By Samantha Braun
Texas offers a variety of road trip destinations that cater to adventurous broke college students or young-at-hearts looking for a different kind of vacation.
We woke up and peeked out of our hammocks as points of light bounced off glassy Lake Austin and struck our unadjusted eyes. The view was enough to shake off the crusty chips we called dinner and make us forget the three tests we had that week. This is one of many road trips taken while in college to the countless destinations Texas has to offer poor, adventurous college students or anyone up for a reunion tour. There’s an unexplainable thrill about taking a no-frills road trip. Maybe it’s driving until the gas light comes on or the freedom of no responsibilities besides making it back for class – or work – on Monday.
First stop, Austin.
From free outdoor activities to cheap mouthwatering food, Austin holds the key ingredients for a low-maintenance road trip. The always hungry traveler might stop for lunch at P Terry’s, Torchy’s Tacos, Magnolia Café, Nau’s Enfield Drug, or Kerbey Lane Cafe to name a few. Next, join the suburban over-packed with 21 year olds and head to Hamilton Pool Preserve, a prehistoric swimming hole with a 50-foot waterfall and plenty of opportunities to relax or explore.
Be aware: A “No lifeguard on duty” sign is posted at the entrance of the pool – words sweeter to the undergraduate ear than, “class is cancelled.”
After a hike around Barton Creek Greenbelt, and watching the sun set while paddle boarding on Lady Bird Lake, it’s time for dinner. The options for cheap eats are endless on the streets of this city. Hut’s Hamburgers will fill a classic shake and burger craving, and for a big group of guys who devour meat like wolves, Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew offers smoked meat barbeque with favorite southern sides. Dig out your holed jeans and Greek-lettered t-shirts to hit The Aquarium Bar or the Blind Pig Pub on Sixth Street.
When it finally hits time to crash, if you no longer have friends who will let you sleep on the couch, McKinney Falls State Park is a short 10 miles outside of the city and offers 90 campsite options to set up hammocks or tents.
With warm weather and a cashed paycheck in hand, revisit college days as you grab a swim suit, shades, pair of roller blades and head to Galveston. Galveston is a no-agenda-needed kind of town.
The 10.4 miles-long seawall that lines the Gulf of Mexico is the world’s longest continuous sidewalk. This beach town is the perfect attraction for the weekend to lay on the beach and do absolutely nothing, but has plenty of options to do everything. Nick’s Kitchen & Beach Bar or The Spot Tiki Bar are a few favorites for food and drinks located right along
After a few drinks and a crisp sun bathing session, rent a kayak or bike, all under $10. If a wave of ambition hits, renting a surfboard is an option, too. Public volleyball nets scatter the beaches and offer hours of free entertainment and much-needed exercise. When the sun goes down, it’s time to throw on some clothes and find the night life. Captain Jack’s Beach Bar is a prime spot with outdoor bar, pool, live music, and view of the ocean.
When road-tripping to Galveston, a bathing suit is really the only item of clothing necessary. The beach atmosphere doesn’t disappear with the sun at Float Pool & Patio Bar, an outdoor pool with a swim up bar where you can enjoy frozen drinks without having to leave the water.
Driving on E with one clean pair of clothes left, the last destination on this college reunion road trip is a town perfect for a slowdown. Fredericksburg is not your typical college destination but offers a taste of Texas like no other. From the Texas bluebonnets growing wild nearby to the cozy cafes that make anyone feel at home, this city reminds Texans why we love our state. A typical day in Fredericksburg might include walking along Main Street or browsing the Fredericksburg Trade Days flea market. When lunch time strolls around, The Auslander Biergarten and Restaurant gives a taste of authentic German cuisine and beer.
Thrill seekers and romantics are welcome to then hop in their cars for a short drive to Enchanted Rock – “The ancient dome with amazing Hill Country views.” The scenery offers a backdrop perfect to lay out a blanket, grab a six pack or a bottle of wine, and watch the sunset. For those still hyped up on Red Bull, Enchanted Rock offers many hiking trails, places to rock climb and swim.
Any Fredericksburg local would say Hondo’s is a must during your visit. The outdoor seating with lights and live music offers ambiance that only tops off the incredible food. With a full stomach and dancing fever, it’s time to head “where everybody’s somebody,” Luckenbach, Texas. There’s always foot-stomping music playing at the Luckenbach Dance Hall to grab the special someone you’ve been eyeing the entire road trip and two-step to the fiddle. For the full experience, Fredericksburg is the place to splurge on lodging. Home to some of Texas’ most quaint bed & breakfasts, like The Bunkhouse B&B, this town will give you the best night’s sleep – even if your cozy room is being shared by your road-trip pals to split the cost.
Whether you’re in college, looking for college nostalgia, or just looking for a cheap weekend getaway, Texas offers some of the finest road trip destinations for the adventurous spirit.
College Reunion road trip stops
P Terry’s – pterrys.com
Torchy’s Tacos – torchystacos.com
Magnolia Cafe – themagnoliacafe.com
Nau’s Enfield Drug – nausdrug.com
Kerbey Lane Café – kerbeylanecafe.com
Hamilton Pool Preserve – parks.traviscountytx.gov/find-a-park/hamilton-pool
Barton Creek Greenbelt – austinparks.org/our-parks.html?parkid=206
Lady Bird Lake – austintexas.gov/page/lady-bird-lake
Hut’s Hamburgers – hutsfrankandangies.com
Stiles Switch Barbeque and Brew – stilesswitchbbq.com
The Aquarium Bar – theaquariumbar.ypguides.net
Blind Pig Pub – austintexas.org/listings/Blind-Pig-Pub/
McKinney Falls State Park – tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/mckinney-falls
Galveston – Galveston.com
Nick’s Kitchen & Beach Bar – nicksgalveston.com
The Spot Tiki Bar – thespotgalveston.com
Kayak Rentals- galvestonboatrentals.com
Captain Jack’s Beach Bar – galveston.com/captainjacks
Fredericksburg Trade Days flea market – fbgtradedays.com
Auslander Biergarten – theauslander.com
Enchanted Rock – tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/enchanted-rock
The Bunkhouse B&B – fredericksburg-lodging.com/River-road-ranch-bunkhouse2/