There’s more to Austin than live music
When hearing the words, Austin, Texas, the first thing that comes to mind for most is the vibrant live music scene, however, there’s more to Austin than just great live entertainment. Drive just a bit out of the city and you can find yourself closer to nature than you are to a bass guitar. Don’t get us wrong, we love to hold a cold beer and bob our heads to the tunes of our favorite bands, but why not have the best of both worlds? Camp in all the natural beauty that Austin and the surrounding areas hold, and be close enough that you can still easily get to your favorite festival.
Here are five spots we love:
Photo credit: @coznlinda
McKinney Falls State Park
Location: Just outside of Austin, 13 miles away from the capitol.
Campsites: 81 campsites, and 6 recently remodeled cabins.
Stunning views? Check. Activities galore? Check. Close to the city? Check. This beautiful park has it all. In addition to gorgeous views of the Onion Creek, campers and day visitors alike can spend the day swimming, fishing, or just listening to the falls splash over the rocks. For those looking for other outdoor challenges, there’s plenty of bike (road and mountain) trails, bouldering, hikes for all abilities, and spots to have a picnic when you need to chill. History buffs can get their fix here too – humans began roaming this area almost 9 thousand years ago and a portion of the El Camino Real de los Tejas ran through the park between the 1600 and 1800’s. If you’re looking for a little bit of everything, this is the place.
Photo credit: @themilkywaychaser
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
Location: Located in Fredrickson, TX, it’s about an hour and 45 min drive from Austin
Campsites: 35 campsites with water for up to 8 people, 20 primitive hike-in sites for up to 4 people and 75 primitive group camp sites.
The name says it all, you’ll be enchanted by the massive pink granite rock that’s brought visitors from afar for years – like, thousands of years. The best part is, it’s totally hikeable, so you can climb up there and get your ‘grammable pic or just take in the views without putting a filter on it. If you’re not up for a hike on that rock, you’ll find yourself with plenty of other hiking options. If hiking doesn’t fit your fancy, there’s plenty of rope and bouldering options to get your rock climbing fix or natural geologic wonders, like vernal pools, to learn about as you mosey on through. Enchanted Rock also provides some of the best stargazing around – with minimal light pollution, you can really see all your favorite constellations shining brightly – as long as it’s not cloudy, that is.
Photo credit: @amy_anw
Pace Bend Park
Location: Spicewood, TX, it’s only a 45 minute drive into Austin.
Campsites: Over 400 campsites sites
Pace Bend sits in a bend of the Colorado River and offers 9 miles of shoreline, which is also to say that there are plenty of spots for swimming and general lazing about on a beach. Leashed pets are welcome at this cozy site.
Photo credit: @kofioliverphoto
Pedernales State Park
Location: Johnson City, TX, just under an from Austin
Campsites: 69 campsites for up to 8 people with water and electric
Nestled along the Pedernales River, this state park is a great place to relax and take in the scenery. There are plenty of activities to go ‘round too – swimming, tubing, canoeing and kayaking are made possible by the river, and hiking and biking trails for every skill level. If you just happen to have brought your horse along for the, ahem, ride, there are horse campsites and horse trails that will accommodate you and your fur friend.
Photo credit: @zecanard
Inks Lake State Park
Location: Burnet, TX, which is just over an hour drive from Austin
Campsites: Over 180 campsites
As the name suggests, there are plenty of water activities at Inks Lake State Park. In addition to good old fashioned swimming, you can rent paddle boats, kayaks for one or two people and canoes. If self-propelled watercraft isn’t your thing, they do allow motorized boats in certain areas. They also boast 9 miles of hiking trails and recommend this 3 mile Pecan Flats hike. Devil’s Waterhole is not to be missed, you can hike the small canyon there or swim in the waterhole and when Valley Spring Creek is up and running, check out the gorgeous waterfalls. Fun fact: Burnet is known as the Bluebonnet Capital of Texas, so keep your eyes peeled for those beauties sprinkled throughout.