Dripping Springs is a unique destination that people from all over the country quickly fall in love with. It attracts families, retirees, travelers, wedding parties, brewmasters, distillers, entrepreneurs, corporate execs, farmers, and chefs. It has quite the draw for small town Texas, but why?
I recently heard someone describe Dripping Springs as the biggest small town she’d ever been to. Don’t let the population size of under 6,000 confuse you: this town includes many more people and a lot more to explore than what’s included in its official borders. The extra-territorial jurisdiction of Dripping Springs extends south into Driftwood, east into Austin, north to the Travis County line, and west toward Henley.
Dripping Springs is home to over 20 wedding venues and dozens of distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms, and breweries to entertain the wedding parties, as well as local families. Patio weather is year-round in Texas, so on any given sunny Saturday, it can be hard to find a picnic table available at any of the outdoor favorites. This town is quickly adding more restaurants, fast food chains, entertainment venues, churches, and even another HEB. The new developments are popping up annually; the roads are being expanded; the playgrounds are often full; the YMCA is packed; the schools are multiplying; and the sports programs are overwhelmed with little athletes.
Dripping Springs is also home to multiple nicknames, from The Drip to Pound Town to Drinking Springs, each of which has an origin story the locals can tell well. Speaking of locals, there are only a few native Drip residents left, and they know this town’s history well. They remember when there was only one tiny grocery store, when the first car wash popped up, and when there was little to no traffic, except on Founders Weekend. It’s been quite an adjustment to watch their small town expand so quickly in recent years.
My family is not native to this area, but Dripping Springs can quickly feel like anyone’s hometown. I moved here in late 2016, with a husband, three kids, and one more on the way. We had land we intended to build on (then sold); we lived on a few acres for 3 years; and we’re now experiencing the master-planned neighborhood life. All have suited our family well at the time, and no matter where we’ve lived in town, we’ve met the nicest people, who are all fans of their beloved Drip.
What makes this town so appealing, though? How can a place that’s growing rapidly, at a rate of 6% or more each year, still have that small hometown vibe? How can a location so close to the city still resist the influence of “Keep Austin Weird”? How can a once rural community continue to attract life-long city-dwellers? What makes Dripping Springs a place that everyone loves?
This post will attempt to answer those questions from the perspective of someone who once lived in Austin but last moved from the big city of Houston, someone who is raising a family in Dripping Springs with a couple of homeschooled kids and two others in the school district, someone who’s been writing a blog in an attempt to experience as much of what the Hill Country has to offer (yet has barely scratched the surface), someone who hopes this post doesn’t make anyone on the Dripping Springs Neighbors Facebook page angry…
In honor of February, the month with my least favorite “hallmark holiday” smack in the middle of it, here are 28 Things to Love about Dripping Springs. Click on the links in the list to read more about what makes Dripping Springs the place to be.
28 Things to Love about Dripping Springs
(In no particular order…)
- Reimers Ranch Park
- Family-Friendly Breweries
- Parks and Playgrounds
- Proximity to Other Cute Towns in the Hill Country
- The People —- Most Dripping Springs residents are friendly, polite, ethical, genuine, successful, humble, welcoming, and interesting. A majority of locals volunteer at the schools and in kids’ sports. We wave to neighbors walking by. We use manners at the grocery stores and restaurants, chat with the person standing next to us at the playground or in line somewhere, and scoot down to let more people on the football bleachers. We cheer for other people’s children. We help strangers move animals or debris during an emergency, and we open up our homes when others are without water, power, or food. We care. No one can be perfect all of the time, but it’s the general kindness and friendliness of fellow residents that make be proud to call Dripping home.
- Mercer Street
- The Festivals
- The Dark Sky
- The Farmers’ Market
- The Library — We have such a sweet, small-town library, but don’t let its facade fool you. It is very well-stocked, has a huge children’s area with dozens of family activities and contests each month, plus many interesting events for teens and adults.
- Emphasis on a Well-Rounded Education (post about education options and experiences to come soon)
- The Ranch Park and Rodeo
- A Very Active Youth Sports Program (and fabulous volunteers)
- Generous Charitable Organizations — With a full food pantry, an active Veteran program, a variety of small organizations started by local students, a center for youth in crisis, rescue homes for foster children, a pregnancy resource center, services and a thrift shop for the elderly, and conscientious animal shelters, Dripping Springs proves it has a heart for giving.
- Diverse Terrain and Rolling Hills
- The First Responders — Not to boast, but we have the best. The Hays County First Responders are held in high regard due to the love and protection they selflessly provide to Dripping Springs and the surrounding towns. You’ll find local firefighters, police officers, and EMS personnel at almost every town event, teaching children and adults about safety, giving away gifts and important info, and simply making friends with the residents. They’re quick to respond to emergencies and bravely put their lives on the line for others. They uphold a high standard for this part of Texas. They show respect to everyone and have earned it ten-fold.
- West of Weird — Austin is a unique place and a great city to be near, but most people in Dripping are happy to be just outside of the boundaries of the big city. Austin’s motto is “Keep Austin Weird”. Dripping Springs has little interest in weird. Our residents do love the restaurants, the shows, the trails, the playgrounds, and the jobs available in Austin; we just choose a slightly different culture for our daily lives and our families.
- Support of Small Businesses — The franchises are slowly moving in, more on the east side of Dripping Springs, but for a long time, the town shied away from endorsing franchised businesses. The people here are extremely supportive of small businesses and local owners.
- State Parks nearby (Check back soon for a post about our favorites.)
- The YMCA (and the many community events it hosts)
- Church Communities — If anyone asks on the local forums or Facebook page about finding a church in the area, there are hundreds of positive responses. Each church-goer LOVES his or her church, and there’s a reason for it. Narrowing down a church home here can be difficult because each one in and near Dripping Springs does incredible work to serve the body of Christ. Worship services are meaningful and entertaining, and most of the churches offer Bible studies, events, children’s programming, and summer camps to continue to foster a community of faith.
- 4H and Equestrian Barns — Just about every small (and large) town in Texas has roots in ranching. Caring for livestock and connecting with animals are core qualities of native Texans, and these values run deep in Dripping Springs as well. The equestrian, 4H, and FFA communities are active and growing. There are a dozen or more horse-boarding and training barns within 10 miles of Dripping Springs, and several residents keep horses, chickens, goats, cattle, swine, and even “exotic” animals on their properties. There are also therapeutic riding barns serving children and adults with neurological and physical disabilities, most notably the RED Arena. A community that cares for animals and carries on traditions of the past is something most people want to be a part of.
- The Weather — It’s Texas y’all. The weather is unpredictable and usually hot, which is exactly how most of us prefer it. The random ice storms are a pain and the 6-month summer can get tiring; however, the ample sunshine leads to hours spent in the great outdoors, and the challenges presented by random weather events unite neighbors and our community even more.
- Sneak Peak of Country Life — As the “Gateway to the Hill Country”, Dripping Springs allows people to dip their toes into country life. It’s a step in the direction toward settling out west in rural America while still having all the conveniences that we depend on close by. Rarely do I meet a Dripping resident who hasn’t dreamed of more land and a simpler country life. Many have been able to find that on beautiful acreage in DS, but many are biding their time and seeing that dream as a possibility just a little further down the road.
- Safety — The crime rate is low, and we intend to keep it that way.
- Plethora of Car Washes, Banks, and Mattress Stores — This one is just for the locals. #insidejoke
George P. Bush, as land commissioner, once said, “Texas isn’t just a place on a map… it’s an idea in the hearts of our people.” I believe this to be true for every small town within Texas, but some towns represent the Texas ideal just a little bit better than others. Dripping Springs happens to be one of them.
I’d love to hear what others think makes our town a place that everyone loves. Please comment below and subscribe to the Dripping with Kids blog to read more about the best of Dripping Springs and the Texas Hill Country.
There is a freedom you begin to feel the closer you get to Austin, Texas.-Willie Nelson