Do cooler temperatures have you dreaming of ways to spend more time outside? Here are ten ideas to get you out of town and exploring the best of Fall in Central Texas.
1. Inks Lake State Park boasts 7.5 miles of hiking trails, a sparkling lake, nearly 200 campsites, and a variety of ranger-led programs. Just ten minutes down the road from Inks Lake, you can experience one of a variety of cavern tours at Longhorn Cavern State Park.
2. If you thought Sweet Berry Farm was only open for spring berry picking, you’ve been missing out on some serious fun. Fall at Sweet Berry Farm features scarecrow stuffing, hay rides, mazes, pumpkin painting, a barrel train, homemade ice cream, and more. September 24 – November 6, 2016; closed Wednesdays.
3. Cowboys, frontier games, and a street dance. Oh, my! Wild West Weekend brings to life the history and legend of Llano’s early days. Visitors can meet real cowboys at the PRCA Rodeo; pan for gold; hear live music, storytelling, and poetry; learn to cook in a Dutch oven; witness an outlaw chase, capture, and trial; and savor some tasty chuck wagon vittles. October 14-16, 2016.
4. A 60-foot high waterfall awaits visitors to Colorado Bend State Park. The park also offers kayak rentals, 32 miles of multi-use trails, and guided spelunking adventures through the park’s cave system (registration required). Don’t forget to check out a Junior Ranger backpack for the kids.
5. Fall may mean cooler temperatures but, let’s face it, it’s still plenty warm for swimming. Take advantage of smaller crowds at Blue Hole and Jacob’s Well, Wimberley’s breathtaking natural swimming holes. Plan your visit for the first Saturday of the month and you can catch the oldest outdoor market in the Texas Hill Country, Wimberley Market Days, while you’re in town.
6. Johnson City has something to please every member of your family. Get your history on at LBJ Ranch and the Sauer-Beckmann Farmstead. (Read about my family’s experience here.) Discover the fun of science at Hill Country Science Mill. Explore a local brewery, distillery, or winery. Feeling wild? Take a guided safari tour at the Exotic Resort Zoo or go for a swim at Pedernales Falls State Park.
7. A short, invigorating climb up Enchanted Rock will earn you magical views of the Hill Country. (Read about Heidi O’s experience here.) There’s more to this park than its pink granite dome: hiking, birding, geocaching, a Junior Ranger program, and unbelievable stargazing, too.
8. Celebrate Fredericksburg’s German heritage during Oktoberfest. The 35th annual festival will feature traditional German music, hearty German and American foods, Chicken Dancing, artisans, and lots of children’s activities. September 30 – October 2, 2016.
9. You might be surprised to learn that Waco is a treasure trove of family fun. Cameron Park Zoo’s 52 scenic acres are home to nearly 1,731 animals, representing 300 species, housed in natural habitats. Sports enthusiasts will appreciate the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, Texas history buffs will enjoy the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum, and kids will have a blast exploring the Mayborn Museum (and visiting Baylor’s Bear Habitat while you’re on campus). Recharge at the Dr. Pepper Museum’s soda fountain before heading home.
10. Forget New England, because gorgeous fall foliage is closer than you think. Lost Maples State Natural Area, a 3-hour drive from Austin, is home to a large, isolated stand of Uvalde bigtooth maples known for their spectacular fall colors. Check the park’s Foliage Report before making the trek; colors are generally brightest from mid-October to mid-November. Lost Maples also features great hiking, fishing, bird-watching, and camping. While you’re out west, consider a stop in Bandera: Cowboy Capital of the World.