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Texas is as big as they say. The best way to see it is in small chunks so you can focus and savor each unique bit. You can choose from among sights and topographies that are as varied as the entire United States, including piney woods, national seashores, big cities, desert plains and incredibly deep canyons. Whether you’re looking for a romantic weekend getaway or a family vacation, there is a lot to see. And Texans are friendly and welcoming, ready to make your stay memorable in the best ways.
From the flat plains of the panhandle to the coastal ports of Houston, from El Paso to Houston, Texas is big. Really big. France and Switzerland together could nestle into the same amount of land as the Lone Star State; we’re talking about more than 268,000 square miles.
Seeing everything will take a satisfyingly long time, especially if you want to savor it as you go. These 15+ weekend getaways in Texas offer just the right amount of fun for a few days, whether you want a romantic “just us” trip or plan to bring the whole crew.
Weekend Getaways Near Austin
The capital of Texas is not exactly in the geographical middle of Texas, but it’s close enough. Tempered by the bustling University of Texas campus juxtaposed with the highest capitol building in the country (because Texas had to be biggest, of course), Austin and the surrounding Hill Country includes a wealth of variety. You’ll find cowboys and dance halls tucked in between towering buildings and high-tech companies.
Speaking of dance halls, the Broken Spoke is one place you’re going to want to visit without kids. Established in 1964, the Broken Spoke bills itself as “the last of the true Texas dance halls” and that may be true but it’s going to have to fight for that distinction with Gruene Dance Hall, an hour away.
Austin is growing rapidly, which means hotels, resorts and restaurants are popping up like Texas wildflowers in the spring. If you haven’t been to the Hill Country area in the spring when the bluebonnets are blooming from every crack in the sidewalk with dogged determination, it’s a sight you’re not going to want to miss. (Here are our favorite spots to see the Texas bluebonnets and here are our tips for doing it safely.)
When in Austin, stay at the Driskill for old-fashioned glamour or the Westin downtown for a decidedly modern visit. From there, visit some of these fun towns for the best weekend getaways within driving distance.
1.5 hour drive from Austin
Known for its charming antique shops and proliferation of wineries within a stone’s throw from anywhere you stand, Fredericksburg is a lovely weekend option. Before indulging in dinner and wine tasting at a local café, adventurers will want to stop and see the Enchanted Rock State Natural Park for climbing, hiking and stargazing; the view from the top is glorious.
For families, Barons CreekSide sets you up in a Swiss log cabin village set on 26 acres. This delightful facility also offers sleeping quarters in the Barons Wagon, a replica of a vintage Conestoga wagon. It’s one of our favorite spots for glamping in Texas.
45 minute drive from Austin
Looking for a water park on a hot summer day? Make the drive to Schlitterbahn to enjoy its thrill rides and a cool, refreshing float on the lazy river. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to rent a cabana too, so you can recharge in the shade and have your meals delivered; that’s what we call a vacation.
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While you’re planning your getaway, you might as well book SchlitterStein Lofts for upscale overnight stays overlooking the Comal River and right across the street from the water park.
1.5 hour drive from Austin
Second in population size only to Houston, San Antonio is rich with culture, nightlife and history. The famous Riverwalk is lined with plenty of restaurants where you can get a satisfying cup of queso and delicious chips, and you’ll definitely remember the Alamo when you stop off at the historic battle site.
There are more things to do in San Antonio with kids than you can possibly fit into a weekend, since it boasts SeaWorld, Six Flags amusement park, LEGOLAND and a world-class zoo among other fun things to do.
Hilton Hill Country San Antonio Resort is an excellent choice for lodging, and in between activities you can rest in your cozy, luxurious bed and catch a nap.
1 hour drive from Austin
Snugly situated in Texas Hill Country, Gruene is an adorable burg just northeast of New Braunfels. Wander the main street for gifts and ice cream, then march yourself into the Gristmill for a delicious dinner in an eclectic building that melds old and new.
With the kids, take the chance to rent a tube and float the Comal or head to nearby Fischer Park for a hike and picnic. Little ones will love the McKenna Children’s Museum nearby in New Braunfels.
Stay at the Gruene Mansion Inn, which has 33 distinctly designed rooms in a Victorian mansion, each suite with its own entrance.
Horseshoe Bay/ Marble Falls
1 hour drive from Austin
OK, if you’re thinking about staying at the Horseshoe Bay Resort on Lake LBJ, the first thing you need to know is that one of the best pie places in the world is only 10 minutes away in Marble Falls. Blue Bonnet Cafe has been open since 1929, and its pies (don’t miss the chocolate meringue) are legendary.
After you’ve had your fill, head back to the resort to hit the links at the golf course, relax in the swimming pool and hot tub or book an appointment at the spa while the kids are at the Jungle Kids Club.
Weekend Getaways Near Dallas
Contrary to the dreams of anyone who watched the TV show “Dallas” in the 1980s, the city of Dallas does not look like Southfork Ranch. There are lots of fun things to do in Dallas with kids, including live music, restaurants of every kind, shopping and some of our favorite museums.
The Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex is a bustling area in central Texas with two major airports right in the middle (Dallas-Forth Worth and Dallas Love Field), making it easy and quick to fly to Austin, San Antonio or Houston for weekend trips.
In Dallas, you’ll be happy staying in Grapevine at the Gaylord Texan – especially at Christmastime, when the hotel is dressed in its finest holiday glamour – and it is a quick jaunt to Fort Worth for old-style Texan fun.
30 minute drive from Dallas
The twin cities of Fort Worth and Dallas are woven together, but they couldn’t be more different from each other. Fort Worth is famous for its Stockyards, where you can buy all of the Western gear and clothing and hats you need to feel like a Texan from the Wild West.
Billy Bob’s Honky Tonk is a must-see, the Fort Worth Botanical Garden is a surprising oasis on a pretty day and the barbeque here can’t be beat. In fact, please don’t leave Fort Worth without sampling the melt-in-your-mouth brisket from Cooper’s. Vegetarians can skip the meat and go straight for the creamy mac and cheese and a tossed salad. The cobblers are must-haves too.
Recommended: the historic Stockyards Hotel, where you can rest your head in the same place as folks have since 1906.
1.5 hour drive from Dallas
Chip and Joanna Gaines of the TV show “Fixer Upper” made Waco famous with its lovingly designed Silo District. Most people just call the area “Magnolia” and they know they can get unbelievably delectable baked goods (including their classic cupcakes) and just about any home decor item you can think of. There are plenty of fun things to do in Waco besides Magnolia Market too.
For a romantic weekend getaway, you can even stay in the Silo District at one of three vacation homes fixed up on the show, so you can tell your friends that you stayed at Chip and Jo’s place when you visited Waco.
1 hour drive from Dallas
As if someone took the best parts of the 1950s and preserved them here, Granbury is a modern Mayberry. Voted USA Today’s Best Historic Small Town in America in 2019 and 2020, this is one town that is far more than skin deep.
Including an opera house built in 1886 and recently restored, the Historic Granbury Square was the first courthouse square in Texas to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
When you get hungry, the Eighteen Ninety Grille and Lounge is where you go when you feel like being fancy and Ketzler’s Schnitzel Haus and Biergarten for authentic German food.
Weekend Getaways Near Houston
First-time visitors to Houston are often surprised by how metropolitan it is. With a rich diversity of cultures and topography, Houston has a little bit of something for everyone. The Gulf of Mexico is southeast of the city, and on the way you can stop at resort town Kemah and the NASA Space Center. To the southwest, Sugarland has all the shopping you could ever want. Downtown, activities abound like the Houston Zoo or an Astros baseball game at Minute Maid Park.
When you’re ready to eat, rest assured that for any cuisine you can imagine, Houston has it.
1 hour drive from Houston
On the Gulf Coast, Galveston Island and Galveston Bay area are vibrant seascapes with lots to do for families. Kayak rentals abound, or you can hop on an amphibious boat tour or catch a fishing charter for outdoor fun.
Being close to the ocean means lots of seafood options for dinner, and Galveston hosts scores of festivals based on various cultural themes with food to match.
For something a little different, rent an RV and have it delivered to a space at Jamaica Beach RV Park with an unobstructed view to the Bay.
South Padre Island
6 hours from Houston
Kissing the border of Mexico, the island of South Padre is a hotspot for college spring breakers for its fun-loving weather. If you like your vacations a little more tame, you might want to skip Padre in March and April.
And if a different kind of wildlife is more your speed, you’re going to want to plan to visit the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, which includes a five-story watchtower to view migrating birds. It’s one of our don’t-miss recommendations for visiting South Padre Island with kids. The South Padre Island Dolphin Research & Sealife Nature Center offers boat tours and touch tanks for the whole family to enjoy as well.
For the full resort vacation experience, stay at Isla Grand Beach Resort, which has just about any amenity you can think of from surfing lessons to a pirate ship cruise to several fun restaurants.
Brenham and College Station
1 hour drive from Houston
You’re not going to want to miss a tour of the Blue Bell Ice Cream plant (which, of course, comes with a taste of delicious, freshly made ice cream) and if you can, catch a game at Kyle Field at Texas A&M. The Marching Aggie Band puts on quite a show.
The Inn at Dos Brisas will blow you away with its five-star restaurant, fireside s’mores packages that are delivered to your room and its equestrian center, where you can go for a horseback ride with an instructor or on your own. If your kids are 12 and older or if you want a romantic getaway for two, the Ant Street Inn is charming and cozy in all seasons.
Romantic Texas Weekend Getaway Ideas
30 minutes from Austin
Located on a sandy bend of Lake Travis, Lakeway Resort and Spa is a couples’ getaway dream. While it’s only 25 miles from downtown Austin, it feels like a world away.
You’re going to appreciate the opportunity for a sunset cruise through Texas Yachts, and you can easily get to wineries in the vicinity for an elegant tasting of the best grapes Texas has to offer. This could easily be a day trip or even a quick one-night escape location to reconnect and recalibrate.
Miraval Resort and Spa
30 minutes from Austin
This spa and resort is strictly for grownups (18 and up) and you’re going to want to check out the Hill Country King Room, which comes with an outdoor shower and sweeping third-story views of the Canyonland Preserve.
Sink into a plush bed to relax or take a meditation class, quietly sweeping out all of the stress from your everyday lives and return home a brand-new person.
25 minutes from San Antonio
If you want something truly upscale in every way, book a stay at La Cantera. A sparkling pool, spa services and two golf courses await at this AAA four-star resort, and it lives up to its reputation for high-class service.
Don your favorite little black dress and sample wine from local vintners, then settle into your sumptuous room before drifting off to a satisfied Hill Country sleep.
20 minutes from downtown San Antonio
For the right balance of city life and small-town comfort, the Hotel Ella is an excellent choice for a couples’ retreat. Think Frette linens, seersucker “guayabera” robes and a two-story bar serving up the familiar and the unusual.
The hotel building itself is in the middle of the Pearl historic district and alive with tradition, built in the late 1800s.
You’ll be charmed by the colorful glassware used at Hotel Emma, which is crafted nearby by a special group of Mexican artisans. Feel like a swim? Even the rooftop provisions are overseen by local chef John Brand, who knows how to make even a snack special.
Other Weekend Getaways in Texas
Feel like venturing further into the wilds for an epic Texas road trip?
Or put the Palo Duro canyon, Texas’ answer to Arizona’s Grand Canyon, on your bucket list; while you’re at it, stop by Amarillo and Cadillac Ranch. These also are some of the best spots for glamping in Texas — all the fun of camping with none of the sleeping on the ground!