Less than 150 miles
Go 147 miles northeast on I-10 E and Hwy. 130 N.
Explore the galleries and shops along the Royal Street District. If you wait to visit until early December, you can catch a performance of A Christmas Carol at the Tablerock Amphitheater. Barrow Brewing Co., Chupacabra Craft Beer and the two local wineries (Salado Winery Co. and Axis Winery) are great ways to taste the local flavor. Visit Salado maintains a robust list of hotels, guest houses and B&Bs as well as must-try eateries.
Go 143 miles on I-37 S.
If you can brave the chillier water, some fall days can still be warm enough for swimming in the waters along the Texas Gulf Coast. There are also lots of things to do in Corpus Christi beyond the beaches and fishing. The city is home to the Texas State Aquarium, the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History, and the South Texas Botanical Gardens & Nature Center. You’ll also find options for boat and paddle tours that let you explore the ocean without being in it.
Go 106 miles north on I-35
With Texas fall weather perfect for spending time outside, Georgetown has lots to offer. Walk Main Street and shop in fun antique and craft stores housed in restored historic buildings. Georgetown’s central square has more shopping spots plus plenty of dining options. Other things to do in Georgetown include Inner Space Cavern, Sweet Eats Fruit Farm and Crockett Garden Falls, a 2.5-mile hike to a natural waterfall. Georgetown has many parks, public murals and other options for outdoor activities that make this an ideal destination for active travelers and families.
Less than 100 miles
Go 99 miles north on Hwy. 281 N.
If you’re into outdoor adventure, make Burnet your hub for exploring Inks Lake State Park, Longhorn Cavern State Park and Canyon of the Eagles Nature Park. The downtown historic district has shopping and dining options plus four building on the National Register of Historic Places. The Burnet Chamber of Commerce maintains a list of lodging options and other suggestions for things to do. Visitors can also camp at Inks Lake State Park, which offers cabins and campsites.
Go 91.4 miles southeast on Hwy. 181 S. and Hwy. 239 E.
Travelers who want to inject some history and education into their trip will find Goliad interesting. The Goliad Market House Museum has various Native American Artifacts and memorabilia that tell the story of Goliad’s part in the Texas revolution. Goliad State Park boasts, among several options for outdoor activities, a Spanish-colonial era chapel. Don’t leave town without getting a picture of the beautiful Presidio La Bahia, which is the site of the Battle of Goliad that took place in 1835. The restored fort is a National Landmark. Visit Goliad maintains a list of lodging, dining and other activities in the area.
Go 73 miles north on Hwy. 281 N.
Dripping Springs is best known for Hamilton Pool Preserve. While swimming might not be in the cards for a fall trip (even in warm weather, conditions aren’t always amenable for jumping in) the preserve has a scenic hiking trail leading to the Pedernales River. Nearby Reimer’s Ranch has 18 miles of hike and bike trails and 3 miles of river frontage. If all that outdoor activity makes you thirsty, you’re in the right place. There are lots of winery options in and around Dripping Springs. You can also check out Deep Eddy Distillery, Treaty Oak Distilling or Twisted X Brewery. If you want to explore a little further afield, continue your adventure in Driftwood, Spicewood or Bee Cave.
Go 74 miles east on I-10
If you think you’ve checked all your Texas history boxes at the Alamo, think again. The first shots for Texas independence were fired down the road in Gonzales—you can even see the canon. Other things to do in Gonzales include a walkable town square with shopping and dining options and Pioneer Village, an open-air museum that shows what life was like for early settlers. One of Gonzales’ biggest events is its Winterfest, which takes place this year Dec. 4-5. Gonzales has several choices for lodging, making this city a great jumping-off point if you’re also heading to Shiner or Cuero.
Go 52 miles on I-10 W.
If you can’t visit the “Cowboy Capital” without riding a horse, Bandera has several choices for guided rides and even overnight trips. If you’re looking for something that will keep you firmly on two feet, explore the Bandera General Store and get a treat at the soda fountain. The area is also home to various dude ranches and guest ranches that provide a robust list of activities, including treks into Hill Country State Natural Area.
50 miles or less
Go 50 miles north on Hwy. 281
Blanco is more than a town you drive through to get to Fredericksburg or Johnson City, although it’s easy to plan a trek that includes stops in all three communities. Popular in the summer months for swimming at Blanco State Park, there’s also a variety of small shops, restaurants and places to enjoy libations during any time of the year. Visitors interested in spending the night in Blanco have several options for cottage rentals.
Go 49 miles north on I-35
Although most San Antonians probably think “Texas State and outlet malls” when San Marcos is mentioned, there are other attractions there that make it worth a dedicated visit. Take a glass-bottomed boat ride and see the flora and fauna in Spring Lake. Walk through downtown on a mission to find all 10 7-foot tall mermaid statues. If you’re a kid who grew up in San Antonio in the `70s and `80s, the boat ride and mermaids might be a nostalgic reminder of Aquarena Springs. Downtown San Marcos has a long list of options for food, drinks and places to grab a coffee. And, if shopping is your thing, the post-holiday sales at the outlet stores might be what you need to entice you into extending your stay and seeing a little more of San Marcos.
Note: We’re using 300 miles as a one-tank average, but we realize your mileage will vary. When it comes to short trips, we know Austin, Fredericksburg, Boerne and New Braunfels are often the first places to come to mind, which is why we skipped them for this list. If that’s where you’re headed, however, we’ve still got you covered. Visit sanantoniomag.com/travel and search for each city.