Categories
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!

A Weekend in Dripping Springs with the Kids

Your itinerary for a weekend in Dripping Springs, TX is right here!

Just a couple decades ago, Dripping Springs, Texas was practically unknown to the rest of the state. It was one of those small, sleepy towns that attracted songwriters and ranchers but few others had heard of it, despite its natural beauty and proximity to the state capital. But it didn’t take long for it to grow from a vast expanse of ranch land to a booming town, now well-known across the nation.

It seems that our little town was discovered twice… once in 1854 by Dr. Pound and two other families trekking across the Indian-filled frontier… and then again in the early part of this century by the many city-dwellers looking for a taste of country life with all the conveniences of a big city nearby.

Dripping Springs still has that wonderful small town feel, but it’s growing rapidly. Not only has it become a destination for young families, empty-nesters, and young professionals to settle down, it now has a huge tourist draw as well.

You might ask, “What’s the draw of Dripping Springs?” Recently, The Drip has been penned by the Texas Legislature as the Wedding Capital of Texas. Our small town hosts more than 3,500 weddings per year in over 35 unique venues within a 15 mile radius, from rustic barns to a former Vietnamese temple.

We are also home to dozens of micro-breweries, famous distilleries, and family-owned wineries, most of which are kid-friendly and showcase the beauty of the oak trees and rolling hills in this part of Texas.

Dripping Springs is also considered the “Gateway to the Hill Country” because of its easy access to nearby towns that make up this region of central Texas. From DSTX, you can easily travel south to the adorable town of Wimberley for unique swimming holes and a meandering square of shops and art galleries. You can take a scenic drive between rolling hills along back country roads to the historic town of Gruene for some boot-scootin’ and delicious barbecue. Or you can head further west to make your way onto the Hill Country Wine Trail and end up in the quintessential German town of Fredericksburg. In fact, there are dozens of day trips or short road trips easily taken from Dripping Springs that offer a window to Texas’s remarkable history and the variety of cultures in our great state.

But those interesting nearby towns are not the feature of this post. Dripping Springs gets all the glory here, and if you’re looking for an amazing weekend in The Drip with your family, we’ve got your weekend itinerary planned out. Fair warning, though: After a weekend here, you’ll probably want to move to our sweet town too.

Friday in Dripping Springs

Start your afternoon at the shops on historic Mercer Street, and try to find the dripping springs that our town was named after. Hint: look for a hidden staircase among the downtown shops. Read about the town’s history while on the path.

Treaty Oak Dripping Springs, TX

Then, take the kids to one of Dripping’s family-friendly breweries or distilleries to get a taste of the talent that has flocked here from all over the world. Your family could linger for hours at one venue, enjoying the open green space, live music, unique food offerings, and playground. Or you could bounce around to a few before settling in for the night. Just please be careful and designate a driver because our roads are winding, and this is a dark sky community without street lights. (Click the hyperlink above for specific reviews of each of the following.)

  • Jester King Brewery and Kitchen
  • Treaty Oak Distilling
  • Family Business Beer Co
  • 12 Fox Beer Co
  • Fitzhugh Brewing
  • Vista Brewing
  • Dripping Springs Distillery

Quick tip: Be sure to be outside at sunset. The Texas Hill Country boasts some of the best sunsets in the South!

Saturday in Dripping Springs

If you’re visiting the Hill Country, exploring the great outdoors is a must. Two of our most famous natural spots are Hamilton Pool Preserve and Reimers Ranch Park. You can visit both in the same morning as they are just down the road from each other. Hamilton Pool requires reservations, and you may need to verify before you go whether the swimming hole is open. Regardless of whether you get to take a dip, the 50 foot waterfall at the bottom of the natural staircase and the caverns behind it are definitely worth the visit. Bring your camera!

Afterward, head to Reimers Ranch Park for a little bit of easy climbing, cave exploration, hiking, (rocky) beach bumming, and swimming or wading in the Pedernales River.

If Hamilton Pool is booked or if you find yourself with a little extra time, Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center is another option for a fun and informational guided hike down to a beautiful grotto and limestone cavern. It’s also along Hamilton Pool Road. Call to make reservations before you go.

After all of that hiking and exploring, settle in at Hamilton Pool Vineyards and Farm for a glass of wine and some snacks at the bistro.

For dinner with the kids, stop in at Route 12 Filling Station on Hwy 12 and Fitzhugh Road. In the hot months, which are most of them, there is a splash pad for the kiddos, but the playground and large patio are open year-round. There’s a variety of delicious food for even the pickiest eaters.

Another dinner option in the area is Verde’s Mexican Parilla, which also has a huge covered patio, as well as a playground and fenced-in grass area for the kids to play. The menu is unique, and every single appetizer is worth trying. The food is phenomenal.

Quick tip: If you still have any energy left at the end of the day, check out Hudsons on Mercer for great live music or the Mercer Street dance hall for a little boot-scootin’.

Sunday in Dripping Springs

For those looking for a church option, there are several in town that will welcome any and all guests with open arms. Check out device times online.

For those looking for a relaxing coffee break, make your way to Mazama or Rolling in Thyme and Dough for a relaxing atmosphere and yummy goodies.

Then, head to one of the favorite playgrounds in the area, such as Founders Park, where your kids can enjoy multiple playscapes and view the first homestead built in Dripping Springs by Dr. Pound, as mentioned in the first couple paragraphs of this post.

When you’ve built up an appetite, make your way to a nearby local favorite, Get Along Grill, or try out some famous Texas barbecue at The Salt Lick, known for family-style dining and byob.

Then, wrap up the weekend at one of Austin’s top attractions, The Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, or the Nature and Science Center in Zilker Park. Kids and adults alike will love both nature centers!

Quick tip: Book your next trip to the Hill Country before you leave. You know you’ll be back!

For additional hiking options in the area, check out This Week’s Hike, and to find more ideas on how to make the most of each season in the Texas Hill Country, see our bucket lists!

Categories
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.

Cave Exploration

Upon entering the park, ask for directions to the canyon or cave. (You’ll get a kick out of its name!) 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.

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.

Top 6 Family-Friendly Breweries in the Dripping Springs Area

Before moving to the Texas Hill Country, I never would have guessed that my family would often be found at an outdoor brewery on a weekend evening. It didn’t occur to me that an establishment earning an income on alcoholic beverages would be family-friendly. However, when we visit our favorites below, we get to linger for hours, slowly savoring craft brews with friends or family, and we also get to enjoy our children playing in a beautiful, relaxed, screen-free environment.

Craft beers are what the cool kids drink, and I can’t think of anyone cooler than exhausted parents. We spend our days holding babies, holding everyone’s trash, holding it together, and holding in swear words. By the time happy hour hits, we deserve to be holding a delicious, full-bodied beer, cider, or local wine. I am thankful that many craft brewers in Dripping Springs and Austin recognize this fact of life.

Playground at Vista Brewing

Many of these visionaries bought up acres of ranch land. They built pavilions and barns. They invested in huge brew kettles. They developed yummy farm to table menus and set out dozens of picnic tables under majestic oak trees to draw in the crowds. But most importantly, they also devoted part of their property to a play space for kids!

Here’s my list of the top 6 family-friendly breweries in the Dripping Springs area, as well as a bucket list of places we hope to try soon. If you’re not a beer fan, don’t fret; all of these cool spots offer wine, cider, and/or non-alcoholic options.

Jester King Kitchen

1. Jester King Brewery & Kitchen

Pizza, beer, an epic sand box, and baby goats are just a few of the reasons we can spend hours at Jester King. Our kids absolutely love playing on this 165 acre property made up of a vineyard, oak grove, beer garden, pasture, farm trail, and goat pen, and we adults love the food and relaxed atmosphere. While I’m not personally a fan of their home-crafted brews, although I know many are, I appreciate that the restaurant offers guest beer and wine. (Currently open by reservation only.)

Treaty Oak

2. Treaty Oak Distilling

Yes, Treaty Oak is primarily a distillery, but they also brew a few beers, which are delicious, so I think it fair that this super cool family-owned business makes the list. Treaty Oak has a gorgeous property that includes several shaded seating areas, a restaurant with mouth-watering barbecue, a garden, an open-aired event center, and a distillery open for tours. But it tops my kids’ list because of the natural playground that’s always full of familiar faces. (Open Wed – Sun, no reservations needed)

Playground at Family Beer Business

3. Family Business Beer Co.

The tap room, brewery, and outdoor space at Family Beer Business are the epitome of cool. The playground is large and fenced-in, with tables available nearby to monitor the kids. Added bonus: my children claim it has the fastest slide in town! There’s a large variety of tasty beer on the menu and interesting merch available in the small shop or at one of their regular artisan markets (pre/post-covid). Sitting on the tap room porch, listening to live music waft through the open doors, while staring out at the grove of oaks, instantly transports you to the tranquility of the Texas Hill Country. (Currently open Wed-Sun, reservations requested but not required.)

Brewery in dripping springs

4. 12 Fox Beer Co.

With a motto of “Family. Country. Great Beer.”, you know exactly what you’ll get from this brewery that was founded by combat engineers who fell in love with European craft beer while stationed in Germany. It’s a great story with an even better destination. The playground is an awesome replication of a castle, and the biergarten is pretty and intimate. (Now open Wed through Sat with live music and nightly food trucks.) This playground also made it onto our Top 10 Playgrounds In and Around Dripping Springs list!

5. Fitzhugh Brewing

Delicious, unique food accompanied by yummy craft brews and happy, playful kiddos is a recipe for a fantastic afternoon in the Hill Country. There are three separate areas to gather – under the oaks, on the covered patio, or inside the farmhouse style restaurant/brewery. With an awesome playground, baby swings in the trees, and room to roam, this family-friendly brewery is a win-win for parents and kids alike. You can bring your furry kiddos too. (Currently open Thursday-Sunday, no reservations necessary)

Dark Skies beer at Vista

6. Vista Brewing

What’s not to love? With a laid back vibe, outstanding beer, shaded beer garden, cool playground, live music, tree swings, interesting menu, acres of beauty, and trails through the farm, Vista has become our go-to. I highly recommend their Dark Skies Pilsner with its hints of coffee and roasted marshmallows. Yum! It pairs perfectly with muddy children and recalling embarrassing stories with old friends.

Honorable Mention…
Acopon Dripping Springs, TX

Acopon Brewing

A friendly face behind the bar, a very knowledgeable brew master, and some of the tastiest beer I’ve ever tried makes this brewery very worthy of a pop in. There’s no playground or open green space, but it’s located in the heart of downtown Dripping Springs, near shops and a secret hiking trail. (Currently offering beer and merch to-go, including the coolest masks with their plague doctor logo on them.)

On my bucket list…

Suds Monkey

I’ve heard often that the pizza is reason enough to go, but the beer is definitely the featured attraction. This nano-brewery is kid- and pet-friendly, offering events such as “kids eat free” and trivia night on different days of the week. (Currently open afternoons/evenings Wed-Sun.)

Twisted X Brewing Co.

I’ve seen the beer in the stores. I’ve driven by the lively patio. I’ve even chatted with one of their loyal employees. But for some reason, I haven’t stopped in yet. This one is definitely on our list to try out a flight and enjoy some porch-sitting. (Currently open Thurs – Sun with to-go pizza and pint specials.)

Beerburg Brewing

This new brewery is so much more than just beer and bites. The owners have committed to creating a zero solid and liquid waste facility that provides its own energy and water. There is a focus on hyper-local ingredients, and the brewmasters use rainwater collection tanks, practice ethical harvesting, study herbalism, and raise bees on the property in their apiary. I’m excited to not only try their beers but also check out this unique property with my family. (Currently open by reservation Thurs – Sun with limited food menu.)

While kid-friendly and beer may not typically belong in the same sentence together, these family-focused breweries recognize the unique opportunity for every member of the family to enjoy a night out together.

Please drink responsibly, especially if you’re planning to get behind the wheel after visiting the establishments listed. It’s important to remember that many craft beers have a higher ABV than other beers on the market. Usually, when my husband and I take the kids to a local brewery, we either split a pint, share a flight, or take turns on who gets to do the tasting on nights out.

If you’re interested in finding more family-friendly activities in the Dripping Springs and Austin area, check out my summer bucket list.