Texas Hill Country

The wildflower meadow at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Photo courtesy of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center 
The Texas Hill Country, southwest of Austin, has rolling hills, sparkling lakes and streams, more than 15 wineries and a wonderful variety of live music. Towns in the Hill Country include Bandera, Kerrville, Fredericksburg, Gruene, New Braunfels and Uvalde. The famous Gruene Hall is the oldest dancehall in Texas, where singers such as Willie Nelson, George Strait and Lyle Lovett have performed. Fredericksburg is known for its delicious peaches, with different varieties ripening from May to early August. Just outside of Kerrville is the 125-year-old Y.O. Ranch, which offers hunting, horseback riding, an exotic wildlife tour and trail drives. During the summer, you'll find the Guadalupe, Comal and other rivers full of folks tubing in the clear, spring-fed water. The Texas Highland Lakes, a series of Hill Country reservoirs near Austin, provide lake and resort activities in a beautiful setting. There are nearly 20 state parks and natural areas, offering wildlife viewing, camping, biking and other outdoor activities.


Click here for information on Hill Country B&Bs.

 Austin, Texas  
The Stevie Ray Vaughan Memorial Statue at Auditorium Shores along Town Lake is just one testament to the influence of live music in Austin. Photo Credit: Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau

Getting Around
Capital Metro buses have routes all over the city. The weekend "Tour the Town" route costs only $1 and visits the popular sights around downtown. The 'Dillos (trolleys) are always free and are a good way to get around downtown. You'll also see many people on bicycles, which can be rented at several area bike shops. A car is essential if you’re going outside of the downtown area.

When to Go
Austin enjoys mild temperatures much of the year, with average highs of 95 degrees in summer, 52 degrees in winter, and delightful fall and spring temperatures. The city is blessed with an average 300 days of sunshine per year. Wildflowers color the landscape in the spring, and the high season for viewing Mexican free-tailed bats is in August. Summertime also brings music, art and film festivals; swimming in spring-fed pools; 5K runs; and the Republic of Texas Biker Rally.  Advance reservations are essential for college graduation and football weekends, as well as during special festivals.

Sights & Activities
Austin is a haven for music and culture lovers, outdoor enthusiasts and food aficionados. With its mild weather, beautiful landscape, friendly citizens, and plentiful activities, about 7 million visitors per year come to enjoy the history and culture of Texas' capital city. Although many aspects of Austin break from Texas stereotypes, that ever-present Texas pride is plentiful.

Outdoor activities:  In the heart of the city, Zilker Park features a botanical garden, a miniature train, 10 miles of hike and bike trains, the spring-fed Barton Springs Pool and canoeing and kayaking on the lake. Annual events include the Kite Festival and the Austin City Limits Music Festival. The 750,000 to 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats that live under the Congress Avenue bridge make up the largest urban bat colony in North America. Each evening, they fly out in black clouds to keep the city nearly mosquito-free. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center  is dedicated to native plants. Its 280 acres displays gardens, traveling exhibits, nature trails, and the children's Little House. The center is also a popular wedding venue.  Austin is the top location for moviemaking in Texas. Recent films include The Alamo, Hope Floats and Lonesome Dove.
Food and shopping: The Arboretum area in North Austin contains stores such as Saks and Pottery Barn. For more eclectic goods, visit the shops at SoCo on S. Congress and SoLa on S. Lamar. Davenport Village near Westlake contains upscale clothing, jewelry and home furnishing stores and great restaurants. Excellent Tex-Mex restaurants include Guerro's and Curra's. Don't miss The Oasis for sipping a cold drink while watching a spectacular sunset over the Hill Country. The famous Salt Lick barbecue restaurant has expanded and includes the original in Driftwood, along with a second on Loop 360 at Davenport Village. Most restaurants have outdoor dining, allowing you to make the most of the gorgeous Texas nights.
Museums: The Austin Museum of Art showcases an array of 20th-century and contemporary art. The Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library, the nation’s most-visited presidential library, houses fascinating exhibits from LBJ’s tenure as President. The Harry Ransom Center houses the world’s first photograph, original costumes from Gone With the Wind and a rare Gutenberg Bible. The Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art specializes in 20th-century American and Latin American art and the Suida-Manning Collection of Renaissance and Baroque art. The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum tells the “Story of Texas” with three floors of interactive exhibits and Austin's only IMAX Theatre. The French Legation Museum, the oldest extant frame structure in Austin, is reminiscent of the days when Texas was a republic.
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B&Bs and Inns

Star of Texas, Austin, Texas
B&Bs in Austin: Many wonderful B&B are located close to downtown and the three major universities (University of Texas, Concordia University, and St. Edward's University), and west of town near Lake Travis. For a complete list of Austin-area B&Bs, click here. Below are a few we visited:

The 1110 Carriage House Inn Bed & Breakfast enjoys a central location in a quiet residential garden setting. This B&B occupies two adjacent homes and offers immaculate, uncluttered, private, and well-equipped guest rooms and common areas. Innkeeper Tressie Damron goes out of her way to offer guests a first-rate Austin experience.

Located in historic Hyde Park, Adams House is a cozy yellow Colonial Revival home, just a block from several terrific neighborhood restaurants on Duval Street, in a neighborhood that’s great for exploring.  Also in Hyde Park is Woodburn House, a longtime favorite, now under new ownership. Inviting wraparound porches, well-equipped guest rooms, and a comfortable, friendly atmosphere make this B&B a good choice whether you’re in Austin for business or pleasure.

The closest accommodations to the University of Texas, the Austin Folk House combines historic charm with modern amenities, an eclectic art collection, killer breakfasts and afternoon cookies, and a wonderful sense of humor about it all.

Twenty minutes from downtown Austin is the Bear Creek Retreat, a Victorian-style home surrounded by acres of ponds and pasture.

In a handsome neighborhood of restored Victorian homes is Brava House, with handsomely decorated private suites and an inviting backyard deck. Downtown Austin is nearby, as is one of our favorite Austin restaurants, Z’Tejas.

Although close to UT and the capitol, Carrington's Bluff enjoys a peaceful country setting on tree-covered bluff. Innkeeper Phoebe Williams creates a “home-away-from-home” atmosphere, complete with home-baked cookies and Bluebell ice cream.

In the heart of the UT campus is the Star of Texas Inn, an 1897 Victorian mansion encircled by inviting verandas,  perfect for rocking, reading, and watching the world amble by.  Great buffet breakfasts, too.

Artists and pet lovers will enjoy the casual garden atmosphere of the Strickland Arms, a century-old limestone home in the Patterson Heights area of north Austin.

South/southwest of Austin:

Inn above Onion Creek, Kyle, Texas  

Kyle: The Inn above Onion Creek combines old-style ranch-house charm with modern comforts no cowpoke ever knew. Laze by the pool, enjoy dinners prepared by the CIA-trained chef, rock on the porches, and retreat to plush and private guest rooms.

Wimberley: Blair House is elegant yet homey, with sophisticated décor, a wonderful art gallery, and guest rooms in the main house and cottages. Stroll the scenic grounds, treat yourself to the Saturday night dinner, and sign up for their acclaimed cooking school.

The Lodge at Creekside has an idyllic country setting but is just a few blocks from the shops and restaurants of Wimberley.  Seven private cottages, each different in style and décor, combine comfort and whimsy.  Cypress Creek borders the property and is perfect for a relaxing soak or canoe ride.

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