Escaping the Texas heat — or finding ways to make it slightly more tolerable – is crucial during the warmest months of the year. Respite can be found in air conditioning and patio misters throughout the state, but there are a few other ways to stay cool, especially if you head to the town of Dripping Springs.
The self-proclaimed “Gateway to the Hill Country” and “Wedding Capital of Texas,” Dripping Springs is known for its vineyards, breweries, and distilleries, as well as some of the most incredible natural beauty (including a historic swimming hole) in the region. Located less than 30 miles (48.28 km) from Austin, it’s convenient for a day trip or a long weekend getaway.
Whether you’re looking for a break from the bustle of the city or you want to experience the best of the Lone Star State, Dripping Springs has something for every type of traveller. Along with water-based activities and a variety of drinking establishments, the area offers antique shopping, hiking, glamping, live music, and more. Here’s what to know before visiting one of the best small towns in the Texas Hill Country.
Dripping Springs: A blend of scenic beauty and small-town charm!
Best things to do in Dripping Springs, Texas
A trip to Dripping Springs wouldn’t be complete without making your way to Hamilton Pool Preserve. The emerald green swimming hole is fed by Hamilton Creek, which spills out over the limestone and creates a 50-foot waterfall. You’ll need to plan your swimming trip beforehand, though, as reservations are required, and swimming is only allowed in certain conditions (depending on bacteria levels, recent rainfall, and falling rocks). You can pay by vehicle online, but per-person entrance fees are paid with cash upon arrival.
Hamilton Pool Preserve isn’t the only place to take in the region’s beauty. Other natural wonders can be found at Pedernales Falls State Park and Reimers Ranch Park, which are half an hour away from Dripping Springs. The former grants visitors access to the Pedernales River for swimming, tubing, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing, and there are numerous trails for hiking and mountain biking. Reimers Ranch, with its world-class rock climbing and proximity to the river, is also an adventurer’s paradise. It even has an astronomical observatory where visitors can look up at the starry Texas sky.
Visiting family-owned olive orchard Texas Hill Country Olive Co. should also be on your Dripping Springs itinerary. Along with touring the production facility, guests can participate in guided tastings of the signature extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. There’s an on-site bistro and a gourmet shop (where you can purchase your new favourite olive oils), but there’s more shopping in downtown Dripping Springs.
The historic district is where you’ll find Mercer Street and its delightful shops and storefronts that date back to the 1800s; stop in Vintage Soul, Starrs on Mercer, Home Sweet Home, or Panache for antiques and souvenirs. At the west end of Mercer Street, you’ll find the town’s namesake: the real “dripping springs.” The fern-covered limestone ledges that drip water into a stream were once a gathering place for Native Americans as well as a water source for the first Anglo-American settlers.
Be sure to cap off your night with some live music and two-stepping at Mercer Dancehall’s new location in Driftwood, just a short drive from downtown Dripping Springs.
Dripping Springs hotels
Hospitality reigns supreme in the Texas Hill Country, so it should come as no surprise that there are quite a few charming, unique stays in Dripping Springs. If glamping has been on your travel list, Lucky Arrow Retreat has luxury yurts (yes, they have air conditioning) and cabins to rent.
Camp Lucy is both a wedding venue and a resort with high-end in-room amenities and an outdoor pool. Guests can also take part in the on-site programming, including archery, fishing, hiking, alpaca feeding, and yoga. Hill Country Casitas, which overlooks the Pedernales River Valley, has standalone home-away-from-home accommodations dotting its 13 acres.
Where to eat and drink in Dripping Springs, Texas
Breweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms are aplenty in Dripping Springs, so you’ll want to line up a designated driver before heading out for the day. If you aren’t sure which ones to add to your list, start with the Dripping with Taste Trail. For wine, there’s Bell Springs Winery or Graveyard Vineyards. Dripping Springs Distilling offers tours and tastings of their vodka, and Deep Eddy Distillery has a tasting room where you can order various cocktails, a flight of vodka, and barbecue sandwiches.
Bourbon drinkers should look no further than Treaty Oak Distilling, a 28-acre ranch with tours, tastings, and classes where you can learn to cook brisket, make classic cocktails, or create a custom bottle to take home as a souvenir. Twisted X Brewing Company and The Barber Shop are both perfect for craft beer lovers or anyone who appreciates a cold, Texas-brewed IPA, lager, or pilsner.
To soak up all of that alcohol (or fill up beforehand), indulge in a crepe from Crepe Crazy, grab a latte and sweet treats from Mazama Coffee Co, or enjoy a fine dining experience at Camp Lucy’s Tillie’s. For the best barbecue, drive to Salt Lick Barbecue in Driftwood, which has been cooking for guests on open-air barbecue pits since 1967.
Best time to visit
Late March to mid-May is the ideal time to visit Dripping Springs. You’ll avoid the hot, muggy weather associated with a Texas summer, but you’ll still get to enjoy the variety of outdoor activities in the area.
Getting to Dripping Springs
Dripping Springs is easily accessible from Austin–Bergstrom International Airport (about a 40-minute drive away). You may be able to get an Uber or Lyft upon arrival, but renting a car is necessary if you want to be able to explore the Texas Hill Country to its full extent.
(Hero and feature image credit: Raul Rodriguez/Getty Images)
This story first appeared on travelandleisure.com