With lots of natural beauty, unique history, charming small towns, and exciting big cities, the Texas Hill Country has a wealth of attractions and activities to keep visitors busy. Whether you’re looking for the best swimming holes, craft breweries, or even roadside oddities, there is so much to see here.
We have driven countless miles exploring the corners of this vibrant region and put together this list of some of the best things to do in the Texas Hill Country to highlight our favorites.
Relax at Hamilton Pool
Hamilton Pool is one of the most picturesque places to visit in the Hill Country. Located on a 234-acre nature preserve, it draws people from all over Texas due to its beautiful setting and wildlife trails.
The pool was formed when an underground river collapsed, so it has a unique formation with a waterfall and even a tiny beach. Visitors can hike, picnic, enjoy the natural spring pool, or relax on the beach.
If Hamilton Pool is on your list of things to do in Dripping Springs, plan ahead. Reservations are limited to protect the ecosystem, which means that the pool always feels like a bit of a private oasis. Bring close-toed shoes for the rugged quarter-mile hike from the parking lot and for walking around the swimming area. (Note: as of May 2022, swimming is suspended due to falling rocks.)
Visit Pedernales Falls State Park
On the banks of the Pedernales River, Pedernales Falls State Park is one of the most popular outdoors attractions in the area. It has waterfalls, hiking trails, horseback riding, camping, and plenty of other things to do.
The park is a great place to spend a day, but, if you’re short on time, plenty of sites are within easy walking distance of a parking lot. It’s that flexibility that makes Pedernales Falls State Park such a popular destination.
Try spirits at a local distillery
Central Texas is known for having some of the best distilleries in the state. We’ve visited over a dozen and have never been disappointed.
Some of our top choices are Still Austin, where you can tour the facilities and sample the spirits at their bar, and Treaty Oak, one of the best Dripping Springs distilleries, which offers live music, games, and an on-site restaurant. Nearby, Desert Door has a unique offering with its sotol, a spirit that smells a lot like tequila but tastes more like gin and is made from a wild west Texas plant. For one of the best bourbon distilleries around, head west on Highway 290 to try the award-winning spirits at Garrison Brothers.
See the painted churches
Some of the most beautiful buildings in the state, the painted churches are spread across central Texas. Dating from the late 1800s and early 1900s, these churches were built by the Czech and German immigrants who came to Texas in the latter part of the 19th century.
To make their new places of worship feel like those they’d left behind in their homelands, the settlers painted altars and arches with vibrant colors and designs reminiscent of the Gothic style they were used to. The result is richly decorated interiors with blue skies, shocks of pink, swirling ivy, and more.
Drive the Willow City Loop
From March through May, the Willow City Loop comes alive with Texas wildflowers. This bluebonnet-studded drive is one of the most beautiful routes in the Hill Country.
The 13-mile loop goes over rolling hills, offers vistas of the surrounding landscape, and passes through riverbeds, ranchlands, and groves of trees. In a year that gets good rain, the loop fills with bluebonnets, red and yellow Indian blankets, winecups, and other stunning splashes of color. In-season, driving here is one of the best things to do in the Hill Country.
Hear live music at Luckenbach
Fourteen miles from Fredericksburg, Luckenbach welcomes visitors from around the country every day of the week. Whether they’re drawn by the performers, the unique atmosphere, or the love of the Waylon Jennings song “Luckenbach, Texas,” music lovers make themselves at home here.
The tiny ghost town-turned-venue has regular festivals and concerts from country greats as well as more informal daily performances. There is almost always music (and a good time) at Luckenbach.
Go wine tasting at a winery in Fredericksburg
Hill Country wineries have grown in number and prestige over the last decade, making them a top destination for visitors from around the state. The greatest concentration of wineries is around Fredericksburg where there are lots of places to go wine tasting.
Some of our favorite wineries include Augusta Vin, which has gorgeous vineyard views from its patio and deck, and Slate Theory, a newer addition to the wine scene that has a cool underground wine cellar for tastings. Becker Vineyards and Pedernales Cellars also offer top-quality wines in a beautiful setting.
See the LBJ presidential sites
Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th president of the United States was born in the Hill Country. History buffs will enjoy the sites related to his life that make up the LBJ National Historical Park.
Stonewall, Texas, is home to the LBJ Ranch, which includes important places from the president’s life. Visitors can see the one-room schoolhouse where he learned to read, his grandparents’ house, and the Johnson family cemetery where the president and former First Lady are buried.
The Texas White House where Johnson spent about one-quarter of his presidency still looks as it did in the 1960s. It is being rehabilitated as of May 2022 but is viewable from the outside.
Nearby, Johnson City is the location of LBJ’s boyhood home and other landmarks significant in his early life.
Hike Enchanted Rock
On the outskirts of Fredericksburg, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is one of the most popular hiking and camping sites in Texas and one of the best attractions in the Hill Country. Its otherworldly name is due to the magical powers Native American tribes ascribed to the massive pink granite batholith.
Rock climbing, backpacking, picnicking, and other outdoor activities are all good ideas here. It’s popular, so reservations to visit the state park are always a good idea.
Shop around at Fredericksburg Trade Days
Every month, Sunday Farms turns into the shopping bonanza that is Trade Days for the weekend. The flea market and trade show has everything from antiques and gifts to jewelry, clothes, decorations, and more. With over 400 vendors, there is a tremendous amount to choose from. Plus, there’s a beer garden for when you need to refuel.
Visit the Museum of the Pacific War
At the National Museum of the Pacific War, in-depth exhibits bring to life the conflict in the Pacific Theater in painstaking detail. There are thousands of artifacts and heavy machinery spread across three buildings, including two traditional museums that focus on Admiral Nimitz and the World War II battles and the outdoor Pacific Combat Zone, which hosts battle reenactments.
The amount of information in the museum and the quality of the displays is remarkable. The Pacific War Museum is one of the top museums in Texas and a must-visit in the Hill Country.
Tour Cave Without a Name
Eighty feet below ground, the Cave Without a Name is a unique attraction in Boerne. A tour of the cave takes visitors through six rooms filled with massive stalagmites and stalactites and teaches visitors about the cave’s development. There are also regular concerts and other performances that turn the space into a stage with incredible acoustics.
See a show at Gruene Dance Hall
Known for its charm and German-Texas heritage, the Historic District of Gruene is a top attraction in the Hill Country. This distinctive area is filled with buildings from the 1800s that now house boutiques, restaurants, and more.
One of the top things to do in Gruene is to visit Gruene Hall, the oldest continually operating dance hall in Texas. With its ample courtyard and indoor dance hall, the dance hall welcomes performers nightly. There is plenty of space to spread out, two-step, and enjoy the music.
Float the river
There are few better things to do during a Texas summer than to float the river. In central Texas, that often means renting an inner tube (often with a beverage cooler) and taking a bus to drop you on the Comal or Guadalupe River and pick you up downstream a few hours later. It’s the ultimate for a fun and relaxing day.
See the roadside attractions
The area is full of roadside attractions that are worth a quick detour, so keep a lookout during your visit. In Comfort, there is the highly decorated Cartoon Saloon, Too (that isn’t really a saloon). Nearby Ingram has a replica of Stonehenge and large stone heads modeled after those on Easter Island. San Antonio offers the largest Virgin Mary mosaic, which is presented on a giant prayer candle. And those are just a few of the unique things to see.
Play chicken shit bingo
Chicken Shit Bingo always attracts a crowd. For over 20 years, this unusual game has filled Sunday afternoons at The Little Longhorn Saloon in Austin.
For a small donation, visitors purchase tickets and then wait to see where the chickens will do their business on a giant bingo board. There’s live music, plenty of beer and cider, and lots of cheering when the chickens get going. It’s an experience.
Watch the bats at the Congress Avenue Bridge
The Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin is home to the continent’s largest colony of Mexican Free-Tailed Bats. From spring through early fall, they fly out around sunset and continue flying for as long as 2-3 hours, putting on quite a show. At the height of the season, there may be as many as 1.5 million bats taking to the air above Lady Bird Lake.
Visitors can see the bats from the bridge or from the boats below (there are lots of tours). If you plan to watch from the bridge, arrive at least an hour before dusk in order to find parking and get your spot.
Swim at Barton Springs
One of the best things to do in Austin in the summer is to escape the heat at Barton Springs. In the heart of Zilker Park, the Barton Springs Pool is fed by underground springs that always stay 68-70 degrees. The pool is open year-round.
Eat barbecue in Lockhart
About 35 miles southeast of Austin, Lockhart is the Barbecue Capital of Texas. The small town boats a handful of famous BBQ joints where it’s nearly impossible to make a bad choice. From ribs and brisket to smoked turkey and sausage, this is the place for all the meats.
Avoid coming on weekends, if you can, because lines can be long.
Dive into Jacob’s Well
Jacob’s Well in Wimberly is one of the best swimming holes in Texas and a top place to cool off when the mercury rises. The chilly water here is deceptively deep, bubbling up from a cave system that stretches over 100 feet underground. From May through September, reservations are required for swimming. Jump in from the cliffs above if you’re feeling brave!
Explore the San Antonio missions
The most famous place to see on a San Antonio getaway, the Alamo is most well-known as the site of a battle during the Texas Revolution. It is an interesting place to visit but is only one of five missions that were built around San Antonio in the 1700s. Together, they make up a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The missions are relatively easy to visit (especially if you’re on a bike), so don’t miss seeing some of the others. We loved visiting Mission San Jose, the “Queen of the Missions,” which was once home to an entire community and still serves as a parish church over 300 years after it was built.
Stroll on the River Walk
San Antonio’s River Walk runs for 15 miles, providing a beautiful way to see the city in a pedestrian zone below street level. Beside the downtown portion of the River Walk, there lots of shops and restaurants where you can window shop, enjoy live music along the promenade, and soak in the atmosphere.
If you don’t feel like walking, take one of the barge cruises to see the sites and learn about the history of the city.
Visit James Avery Craftsman
James Avery Craftsman, one of the most recognizable jewelry brands in Texas, was founded in Kerrville over 60 years ago and still has its headquarters there. Lovers of the brand can learn about the history of the family-owned company in its Visitors Center and see some of the original designs and tools of the trade.
Don’t miss the chance to shop in the store and explore the grounds of this top Kerrville attraction.
Visit a local brewery
Sampling the local beers is one of the fun things to do in central Texas, and there are lots to choose from. Austin’s Jester King uses spontaneous fermentation and other unique techniques to make its 60+ offerings. Nearby, Acopon Brewing in Dripping Springs makes British-style beers, including cask beers served from a traditional hand pump. Among the breweries in Fredericksburg, you’ll find Fredericksburg Brewing Company, the original Hill Country craft brewery, and Altstadt Brewery, which makes German-style craft beers at its sprawling 120-acre complex.
Try some pie at Blue Bonnet Cafe
For over 90 years, Blue Bonnet Café in Marble Falls has been a community gathering place serving some of the best pie around. In addition to all-day breakfast, the café has a huge selection of world famous pies baked fresh each day. We loved the cherry, and the apple and chocolate meringue are among the most popular.