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ziggypop Nov 26th, 2021 04:13 PM

Austin/Texas Hill Country in early January
Mrs Z and I are driving from Minnesota to 'somewhere warm' was her request. I am looking for natural hot springs, great scenic views, but most important good comfort food and BBQ. In Austin I am leaning towards the Driskill Hotel in Downtown Austin. Is there a better location for leisurely walking exploring?

Hill Country; I know this is broad but do you have favorite cities or routes for scenic drives and state park? BTW, do you think we will need Texas State Park passes ahead of time if we want to visit them?

I am a notorious over planner, but I have to have a route planned and I'm working on being flexible.

Daniel_Williams Nov 27th, 2021 07:33 AM

Hi ziggypop,

I cant advise much except to say that the Driskill Hotel is about as well situated for exploring Austin by walking as one can find. I hope you get some nice weather in January as my favourite thing about Austin is walking the hiking trails along the Colorado River tributaries. I also thought the State Capitol tour and the Bullock Texas History Museum were excellent, both not far from your hotel.

Best wishes


PrairieHikerII Nov 27th, 2021 03:16 PM

The Hill Country of Texas is famous for its rolling hills, clear streams, and German architecture. The region has such a mild climate it has attracted many retirees. You can explore German towns such as Fredricksburg, Boerne, and Castroville and eat German food. Check out Bandera, the self-proclaimed Cowboy Capital of the World. You can ride horses on a nearby guest (dude) ranch. Be sure to eat the world-famous Texas chili, Tex-Mex and BBQ. You can go hiking in Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, or Lost Maples State Natural Area. Drive Highway 16 between Kerrville and Medina which is one of the most scenic in Texas.

ziggypop Nov 27th, 2021 05:38 PM

Thanks Daniel and Prairie Hiker.

Daniel, I read some of your old responses and threads about Austin. Do you still teach?

Prairie, I see you're new 'round here. Welcome. Thanks for the information, do you think I'll need to get passes for Enchanted Rock ahead of time?

P_M Nov 27th, 2021 06:16 PM

Hi Ziggy,

I'm so glad to hear you are coming to TX, let me welcome you in advance.

I highly recommend the Driskill.. It's very historic and reported to be haunted, although I've never been lucky enough to see a spook. There are countless music venues within a few blocks of the Driskill. It you want to laugh your a$$ off, please do not miss the show at Esther's Follies, also near the hotel. Believe me, your face will hurt when you leave. The last time I was there they didn't assign seats so get there early for a good seat.

Show Tickets | Esther's Follies (

The Capitol and the Bob Bullock Museum are both great ideas. Another museum I recommend is the Ransom Center on the UT campus. It's not far from the Bob Bullock Museum and it's free.

Harry Ransom Center (

In the Hill Country my favorite town is Fredericksburg for the great German food and feel. There are many wineries near Fredericksburg too. Another nearby attraction is the LBJ Ranch. Whether or not you are a fan of LBJ it's a fascinating place to visit. They have a small area with homes from over 100 years ago and they show you how things were done back then. You can tour the "Texas White House," and you can see the airplane and some cars LBJ used. I would spend at least a night or two in Fredericksburg.

It's hard to imagine Enchanted Rock will be very busy in January but it wouldn't hurt to get your pass in advance.

One more thing, about the weather. Usually it's very pleasant in the winter but strange things can happen as we learned last year. I think it will be much warmer in TX than in MN, but if it does snow or ice then everything will shut down. Let's hope that doesn't happen during your trip.

If you have any questions please post back or send me a private message. Thanks for your interest in TX.

Daniel_Williams Nov 27th, 2021 08:13 PM

Hi ziggypop,

Thanks for letting me know the trip reports still serve a purpose. :) I am indeed still a teacher.

All the best


tom_mn Nov 28th, 2021 09:56 AM

Ziggy: I think the LBJ presidential library is the highlight attraction of Austin. The Capitol tour is free as I recall and the building is impressively large.

Clearly its a nice city to live in but I remain perplexed as to why Austin is an internationally famous tourist destination with nonstop flights from Europe. Austin is similar to a couple dozen other American cities that tourists ignore.

Weather: our mid-February trip was colder than anticipated, upper 50s and sunny but windy. I wished Id brought gloves or a warmer hat. Note that the bats are not around in the winter.

San Antonio has more typical tourist destinations and is about an hour away. Like California, AZ, and NM there is a mission tradition in Texas worth exploring here.

jamie99 Nov 28th, 2021 12:17 PM

Tom, I am guessing Austin remains on overseas tourists radar possibly due to the TV show Austin City Limits which has been on for years.
But then, I never understand why Europeans want to visit Route 66.

Rich Nov 28th, 2021 12:42 PM

The Driskill is in the middle of downtown Austin so good place to use as a base to walk around the area and as PM said, it's a great hotel.

Fredericksburg is a great place to relax with the wineries and brewpubs. If you are into Military History, the The National Museum of the Pacific War is there and well worth a half day or more. One trip we do often is 183 from Johnson City (LBJ Ranch) thru Marble Falls to Lukenbach. It's a tiny little town but fun to visit. TX 183 will take you thru the middle of the Hill Country.

In Austin,
Black's Barbecue (3110 Guadalupe St) and Franklin Barbecue (900 E 11th St) are generally considered the best in Austin.

ziggypop Nov 28th, 2021 03:13 PM

Rich, I will not be going to Franklins BBQ. I will not stand in line for more than an hour for BBQ. But I will try Blacks and your routes.

Tom and Jamie, Austin has a reputation of being 'quirky' and has lots of music venues. Good enough for me.

PM, I know Austin has winter weather sometimes. It's headline news in Minnesota when Texas has snow and ice. I am on an online BBQ forum and I rub it in to the Texans when you get snow.

Rich Nov 28th, 2021 04:21 PM

Yeah . . Franklins can be busy . . but you can't go wrong with Blacks.

Many of the best music venues can be found on south 6th St. . .

If you are in Marble Falls around eating time, try the Bluebonnet Cafe . . shamelessly good eats (think Chicken Fried Steak) and the best pies around.

Rich Nov 28th, 2021 05:42 PM

Brain fart! I said 183. But meant 281. You can take 290 out of Austin to 281. Stay on 290 to go to Fredericksburg

tom_mn Nov 28th, 2021 06:48 PM

Austin is not particularly quirky. Santa Fe and New Orleans are quirky. Austin is a corporate, government, university town. Downtown is a lot of glass towers and surface parking lots (like most American cities).

Most of the central Austin music is outdoors so dress accordingly. Rainey St is all outdoors as far as I could tell, and there are a couple blocks of bars downtown with music but that seemed to be all outdoors too, either on a rooftop or with open walls to the street.

If music is important to your visit I would get a recommendation outside downtown and drive there. Maybe theres a lot of quirkiness on South Congress, I didnt go there.

PrairieHikerII Nov 29th, 2021 06:00 AM

"Austin is not particularly quirky."

Then why do they still have the slogan "Keep Austin Weird"? Did you see the movie "Slacker" which was set in Austin in 1990? The city seemed weird then but that was over 30 years ago.

AustinTraveler Nov 29th, 2021 09:56 AM

Keep Austin Weird was started as a "shop local" slogan and has nothing to do with actual weirdness. Austin does have a fun vibe and some quirky things but it has grown so fast that a lot of the charm is no longer there. The Driskill is beautiful but be aware that's it right on (east) Sixth Street, which is probably the last place I would want to be in Austin (think Bourbon Street with drunk college kids). I haven't lived in Austin for years now so I can't recommend a specific hotel, but close to Town Lake (aka LadyBird Lake) and South Congress would be my choice. Also, in the Warehouse District, which is the low numbered streets on the west side of Congress. South Congress was always the more funky part of town with cool shops, restaurants and food trucks.

That being said, I am not recommending that you change hotels. I just think you need to be aware that it's a party district and there are lots of homeless. But, that's probably everywhere by now.

PrairieHikerII Nov 29th, 2021 10:23 AM

They may show reruns in Europe of the TV show Route 66 whichis "an American adventure crime drama television series that premiered on CBS on October 7, 1960, and ran until March 20, 1964."

PrairieHikerII Nov 29th, 2021 10:25 AM

Originally Posted by jamie99 (Post 17309247)
Tom, I am guessing Austin remains on overseas tourists radar possibly due to the TV show Austin City Limits which has been on for years.
But then, I never understand why Europeans want to visit Route 66.

They may show reruns in Europe of the TV show "Route 66" whichis "an American adventure crime drama television series that premiered on CBS on October 7, 1960, and ran until March 20, 1964."

jamie99 Nov 29th, 2021 12:26 PM

They may indeed show reruns of Route 66 TV show, I can get Perry Mason and other shows of that era on cable TV channels that specialize in classic series. I have also read elsewhere that there are some guidebooks sold in Europe among other places about Route 66.

The "World's Biggest Ball of Twine" could also be called "quirky" but I would not go more than 2 miles out of my way to see it.

PrairieHikerII Nov 29th, 2021 03:14 PM

Originally Posted by jamie99 (Post 17309570)
The "World's Biggest Ball of Twine" could also be called "quirky" but I would not go more than 2 miles out of my way to see it.

I have actually seen the World's Ball of Twine in Cawker City, Kansas. A college friend's parents lived there and took me there to eat in his mother's restaurant. That's when I saw the giant ball.

tom_mn Nov 29th, 2021 04:05 PM

Building on what AustinTraveler said and my own experience, Id look at staying on South Congress and forget about even setting foot downtown. Downtown is a lot closer to sterile than it is to quirky, and there is nothing really worth seeing right downtown (the Capitol and the university and the Bullock Museum are separated from downtown, a mile north).

Ive heard there are good music venues on South Congress also. The music and atmosphere at Rainey St and 6th St downtown just isnt very nice, college students holding beer in plastic cups and stumbling around drunk with loud garage-type bands playing everywhere closer in experience to pledge week at fraternity row than you want.

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