San Antonio: About 80 miles southwest of Austin via I-35, San Antonio is worth a visit. Main attractions include the River Walk, with a myriad of colorful shops and a mix of excellent restaurants, the fabled Alamo and other missions, an excellent botanical garden, a zoo, and interesting museums.
San Marcos: About 35 miles southwest of Austin on I-35 are two adjacent, large discount malls. If you can’t find it here, you aren’t likely to find it anywhere: DKNY, Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, etc. etc. etc. This is a true “shop ‘til you drop” experience.
Natural Bridge Caverns: Located in the vicinity of Garden Ridge, TX, about 60 miles northwest of Austin, is an impressive underground cavern.
Natural Bridge Wildlife Park: Located close to the caverns. It is one of those drive through animal parks where ostriches stick their heads in your car and eat anything that is loose. There are many other animals too. Not as spectacular as Fossil Rim, [see below] but a lot closer.
Fredericksburg: About 78 miles west of Austin, Fredericksburg is an old town in the Texas hill country with interesting buildings and shops and a couple of excellent restaurants. B&B’s abound. Some will find the Admiral Chester Nimitz Museum interesting. [WWII-Pacific] Enchanted Rock is 18 miles away and is a great hiking area. Think mini Ayers Rock. www.tpwd.state.tx.us/park/enchantd.
The LBJ Ranch: The LBJ Ranch is at Johnson City, about 48 miles west of Austin on the way to Fredericksburg. The U.S. Park Service provides a very interesting, narrated tour of the ranch. For more information type “LBJ Ranch” into your web browser.
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center: www.fossilrim.com About 200 miles northwest of Austin (south of Fort Worth) is Fossil Rim Wildlife Center at Glen Rose, TX. This is a park involving about a 10 mile drive where the animals are semi-wild and you are confined to your auto/cage. Buy food pellets before you begin and you will literally have some of the animals eating out of your hand, with their heads through your car window. If you’re lucky, you might even attract a giraffe or two. The Wild Rose Inn at Glen Rose is a lovely B & B where you can also arrange for dinner. www.wildroseglenrose.com The Glen Rose Hotel offers deluxe complimentary breakfast, 3 swimming pools [one heated], a wading pool with waterfalls and a wraparound porch, a koi pond and a 15 person hot tub. www.dinosaurvalleyinn.com Also in the area are Dinosaur Valley State Park, golf courses, lakes and rivers.
Barton Springs Country Club: Barton Springs Country Club and Conference Center, on the outskirts of Austin, is probably the nicest golf and tennis resort in the area. There are three golf courses, some with spectacular scenery. For those interested, this is worth checking out. www.bartoncreek.com
Lakeway Inn: For those interested in golf and relaxation, Lakeway is another near-Austin possibility. www.lakewayinn.com
College Station: Approximately 120 miles northeast of Austin is the community of Bryan-College Station, which includes the Texas A&M campus, and the George H. W. Bush (Bush 41) Presidential Library where Barbara bush is buried.
Bandera: About 120 miles southwest of Austin lies a town that is wall-to-wall dude ranches. For riding, golfing, swimming and a few other activities, this is a fun place and one that is distinctly Texas. Check it out at www.hill-country-visitor.com and select Bandera for the location that you are interested in. This site will get you information about other locations as well.