Dripping Springs: Go West to Hike, Fish, Camp, Drink & Dine

A short drive from Austin, Dripping Springs is the perfect place to explore the Hill Country

By Laurel Miller and Hannah J. Phillips

Pedernales Falls State Park, Johnson City

When the thermometer and barometer hit the so-called discomfort index, there’s nothing else to do but immerse yourself in a Texas river, cold drink in hand. Less than 40 miles from downtown Austin, this pastoral park along the emerald-hued Pedernales River is an easy escape from the city heat, with options to camp, fish, hike, ride, bike, tube or paddle (note that there are no rentals on-site). All you really need, however, are sunscreen, a hat, a submersible beach chair and a good book. Perch on one of the park’s famous limestone slabs or plunk yourself mid-river and relax. Reservations recommended for day and camping use.

Jester King Brewery

One of the best ways to spend a summer Sunday in the Hill Country? Drinking hyper-seasonal, wild yeasted farmhouse brews and eating wood-fired pizza and other dishes made from ingredients grown or foraged on-site at this bucolic, conservation- focused 165-acre Fitzhugh Road property. The open-air restaurant, walking paths and resident Nigerian Dwarf goats make this a family-friendly destination. Five new guest cabins allow you to make a weekend of it and have maybe one—OK, two—more beers. Now drinking: Gin Barrel-Aged Nocturn Chrysalis Batch 2, a collab with Oregon’s Ransom Wine Co. & Distillery, made with refermented Marionberries.

C.L. Butaud and Wine for the People Tasting Room

Texas wines may not have the cachet of, say, Napa Valley’s, but winemakers like Randy Hester of C.L. Butaud and Rae Wilson of Wine for the People are working to change that. While their winemaking styles differ, the duo share a tasting room and a commitment to creating superb, low-intervention releases made entirely from Texas-grown grapes. From Tempranillo to skin-contact Pinot Gris, both wineries offer flights, including limited releases available only at the tasting room as well as tastings from $25 per person. Reservations encouraged.

Proof & Cooper

Hamilton Pool may be closed to swimming for the summer, but Proof & Cooper is still a perfect excuse to drive out that direction. Serving Texas beers and craft cocktails, the restaurant’s self-designation as “elevated picnic fare” is an appropriate description of its fried pickles, finger-licking fried chicken and delicious hamburgers. Made with fresh muddled strawberry and served in a 16-ounce mason jar, the frozen strawberry-basil lemonade is dangerously good.


Read More From the Outdoors Issue | Summer 2021


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