This is just a quick postcard to tell you what we got up to on our recent family holiday in the Texas Hill Country between San Antonio and Austin. Texas is pretty flat so the Texans are very proud of the gently rolling hill country – even though the hills are not that high, it’s a pretty drive especially with the spring wildflowers in bloom and there are plenty of small interesting towns to visit.
We spent some time touring the area, both on our way driving from San Antonio to Austin and on the way back when we were lucky enough to stay in the beautiful JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort that’s half an hour’s drive north of San Antonio and makes a great base for discovering some of the hill country. You may find it difficult to tear yourself away from the resort which is really beautiful and has three restaurants and its own waterpark area as well as two golf courses.
While we were there we ate in the High Velocity Sports bar where the children were mesmerised by the huge sports screens around the room and the Cibolo Moon that serves Texan and Mexican cuisine and had a tequila tasting at the bar where they mix a mean Marguerita.
We felt that we couldn’t leave Texas without getting a taste of the cowboy culture on a ranch and so we headed for Bandera, a small town with big ambitions to be the Cowboy Capital of the World – this is the best place to base yourself if you want to stay on a ranch in this part of Texas, as the riding extends into the Hill Country State Natural Area. If you stay for a few days you will get plenty of horseback riding and other cowboy stuff like sitting around the camp-fire, hay bale rides, rodeo and honing your lasso skills. As horse-riding novices, we just went for an hour’s trail ride at the Silver Spur Ranch that was great fun even though my legs were complaining afterwards.
Another fun thing to do in the area is to go rafting or tubing on the Guadalupe river that flows through the German settler town of New Braunfels. We headed for the historic district of Gruene and hired our tubes at Rockin’R right by the river – the deal is that they own various camp grounds along the river where you can get dropped off or picked up and they will give you and your tube a lift in their van.
We spent an hour and a half sitting in our tubes drifting lazily down the river passing, through the occasional small rapids that caused squeals of delight and spotted numerous river turtles sunning themselves on logs and rocks in the river. After being unable to take any photos or video except a family shot at the beginning I’m definitely adding a waterproof camera to my wish list.
The Texas Hill Country is a great place to try out some of the Texas food specialities and we took full advantage of the many great eateries both on our drive up to Austin and during the couple of days we later spent exploring the area. I’d done my research from the Roadfood.com website that takes pride in documenting where you can eat great regional food while on your road trip throughout the USA. In Gruene Historic district we finished our tubing adventures with a great Tex-Mex lunch at the colourful Cantina Del Rio (just love the Taco plates) followed by a Bluebell Ice Cream Cone from the Gruene General store.
We made a pilgrimage to the legendary Black’s Barbecue in Lockhart – if you’re the type that longs to cruise the open road on a Harley Davidson this place is for you. First you need to stand in line to get your salads and have slabs of Barbecue beef brisket or ribs carved in front of you, then take it into the diner style restaurant with hunting trophies and sporting memorabilia on the wall. If you’re lucky you might get a tour out back to see the ovens where the meat is cooked slowly over smoking oak logs and the fire has burned continuously since the 1940s. I can assure you, with a squirt of their own special recipe BBQ sauce, it was mouthwateringly, rib-sticking good.
Every good barbecue deserves a slice of home-cooked Texan pie to follow, and we found ours at the Texas Pie Company in Kyle, where it’s a tough choice between Key Lime, Lemon Chess, Coconut macaroon, Fudge Pecan and many more. We each tried one of the individual sized pies and loved the huge pie slice on the roof outside and their slogan “Life’s short – Eat more Pie”
This is all just a taster of the many more stories, photos, videos and podcasts to come from this trip so stay tuned for more of what we enjoyed in Texas.
Links to all the good stuff in the Texas Hill Country
- We stayed at the luxurious JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort with several restaurants, water park, 2 golf course, a spa and something for all ages and tastes to enjoy.
- We went horse-back riding near Bandera (Cowboy Capital of the World) at the Silver Spur Ranch
- We went Tubing on the Guadalupe River near New Braunfels and hired our tubes from Rockin’ R and afterwards visited the Gruene Historic District
- We used recommendations from Roadfood.com to discover Black’s Barbecue in Lockhart and the Texas Pie Company in Kyle
- We booked our hire car that took us all through the Texas Hill Country through Argus car Hire