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)
✅ 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.
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.
Near the bathrooms and parking lot, there is a playground with climbing options for both older kids and young ones.
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.
During this second week of September, temperatures in our beautiful part of Texas dropped 40 degrees after a chronic spell of sweltering 100-degree heat. The powers-that-be are calling it a “False Fall”, but my family has decided that it’s an invitation to start early on excitedly preparing for the best season of the year.
Yesterday, we skipped out on afternoon responsibilities to browse Home Depot’s selection of Halloween decorations, spying on others to see which animated monsters would cause the most fright. We made dirt cups with gummy worms and lit pumpkin-vanilla scented candles. My kids played pick-up football in an open field, jumped on the trampoline in sweatshirts for hours, and begged for hot cocoa by the fire. We even got to watch part of the kick-off game of the NFL season. Nothing about today feels false. We’re forging ahead toward Fall, and there’s no stopping us now!
In keeping with tradition, it’s also time to create our family’s Fall Bucket List of all the places we want to go and things we want to do during this beautiful season of pumpkin patches, cute costumes, cooler temps, colorful leaves, and outdoor adventures. Feel free to join us!
Located in Georgetown, TX, this farm is loaded with the typical fall festival activities, such as a corn maze, pumpkin patch, and petting zoo, but it also has a few unique options. We can’t wait to take a spin on a pedal cart; shoot an apple from a slingshot; climb up a tire hill, then slide down; watch pig-racing; wade in the San Gabriel River; play corn hole, gaga ball, kickball, or tug o’ war; and challenge ourselves on the obstacle course, plus so much more. We also plan to stay late for a trip through the huge corn maze with flashlights. All of these activities are included for one admission price. ($16/person for ages 2+; opens Sept 19th)
You can find this farm and pumpkin patch along the scenic banks of the Colorado River in Bastrop, TX. Fall festival activities include a very complex corn maze, baseball and football toss, fall photo opps, train rides, tree fort, super slides, jumping pillow, fishing, face painting, and more. There will also be live music and a biergarten this year. ($16.95+tax/person for 2+, advanced purchase online required)
The short drive to Marble Falls is worth it to spend the day on this cute farm with hayrides, two mazes, a huge pumpkin patch with adorable photo opps, face painting, goat-feeding, barrel train rides, scarecrow-stuffing, and horseback riding. Admission is free, but activities are charged individually. Check website for details.
Enjoy the beautiful drive past vineyards and state parks to Fredericksburg, where you will find this fun stop with shopping, wine tasting, lunch options, wildflower trails, and butterfly gardens. Save the date for the Pumpkin Festival on September 26th.
Most likely, there’s a Board and Brush near you with dozens of adorable signs to make for the Fall season. You can join an established workshop or book a private party. All signs can be personalized with name, color choices, and texture. It’s such a fun activity, especially with the kids! (Prices start at $35)
Unfortunately, Home Depot is not currently hosting the Saturday kids’ workshops in person, but you can still go pick up the projects to do at home. You can also collect the patch, certificate, and token orange apron if you don’t have one yet. Just go to your local Home Depot before noon on the first Saturday of each month, and a team member will be give you everything you need for free.
Enjoy this food festival every Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm. Then, spend the rest of the day at the super cool parks along the Guadalupe and Comal Rivers in the area. Or travel a few minutes to the next town for …
Find artisan crafts, beer and wine, tasty food, and nearby shops with sales on the third full weekend of the month and first weekend of December. Stick around for lunch at the Gristmill and free live music (fingers crossed!) at Gruene Hall.
While this may be one of the smaller farmer’s markets, there are many local delicacies worth stopping by for on Wednesday afternoons. Also, you can spend your evening at a family friendly brewery in the area.
Travel south on RR12 for a scenic drive and the 2nd largest flea market in Texas, held the first Saturday of every month (Mar – Dec) from 9 am to 4 pm. Grab a glass of wine, browse the shops, pop in the candy store or Scoops Frozen Yogurt for a treat for the kiddos, and then walk the trail along the creek behind downtown to skip rocks, play on the playground, or wade in the water. If it’s a particularly hot day, check out Cypress Falls Swimming Hole.
My kids beg to return to this festival every year. They love the costumes, the accents, the shows, the rides, the games, and the feeling of time travel. It’s a bit of a drive from the Hill Country, but camping sites are available next to the festival grounds. Groupon is offering discounted tickets, and children 12 and under are FREE on Sundays. Advanced tickets required.
This living history farm offers guided tours and classes, such as blacksmithing and Texas swing dancing. Visit a Tonkawa Indian Encampment, a German Emigrant Farm, a Texian Farm, a Cotton Planter’s Farm and a rural village called Sprinkle Corner all in one day.
Go prehistoric and make your kids’ day by walking a trail to find large dinosaurs and dino clues in the woods. Then, play on the playground, dig for fossils, take hilarious photos, and guard your wallet (from your children) in the expansive gift shop. Drive a little further south and use your dino park wristband to enjoy 10% off lunch along the Colorado River at Neighbors Kitchen and Yard.
My kids and I look forward to this every year. We walk the trail, climb forts, play hide and seek, swing freely among the trees, and enjoy the beautiful foliage all around. Free with cost of admission.
With themed gardens, panoramic views of Austin, opportunities to learn about gardening and local flora, and shady picnic spots, this is the perfect place to spend a fall afternoon with the family.
My family and I can’t wait to start checking things of this bucket list; however, upon creating it, we were saddened to see that a couple of our favorite places are no longer operating or have not been able to offer the same services this Fall. Please support local businesses and vendors as much as possible so that we and those business owners can continue to give our kids amazing experiences, like the ones above, every Fall.
What makes a river, lake, or stream a favorite swimming hole for your family? Do you want a place that’s not too crowded? Are you looking for a swimming hole that’s just the right size, not so large that boats are leaving you in their wake but not so small that it’ll dry up without a recent rainfall? Do you prefer a water temperature that’s refreshing yet warm enough to put more than just one toe in the water? For my kids, it’s D: all of the above. And Cypress Falls in Wimberley checks all of our boxes. Here’s why…
It’s not too crowded.
We visited on a Wednesday morning, which may be why we shared the wide open space with only a few families, but there was plenty of room to spread out and find your own private spot to float or sunbathe.
Location, Location, Location.
We LOVE Wimberley, and this swimming hole is tucked away from the crowds but close enough to town to fit in some shopping and devour a few treats after your swim. Plus, if you still have your swimsuits on, you can hop into Cypress Creek just behind the downtown shops to cool off again.
Cypress Falls is a bit safer than some swimming spots for little ones and beginning swimmers because it has a shallow entry point and several yards of shallow water near the shore line. It’s also kind to the feet … no rocks or sharp boulders at the bottom! It’s mostly sand.
Perfect Water Temperature
I’ve been to many swimming holes in our neck of the woods with temps that shock me straight into winter. This mama can’t handle that! I prefer bath water temps, but as a compromise, the cool yet comfortable spring-fed waters at Cypress Falls are perfect for the whole family.
Goats! and Fishing
Yep, you read that right. You can swim or paddle right up to the goat island to spy on the funny creatures. You can also bring your fishing gear and drop in a line under the shade trees.
Waterfalls and a Cave
The natural limestone rock formation, Eagle Rock, overlooks the swimming hole and provides cool photo opps, natural diving boards, and opportunities to explore a bit. Also, because the swimming hole is a dam in Cypress Creek, small waterfalls can be found all around, hence the name “Cypress Falls”.
Paddle Boards, Canoes, Kayaks, and Tubes Available
For an additional fee, you can rent the water sports equipment onsite by the hour, but you’re also allowed to bring in your own. There are a couple small air pumps available for communal use. We brought our own tubes and inflated them there. Then, we rented a paddle board for $10 when we tired of the tubes. My kids had a blast!
All Day Pass for Under $10
$8 buys you a wristband for the whole day, with in and out privileges. ($6 for kids; $2 for residents) Get there early (opens at 9 am) to secure a coveted picnic table or a couple wooden chairs. Otherwise, plan to bring your own chairs or a blanket.
Post-COVID Food and Drinks Onsite
There’s a yummy taco shack onsite with a full bar for when COVID restrictions are lifted. No need to leave the property all day. (Currently, beer and wine are available to go at Eagle Rock Draft House.)
Are you looking for the best day trips from Austin and Dripping Springs? Day tripping is our family’s favorite way to get a little change of scenery and feel the vacation vibes without blowing the travel budget. After being stuck at home for months during the longest summer ever, we’ve decided to venture out of town here and there for a little river-splashing, window shopping, beer tasting, easy hiking, playground-hopping, and a wee bit of unschooling.
If, like us, you’ve had enough of circling your block every morning or re-watching the same eight Peppa Pig episodes on repeat or warning your teen that this is the last You Tube episode she’ll watch for the rest of her liiiife, then consider a day trip in the Texas Hill Country! Pull together a few PB&J‘s, grab some bags of chips, and make sure your summer survival kit for the car is packed and ready to go. Then, hit the road!
Most day trips from Austin are less than two hours away, making them easy to pull off with kids of all ages and with limited supplies. Plus, all of the destinations recommended on this list have several free activities and fun places to go with kids, so you could spend the whole day exploring on only the cost of a tank of gas, saving your travel budget for an epic post-corona getaway.
Unfortunately, many of our beloved Texas Hill Country towns have the reputations of being more suitable for grandma’s shopping habits than for family adventures. But they all have so much more to offer than just a day of antique-hunting. Check out this list of our favorite day trips from Austin and outdoor kid-friendly activities you can do in each destination…
1. Kerrville and Ingram
From a hilltop cross to stand-up paddle boarding to playing trivia at lunch, you can definitely find a variety of activities in these neighboring small towns.
The Cross at Kerrville: Make this quick stop to take in the enormous walk-through empty cross, prayer garden, beautiful sculptures, and stunning views. *free*
Enjoy lunch, a craft beer, and table trivia at Grape Juice Restaurant or pick another locally owned fave in walkable downtown Kerrville
Louise Hays Park: This city park offers lots of parking, easy access to swim/splash in the Guadalupe River, beautiful trails, two playgrounds, dozens of shady picnic spots, a splash pad, board and boat rentals onsite, and clean public restrooms. *free*
Riverside Nature Center: Leisurely stroll through wildflower, butterfly, and demo gardens, attend a naturalist events, and educate yourself on the TX Hill Country riverscape. *free*
Stonehenge II: Stop for a few photo ops with this replica of the real deal. *free*
Ingram Dam and Schumacher Crossing: Rent a mat from the nearby Dam Store to slide down the dam into the roaring water and spend the rest of your time wading, watching waterfalls, and riding the rapids at Schumacher Crossing. *free*
Take the kids on a trip through history and sprinkle in a lot of kid-friendly activities in the home of Blue Bell ice cream.
Washington on the Brazos: Walk the trails along the Brazos River and visit the site of Texas independence. Reservations not required, but it’s recommended to call to confirm availability due to capacity restrictions. (936-878-2214) *$8/adult, $5/child over 5, includes admission to Barrington Plantation.
This adorable German town isn’t just for the retirees; there’s plenty to do for the whole family.
Marktplatz: Open green space, covered pavilion with tables, beautiful garden, public restrooms, and a large playground make this park the perfect place to spend a couple hours and picnic with the kids. *free*
Luckenbach: Live music on the weekends, great people watching, bar and grill options for outdoor dining, and an old campsite to wander and explore. *free*
Wildseed Farms: Walk the trails, shop in an outdoor space, enjoy the wildflowers, and sip on some wine or lemonade in the garden. *free admission*
Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park: This 150 acre city park has fishing access on Live Oak Creek, a playground, hiking trails, covered pavilions, sand volleyball, and basketball courts. *free*
Enchanted Rock:If you can get a reservation at this popular state park, challenge yourself to hike to the top for a spectacular hill country view. It’s not stroller-friendly, though, and it’s quite a haul both up and down with little ones. $8/adult
We visited this cute town outside of San Antonio recently and can’t wait to return when we have the full day to explore. The following spots are on our Boerne bucket list.
Cibolo Nature Center: Walk the trails among the cypress trees, splash in the Cibolo Creek, search for dinosaur tracks, and picnic in the shade. (Restrooms may not be open during Covid closures.) *free* Visit on Saturday, and you can add a stroll through the Farmer’s Market and Herff Farm.
Kinderpark: Large playground with hilltop slide and lots of climbing opportunities. *free*
Random Beer Garden: Outdoor play space for kids including a bouncing pillow, craft beer, food trucks, and live music make this spot a great place to wrap up the day for everyone in the family.
Downtown and Riverside Stroll: Visit the shops, restaurants, and walking trail along Cibolo Creek at River Road Park to watch the geese and ducks play. If you packed your fishing poles, you can fish in this creek as well. *free*
I hope you enjoy your adventures with the kids in the Texas Hill Country, and I invite you to share your photos on Instagram with the tag, #drippingwithkids. Also, please comment below if you have other towns you’d love to see featured in Part 2 of Day Trips from Austin with the Kids!