Marina On Lake Travis In Austin, Texas during sunset.

Best Day Trips From Austin to Take This Summer

A day trip is like a small vacation, a great chance to go outside, relax, and refill your emotional energy. If you need some inspiration, here you will find amazing spots near Austin, the capital of Texas. No matter if you are a city resident or came to visit for a few days, you can include these fantastic destinations in your travel itinerary. With each locale less than 1.5 hours away, you can make the most of the day at these stunning attractions. So, get comfy, take a cold drink, and prepare for the best day trips from Austin.

Hamilton Pool Preserve

Water falling into a pool of water, Hamilton Pool in Austin, Texas
Hamilton Pool in Austin, Texas.

Hamilton Pool Preserve is a natural gem located in the Texas Hill Country. It is about 30 miles or 45 minutes by car west of Austin. Hamilton Pool is one of Texas's most beautiful watering holes that captivates visitors all over the state. A gorgeous jade-green lake with a glittering waterfall tumbling above a limestone canyon makes this place outstanding. Lush surrounding vegetation creates a tranquil and attractive environment. 

Hikers who enjoy the outdoors can explore the preserve's pathways and find secret caverns and a variety of creatures there. The preserve is currently available for hiking, but reservations are still necessary. Swimming may be restricted, depending on water level, weather conditions, and the problem of falling rocks. Visitors can check this info on Travis County Parks' official website.

San Marcos River

Kayakers practice on the spring-fed San Marcos River on October 1, 2011 in San Marcos, Texas. In recorded history the river has never run dry.
Kayakers practice on the spring-fed San Marcos River in San Marcos, Texas. Image credit Valerie Johnson via Shutterstock

The San Marcos River initiates from hundreds of springs right in the center of San Marcos. This crystal-clear river is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and wildlife lovers. It is nearly 50 miles away from Austin, depending on your route. The river provides a cool break from the Texas heat with its year-round average temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Popular activities include canoeing, kayaking, and tubing, which let tourists immerse themselves in the mild currents and take in the vivid aquatic life and lush greenery. Being adjacent to the sacred Spring Lake, a place of spiritual veneration for Native American tribes, the San Marcos River is also significant from a cultural perspective. The area around the Springs is one of the oldest continually inhabited areas in North America, according to artifacts found by archaeologists.

Palmetto State Park

Dwarf Palmettos can be seen along the trails of Palmetto State Park, Gonzales, Texas
Dwarf Palmettos along the trails of Palmetto State Park, Texas.

Known as an oasis in central Texas, Palmetto State Park is a perfect destination for everyone who wants to find a piece of the tropics not far from Austin. It is about 60 miles from the city and worth planning a day trip there. The park derives its name from its remarkable stands of dwarf palmetto plants. Lush greenery, towering trees, and crystal-clear waterways provide a serene atmosphere that draws nature lovers. Palmetto State Park caters to all interests with various activities, including hiking, birdwatching, fishing, and swimming in the spring-fed pool. To fully experience the park's tranquil surroundings, guests can also enjoy the park's attractive picnic places and well-equipped camping facilities.

San Antonio

View of the San Antonio River walk. Sunny day. Famous tourist place. Pink blooming tree by the river
View of the San Antonio River Walk. Image credit Meyta via Shutterstock

In the heart of the Lone Star State, San Antonio is a fusion of Texan and Mexican influences, providing a completely eclectic experience. The shortest route between Austin and San Antonio is about 80 miles. Visitors love the picturesque River Walk, making navigating the downtown area easy. The River Walk's covered walkways link thousands of stores, eateries, lodgings, historical sites, museums, and attractions. In addition, the city has a flourishing arts scene that includes the Tobin Centre for the Performing Arts and the renowned San Antonio Museum of Art. San Antonio offers an exceptional experience for all visitors, from delicious Tex-Mex food to energetic festivities like Fiesta.

Inner Space Cavern in Georgetown

Colorful scene in the Inner Space Caverns
Colorful scene in the Inner Space Caverns.

Discovered in 1963 during highway construction, Inner Space Cavern is one of the best-preserved caves in Texas. It is less than 30 miles from Austin and a great place to hide from the burning sun. The inside temperature of 72 degrees is constant all year. The Inner Space Caverns offers different guided tours. Each gives you access to an ancient world that has evolved for millions of years. Visitors go through a maze of limestone tunnels decorated with stalactites, stalagmites, and other magnificent formations. It is a fantastic place to see the strength and beauty of nature's sculpting hand.

Jacob's Well in Wimberley

Hiker at Jacob’s Well in Wimberley, Texas
Hiker at Jacob’s Well in Wimberley, Texas.

Jacob's Well is a natural wonder in Wimberley that enchants tourists with its spectacular beauty and mysterious charm. The distance from Austin is about 35 miles. This artesian spring creates a fascinating underwater cave system. Adventurers and divers love its pristine waters, diving into a fantastical world of breathtaking formations. As one goes deeper, the well's walls appear like an enchanting underwater cathedral, ornamented with beautiful stalactites and prehistoric rock formations. Jacob's Well offers a cool haven that offers relief from the Texas heat. It mesmerizes visitors with its calm presence as it is a tribute to nature's unbridled strength and breathtaking beauty.

Lake Travis

green summer landscape at the lake , Travis lake landscape lake relaxing overlook view of the central Texas hill country outside of Austin Texas
Looking out over Lake Travis in the summer.

Lake Travis is a stunning reservoir that draws visitors with its natural beauty and abundant recreational opportunities. It is nearly 20 miles from Austin and perfect for a day getaway if you love water activities. The lake offers a picturesque setting for boating, fishing, and water sports enthusiasts. The lake's crystal-clear, blue waters are ideal for swimming and provide a cool respite from the sweltering Texas summers. Rolling hills and beautiful plants around the lake invites visitors to explore its hiking trails and campgrounds. Additionally, Lake Travis offers opulent lakefront resorts, golf courses, and waterfront eating options, making it a prime location for leisure and relaxation.

There are many options to choose from for exciting day trips from Austin. From the stunning natural beauty of Hamilton Pool and Jacob's Well to the inter-cultural charm of San Antonio, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Exploring closely located lakes, rivers, or caverns can make your summer unforgettable.


More in Places