Austin Insider Guide – Plan a Day at Pedernales Falls State Park

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Just because school’s back in session, doesn’t mean that summer feeling has to come to end.  That’s why happyly is partnering with Free Fun in Austin to offer readers a bevy of curated activities for a fun and active family day in the midst of these strange times. After all, it is happyly’s mission to inspire fun and safe outings so you can spend less time planning and enjoy more quality time together

pedernales Falls

Funny fact about Austin: Despite being deep in the heart of Texas, Austin has dreams of being a beach town. Though the nearest access to the Gulf Coast is several hours away, Austin loves to treat its many waterways as beaches. We’re embracing that mindset with a visit to the Pedernales Falls State ParkBeach” (a.k.a. river access and quality swimming holes). 



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Free Fun In Austin continues to highlight Austin area locations and activities that may not be available at this time. We encourage you to take all safety measures to keep yourself and your neighbors safe. It is our hope that the stories and features on this site will help inform your plans in the future.
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Pedernales Falls State Park

Located an hour outside of Austin in Hill Country, this park is the complete package when it comes to getting away from it all. Aside from swimming (and fishing), Pedernales Falls is great for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. The trails range from short and sweet – the half-mile Twin Falls Nature Trail is good for all ages – to challenging via the six-mile Wolf Mountain Trail. Other routes are dedicated to mountain bikers and horses, respectively. 

But if hanging by the water is your number one goal, parking is less than a quarter-mile from the swimming area. Restrooms, picnic tables, and grills can be found nearby. The water, when calm, is a beloved spot for kids large and small – though it can get turbulent so best to always pay attention. The swimming area is also a fun spot for land exploring too. We loved jumping and climbing across the rocks that surround the area.  

What to know before you go

Reservations for both day use and camping are currently required to enter the park. Reserve yours online because they fill up fast. (Check the park’s Facebook page for the most up to date information.) If you and the family are looking for quality camping, this spot is a favorite of ours for its real woodsy vibe and lots of privacy. They have hot showers, clean bathrooms, and RV hookups too if that’s your thing.

There can be deep, water-filled craters so explore cautiously. Pedernales is a dog-friendly park, but beware some dogs won’t be able to climb around on the boulders near the swimming area.

Pedernales Falls State Park
Location: 2585 Park Rd 6026, Johnson City
COVID-19 Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday; closed to day-use only visitors Mondays and Tuesdays until further notice.
Day use price: 13 and up – $6; children 12 and under – Free

Proof and Cooper

Make it the perfect day with a delicious lunch from Proof and Cooper. Drive out via the Bee Caves Road route for a take-out picnic (about 40 minutes from Austin, and another 20 to the park). Looking out over beautiful Hill Country, this spot is a must on our list every time we’re out this way. From their beet salad to the brisket, burgers, and chicken tenders, Proof and Cooper is the perfect mix of elevated, kid-friendly eats that’s delicious for the whole family. The dining room is currently closed, but pick up is available.

Proof and Cooper
Location: 18710 Hamilton Pool Road
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.  (Brunch starts at 10 am on weekends.)
Price: $3-$20

Skull and Cakebones

Drive home via Highway 290 for scrumptious vegan treats from Skull and Cakebones. It’s the perfect mid-way stopping point between the park and home! You’ll find this divine bakery just off 290. Yes, it’s vegan and clean eating, but we promise the kids won’t notice and you probably won’t either. Order online for curbside pickup. Our faves are the Bing Bongs (think healthier Little Hostesses)!

Skull and Cakebones
Location: 3991 E Hwy 290, Dripping Springs
COVID-19 Hours: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Friday through Sunday
Price: $3-$15

Packing list

  • Water
  • River shoes
  • Picnic supplies
  • Towels
  • Intertubes
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Hand sanitizer/wipes

Happyly is the country’s only mobile-first family activity planning app focused on helping families live their best life. 

We are passionate about supporting families in a fulfilling, balanced, and active outdoor lifestyle. How? By developing resources and delivering inspiration to fit your personal needs, whether it be for planning an afternoon or a long journey. With the help of happyly, you will save hours of wasted time planning, as well as the frustration and disappointment your tribe feels when your plans don’t turn out as you hoped.

By doing the leg work and endorsing our favorite activities based on first-hand knowledge, our expert team saves valuable time for our community, empowering parents to be fully present when it matters most. Working parents spend an average of twelve waking hours a week with their children. When you break it all down, it’s not a lot.  So even just one or two hours a week spent searching or planning is just too many. Let us help you spend less time planning and more time experiencing life together.

If you have ideas for our next installment in our Family Fun Day Austin Series, we welcome them at [email protected]

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