There are many day trips from San Antonio that are just as amazing as the city itself. We’ve gushed about the many wonderful things to do in San Antonio, but if you also want to visit the surrounding areas we’ve got you covered. Below is a full guide to some of the best San Antonio day trips including some hidden gems. So whether you’re looking to venture into the outdoors or explore some rustic small towns, here are some beautiful San Antonio getaways to choose from.
Pssst… If you love culture and history, don’t miss our guide to the best museums in San Antonio.
Beautiful Day Trips from San Antonio
1. Canyon Lake
Our first of many best day trips from San Antonio is a quick drive to Canyon Lake. Canyon Lake is an hour’s drive from San Antonio, making this the perfect quick escape to some of Texas’ natural treasures. Known as the “Jewel” of Texas Hill Country, you’ll love visiting this area. It consists of the lake, but also a small town of the same name. The lake itself is known for its water recreation, from fishing to boating and more.
There are some excellent tours you can take around Canyon Lake’s shores, including Full of Fun Boat Rides. The Full of Fun tour will take you on a relaxing pontoon where you have the ability to either choose your destination or let the driver guide you along. Tub towing, lake swimming, and fishing are also offered. Another tour, Big Bassin Fishing Tours, is led by a fishing guide that will bring this classic Texas experience to life.
2. Dripping Springs, Texas
Head a bit more north and extend your Canyon Lake day trip to Dripping Springs, TX. This sweet small town, also in the Texas Hill Country, has many attractions within its reach like Dr. Pound Historical Farmstead, Pedernales Fall State Park, and the Hamilton Pool Preserve (pictured above).
The Hamilton Pool Preserve has one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the USA and hosts a clear blue pool underneath a rocky cliff, which forms a natural dome. Keep in mind that swimming may not be allowed when you visit, and there may be some trail closures. Both of these instances are caused by unpredictable rock falls. Still, the Preserve has some excellent camping and other hiking trails that you will love.
Dripping Springs is also popular for its Vintage Market Days. Perfect for those who love shopping for antiques, vintage goods, and local artisanry.
3. Wimberly, Texas
Wimberly is another small town near Canyon Lake and the perfect place for nature lovers. In fact, there are two cool things to do outside San Antonio that we’d like to highlight here.
First, go to Blue Hole Regional Park, which was named one of the top ten swimming holes in the US by USA Today in 2018. Soak in the beautiful Blue Hole Swimming Area, and enjoy four and a half miles of trails and plenty of picnic areas. The Blue Hole is open from May to September, so make sure to visit if your trip is during those months.
Second, visit Jacob’s Well Natural Area. The Natural Ares is about eighty-one acres large, and nestled in the midst of Texas beauty is the last largest fully submerged cave in Texas. Guided morning tours are provided for free from October to April, where a guide will explain the underwater cave system, the history of the Well, and the wildlife that live in the area. You can swim, but only if you are comfortable, as there is no lifeguard.
4. Natural Bridge Caverns
Take a quick drive out of San Antonio (or stop halfway between the city and Canyon Lake) to see Natural Bridge Caverns. In the caverns, you will be able to see the sixty-foot natural limestone bridge that sparked the imagination of geologists in the 1960s. Determined to locate the caves surrounding the bridge, they set to work. Now, visitors can choose from five different tours to explore the area and the caves they found.
Take the Discovery Tour one hundred and eighty feet below the surface. Or, take the Adventure Tour for something more on the wild side. Private VIP Tours are also available, an experience completely customizable to your group or family. The Hidden Passages Tour takes you on another experience that is currently under development, and the Bracken Bat Flight Packages allow you to see 20 million Mexican Free-tailed bats roosting in Bracken cave.
5. Gruene, Texas (Rustic Side of Texas)
A city within a city, Gruene, Texas is the Historic District of New Braunfels. It is about forty minutes from San Antonio and an hour from Austin. Gruene is the best place to experience that old, more rustic side of Texas. Catch some of the best country musicians perform live at Gruene Hall, the oldest dance hall in Texas (pictured above). The Gruene General Store is a great place for souvenirs, and The Grapevine is perfect for a little bit of wine tasting. The whole town is perfect for picture taking, too.
6. Pedernales Falls State Park
Just an hour and a half from San Antonio is another natural wonder. The Pedernales River is usually perfect for swimming, though its waters can swiftly rise. Just be aware of your surroundings, and move out of the water if you notice the current picking up or dry ground becoming muddy.
Besides swimming, you can also hike to a few waterfalls. One is along a short half-mile trail and stops at an overlook above Twin Falls. The other trail is six miles long and takes you to Arrowhead Pool. This isn’t so much a waterfall as it is different natural pools cascading into each other.
This state park is also a great place for mountain biking, with ten technical miles of mountain bike trails. Tubing, canoeing, and kayaking are popular here, too. Finally, horseback riding is even done here, so there is truly something for everyone at Pedernales Falls.
7. Luckenbach, Texas
Another one of the best day trips from San Antonio, Luckenbach, TX is just over an hour from the city. Luckenbach is another town famous for its music scene, so you will find a good amount of exciting nightlife when you visit. There are also a number of festivals that occur year-round. Otherwise, the place sets you into the laid-back “Texas state of mind,” making it the perfect San Antonio getaway.
8. Garner State Park
An hour and a half west of San Antonio, Garner State Park is another great place for nature lovers looking for excellent Texas road trips. Similar to Blanco State Park, you can swim, camp, and picnic here. But, this park is quite bigger than Blanco, with over 1,770 acres of Texas Hill Country within its borders.
One of the best traditions happens here during the Summer Dance, an event for young people since the 1940s. This jukebox dance is fun, lively, and popular, so arrive early if you would like to attend.
The crown jewel of Garner State Park is, of course, Frio River (pictured above). This is a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts. You can kayak down this clear, freshwater river and admire the beautiful landscape.
9. Lost Maples State Natural Area
Lost Maples State Natural Area is a beautiful spot, especially in the autumn. Just picture gorgeous fall colors, set against towering canyon walls and the rushing Sabinal River, and you’ll be planning one of your San Antonio day trips here. Lost Maples also has one of the darkest skies, as it is further from big cities. This makes it an excellent place for stargazing. The park even hosts star parties with a ranger for you to enjoy a guided tour of Texas’ night skies.
10. New Braunfels, Texas
New Braunfels is the quintessential small-town getaway with shops, cafes, and bars. There are also a number of museums, like the Heritage Museum of the Texas Hill Country. This museum preserves over two hundred dinosaur footprints, as well as active dinosaur fossil digs, gardens, and hiking trails.
New Braunfels also has many galleries to enjoy. The Historic Outdoor Art Museum is within the historic downtown. It isn’t really one location, rather, a number of art installations placed throughout the city. This makes for a great self-tour on a beautiful sunny day.
But most popularly? Tubing in New Braunfels is the perfect getaway for families looking to cool down from the summer heat. Pictured above (pre-pandemic).
While in New Braunfels you could also enjoy painting the Guadalupe River that runs through the town. You’ll meet at Cypress Bend Park and your host will supply you with the painting materials needed. This is a great way of relaxing whilst capturing the beautiful scenery along the river.
11. Blanco State Park
Another one of our favorite things to do outside San Antonio is a visit to Blanco State Park. Blanco State Park is small- only about one square mile- but there is so much to do in that small space. First, you’ll be able to see the beautiful flowing waters of the Blanco River, which cascades in small waterfalls in certain areas.
The current in this river is safe for swimming for the most part, though be sure to follow any safety recommendations and watch the weather. Besides swimming, you can hike, camp, or geocache. You can fish here, too, without a permit. Finally, if paddling is your choice of recreation, rent a kayak from the park store and enjoy the waters of the Blanco from your personal craft.
12. Johnson City, Texas
A quick look at Johnson City, TX reminds us of the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. Indeed, you’ll find a historical small town here, as well as the starting point for the 290 Texas Wine Trail. Other fun things to do outside San Antonio in this town include exploring the downtown’s art and antique stores, grabbing a brew at Pecan Street Brewing, or visiting the Johnson Settlement.
The settlement was built circa 1860 and was owned by President Lyndon B. Johnson’s grandparents. In fact, it’s worth noting that Johnson City is not named for the President, but rather for his uncle, who donated a large chunk of land along the Pedernales River (pictured above) to found the town in 1879.
13. Fredericksburg, Texas (Wine Country)
Fredericksburg, TX is west of Johnson City, and also near Luckenbach- in fact, many places to stay when visiting Luckenbach are located in Fredericksburg.
Some of the best ways to experience these Texas day trips from San Antonio is to take a tour. This Fredericksburg wine tour is very popular, and takes visitors on a day trip to two different wineries before heading to the the Fredericksburg Visitor Center, where you can then explore the town on your own by foot.
Another not-to-be-missed tour is this Boutique Winery Experience. This is the perfect way to experience the wineries of the Texas Hill Country, with three separate winery stops and a chef-prepared boxed lunch. You can also book this tour privately or with others- either way, you will have an interesting and delicious experience.
Also, there is a really great LBJ Tour from San Antonio that you can reserve. With this tour, you will be picked up from your hotel at 8:30 a.m. and will be transported into the Hill Country in an air-conditioned vehicle with a live guide. The price (from $109 USD) includes admission to Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site. The tour continues to Fredericksburg, where you can grab lunch on your own, and then finally head to the last stop on this tour; Luckenbach for live country music.
14. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
We can’t leave the Fredericksburg area without mentioning Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. This area is unlike anything else we’ve mentioned- a huge, pink granite dome with eleven miles of hiking trails, camping, and more. There are over four hundred archeological sites in the park, where people have lived and visited for over 12,000 years.
Why is it enchanted? The Tonkawa Native Americans thought that ghost fires burned at the dome’s tip. Another ghost story tells the tale of a maiden haunting the dome. Another story tells of a Spanish conquistador, who hid in the rocks, prompting the Native Americans to believe he enchanted the area. In the end, it is certainly a land of magic.
15. San Marcos, Texas
Home to Texas State University, San Marcos is a popular stopping point due to its location between many of the best places to visit in the region. It’s Head to San Marcos for the next destination on our list of San Antonio getaways. Like San Antonio, San Marcos has a lively downtown area, many attractions, and a dedicated art scene. For example, the San Marcos Art Center has many examples of fine art and sculpture on display. Wimberley Glassworks is also quite impressive, where you can see glass-blown artwork both on display and in the process of being created.
Most notable, San Marcos is popular for its Premium Outlets. It’s the perfect stop between any day trips north of San Antonio. Or a fun break on your way to Austin from San Antonio.
16. The San Marcos River
The San Marcos River stems from San Marcos, making the River itself another San Marcos attraction. You can even book a tour to really immerse yourself in the River. Try out this Glass Bottom Kayaking Eco Tour. You’ll be able to see far down into the clear blue waters of the San Marcos, while enjoying the scenery around you too. The tour is two hours long and is only $40, so it is very affordable and the perfect amount of time for an excursion.
Fun fact: San Marcos is home to one of Texas’ few Amtrak stations.
17. Gorman Falls in Colorado Bend State Park
Gorman Falls is a breathtaking waterfall hidden in the Colorado River Wilderness of Colorado Bend State Park. The falls themselves are seventy feet tall and are fed by a spring. To see them, you will have to hike three miles round trip through rough terrain. So, make sure you have good shoes, a walking stick, and something to take a picture of once you arrive.
Elsewhere in the park, you can swim in Spicewood Springs, paddle the river, or enjoy thirty-five miles of bike trails.
18. Guadalupe River State Park
This swimming hole and state park are set against beautiful rocky cliffs, accented by unique trees. There are thirteen miles of hiking and biking trails, for you to enjoy during a day trip, or rent camping supplies onsite and use them overnight. The Bauer Unit of the park is relatively untouched and provides a rustic camping and hiking experience. Finally, you can follow the Guadalupe River State Park Paddling Trail, which is five miles long and perfect for experiencing the river on its currents.
19. Corpus Christi, Texas
Corpus Christi is two hours southeast of San Antonio and sits right on the Gulf of Mexico. There are countless things to do here, from walking the sands to Padre Island National Seashore to visiting the Texas Surf Museum. In fact, there is so much to do, we recommend considering a two-day excursion from San Antonio to hit all the attractions that might interest you.
One such attraction might be Mustang Island State Park. Mustang Island State Park is the perfect natural beach for swimming, surfing, kayaking, and more. You can also camp here if you’d like to spend your entire Corpus Christi getaway on the beach.
You could also enjoy a glowing kayaking tour from North Padre Island, where you’ll paddle in the moonlight in a clear kayak that’s lit up with LED’s. You’ll be able to spot different marine life such as blue crabs, and stingrays.
Finally, consider booking this Paddle the Padre Island Canals tour. You’ll set out from North Padre Island on a stand-up paddleboard, and head out to the intercoastal waterway. The two-hour excursion comes with beverages, snacks, and a live guide- all for $75.
20. Austin, Texas
We’ve mentioned Austin a few times in this article, and the truth is- Austin really isn’t too far from San Antonio. An interesting, hour and a half drive will take you from San Antonio to San Marcos to Austin, making this one of the best San Antonio getaways for food, shopping, and nightlife. However, be mindful of the rush hour traffic entering Austin (it can be dreadful).
Austin is anything but a small town, though this big city is still smaller than San Antonio. And, like Corpus Christi, you may want to plan a few days here or start your day trip very early.
Austin is also crisscrossed in bike trails, so if you love to bike, this is the Texas city to do it. Some popular bike trails include Southern Walnut Creek Trail, the Barton Creek Greenbelt, and those at McKinney Falls State Park.
While in Austin, make sure you visit the North loop Neighborhood, too. This is very close to the University of Texas and has unique shops and restaurants. All three of these features have given the neighborhood a vibrant feel.
Since Austin is quickly becoming overcrowded, make sure to make any restaurant reservations way ahead of time!
While in Austin, why not join a food tour where you’ll experience local dishes such as BBQ brisket and breakfast tacos whilst getting to learn about the local food scene and explore Downtown Austin? You can book the tour here.
You could also learn about Austin’s haunted history and hear local ghost stories during this Haunted History Tour. You’ll hear many different ghostly stories, and visit some of the spots famous for paranormal activity including the Driskill Hotel (which is said to be Austin’s most haunted hotel).
21. Castroville, Texas
Thirty minutes directly west will take you from San Antonio to Castroville, TX. What’s special about Castroville? Castroville has a few parks and historical sites that are worth a day trip. First, the Steinbach Haus was built somewhere between 1618 and 1648 in France and was moved to Castroville in the 90s by the people of Alsace. This unique home is very interesting, especially since it harkens to a century-old connection between the area’s French settlers and the country they came from. Now, it serves as a tourism center.
As for outdoor recreation, head to Castroville Regional Park. The park has one hundred and twenty-six acres of woods, a swimming pool, and access to the Medina River.
22. Explore Texas Hill Country on Horseback
Want to be a cowboy for a day? You can in Texas Hill Country. With this tour, you can literally explore the Hill Country on horseback, with a local guide (and her horse Misti). The guide will pair you with the best possible horse for you and take you on an hour-long trail ride into the hills. You will see trees, ponds, and a graveyard during your tour. They also offer a shorter ride for those traveling with children, making this a family-friendly experience for $125 a person.
23. Vineyards & Food at Marble Falls
Just over two hours away from San Antonio, this winery is notable for its awesome wine tour and tasting experience. Flat Creek Estate has delicious local wines, chef-prepared meals, and more. You can even stay here, to really enjoy the wine tasting experience.
Book this tour to make sure you get the ultimate Flat Creek experience. You will spend your day in the roomy food hall, sampling three wines paired with the menu, made fresh by the chef on site. Then, enjoy a walk through the vineyard with your party or loved one. This venue was voted one of the 50 most amazing places to taste wine in America and is also one of the top 10 wine destinations in the world.
24. Kerrville-Schreiner State Park
In that popular area around Fredericksburg, we have the final destination on our list of day trips from San Antonio. Kerrville State Park has basically any kind of outdoor recreation you could ask for, from a playground to fishing. The park has kayak and canoe rentals, available for group rentals and full-day rentals. The State Park also has RV camping, tent camping, and cabins. Finally, don’t forget over ten miles of hiking and bike trails, along with access to the River Trail Trailhead.
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About the Author: Erin Stob
Erin grew up and currently lives in the woods of Wisconsin. She is passionate about holistic, outdoor living, and strives to share her experience through her writing.
About the Editor & Dominican Abroad
Gerry Isabelle has a strong love for San Antonio. Ever since visiting, she has not stopped gushing about the city and its rich cultural heritage. She helped curate and edit this post researched by our traveler: Erin Stob.
At Dominican Abroad, we believe in intentional and informed travel experiences. That means we (1) practice being mindful of the cultures and natural spaces in the destinations we explore and (2) are keen on informing our travelers of essential tips, local insights, and hidden gems.
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