By Carol Cain, on November 10, 2016

Exploring the outskirts of Austin

There are a lot of things to love about Texas’ capital city of Austin. Celebrated for its artsy creative scene, great food, and long list of activities both indoors and out, visitors often think that to see Austin is to have really seen the best the area has to offer.

I discovered that Austin is just a taste of it, especially for those who would like to experience a more paid back vacation surrounding by nature. All it takes is a car rental and a sense of adventure. Here are some of my newfound favorite spots and what there is to do there.

If you venture about an hour and a half south, you will enter the beautiful city of San Antonio,  rich in history and charm and a total must. But if for those looking for a shorter trip, San Marcos, located between Austin and San Antonio, is a must.

Visit downtown San Marcos’ farmers market every Tuesday and Saturday and mingle with local residents and artists displaying their goods. Because the weather is always warm, the market is open year-round and a fun way to start your day.

Take a glass bottom boat tour along Spring Lake and get a close-up view of some of the area’s wildlife. You might even get a glimpse of the endangered Texas Blind Salamander!

Tour over Spring Lake
Tour over Spring Lake

Immerse in the local culture. If you are lucky and find yourself visiting in the early fall, you can enjoy the festivities around the annual  Sacred Springs Powwow. This two-day event brings together different Native American groups from around the world and locally for the sharing of music, dance, and other cultural rituals.

Sacred Springs Powwow_Texas
Sacred Springs Powwow

Cool off at River Vista Park. This watering hole is popular among kayakers as well as swimmers, and even a few SUP boarders!

For a more country feel, venture deeper into hill country to the small town of  Wimberley.  I fell in love with its quaint downtown with its sweet small shops and eateries. I also really enjoyed the slower pace to that of Austin and how everyone was so easy to smile and say hello and welcome your visit.

Connect with local artists. Because of Wimberley’s strong artist community, there are tons of galleries and art shops to explore, including the Wimberley Glassworks studio which regularly hosts glass blowing demonstrations.

Downtown Wimberley_GirlGoneTravel

Prepare to take the plunge! Wimberley is surrounded by rivers and creeks. There are tons of places to camp, picnic, and cool off. Some favorites are the Jacob’s Well Natural Area, where you can swim in and hike. Another favorite is the Blue Hole, popular with locals as well and really beautiful place to cool off while surrounded by 126 acres of natural forest.

Viewfinder Tip: Many watering holes close after the summer and have no life guards, so swim at your own risk.

It’s quirky and unique. Because this is Wimberley, you must get try the coffee at the no-waste, organic coffee and teas at Cactus Coffee where guests can enjoy like music on Saturday mornings and children can take yoga classes with Lovely Hearts Yoga.

And as far as good eats, though I always have to stop into Salt Lick in Austin for some BBQ, D’Vine Home cooking is a great spot if you want to stay local. And because it’s Texas, finding other hidden gems for good food is not that hard to come by.

There are a lot of small B&B’s in Wimberley to choose from, but the Mountain View Lodge is another option for those wanting a different experience.

So next time you visit Austin, take a few days to venture into Hill Country for a taste of country living and old-school Texas charm, and remember to bring your swim suit!

What big city outskirts have impressed you the most?