicking. It’s a beautiful place to relax and enjoy lakeside views.
Hike at Pedernales Falls State Park
Pedernales Falls is home to an impressive area of limestone, mini waterfalls and pools of water. The park offers areas to swim, miles of hiking trails and is known for being one of the most beautiful places in the heart of Texas Hill Country.
Hike at McKinney Falls State Park
Mckinney Falls is a state park just a few minutes away from Austin and is known for waterfalls that feed into swimming holes. The park has beautiful rock formations, hiking trails and some historic sites to enjoy.
Unique Things To Do in Texas Hill Country
See the Unique Stonehenge II
Stonehenge II is a unique attraction for visitors to explore in Ingrams, Texas. The sculpture is 90% as wide and 60% as tall as the real Stonehenge in the UK. There are also two Easter Island heads next to Stonehenge. The sculptures were conceived by artists Al Shepperd and Doug Hill.
Visit Lyndon B. Johnson Historic Park
The Lyndon B. Johnson Historic Park is actually both a national and state historic site. On one side of the property, you can take a driving tour of the property where former-president Lyndon B. Johnson lived and even see the plane that he traveled on between Washington D.C. and Texas.
On the other side, there is a historic living farm where you can see what a German farm was like in the late 1800’s. There are also giant pastures with bison and longhorn. Both sites are free to enter and it’s worth spending at least half a day exploring these sites.
Bike the San Antonio Mission Trail
You may have heard of the Alamo and it’s certainly worth seeing, but I personally love visiting the other missions in San Antonio even more. Four missions make up the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park and they are connected via a hiking and biking trail.
All of the missions are over 300 years old and each one has its own unique but beautiful architecture. I recommend renting bikes and spending an afternoon exploring each of the missions via the trails that connect them.
Explore the Cathedral of Junk
The Cathedral of Junk is a unique destination to explore in Austin if you enjoy interesting art installations. The artist Vince Hannemann has spent over 30 years building an incredible structure made of found objects in his backyard. You could spend hours admiring the multi-levels of various objects and details, it’s truly fascinating! Be sure to call ahead for an appointment and bring a $5 donation.
Take a Tour at Texas Hill Country Olive Co.
Hill Country is full of grape vineyards, but there is only one olive vineyard! Texas Hill Country Olive Co is a working olive vineyard and olive oil mill that offers tours, tastings, meals and more.
There are several different types of tours that allow you to learn about the olives being grown, how olive oil is made and all aspects of the production. You can also enjoy a tasting that includes several different flavors of olive oil and balsamics. This is a really unique experience and the perfect place to purchase high quality, local olive oil.
Watch Live Music at Luckenbach
Luckenbach is a quirky unincorporated community known for live music and having a population of three. It’s a great place to enjoy a cold beer, enjoy some country music and take a photo at the kissing booth.
Wineries, Breweries and Restaurants in Hill Country
Visit a Hill Country Winery
There are over 100 wineries in Texas Hill Country, meaning there is a spot for everyone based on your taste, location and the atmosphere you prefer. You’ll find the highest concentration of wineries between Fredericksburg and Johnson City along 290.
To visit, you can go on a guided wine tour or drive yourself if you have a designated driver. Some of my favorite wineries are Signor Vineyards for a beautiful atmosphere, Becker Vineyards for amazing service and Kuhlman Cellars for a great patio view and delicious food pairings. Many of the wineries require reservations, so be sure to check their websites for details.
Have Dinner with a View at Southold Farm + Cellar
There are many amazing restaurants in Texas Hill Country, but one that really stands out to me is Southold Farm + Cellar. This winery and restaurant is situated up on a hill so you can take in amazing views of Hill Country during your meal. You can visit for a sunset dinner to enjoy their ever changing menu or a wine tasting. Check their website for current offerings and to make a reservation.
Visit a Farm + Brewery
There are a couple establishments in Hill Country that I absolutely love for enjoying a cold beer among farm animals and large open spaces. Jester King is situated on a huge property and serves their own wine, cider and beer. I particularly love all of their amazing sour ales. They also serve amazing pizza and you’ll have the opportunity to see goats while on a tour or perhaps just wandering around.
Another great spot for views and a drink is Shady Llama. This outdoor bar is home to llamas and donkeys that you may get to see up close if they are at the fence. Shady Llama has a food truck in addition to a large selection of drinks.
Visit a Distillery
Texas Hill Country is home to several distilleries if you would like to enjoy something a bit stronger than wine or beer. Options include Deep Eddy Vodka Distillery in Dripping Springs, Cypress Creek Reserve Rum Distillery in Wimberley and Desert Door Distillery in Driftwood.
Eat Tacos in Austin
Austin has incredible tacos and it’s always worth stopping for some foil-wrapped goodness while you’re passing through. I recommend Veracruz All Natural, El Chilito and Vaquero Taquero for taco joints with vegetarian options, but you can’t go wrong with taco trucks and restaurants all across the city.
If you are a meat eater, eating Texas BBQ is a must when traveling around Hill Country. I am a vegetarian but some Hill Country BBQ joints I’ve heard good things about are Payne’s, Salt Lick and Cooper’s Old Time Pit. There are also tons of BBQ options in Austin, some of the best being Franklin’s, Interstellar or Leroy and Lewis.
Unique Places to Stay in Hill Country
Blue Skies Retro Resort
If you love instagramable glamping locations, Blue Skies Retro Resort is for you! Here you can stay in one of the five retro trailers that each have their own pastel color. The property also has a pool and each trailer gets their own giant bathroom to use next to the pool area. It is located 15 minutes outside of Fredericksburg and the perfect place for a relaxing stay.
Havenwald is a dreamy property in Texas Hill Country home to fairytale cottages that each have their own theme. The Robin Hood Hideout cabin is full of whimsical details like stained glass windows, reclaimed wood, a spiral staircase and more. So much detail and care has been put into this property and it’s such a special place to stay.
Glamping in Wimberley
Wimberley is home to a few different unique places to glamp. There are a couple luxurious locations like Collective Hill Country and Yurtopia Wimberley which are stunning properties. For something less expensive, I highly recommend the airbnb listings Basecmap and Happy Camper. These airstreams have a ton of outdoor space and a hot tub to relax in after a day of exploring.
A Bed & Breakfast in Fredericksburg
A bed and breakfast is a wonderful way to connect with other travelers, enjoy home cooked meals and stay somewhere that feels like home. There are multiple historic homes in Fredericksburg where you can enjoy a bed and breakfast experience. One of the top rated options is Southern Charm Bed & Breakfast, which is located within walking distance of Main Street Fredericksburg.
I hope this list helps you plan your dream Texas Hill Country road trip, this region has something to offer for every type of traveler.
For more information on Texas Hill Country, check out these blogs:
How to Spend 3 Days in San Antonio
The Perfect Fredericksburg Weekend Itinerary
Fun Things To Do in Wimberley, Texas
The Best Things To Do in Dripping Springs, Texas
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