Hill Country Weekend

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There is a lot of ground to cover in Texas and it seems each pocket of the state is wildly different from the next one. We have lived in Austin for four years, and because so much of our efforts have gone to exploring our own city, we haven't done a great job of taking time to venture further into the surrounding towns here in the heart of Central Texas. 

When college friends recently invited us out for a weekend of Hill Country fun, we were eager to meet them and spend some time outdoors! We started the reunion weekend with dinner at the Gruene River Grill


Less famous than The Gristmill, the weekend lines to snag a table at the river-front restaurant were still very long at the grill. We ended up on the patio, which was a bit too hot for a Texas summer, even at sunset, but bearable with good company and nice views. 


After dinner, we walked over to the infamous Gruene Hall, Texas' oldest and most famous dance hall. We bought our tickets online earlier in the week, but friends were able to buy extras at the door even though it seemed like everyone in town was headed over for the concert.  Stepping inside is like stepping back in time. Painted advertisements from the 1930's circle the hall, and couples of all ages two-step in the center of the room. If you go for a summer show, be sure to wear cool clothes because a few fans are all there are to help stifle the summer heat. 



After the show, we made the dark drive out to the rental home on Canyon Lake. Our friends kindly booked the place for everyone, and while it had its quirks, it was spacious and had a great patio overlooking the lake. It was so nice to wake up to coffee outside with pretty lake views, grill out for dinner, watch fireworks, and catch up with friends who we hadn't spent much time with since college. VRBO & Homeaway make it really easy to track down places and plan great retreats like this one.

While we had all planned for the main event to be a float trip on the Guadalupe, the river was still raging from the floods, and was too high to safely float. The group rallied and managed to secure a boat  rental for the next morning on the lake. We had a blast tubing, swimming, and watching our driver wake surf. (The rental company requires a driver to stay on board to ensure you don't wreck their fancy ski boats). We were all a bit pink and sore by the end of the night, but dinner at home, fireworks on the waterfront, and shenanigans to close the night kept everyone in good spirits.


After saying goodbye to our friends, we met Shelton in San Marcos for lunch. We convinced him to take a little drive with us to Wimberley. A beautiful, quiet little town, it was hard to imagine the horror of the recent floods that came ripping through in a twenty foot wall and took the lives of many people trapped in their path. The damage was evident along the Blanco, but Cypress Creek was serene.
We visited the Blue Hole, walked around the quaint shops downtown, and then drove out of town to Jacob's Well. There are a lot of ways to support the relief efforts, but one the best ways is by visiting town yourself and purchasing items from local businesses made specifically to benefit victims. 


Jacob's Well was the highlight of the day and we highly encourage all of our friends to take the time to visit! Hike around, cool off in the water, and be sure to book in advance to secure your swim reservation. The parking is only a few minutes walk from the water, but wear sturdier shoes because the rocks can get slippery when wet, and flip-flops were not cutting it. (I'm giving you tips because you really must go check it out yourself.) 

An angry afternoon thunderstorm popped up and we drove through rain as we weaved along beautiful backroads, through vineyards near Driftwood,  past the fancy new Oohla Bean retreat, and made it back into Kyle to drop off Shelton before continuing on home to Austin. 
We tacked this all onto our weekend at the lake, but I think this would make the perfect day trip from Austin! Starting with shopping in Wimberley, lunch at The Leaning Pear, swimming at Jacob's Well, dinner at The Salt Lick, and maybe even a special overnight stay in one of the many beautiful guest houses near the wineries; there is one amazing day waiting just outside of Austin's city limits. 



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