Hill Country is a slice of Texas that's soaked in magic. Something about the combination of natural springs, bluebonnets, small town charm and peaceful wineries is utterly and perfectly dreamy. Hill Country is all about slowing down and really taking the time to fully experience and enjoy every place you visit, whether it's an old-school honky tonk or a museum dedicated to toilet seat art. Uncover the offbeat spots that exude Hill Country charm with this guide to the hidden gems of central Texas!
As you travel from New Braunfels and make your way to San Antonio, be sure to make time for Bracken Cave. Trust us. You really don't want to miss what's hidden inside! Bracken Cave is the summer home of more than 15 million Mexican free-tailed bats, making it the world's largest bat colony. For four hours every night through the months of March to October, the bats stream from the cave in spectacular fashion, blotting out the setting sun as they disperse into the night to feed. So many bats fill the sky that the squeaking mass of critters actually shows up on Doppler radar, prompting local meteorologists to excuse the area above the Bracken Bat Cave from their weather estimations.
Despite being portrayed as dark and scary, bats are an essential part of our ecosystem. Unfortunately, they face many threats to survival. Bracken Cave allows you to both see the bats and learn more about their importance. The bat cave is located on private land owned by Bat Conservation International (BCI), and while access to the cave is restricted in order to protect the habitat of the bats, BCI hosts four public viewing nights a month where you can watch in awe as the creatures make their nightly exodus. If you want to witness the incredible site for yourself, make sure to reserve your spot ahead of time, as slots fill up quickly.
What do you get when you mix natural beauty, science, and a splash of history? Cascade Caverns, which are just a few miles south of Boerne, TX. With plenty to explore and lots of entertainment for the entire family, Cascade Caverns is a nice addition to your quirky hidden gems trip. Various tours offer different ways to experience the cave, from old-school lantern tours to epic adventure tours. You'll meet bats, salamanders, and frogs as you wander past domes, stalactites, and an underground waterfall and lake. Seriously, who knew there was a whole other world below Texas?
1142 Sisterdale Rd, TX, US
Located deeeep in the heart of Texas, The Sister Creek Vineyards is about a 30-minute drive from Cascade Caverns, in the small town of Sisterdale, TX. When we say small, we mean it; the town is home to 28 people.
But you don't need a bustling settlement to make great wine. The Sister Creek Vineyards has been delivering one of best wine experiences in Texas since 1988, and has plenty to offer any wine connoisseur. Sister Creek uses a wide variety of winemaking techniques, some of which are unique to Texas, and it also offers some Italian wines. Hill Country is known for being a great place to grow certain varieties of grapes, so a trip through the region isn't complete without a tasting or two!
412 Luckenbach Town Lp, Fredericksburg, TX, US
Next up on your journey, you'll make your way to Luckenbach, just a few miles from Fredericksburg. This Hill Country hamlet is an iconic country music venue that looks like a working Old West town. There's a blacksmith shop, post office, on-site bar shack, dance hall and cotton gin. With a variety of shows and music to choose from (country, folk, bluegrass, etc.), Luckenbach is bound bring out the Texas in ya. Grab a beer and tap your toes to the tunes!
Perhaps not the type of landscape you'd expect to see when driving through the Lone Star State, Enchanted Rock State Park is a fantastic way to see one of the many "other sides" of Texas. Choose your own adventure with boating, fishing, hiking, hunting and/or rock climbing across the many parts of the park. Enchanted Rock is pet-friendly, too. Legend has it, the Tonkawa Indians named the 425-foot rock "Enchanted Rock" because they believed a Spanish conquistador put a spell on the landmass and turned it into an evil spirit. You'll have to visit to see if they were on to something!
Take a road trip to Hill Country's quirkiest hidden gems, and discover the playful side of Texas, beyond the 10-gallon hats and ranches. Whether it's learning to see the beauty in toilet seats, eating a burger in a house of horrors, or camping out next to cows, there's plenty of strangeness in the Lone Star State. In our experience, Texas is weird. And that's exactly how we like it.