• September 20, 2023
  • Lauren Critzer
  • 0

Alright, so you’re ready to take the wheel? Great, because Austin isn’t just about the music scene or the mouthwatering Tex-Mex. It’s the gateway to some seriously scenic drives, and I’m going to let you in on them. Ready? Buckle up for beauty: Your guide to the most scenic drives in Austin starts now.

Start Your Engines, Austin: The Open Road is Calling!

Get ready to journey through rolling landscapes, along highways flanked by wildflowers, and wind your way through Hill Country, where the views are straight out of a Texas-themed dream. It’s time to hit the road, and the open road is calling out to you!

The Iconic Texas Hill Country Circuit

Begin your scenic drive with the iconic Texas Hill Country, a 200-mile circuit that brims with beautiful vistas, charming small towns, and the Lone Star State’s incredible natural beauty. The circuit unfolds in a series of soft, rolling landscapes full of oak trees, peach orchards, vineyards, and vast, mesmerizing wildflower meadows.

  1. The journey begins at the Texas Capitol Building in downtown Austin. This splendid monument crafted from sunset red granite is the largest state capitol building in the United States.
  • Next, kick your drive a notch and head west towards Dripping Springs, the “Gateway to the Hill Country”. Make sure to stop at the Hamilton Pool Preserve along the way. It’s a naturally-created swimming hole that makes you feel like you’ve stumbled upon a hidden gem.

  • Set your GPS to Fredericksburg, a town steeped in German heritage. The town itself is quite the charmer, with its proliferation of shops, wineries, and restaurants serving lip-smacking German cuisine. Make sure to taste the local wine at Becker Vineyards before taking on the Willow City Loop – a picturesque subplot within this grand story.

Capital of Texas Highway (Loop 360)

The Capital of Texas Highway (Loop 360) is a must-drive for any Austinite or visitor alike. It’s a joy to navigate – teeming with Instagrammable spots, lush green panoramas and points of interest.

  1. The journey commences with the iconic Pennybacker Bridge — a marvel of engineering and design that perfectly frames the Texas Hill Country. It’s undeniably one of Austin’s most photographed landmarks.
  • Shortly after, you’ll find the Austin 360 Overlook. Standing there, you’re privy to unparalleled views of Lake Austin sandwiched between slopes and the distant skyline of downtown Austin.

  • You could lose hours enraptured by the stunning cityscape, but you must push on towards the idyllic Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve.

  • Last stop, Mount Bonnell. Reach just in time for sunset, to end the day watching as the cityscape of Austin morphs into a sea of twinkling lights.

Cowboy Up on the Devil’s Backbone

For the adventurous souls, the Devil’s Backbone – a stretch of road between Wimberley and Blanco – offers a smorgasbord of nature’s grandeur, combining lush green pastures with panoramic views of the Texas Hill Country.

  1. Make your way first to the University town of San Marcos. Unwind at Three Dudes Winery tucked away on the banks of the San Marcos River before embarking on more adventure.

Fabled Routes: The Llano Uplift

The Llano Uplift promises a geological wonder, plunging you into a world surviving between sedimentary rocks and granite outcrops, with a scenic smattering of lakes, streams, and lofty bald cypress trees.

  1. Kick-start your trip in Marble Falls where thrilling off-road trails await at the Hidden Falls Adventure Park.
  • Next, head towards Kingsland, where the The Slab is your next stop. An old low-water river crossing turned swimming hole, it’s a great place to relax and cool off.

Wildflowers and Windmills: Willow City Loop

An explosion of color and a multitude of species greet you on the Willow City Loop. In the spring, this 20-mile route offers a breathtaking spectacle as it transforms into an immense wildflower field.

  1. Begin your journey at Fredericksburg and make your way to Willow City. As you navigate the undulating topography, embrace the serene beauty of the pastoral countryside and the live oaks that line the course.
  • Immerse yourself in the quintessential Texas-style beauty anointed with historic Hill Country homesteads, free-roaming livestock, windmill-dotted ranches, and local vegetation.

This guide to the most scenic drives in Austin is but a glimpse of Texas’s vibrant beauty. From teeming wildlife to breathtaking sunsets, rugged landscapes to serene waterscapes, rolling meadows to fragmented hills – Austin is but a mere slice of what the expansive state offers. So get ready, the open road is calling! Discover endless routes to beauty that only Texas can offer, one scenic drive at a time.

Enjoy the drive, y’all!

Lauren Critzer

I was born in Charlottesville, Virginia and after college, I moved to San Francisco to explore new opportunities and broaden my horizons. I fell in love with the city's vibrant culture and unique atmosphere, but eventually, I moved again, this time to Austin, Texas.

As much as I loved living in different parts of the country, having a baby boy brought me back to my hometown in Charlottesville, where I now live with my husband, our little one, and two furry friends. I enjoy going to wineries, taking my pups everywhere, and spending quality time with my family.

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