Where to Head for the Local(ish) Getaway You Need, Want and Deserve
Away We Go
Summer is that time of year when all anyone can talk about is long-awaited travel plans (also camps, and the heat, and margaritas, and Barton Springs). Pretty much every conversation begins with an obligatory, “Where are you off to this summer?” We secretly love this seasonal small talk because we’re obsessed with any type of travel: Planes, trains and automobiles equal excitement. Luxury digs on the Amalfi Coast? Camping in Yosemite? Canoe weekend on the Llano? We want to hear about it all. Whether you’ve already made big plans or frittered away your hard-earned vacation days up until this point, it’s not too late. Seize the day, hop in your car, and visit one of these five Tribeza-approved local escapes.
When I startle myself awake, mid-snore, during my Signature Petal Pecan Facial at Miraval Austin, I realize I’m finally relaxed. A stressful week had led me to seek refuge and balance at the seven-month-old revamped wellness retreat, which is surrounded by Balcones Canyonlands Preserve and overlooks Lake Travis. In between naps in oversize hammocks and atop my deliciously cozy feather bed, there was kayaking, guided nature walks, lazing by the infinity pool, a yin reiki class in the airy yoga barn and a tour of the 220-acre property’s Cypress Creek Farm and apiary, which emphasize regenerative agriculture. Miraval’s Hilltop Crossings Kitchen restaurant and spa source all of their cage-free eggs and select vegetables, herbs, flowers and honey from the farm; the highlight of my stay was an in-depth class with resident apiarist Ed Reed that required donning a beekeeping suit and examining the hives close-up.
Back at the spa, an 80-minute Austin Apothecary massage loosened my limbs, but it was the aforementioned facial, which utilizes lymphatic drainage and the farm’s botanicals in the form of a gentle mask, that elevated me to a higher plane and left my skin radiant. Miraval also offers equine therapy and horseback riding; culinary, nutrition and fitness programming; a challenge course; and workshops tailored toward mindful living. – Laurel Miller
The Stagecoach Inn in Salado looms large in my memory. My grandparents’ best friends were from Waco, and the historic inn and restaurant (first opened as the Shady Villa Hotel in 1861) was our traditional midway meeting point. We would pull off I-35, amble into the dining room and commence ordering hush puppies. Lunch was followed by antiquing before we’d make the short drive back to our respective cities.
From those days, some things remain the same: The inn is still situated off the highway in charming Salado; hush puppies still feature prominently on the menu, albeit now with a whipped honey butter upgrade; and antiquing is a stone’s throw away. But now the property has been given a long-overdue update, thanks to developer Clark Lyda, designer Robin Kelley, Clayton & Little and La Corsha Hospitality Group. I can’t tell you how many people perked up when I told them my family and I were going to spend Memorial Day weekend at the new-and-improved Stagecoach. Each one had his own memory, and all made me promise to report back.
Well, folks, she’s a beauty. The design-forward update manages to combine the comfort and history of a Texan estate with a Palm Springs twist, and no space epitomizes this more than the restaurant, which happily remains the heart of the property. We were charmed by the cheerful pool and our vintage-inspired room, which had its own mini-courtyard with just the right amount of privacy, courtesy of lush landscaping, a hallmark of the property. And while you could choose to stay put, we had a blast swimming in Salado Creek, grabbing a bite at the Happy Pizza Company food truck and picking up dessert at the Sugar Shack. Small-town living at its finest. – Margaret Williams
Last summer was my first living in Texas, and despite my love of cooking, I had to break up with my kitchen for a few months. If you’re similarly inclined, or you just prefer to holiday with a group of friends or family at an established base camp, Lucky Arrow Retreat is there for you. The secluded, woodsy Dripping Springs property, which opened in April, specializes in planned and custom excursions, aka Troopy Tours. A driver will take you and your companions to Hill Country restaurants, wineries, distilleries, breweries, farmers markets, U-pick’s, swimming holes, historic sites and state parks in vintage Toyota Land Cruisers; back at home base, there are stylish yurts, breezy modern cabins with mini-fridges and microwaves, and a spacious four-bedroom ranch house that sleeps 10 and comes equipped with a full kitchen (you just never know) and hot tub.
I planned a recent stay around some of my favorite spots for food and drink, including Mazama Coffee Co. and Rolling in Thyme & Dough (the green-chile-and-cheese-layered ham rings are my kryptonite). At Jester King Brewery’s open-air Tasting Room & Kitchen, the simple, seasonal menu features wild yeast-leavened pizzas and “farm, fermented and foraged ingredients” whenever possible; on my visit, there were wood-oven-roasted Loring peaches with ’nduja vinaigrette and hibiscus. If self-driving or being chauffeured sounds too taxing, Lucky Arrow has a pool, and the cabins have communal fire pits (BYOB and s’mores). Hill Country heaven, no effort required. – Laurel Miller
I live 2.1 miles from The LINE hotel, so there was something particularly indulgent about a midweek stay at the luxurious, design-centric downtown property. It didn’t hurt, either, that my 1940s apartment doesn’t have central air. I was also excited to stay at a property with complimentary bikes and a location just steps from Congress Avenue Kayaks, because a lazy traveler and researcher I am not. Watching all of the aquatic action from the floor-to-ceiling windows of my minimalist-chic Lakeside Suite motivated me down to the hotel’s infinity pool, where I opted for swimming and napping instead of enjoying the poolside bar and eatery, Dean’s One Trick Pony. I had good reason for abstaining: Dinner would be at the hotel’s signature restaurant, Arlo Grey, where executive chef Kristen Kish infuses French and Italian flavors into artful, deeply personal dishes like Peeler Ranch wagyu tartare with chevre, egg, mustard and dried fruit and decadent housemade pastas like malfadini with champignons, pearl onions and Parmesan. After dinner, while enjoying a glass of Port, the bartender urged me to watch the South Congress bats in flight from my room.
The next morning, I realized I was in no condition to ride or paddle, so I reluctantly ordered room service and silently berated myself for the previous evening’s (admittedly delicious) excesses. As the server set down my latte, he took in my disheveled appearance and cheerfully asked, “Just relaxing, today? Not working?” Suddenly, my guilt evaporated, my need to do all the things gone. I was just having a day at the office. – Laurel Miller
When vacationing with kiddos in tow, sometimes the simpler the itinerary the better. It’s often tempting to overproduce a vacation planned around lots of walking or museums when everyone just needs a few days filled with swimming and minimal shoe-wearing (and no laundry).
My husband, kids and I found ourselves in need of such a weekend recently and couldn’t have been happier to hop in the car, make the short drive to not-quite-Bastrop and unload ourselves upon the sweet staff at Hyatt Lost Pines. We breezed in, giving in to our kids’ request for candy at McDade’s Emporium and Ice Cream Saloon, and then walked to the animal corral, where we were charmed by the goats and pigs before moving onto visiting the longhorns that were stationed on the hotel’s central lawn.
But I’m burying the lead. If, like us, you’re at Hyatt Lost Pines with children (ours are 7 and 5), your whole stay will likely (and gloriously) revolve around the lazy river, sandy “beach” pool and waterslide (formally known as the Crooked River Water Park). Once we entered this inner-tubed and frozen-drink zone, we stayed put, ordering lunch poolside (Old Buck’s Place) and alternating between racing our kids down the waterslide and supervising as they came blasting out of the chute. Yes, there is a spa, and a golf course, and even archery, but in the interest of not overcomplicating things, we kept it fun and easy, and I didn’t regret one moment. – Margaret Williams