Do cooler temperatures have you dreaming of ways to spend more time outside? Here are 10 ideas to get you out of town and exploring the best of fall in Central Texas.
1. Inks Lake State Park
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 10 minutes down the road from Inks Lake, you can experience one of a variety of cavern tours at Longhorn Cavern State Park. Pack a picnic, strap on your hiking boots, and don’t forget the camera!
2. Sweet Berry Farm
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. It’s definitely a must for checking items off of your fall bucket list. Visit their website for fall hours.
3. Llano River Chuckwagon Cook-Off
Cowboys, chuck wagons, and a rodeo. Oh, my! The Llano River Chuckwagon Cook-off brings together a group of chuck wagon enthusiasts on the banks of the Llano River to go back in time to an era when the west was being settled. These enthusiasts use traditional cooking methods from that era, wear traditional dress, and experience traditional neighborly fun as they compete for prizes in a number of categories. This event is usually held in late October.
4. Colorado Bend State Park
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.
Fall’s cooler temperatures may mark the end of swimming season, but the smaller crowds at Blue Hole Regional Park and Jacob’s Well Natural Area mean you’ll have plenty of room to hike and explore the breathtaking natural scenery (both require reservations, so you’ll need to plan ahead of time). 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.
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6. Johnson City
Johnson City has something to please every member of your family. Get your history on at LBJ Ranch and the Sauer-Beckmann Farmstead. 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. Enchanted Rock
A short, invigorating climb up Enchanted Rock will earn you magical views of the Hill Country. There’s more to this park than its pink granite dome: hiking, birding, geocaching, a Junior Ranger program, and unbelievable stargazing, too.
8. Oktoberfest in Fredericksburg
Celebrate Fredericksburg’s German heritage during Oktoberfest. The annual festival features traditional German music, hearty German and American foods, chicken dancing, artisans, and lots of children’s activities. The festival usually takes place in early October.
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. Lost Maples State Natural Area
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.
Featured photo courtesy of Holp Photography.