Summers are for road trips and the Texas Hill Country is one of the prettiest parts of Texas. I’ve spent many an hour in a car driving back roads discovering this state’s many wonderful places. That’s how this road trip happened…
First Stop: Mazama Coffee Company; Dripping Springs
These folks know coffee…and treats. They offer an amazing variety of coffees and teas. They create everything in house from the roasted coffee beans to the baked goods. Mazama even makes some of their own syrups. I highly recommend a cold brew and a scone. Great stuff.
Second Stop: Blue Hole Regional Park; Wimberley
This park is a hidden treasure. Well, maybe not-so-hidden anymore. In addition to the famous Blue Hole Swimming Area, the park offers hiking trails, picnic areas and an amphitheater. No matter what your inclination, it’s amazing. One important note: the park has regular hours but swimming is only permitted during swimming season. I highly recommend making a reservation!
***There are two additional famous swim holes in the area that you can add to the day trip: Jacob’s Well and Hamilton Pool. Reservations are recommended for these as well.
Third Stop: Gristmill Restaurant and Gruene Hall; Gruene
Take a rest and grab a bite at the Gristmill Restaurant. The building itself is a piece of Texas history.Formerly, a cotton gin that burned down in 1922, the restaurant was restored and reopened in 1977. The mill sits perched upon the banks of the Guadalupe River and boasts numerous dining areas both inside and outside. They do not take reservations, but the food is worth the wait!Next door to the Gristmill is the Texas’ oldest dance hall, Gruene Hall. The dance hall was built in 1878 and has been operating ever since. This 6,000 square foot dance hall has a tin roof and side flaps that open up to let the air in and the tunes out.
Grab a beer at the bar and take a gander at all the performer’s photos lining the walls. You will find entertainers such as George Strait, Willie Nelson, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard. This place has character. Gruene Hall is open daily, but check calendar for a list of events. Oh, and kids are always welcome!
Fourth Stop: Landa Park; New Braunfels
Not too far from Gruene you will discover the beauty of Landa Park. This gem has a variety of activities for all ages: hiking, a miniature train, mini golf, picnic tables, paddle boats and spring fed wading and swimming pools. Landa park sits on the beautiful Comal River loaded with lots of trees and animal life to enjoy. You gotta love a place that has pinata poles installed!
Fifth Stop: The Dodging Duck; Boerne
Boerne is a great spot for browsing shops and grabbing a bite. One of my faves is The Dodging Duck. Sit on their covered deck and enjoy Cibolo Creek and nosh on a big ole pretzel with Hill Country sausage bites, a wedge of sharp cheddar and mustard.
Sixth Step: Photo Op; Sisterdale
Sisterdale is located on FM 1376 in between Boerne and Luckenbach. Sisterdale is home to Sisterdale Dancehall and Opera House, Marlowe Candle Company and Sister Creek Vineyards. Sisterdale is also home to two of my favorite photo finds on the road trip. The first is a beautiful masterpiece of a house (just north of the dancehall). Just. Look. At. It. The turquoise blue makes my heart skip a beat! I mean come ON! The twine on the fencing is even turquoise.
The next photo op is the old school house located just opposite the turquoise beauty. What a historical beauty this was. The original water pump is still intact. (Sorry, I cropped it in the pic.)
Seventh Stop: Luckenbach; Luckenbach, TX
There is a saying synonymous with Luckenbach…“Everybody’s Somebody”. This has been true since this itty bitty town was established in 1849. The original trading post is one of the oldest settlements in Gillespie County. The “town” literally consists of a post office, a general store, a beer joint and a dance hall. Though it was August Engel who established the town and its businesses; it was named after his daughter’s fiance, Albert Luckenbach.
The Engel family ran the town until 1970, when Benno Engel put Luckenbach up for sale. In stepped the motley crew of Hondo Crouch, Guich Koock and Kathy Morgan. The three made Luckenbach what it is today: a place for cold beers, good music and plenty of good times. MANY Texas country-rockers have played in Luckenbach. Jerry Jeff Walker recorded his Viva Terlingua here. I had the opportunity to hear Gary P. Nunn live in Luckenbach; a memory I will cherish forever. Small in size and big in big in character, this piece of Texas history should not be missed. As Waylon Jennings sang, “Let’s go to Luckenbach, Texas…”.
Additional Stop: Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site; Stonewall
If time allows, visit the Lyndon B. Johnson Ranch (also referred to as the Texas White House). It is quite a sight to see. LBJ was born, lived, died and laid to rest on the ranch. LBJ and Lady Bird donated their home to the National Park Service, but kept rights to the house until their deaths. The entirety of the first floor is available to tour. The self-guided tour includes the former President’s office, living room, dining room and kitchen. It is very moving to be in such a historic place.
Eighth Stop: Blanco County Courthouse; Johnson City
Just down the highway from Stonewall you will find the “crossroads of the Texas Hill Country”, Johnson city. Grab a walking map here. Take a stroll through the city square and admire the majestic Blanco County Courthouse and the original Johnson City Bank across the street.
From there visit some of the shops, wine-tasting rooms and galleries in the city. If you are traveling with children be sure and visit the Science Mill. The name comes from the fact that it is located in a renovated feed mill and cotton gin. The Science Mill is a great place to experience science through hands-on activities.
Last stop: First stop
Back to where you started. I hope you enjoyed it. A couple of notes:
- Be sure and make any needed reservations before heading out.
- Check websites for special events and hours.
- Fill up with gas.
- Bring your camera.
- Though this is a day trip, you can easily adapt and adjust it to fit our needs.
Until next time…just eat it up!