Dreamland of Art, Music & Good Times Unfolds in Dripping Springs
A 64-acre outdoor playground holds concerts, recreation, food and drinks
Story and photographs by Holly Cowart
I have this problem where I never check the forecast when making plans. Maybe I’m an optimist, but even after Austin’s recent unending downpour, I hopped in my car umbrella-less and hopeful. After all, I was going to Dreamland.
The outdoor recreation spot opened in February and has since become a gathering place for families, friends, art lovers and sports enthusiasts. Sitting on 64 acres of land in Dripping Springs, the property contains multiple stages, indoor and outdoor bars, a world-class miniature golf course, pickleball courts, a disc golf course, lawn games, a kid’s splash pad and more — all dispersed around larger-than-life art installations.
Immediately I was intrigued, so when the opportunity arose I gathered a group of close friends and headed west to experience a day in Dreamland.
It’s hard to comprehend all that space, even in pictures. A gigantic American flag stands as the park’s centerpiece surrounded by sounds of revelry from regulars and newcomers alike. Depending on the mood, there’s a lot of options for how to begin the adventure.
We decided the first step was to grab a drink and get a lay of the land, so we headed to the taproom where a handful of visitors had found solace from the summer sun. Fully stocked for any taste, the bartender also pointed out an interesting pour-it-yourself system I hadn’t seen before. One wall is lined with red and white wine options while the other is filled with local brews, adding up to 90 taps total. Guests can load money onto a drink card and sample the selection at their own pace. However, a fan-favorite for the day was the frozen churro cocktail which felt more like horchata for adults. (Also look out for weekly happy hour specials!)
Stepping outside, we were met with live music and shady benches where parents can kick back while keeping an eye on their little ones at the nearby playground. But with glasses full, we were ready to play. After picking up our mini golf gear and score card we chose to try out the Challenge Course. The 18-hole track takes you on a winding journey throughout the venue and features three difficulty levels. There’s also a more family-friendly Dream Course that’s a little shorter and great for diverse skill levels and more relaxed gameplay.
As we worked our way through, I started noticing little patches of colorful bricks lining the course. Apparently upon request, kids and adults can leave their own artistic mark by painting a brick that the Dreamland team will add to the path. Eventually they’ll line the entire way, creating another uniquely personal detail to the grounds.
One of the most memorable parts of the Challenge Course was a metal structure you hit your ball into where another hole awaits. Along with some original artwork by Dreamland’s Artistic Director Gareth Maguire, fascinating images from Ellis Island cover the walls where early immigrants from across the world arrived in search of a new life.
As you explore the park, a powerful message becomes apparent in the art curation. Dreamland isn’t just about having fun and playing games (although it definitely comes with the territory), it’s about finding common ground and experiencing community through a shared love of sports, recreation and a good drinks. The team has fully embraced an “all are welcome” mentality and make it a point to proudly exhibit reminders throughout the space, creating surprisingly reflective moments and a fostered sense of togetherness.
Before Dreamland planted its flag, the property used to host bottled water brand Richard’s Rainwater. The remaining collection tanks, which also help run the park, have been turned into an ever-evolving display of murals created in collaboration with renowned local and international artists. Despite the many sports-related reasons to visit the venue, it’s easy to see that showcasing artwork is just as important a component to the space.
Although the mini golf competition was fierce, the laughter was fiercer and we weren’t ready to stop. After seeing pickleball leagues pop up all over town and take over my favorite bar spots, I had to try it out. While Dreamland currently offers four covered courts, they have plans to add 12 more. I have to admit, it was pretty awesome and worth every bit of exhaustion. By this time, bingo had started up at the nearby beer garden stage offering cash prizes for lucky winners.
The dream team at Dreamland has wasted no time creating engaging events for the community. Towards the back of the park there’s a main stage that has welcomed the talents of Bob Schneider, Asleep at the Wheel and more — plus a handful of festivals featuring impressive musical guests and artisan markets. There’s also a large screen used to host watch parties for exciting sporting events like the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Austin FC matches. Meanwhile, the lawn is filled with cornhole, giant beer pong, mini soccer nets and other games perfect for summertime.
And speaking of expansion, all of these activities are only a small preview of what’s to come. There are an abundance of big plans in store for the rapidly growing business. While food trucks are on-site, construction is currently underway for a brick-and-mortar restaurant with a globally-inspired menu. Dreamland is also looking to create an amenities center that will be able to host larger groups overnight (perfect for bachelor/ette parties and company outings), as well as a glamping area slated for the end of the year. There will be Trivia Tuesdays, Whiskey and Washer Wednesdays and loads more of special happenings to add to your calendar.
Long story short: Did we get a little rained on? Yes. Did that stop anyone from having the best time? Not one bit.
Dreamland is located at 2770 West Highway 290 in Dripping Springs. Access to the venue after 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays is 18 and older only. For more information go to dreamlanddstx.com.