The Texas hill country is arguably one of the prettiest areas in the state and therefore home to many hidden gems. There are rolling hills, wildflowers, quaint small towns, wineries, charm and a slower pace to life. The hill country in Texas spans 70 miles West from Austin all the way to Fredericksburg, and another 70 miles south towards San Antonio, Texas.
There are an endless number of hidden gems to see in this area so prioritizing or coordinating what you want to see most is key when you only have a short time to explore the area.
In this post, I am going to show you the top hidden gems in the Texas Hill Country that you CANNOT miss on your next trip!
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Map of the Points of Interest in the Texas Hill Country
Use the map above to see a quick summary of the locations of the points of interest to help you plan your trip! The blue pins represent the natural pools, the green pins represent the state parks, and the purple pins are the other points of interest in the Texas Hill Country. The pins with the wine glass logo are the locations of my favorite wineries in the area! Now let’s dive into the details.
The Natural Pools in the Texas Hill Country
Krause Springs is my absolute favorite spot in the Texas Hill Country. It is probably the most HIDDEN of the hidden gems. It honestly takes your breath away and makes you second guess if you are actually in Texas.
The springs that feed the main natural pool is consistently 68° year round, if this place can’t get any more perfect. You can come here in the morning and make a whole day out of it as there are nature trails, multiple natural pools, one man-made pool on the property and BBQ pits for cooking lunch.
There is overnight camping allowed on the property, and only the RV hook-up spots need a reservation. The tent camping is on a first come, first serve basis, however there is usually always room. They are usually closed between November 1st and February 15th. You can find more information on camping and pricing here.
Location: 424 Co Rd 404, Spicewood, TX
Hours: 9am to 8pm
Cost: $8 per adult, $5 per child (only cash)
Reservations: No reservations possible, arrive at opening if possible
Hamilton Pool Reserve
The Hamilton Pool Reserve is an oasis hidden in the town of Dripping Springs, Texas. Here you can find a natural swimming pool in a canyon below a 50-ft waterfall, surrounded by a grotto. It doesn’t get more picturesque than that!
This is a very popular spot, especially in the summer months, so a reservation is required. You can make a reservation online for either a morning time slot (9:00 am – 12:30 pm) or an afternoon time slot (2:00 pm – 5:30 pm).
This is one of the only natural pools in Texas that is open all through the winter. So if you can’t get a reservation during the summer when its more crowded, try one of the warmer shoulder months in Texas like October or March.
Location: 24300 Hamilton Pool Rd, Dripping Springs, TX
Hours: 9am to 5:30pm
Cost: $12 online reservation fee (via credit card), plus in-person admission of $8 per adult (cash only), children under 12 are free
Reservations: Reservations required – book a couple months in advance
Jacob’s Well Natural Area
The main attraction at the Jacob’s Well Natural Area, is of course, Jacob’s Well. Jacob’s Well is an artesian spring that releases thousands of gallons of water a day, and is the second-largest fully submerged cave in Texas.
Jacob’s Well is the headwaters of Cypress Creek, which flows through Blue Hole Regional Park and feeds into the Blanco River. This is a very popular spot for people from all over Texas, and beyond, to come and jump from the nearby cliffs into the well.
Swimming in Jacob’s well is only allowed from May 1 thru September 30 by online reservation only. There are also many hiking paths around the area which are open all year round and do not require a reservation – however hiking spots are first come first serve.
Location: 1699 Mt Sharp Rd, Wimberley, TX
Hours: 8am to 6pm
Cost: $9 for adults, children under 4 are free for the swimming area. Access to the hiking trails are free.
Reservations: Reservations are required in advance online for swimming in Jacob’s Well as there are a limited number of daily spots, and this is a very popular Texas attraction. There is no fee or reservation needed for the hiking trails, however hiking is first come first serve as will max out unless you arrive early in the morning during the summer months.
Blue Hole Regional Park
The Blue Hole Regional Park in Wimberly, Texas consists of approximately 4.5 miles of trails, picnic areas, basketball court, sand volleyball court, amphitheater, and the Blue Hole Swimming Area.
The entire park is open to visitors within the regular operating hours, however, swimming is only allowed during the designated swimming season. The swimming area is spring-fed therefore I have heard it is rather chilly, even in the summer time.
Location: Blue Hole Ln, Wimberley, TX
Hours: 8am to dusk
Cost: $10 fee per adult for the swimming area, hiking trails are free
Reservations: The walking trails around the park are free to enter and you do not need a reservation. You MUST make an online reservation to swim in the swimming area of the nature park. The swimming area is closed in the winter months.
The State Parks in the Texas Hill Country
McKinney Falls State Park
McKinney Falls State Park is the closest spot to the city of Austin. Its so amazing that you can find hidden gems like this just a couple minutes from downtown Austin and the state capital building.
Here you can camp, hike, mountain or road bike, go bouldering, and picnic. You can also fish and swim in Onion Creek. My favorite part of the park was the swimming at the Lower Falls (pictures above are taken from the Lower Falls).
Location: 5808 McKinney Falls Parkway Austin, TX
Hours: 8am to 10pm
Cost: $6 for Adult general admission, children 12 and under are free
Reservations: The park often reaches capacity, so online reservations are very much recommended.
Pedernales Falls State Park
Pedernales Falls State Park is a park that I have heard little about even while living in Texas, but it was such a fun place to walk along the natural trails and enjoy the natural waterfalls. I also really enjoyed the Texas wildflowers and prickly pear cactus popping up all along the trails.
Here you can also camp, hike, mountain bike, picnic, bird watch and ride horses. On the river, you can swim, wade, tube or fish. The photos above where taken at the Pedernales Falls Overlook then taking the stone steps down to the rocks, which required very little hiking. There are plenty of other trails at Pedernales Falls State Park where you can do longer half to full day hikes.
Location: 2585 Park Road 6026 Johnson City, TX
Hours: Open Wednesday through Sunday from 8am to 10pm (gate closes at 4:45pm)
Cost: $6 for Adult general admission, children 12 and under are free
Reservations: The park often reached capacity, so online reservations are very much recommended. You can reserve your spot 30 days in advance of your trip.
Colorado Bend State Park & Gorman Falls
Gorman Falls is a hidden gem within Colorado Bend State Park which is located near Bend, Texas north of Austin. After a short 1.5 mile hike over some rocky terrain, you will be rewarded with this 70-foot, spring fed waterfall in a lush green canyon which will make you wonder what else is hiding just around the corner in Texas.
Avoid visiting Gorman Falls during the dry season, as you won’t get the same rainforest effect as the wetter months.
Location: 2236 Park Hill Dr, Bend, TX
Hours: 6am to 10 pm
Cost: A day pass is $5 for adults, and children under 12 are free.
Reservation: Required to be made online ahead of time.
Lost Maple State Park
Lost Maple State Park is known for its vibrant fall colors, where the bigtooth maples turn spectacular colors of red, orange and yellow; and nature proves that Texas does have four seasons, after all.
Unlike many of the other state parks on this list with a peak season in the summer months, the peak season for Lost Maple park is October through November and March through May. Its hard to find this much warmth and color in the state of Texas during falls – so this is definitely a treat! You can also enjoy 10 miles of hiking trails or camping as well.
Location: 37221 F.M. 187 Vanderpool, TX
Hours: 8am to 10pm
Cost: General admission is $6 for adults, and children under 12 are free. Camping is $20 per night
Reservations: Making reservations ahead of time online is recommended for both the hiking trails as well as camping.
Other Points of Interested in the Texas Hill Country
Enchanted Rock is a massive pink granite rock that rises from the Texas Hill Country. Here you can find a lower hiking path that is easier and will take you around Enchanted Rock, or you can take the steep hike up the rock for sweeping views over the Hill Country.
There are many more activities you can do here including rock climbing, over-night camping, bird watching and star-gazing. Apparently if it has just recently rained you might be able to find lizards living in pools of water at the top of the rock! Do be careful of the weather, hiking on the enchanted rock while it is wet is very slippery. It is also very windy at the top of the rock.
Location: 16710 Ranch Rd 965, Fredericksburg, TX
Hours: 8:30am to 5pm
Cost: A day pass is $8 per adult, and children under 12 are free. A camping pass is generally $18 per night.
Reservations: Reservations are recommended as camping passes and day passes will sell out if you wait till the day of your visit. You can buy tickets online up to 30 days in advance of your visit for day passes and further in advance for camping passes.
Willow City Loop
Willow City Loop is becoming an increasingly popular spot due to the bluebonnets that sprawl across this 20-mile stretch of road between Fredericksburg, Johnson City, and Llano, Texas. Here you will find rolling green hills cut by a winding backcountry highway.
To find the Willow City Loop, take Highway 16 to Farm Road 1323 (another gorgeous road) and head to Willow City. This idyllic spot is free to enjoy!
Natural Bridge Caverns
Natural Bridge Caverns is a cool underground cavern spanning 2-miles, discovered back in 1960 under a 60-foot limestone bridge by four Texas college students. Today you can take a tour of the first 1/2 mile of the underground cavern. There are so many different types of things to see while on the underground tours.
On the Discovery tour, you will pass the Castle of Giants which is the second largest room in the caverns. On the Hidden passage tours, you will see the Cathedral room which boasts stalagmites rising up from the flowstone floor almost touching the stalactites and slender draperies formed from the cavern roof, creating the impression of an ornately decorated church.
Pictured above is Emerald Lake, which is a very active part of the cavern, with a nearly constant drip of water supplying the glistening surface of the flowstone that surrounds the pool of water. If you want to see it all, go with the Combo tour which included both tours mentioned above!
There are also many fun, above-ground activities, to enjoy at the Natural Bridge Caverns from ziplines, ropes courses and gem/fossil mining.
Location: 26495 Natural Bridge Caverns Rd, San Antonio, TX
Hours: 9am to 5pm
Cost: The cost will depend on the tour package or attractions that you are interested in. Explore the different tours here.
Reservations: Tickets are not required to be purchased in advance, but tour can sell out. Buy tickets in advance online.
The Wineries in the Texas Hill Country
Wineries Near Fredericksburg, TX
You cannot visit the Texas Hill Country without sampling some home-grown Texas wines. Wineries in this area can be found from Austin, Texas all the way West to Fredericksburg, Texas and all the way south to San Antonio, Texas. The most concentrated area is near Fredericksburg off of wine road 290. Here you can find 18 different wineries to choose from all off of a single road.
Some of our favorites in Fredericksburg off of wine road 290 are: Becker, Messina Hof, Grape Creek, Calais Winery, and Signor Vineyards. One of the newest additions to the area is Heath, which is a sparkling wine and at the tasting you get a small food pairing as well.
The best part of the wineries in Fredericksburg is their close proximity and the availability of wine shuttles (we usually use 290 wine shuttle) that take you from the main square in Fredericksburg, out on a rotation through the wineries, and back into town.
Wineries Near Austin, TX
If you don’t want to make the trip to Fredericksburg, some of our favorite wineries that are just West of the Austin area are:
- Duchman Winery – 13308 Farm to Market Road 150, Driftwood
- Driftwood Estate Winery – 4001 Elder Hill Road, Driftwood
- Fall Creek Vineyard – 18059-A Farm to Market Road 1826, Driftwood
- Spicewood Vineyards – 419 Burnet County Road 409, Spicewood
- Flat Creek Estate – 24912 E. Singleton Bend, Marble Falls
- Pedernales Cellars – 2916 Upper Albert Road, Stonewall
Where to Stay in the Texas Hill Country
Collective Retreats in Wimberly, TX – for the nature lovers
Book your stay today at the Collective Retreats – Hill Country!
One of my favorite stays to date in the Texas Hill Country was our glamping experience with Collective Retreat Resorts just outside of Wimberly, Texas.
Here you will sleep in a plush bed, with all the hotel amenities, but under a canvas tent and the Texas sky. There is a private bathroom, equipped with rain shower and vanity, attached to every tent, so you will get the full luxury experience here. Read more about our experience staying at the Collective Retreats in the Texas Hill Country.
Fredericksburg, TX – for the wine lovers
If you are looking for a spot that isn’t a big city, but also isn’t the country-side, check out Fredericksburg, Texas for a nice small town feel with easy access to the best wineries around.
The main square in Fredericksburg has amazing vintage shopping, many German-style restaurants / breweries, as well as up-scale dining. This is the perfect place to stay if you want a relaxing trip with easy access to trendy spots and wineries.
Book your stay today for Fredericksburg, Texas!
Austin, TX – for the city lovers
If you are looking for the big city vibe, that is pretty close to all the spots mentioned above, definitely check out a stay in Austin. This is Texas’ state capital, but there is such a young and trendy vibe to the city that it won’t feel like visiting any other state capital in the US.
Austin has the best music-scene and arguably the best food scene in the state of Texas. Some of the hidden gems listed above maybe be a 15 – 30 minute drive from Austin, or as long as 2-hours but if you combine them into one day it is completely do-able in a day-trip from Austin!
Book your stay today for Austin, Texas!
I hope you enjoy your time in the Texas Hill Country! If you have any questions about visiting any of the hidden gems on my list, drop a comment in the section below. Happy planning!