Best Frugal Alternatives to Austin Attractions

Save Money with These Alternatives to Austin and Hill Country Hot Spots

There seem to be limitless attractions, trails, swimming holes, museums, playgrounds, classes, farms, festivals, and historical sites in Austin and within the surrounding Texas Hill Country. My kids and I enjoy almost everything in this area! However, too many choices can paralyze the planner; they can also blow the budget.

Two of my kids are homeschooled, and we have a lot of time each day to fill with unique learning experiences. The term “homeschool” can often be a misnomer. We don’t really replicate school, and we also don’t stay home all that much. Many of my weekly plans involve getting my kids out of the house.

Unfortunately, many attractions, even those in natural landscapes, can be upwards of $20 per person. That adds up too quickly, especially with a large family. We’re often searching for options that are free or at least cost half as much as the typical attraction price.

To help with my own planning (and yours), I’ve made a list of frugal alternatives to the top attractions in the Austin area and the Texas Hill Country. These alternatives are not only cheaper, but they’re likely to be less crowded, especially on weekdays.

Hot Spot: Hamilton Pool ($12/car + $8/adult)

Frugal alternative: FREE Hamilton Greenbelt

While Hamilton Greenbelt is more of a trail than a tourist attraction, it offers a view of waterfalls, shaded walking trails, creeks to splash in (if it’s been raining), a bird blind, picnic tables and grassy area for sunning, a few animal sculptures to search for, and no fee, plus free parking.


Hot Spot: Umlauf Sculpture Garden ($7/adult)

Frugal alternatives:

FREE day at Contemporary Art Museum and Laguna Gloria (all day Thursdays)

See beautiful sculptures as you stroll along the calm waters of the Colorado River. Add on a visit to Mayfield Park to make your day truly unique and tranquil.

FREE Bee Cave Sculpture Park Trail

This short trail is a fun stop to add on to a day at the Hill Country Galleria, where you can visit the cute library, do a little shopping, and see additional art exhibits along the store fronts and at Bee Cave Art Foundation.


Hot Spot: The Thinkery Children’s Museum ($18/person)

Frugal alternatives:

FREE Museum Day on Sept 17th

Check out multiple museums for free on every second to last Sunday in September each year. Click on the link above to find participating museums.

McKenna Children’s Museum in New Braunfels ($8/person)

This museum is my younger kids’ absolute favorite! Their imaginations come alive in the many role play areas, including the hospital room, the grocery store, the space station, the bank, the art studio, and the outdoor water play area. We spend the whole day there for just $8 per person. Plus, there are several cute restaurants nearby to grab lunch. (Admission fee grants you in/out access all day.)

Johnson City Science Mill ($11/adult, $9.50/child)

If you’re up for more science-focused exhibits, the Science Mill is a frugal alternative with both indoor and outdoor hands-on experiences. They have many special events throughout the year as well.


Hot Spot: The Austin Zoo ($19/adult, $16/child)

Frugal Alternative: FREE Austin Nature and Science Center

Check out animal exhibits, both indoor and outdoor, a frog pond and streams where you can catch tadpoles with your own net, discovery rooms with insect and animal specimens, as well as a sandy dino dig area…. all for free.


Hot Spot: San Antonio Zoo ($32/adult, $28/child)

Frugal alternative: Cameron Park Zoo in Waco ($14/adult, $10/child)

If you’re willing to travel out of town for a bigger, better zoo experience, head north instead of south. You’ll find several of the same animals and a more chill and close-up experience at the Cameron Park Zoo. If you really, really love zoos like we do, it might be worth looking into a zoo membership for reciprocal discounts at other zoos.


Hot Spot: Kayak Tour of Austin ($45)

Frugal alternative: Zilker Boats BOGO Deal ($21/2 hours)

Explore Lady Bird Lake on a kayak or paddleboard and take in the downtown skyline, as well as the beauty of Zilker Park, for half the price (on weekdays). Coupon is on the site linked above.


Hot Spot: Bob Bolluck State History Museum ($13/adult, $9/child)

Frugal alternative: FREE day at Bob Bullock State History Museum

HEB sponsors a FREE museum day on the first Sunday of each month at the Bob Bullock Museum from 10 am – 5 pm.


Hot Spot: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center ($15/adult, $8/child over 4)

Frugal alternative: FREE Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg

If your goal is to stroll among beautiful wildflowers, marvel at creative art pieces, find cute photo ops, enjoy a picnic or cafe-style lunch, roam free in the great outdoors, and even do a little wine tasting or shopping, this free alternative is the way to go. There aren’t as many play areas specific to children, but this unique spot hosts many fun events with kid-friendly activities, including a Fall Festival on September 23rd with face painting, pumpkin patches, and games.


Hot Spot: Guadalupe or Comal River Tubing Float ($20-$25/person)

Frugal alternative: FREE Rio Vista Park at San Marcos River

Hit the rapids, jump off the bridge, linger in the shade, or float the slow current of the San Marcos River. Bring your own tube to drop in at Rio Vista Park and head downstream a short ways to find one of the best tube chutes around.


Hot Spot: ZACH Theater Performance ($15-$40)

Frugal alternatives:

FREE musicals at Hill Country Galleria or Zilker Hillside (summer only)

Keep these options in mind for next summer. There are shows almost every night of the week with kid-friendly themes and excellent actors, all for free.

Affordable high school musicals ($10-$15/person)

Check the high school websites in your area for musicals in the Fall and in the Spring. Most are produced at a very high quality, and there’s a lot of young talent on those stages!


Hot Spot: Barton Springs Pool ($5-$9/adult, $3-$5/child)

Frugal alternative: FREE Barking Springs

This open access swimming area is just downstream from the popular swimming hole. It’s open year-round and has no restrictions on food and drink. It can attract a crowd, as well as lots of dogs, during popular times and really hot days. Swim at your own risk and go early to claim a spot on the bank. The easiest way to access Barking Springs is to go down the staircase just east of the Zilker Park Playground. You can park in the first parking lot near the playground.


Hot Spot: Austin Aquarium ($25/adult, $20/child)

Frugal alternative: The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment ($12/adult, $8/child)

Head down to San Marcos for a glass bottom boat tour, aquarium, discovery center, and trails. The cost is significantly less, and the experience is focused on conservation and education. If you want a truly frugal experience, go on a Family Fun Day for FREE admission and activities for children. There are also homeschool days that mimic a field trip for only $10/person (pre-registration required).


Hot Spot: Austin Bouldering Project ($20/person)

Frugal alternative: Hill Country Indoor Climbing Area ($5/person)

For only $5/hour, you can try out a variety of challenging and unique climbing walls at Hill Country Indoor, even if you’re not a member of the gym. Call ahead to make sure the climbing area isn’t reserved for a party.


Hot Spot: Painting with a Twist ($40-$50/event) OR fee-based art classes

Frugal alternative: FREE Art Classes at Buda City Library

This library has several options for all ages, including teen art projects and Adult Art with Inspired Minds, but they have more than just art classes. There are also STEM classes for homeschoolers, come and go crafting, cooking classes, and more.


Hot Spot: Pioneer Farms ($8/adult, $6/child)

Frugal alternative: FREE LBJ State Park and Sauer-Beckmann Farm

While Pioneer Farms is a cool place and not that expensive, Sauer-Beckmann Farm and LBJ State Park are completely free, and it’s one of our favorite attractions in the area. There are period actors every day working the farm and demonstrating how people homesteaded more than 100 years ago. There are also hiking trails, a museum, and animals to visit.


We hope this list encourages you to check out some of the lesser-known attractions in the area! It’s true that some require more of a drive and maybe a bit more packing or planning, but my family thinks it’s all worth it. Plus, the savings make a huge difference, allowing us to get out and explore even more.

If you’d like to experience some of the bigger attractions, as well as semi-professional games, in San Antonio, Waco, and Austin at a huge discount, check out the POGO Pass, which charges one annual fee per person for free admission into multiple family-friendly places.

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Hiking

A Favorite (and Easy) Hiking Spot in Austin: Gus Fruh

Popular for Climbing and Biking Too

In our mission to spend 1000 hours outside this year, we’ve decided to revisit some of our favorite hiking spots, and seek out new ones as well, in our series titled “This Week’s Hike”.

✅ Trails for Children

✅ Swimming (seasonal, rare, and dependent on rainfall)

❌ Bathrooms

❌ Playground and Sports Fields

✅ Free Admission for Park and Trails (and free parking)

❌ Stroller-friendly Trails

❌ Reservations needed

In the heart of a quiet Austin neighborhood, just a few miles from dozens of popular restaurants and ATX attractions, lies a beautiful hiking trail and climbing spot with options for all levels of outdoor enthusiasts. We’re excited to share everything we love about the Gus Fruh “Beach” and Trails! (2642 Barton Hills Dr, Austin, TX 78704-4536 )

Variety of Trails

Whether hiking with tiny tots or solo with climbing gear in your bag, this is the place for you! The trail options are many, from a meandering flat surface that takes you to the (usually dry) creek bed to the rocky paths and large boulders that lead to the popular rock climbing spots.

Easy Parking and Access

Google Maps will take you directly to the entrance. You can park for free on the street nearby and walk along the sidewalk directly to the trailhead. There’s a sign at the entrance.

Hours of Nature Exploration

While there are no benches or bathrooms, there are many spots along the trails that allow for nature exploration… bouldering, climbing trees, crawling through natural tunnels, collecting rocks, and traversing rocky terrain. The creek bed is easy to get to, so once there, even little ones can explore while their parents take a rest.

Restaurants Nearby

After burning calories hiking, climbing, and exploring, treat yourself to burgers, beer, and ice cream, as well as more play time on the playground, at Phil’s Ice House or enjoy delicious pizza at Pinthouse Pizza | Craft Brewpub | Austin Texas. There are dozens of additional options within 5-10 minutes of Gus Fruh as well.

Gus Fruh is perfect for a quick hike or a full screen-free afternoon with your family. For other family hike recommendations in the Texas Hill Country, check out This Week’s Hike!

Follow @dripping_with_kids on Instagram or this blog so you don’t miss out on the best places to go in the Texas Hill Country! We’d love to hear about your favorites as well.

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Bucket list Hiking

The Best FREE State Park in Texas

In our mission to spend 1000 hours outside this year, we’ve decided to revisit some of our favorite hiking spots and seek out new ones as well. We’ll be sharing our hiking experiences and recommendations with you in our series titled “This Week’s Hike”.

✅ Trails for Children

✅ Swimming (seasonal)

✅ Bathrooms

✅ Playground and Sports Fields

✅ Free Admission for Park and Trails

✅ Stroller-friendly Trails and Bike Trails

❌ Reservations needed

Just an hour or so west of Austin, and down the road from the best wineries in the Texas Hill Country, sits one of our favorite state parks! It checks every box for adults and children alike. We’re excited to share everything we love about the LBJ State and National Park in Stonewall, TX.

The Museum and Visitor Center

Upon arrival, check in at the Visitor Center for a free parking pass. While inside, peruse the gift shop full of locally-made soaps, confectionaries, home decor, jams and butters, as well as educational toys and books. Also, ask for Junior Ranger workbooks for the kids to guide them along both the state park and the national park areas. Just past the visitor center is a small museum and a pioneer house to explore. Then, make your way on to…

Easy and Interesting Trails

The “Monster Tree” on the LBJ State Park Nature Trail

The trails from the visitor center are mostly shaded and easy for all skill/age levels. Amazing trees border the flat trail, and there are plaques with interesting info on local flaura and fauna. Plus, they lead to the best parts of the park….

The Animals!

Texas Longhorns!

After a short walk, you’ll be greeted by huge, gorgeous Texas longhorns, as well as white tail deer, if they’re feeling friendly. You can also follow the trail to see a herd of bison or take an alternate route to the …

Working Farm with More Animal Encounters

One of the highlights of this park is that the trail leads you to the Sauer-Beckman Homestead and Farm, where your kids can collect the multi-colored eggs from the chicken coop on a slow day; where the wild turkeys stage a Thanksgiving Day revenge by sneaking up behind you, yelping at the top of their lungs, and then laughing at your expense as they dart up onto the branches of the huge live oaks; where the sheep meander along the walkways; where the hens peck at your feet; and where the hogs put on a muddy show if your olfactory glands can withstand the potent stench of their pen.

You can also tour the original farmhouse and homestead, often while munching on farm-fresh delicacies prepared in the century-old kitchen that day. After you’ve worked up an appetite, complete your meal at one of the…

Picnic Areas and Playground

There are multiple picnic areas with bathrooms nearby and plenty of green space to run around after eating. In one area, there’s an old-school playground with a metal swingset, slide, and see-saw. If you or your kids have more energy to burn, add in additional playtime at the…

Swimming Pool, Tennis Courts, and Baseball Field

The swimming pool is open during the summer months for a nominal fee, and the tennis courts and baseball field are open year-round. You may want to call ahead to make sure they’re not reserved on the day of your visit. Also, these areas will require you to take a much longer hike or to hop in your car to drive to them. But while in your car, you can add on a driving tour of …

LBJ’s Working Ranch

Take a self-guided tour of the president’s family homestead, the working cattle ranch, the small schoolhouse LBJ attended, the cemetery where he’s buried, the Texas White House, and the president’s jet. It’s about a 20 minute drive to see the whole ranch, with opportunities to get out and explore the exhibits mentioned. Bonus: There’s a beautiful winery along the driving trail! To finish up your visit, find a peaceful spot and…

Go Fishing in the Pedernales

The beautiful river separates the state park and the national historic site of LBJ’s Ranch. Even if you forget your fishing gear, it’s a peaceful spot to view wildlife like the blue heron and to try to spot large fish in the clear water. Check here for fishing rules.

Whether you visit LBJ State Park and National Historic Site for an escape to nature, for a little exercise, to see the farm, to view the animals, or to learn the history, you won’t be disappointed. We’ve visited this state park at least five times in the last few years, and each experience has been different from the last. We hope you fall in love just as we have.

Follow @dripping_with_kids on Instagram or this blog so you don’t miss out on the best places to go in the Texas Hill Country! We’d love to hear about your favorite spots too, and I’d be happy to add them to This Week’s Hike!

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Hiking

Austin’s Nature and Science Center

In our mission to spend 1000 hours outside this year, we’ve decided to revisit some of our favorite hiking spots and seek out new ones as well. We’ll be sharing our experiences often in our series titled “This Week’s Hike”.

✅ Trails for Children

❌ Swimming (seasonal)

✅ Bathrooms

✅ Playground nearby

✅ Free Admission for Science Exhibits, Play Area, and Trails

✅ Stroller-friendly Trails and Bike Trails

❌ Reservations needed

Trail leading to Austin Nature and Science Center

In the heart of Austin, among the many Zilker Park attractions and trails, lies a unique center with multiple attractions drawing adults and children alike to explore and discover the best parts of nature and the science behind it. We’re excited to share everything we love about Austin Nature and Science Center! (2389 Stratford Drive, Austin, TX)

Unique Museum and Science Center

Austin Nature and Science Center hands-on exploration

As you walk through the doors of the Nature Center, you’ll first be pleased to discover that there’s no admission fee. It’s FREE!

But then you’ll soon be mesmerized even more by the opportunities to explore bug and animal skeletons, 3D maps, furs, fossils, and other fascinating artifacts. It might be tempting to stay inside for your whole visit, experiencing the hands-on science exhibits, but make sure you leave time to explore the great outdoors as well.

The Animals!

Exhibit at Austin Nature and Science Center

There are multiple indoor and outdoor exhibits of animals native to Texas, including snakes, fish, amphibians, raccoons, bobcats, and birds of prey.

Dino Pit

Dig for fossils in the Dino Pit at Austin Nature and Science Center

If you’re with little ones, this hike will be very slow-moving because there are many stops for kids along the paths. The most popular attraction for my kids is the Dino Pit, where they can dig through a huge sand pit for fossils and random left-behind toys. (If you have a dinosaur lover, add a short trip to Bastrop to your itinerary.)

Beautiful Garden and Splashable Stream

Find tadpoles in the stream at Austin Nature and Science Center

While you might think the trail that goes around the stream is meant to prevent you from venturing into the water, you’d be wrong. I have seen many children with nets in the stream catching tadpoles and water bugs. It’s a great opportunity to enjoy the beautiful flora and fauna surrounding the water, as well as the little swimmers in it.

About that Hike We Promised…

View of Lady Bird Lake on Hike and Bike Trail

After taking it slow and exploring everything the Nature and Science Center has to offer, extend your day with a stroll or a run along the hike and bike trail around Lady Bird Lake. You could make the hike as short or as long as you want. There are maps everywhere, guiding you to a path that suits your individual staying power.

Boat rental on Lady Bird Lake

There is so much more to do in this lovely pocket of Austin than just what’s listed above. As you wander around, you can’t miss the many opportunities to learn a little history, rent a boat, roll down a hill, or just linger on the lawn. We definitely recommend packing a lot of snacks and a meal or two. Once you get there, you won’t want to leave!

Follow @dripping_with_kids on Instagram or this blog so you don’t miss out on the best places to go in the Texas Hill Country! We’d love to hear about your favorite spots too.

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Hiking

Reimers Ranch Park in Dripping Springs

In our mission to spend 1000 hours outside this year, we’ve decided to revisit some of our favorite hiking spots and seek out new ones as well. We’ll be sharing one with you every week in our series titled “This Week’s Hike”.

✅ Trails for Children

✅ Swimming (seasonal)

✅ Bathrooms

❌ Playground and Sports Fields

❌ Free Admission for Park and Trails

(Cash ONLY for admission – $5/person 12+)

✅ Stroller-friendly Trails and Bike Trails

❌ Reservations needed

On the famed Hamilton Pool Road in Dripping Springs, just a few miles from one of the most popular travel destinations in our area, lies a beautiful and diverse park that offers river access, a cave, miles of trails, and additional surprises for visitors of all ages. We’re excited to share everything we love about Milton Reimers Ranch Park!

The Beach!

Public access to the Pedernales River with opportunities to swim, float, kayak, fish (white bass), and cliff jump is one of the top reasons to visit Reimers Ranch Park. You can park at the top of the hill and get a short hike in (300 yards) before jumping in the water to cool off. The beach area extends as far as the eye can see and allows plenty of space to claim your spot. Be sure to brings chairs or picnic blankets, along with water shoes, because it’s a pebble beach, and those little rocks get hot! Also, the park (and beach area) can close due to capacity limits, so be sure to arrive early or near dinner time to ensure a spot.

Variety of Trails

There are primitive, equestrian, hike and bike, and multi-use trails, as well as paved roads for every type of transportation and level of hiking experience. The multi-use trails offer little shade so be sure to prepare by wearing sunscreen and a hat, as well as packing extra water.

Rock Climbing and Bouldering

Whether you’re a novice boulder-jumper or experienced rock climber, Reimers Ranch offers multiple locations to practice. Some of our favorites are just past the cave (see below) and across the river from the beach. There are also additional climbing areas marked along the main road, none of which we’ve attempted yet.

Cave Exploration

Upon entering the park, ask for directions to the canyon or cave. (You’ll get a kick out of its name!) If no one is there to guide you, travel along the main road until you reach the parking lot for the “Rock Climbing Trailhead”. There is a covered pavilion and several picnic tables, as well as bathrooms.

To find the trailhead, follow the path between the bathrooms southbound on foot. About 100 yards along the path, you’ll see a small temporary sign that guides you to a rocky stepped trail down toward the creek. Follow the trail to the right to get to the cave and additional interesting trails.

The trail to the canyon requires a bit of traversing and may be difficult for young children or elderly hikers. Along the trail to the canyon, you’ll find multiple streams for wading, as well as climbing opportunities.

Beautiful Wineries and Fun Breweries Nearby

After a full day of swimming, biking, climbing, and/or hiking, travel just a bit further to discover one of Dripping Springs’ finest vineyards: Hamilton Pool Vineyard and Farms. Also, just a 10-15 minute drive away are several breweries with more than just a cold beer to offer. Check out our favorites!

Whether you’re a Dripping Springs resident or visitor, there’s no doubt you’ve heard of Hamilton Pool Preserve, and while it’s a beautiful site, you definitely don’t want to miss the equally beautiful sights at Reimers Ranch Park just down the road.

Follow @dripping_with_kids on Instagram or this blog so you don’t miss out on the best places to go in the Texas Hill Country! We’d love to hear about your favorite spots too.

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Things to Do Dripping Springs

Dripping Springs Ranch Park

In our mission to spend 1000 hours outside this year, we’ve decided to revisit some of our favorite hiking spots and seek out new ones as well. We’ll be sharing one with you every week in our series titled “This Week’s Hike”.

✅ Trails for Children

✅ Bike Trails

✅ Equestrian Trails

❌ Swimming (seasonal)

❌ Bathrooms

✅ Playground

✅ Free Admission for Park and Trails

✅ Stroller-friendly Trails

❌ Reservations needed

In the heart of Dripping Springs and about 25 minutes west of Austin, you can find a variety of trails for both novice and advanced hikers, biking enthusiasts, and horseback-riders! We’re excited to share everything we love about Dripping Springs Ranch Park!

The Trail System

Set on 130 acres, the DS Ranch Park has a variety of trails for a quick walk or for a full afternoon of adventure. The longest trail is 6.2 miles, and it’s shared by bikes, hikers, and horses. Most trails are easy enough for children to traverse, and visiting the pond is a special treat. You can easily get lost meandering through the beautiful trees, rolling hills, and alongside farmland.

P.S. Wear sunscreen and bug spray!

Wildflowers Everywhere

Visiting the Ranch Park in Spring adds an added feature: Texas Wildflowers. Be prepared to stop for several photo opportunities.

Bird-Watching

Discover the wooden bird blind with views of the pond so you can watch the ducks, along with other local bird species. (Follow signs along the trail to get to the right spot.) The bird-watching area has several feeders in the trees, as well as a book to help you identify the winged visitors.

Fun Playground

There’s a cute playground near the back parking lot at the main trailhead. My kids love the play structures, but they enjoy climbing on and jumping from the boulders just as much. This playground made our list of the best in Dripping Springs.

Amazing Breweries and Distilleries within 5 Minutes

Quench your thirst and fill your belly after a long hike at one of these amazing local hotspots.

Attend a Unique Event

The Ranch Park hosts horse shows, rodeos, monster truck rallies, vintage shopping days, and galas. Check out the calendar to see if you can make a full day out of your visit with a hike or ride and then a little extra fun.

Follow @dripping_with_kids on Instagram or this blog so you don’t miss out on the best places to go in the Texas Hill Country! We’d love to hear about your favorite spots too.

Categories
Hiking

Bee Cave Sculpture Park Trail

In our mission to spend 1000 hours outside this year, we’ve decided to revisit some of our favorite hiking spots and seek out new ones as well. We’ll be sharing one with you every week in our series titled “This Week’s Hike”.

✅ Trails for Children

❌ Swimming (seasonal)

✅ Bathrooms

❌ Playground and Sports Fields

✅ Free Admission for Park and Trails

❌ Stroller-friendly Trails

❌ Reservations needed

Just a few miles north of Dripping Springs and about 25 minutes west of Austin lies a hidden sculpture park and adjacent trail leading to shops and restaurants in Bee Cave, TX, which is the location of This Week’s Hike! We’re excited to share everything we love about Bee Cave Sculpture Park!

The Art

Sharing a parking lot with the Bee Cave Police Department located on Highway 71 is this unique sculpture park with permanent and rotating exhibits. Kids will love trying to identify the sculptures and taking funny pictures with them. The trail meandering through the exhibits is stroller and kid-friendly. There’s also a beautiful pond to picnic next to and hunt for frogs.

Easy (but rocky)Trails

Adjacent to the sculpture park is a wide rocky trail going eastward. It takes you a short distance to an open green space with another pond. This trail is not stroller-friendly, but it leads you to the Shops at the Galleria. The distance is approximately 1/2 mile. After reaching the back of the Shops, there is a trail loop that can be walked to add more distance.

Great Playgrounds

The trail leads you directly to two restaurants with great playgrounds: Mandola’s Italian Kitchen and soon-to-open Louisiana Crab Shack.

If you’re looking to enjoy unique art and then burn calories before indulging in a delicious meal and a bit of shopping, this is a great way to spend a late morning with the kids!

Follow @dripping_with_kids on Instagram or this blog so you don’t miss out on the best places to go in the Texas Hill Country! We’d love to hear about your favorite spots too.

Categories
Hiking vacation

Blue Hole Regional Park in Wimberley, TX

In our mission to spend 1000 hours outside this year, we’ve decided to revisit some of our favorite hiking spots and seek out new ones as well. We’ll be sharing one with you every week in our series titled “This Week’s Hike”.

✅ Trails for Children

✅ Swimming (seasonal)

✅ Bathrooms

✅ Playground and Sports Fields

✅ Free Admission for Park and Trails

✅ Stroller-friendly Trails

❌ Reservations needed (except for swimming May through Sept)

❌ Free admission for Swimming Hole

Just south of Dripping Springs and about 45 minutes southwest of Austin lies one of the cutest Texas towns and the location of This Week’s Hike! We’re excited to share everything we love about Blue Hole Regional Park!

The Swimming Hole

In the summer, this swimming hole is the perfect spot to cool off. The clear waters flow beneath huge oak trees offering plentiful shade, keeping the spring-fed waters even colder. If you’re looking for a hike and then a swim, Blue Hole is perfect. Details for the swimming hole:

SWIMMING SEASON: Blue Hole is open for swimming starting Weekends in May, everyday Memorial Day – Labor Day, and weekends in September.

RESERVATIONS: Reservations are required. There are 2 time slots for swimming (9 am – 1 pm, 2 pm – 6 pm) but you can reserve both and stay all day. Our reservation system opens March 1st. Everyone must make a reservation online (excluding season pass holders).

ADMISSION: $12 Adults (14-59), $8 Youth (4-13), Seniors (60+), and Military. $8 Wimberley Residents (78676 only). Season Passes are $120  Adults and $80 for Youth, Seniors, & Military.

In the off-season, visitors can enter the swimming area free of charge. Swimming is not allowed, but there is plenty of space for picnicking and opportunities to enjoy the crystal clear water.

Easy Trails

The park has 4.5 miles of flat trails meandering around the swimming hole and sports fields. Most of the trails are shaded, and it’s possible to push a jogging or all-terrain stroller on them.

A Story Walk

Currently, there is a story walk on the main trail loop. Getting to the next page in the book was a positive motivator for both of our little ones.

Great Playground

Near the bathrooms and parking lot, there is a playground with climbing options for both older kids and young ones.

Clean Bathrooms

The park has public restrooms near the swimming hole and the playground. They’re kept open and clean.

FUN Town Nearby

Blue Hole Regional Park is in the heart of downtown Wimberley, where you can stroll to find unique shops, dozens of restaurants and wineries, cute photo opps with painted boots, live music, and another small trail along Cypress Creek.

If you haven’t already, we encourage you to visit Blue Hole Regional Park the next time you have a day free! There are several other hiking spots and cool tourist attractions in Wimberley as well.

Follow @dripping_with_kids on Instagram or this blog so you don’t miss out on the best places to go in the Texas Hill Country! We’d love to hear about your favorite spots too.

Categories
Hiking

Hamilton Greenbelt: Why You Want to Go Tomorrow

If you live in the Austin area, the term greenbelt seems to refer to any land with more than a few trees that has building restrictions, whether it be just behind the iron fence in your backyard or the 13-mile long Barton Creek Greenbelt with dozens of secret and not-so-secret access points. Central Texas is full of these gems, and when someone says he’s heading to the greenbelt, it’s the equivalent of a sports enthusiast saying “I’m watching the game.” To each his own. Your favorite team is obviously playing in THE game, and your favorite outdoor hiking spot is THE greenbelt. Well, I’m excited that I’ve finally found that favorite spot for our family: Hamilton Greenbelt in Lakeway.

Here’s why I’ve fallen in love with this space and why I think you will too.

Shaded Trails

Every trail in Hamilton Greenbelt is almost completely shaded. With summer temperatures soaring above 100 degrees already, it’s rare to find a place to take the kids that provides this much shade.

Easy to Moderate Hiking

You can make your visit what you want. You can get a good workout on the hills and by taking a few climbs, or you can stroll at the pace of a child and stay on the flat, smooth paths.

Stroller-Friendly Trails

The main trail is wide, flat, and easy to maneuver, even with a double stroller. There are other trails that would require you to abandon the stroller, but there’s plenty to explore and see by staying on the main path.

Creek Access

You can easily access Hurst Creek in a few areas along the main trail. The water isn’t deep, and my 3 year old had a blast splashing around and searching for shells.

Beautiful Waterfalls

Be on the hunt for a few small waterfalls throughout the park. Our favorite spot was across a bridge about a 1/2 mile from the Hamilton Trailhead. We found several waterfalls, watched the fish meander, and settled on a great shaded picnic spot on a boulder just above the pond.

Bird Blind Fun

My kids had so much fun watching birds as they squabbled over access to the bird feeders. There was also a bird identification chart in the bird blind that allowed my kids to identify the beautiful creatures they were giggling at.

Picnic Tables and Benches Throughout

There were several picnic tables and benches along the trail to allow for a quick snack break or rest. All of them were in the shade and secluded from other tables and benches.

Garden Area

As you enter at the Hamilton Greenbelt Trailhead, there is a beautiful garden area with a pond and small waterfalls to allow for rest, reflection, or prayer for yourself or an opportunity for free play and splashing for the kids.

Free Parking and Restrooms

There is a decent-sized parking lot off of Lohman’s Crossing at the Hamilton Greenbelt Trailhead, and restrooms are available at the entrance.

More to Explore

We only just scratched the surface of exploring this beautiful greenbelt. There were more trails (Sailmaster, Hurst Hollow, Squires, Duck Lake), and we can’t wait to go back!

Chick Fil-A is 8 Minutes Away

You might think I’m kidding, but I’m not. The promise of nuggets and an ice cream kept my kids going for the last 30 minutes of our hike, and I personally can’t think of a better way for me to add back on those calories I had just burned. 😆

I hope you get a chance to check out this beautiful Greenbelt for yourself! You can find Hamilton Greenbelt Trailhead off of Lohman’s Crossing at Cross Creek in Lakeway, TX.