You may have noticed a slight crispness in the early morning air this week – a hint that fall, and with it, promises of cooler weather, is right around the corner. Here in Texas, we may not get the dramatic autumn foliage that sweeps through the East or get to experience the joy of picking the fresh apples of the trees as Northerners do, but there are plenty of ways to enjoy fall and the reprieve from scorching temperatures in and around the Austin area. Here are some of our favorite fall getaways and events in Central Texas:
Just 157 miles from Austin, this state natural area is the perfect proximity from the city for a quick weekend getaway. Known for its Bigtooth Maple Trees, this is one of the few areas in Texas you can experience the thrill of fall foliage as the trees turn shades of gold, auburn, and crimson during the months of October and November. The park offers a mix of easy trails along the Sabinal River and more challenging trails that reward hikers with sweeping views of the canyon once they reach the top. If you want to fully embrace the outdoors and spend the night camping under the stars, be sure to make your reservation online; spots fill up quickly when the leaves are at their peak.
Nestled in the Hill Country just outside of Austin, Jester King brews up some amazing artisan beer in the vats hidden behind its farmhouse doors. With some Austin quirkiness in its roots, Jester King offers unique and creative brews such as last fall’s 2014 Autumnal Dichotomous. Brewed with squash, longpepper, and sage, this beer “explores the nostalgic aromas and flavors of fall”. If that doesn’t quite sound like your mug of beer, don’t fret, there are plenty of options to delight your palette. We find the imaginative and fantastical labeling almost as delightful as the beer itself. Outside of the main farmhouse, you’ll find a huge pavilion with Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza tucked underneath. The handcrafted pies use fresh, locally sourced ingredients and go well with its neighbor’s brews. With plenty of picnic tables, string lights, and space to bring friends, you could easily spend a lazy fall afternoon here.
Once a year, the picturesque town of Fredericksburg celebrates its German heritage with a weekend-long party complete with oompahs and polkas bellowing from the stages, bratwurst links by the foot, attendees clad in traditional lederhosen, and of course, a steady flow of beers and ciders on tap. The event offers fun for all ages, so pack up the whole family to celebrate fall German style. If you tire of the festivities, you can always spend time shopping at the boutiques and specialty shops along Main Street or retire to one of the cozy B&Bs nearby.
Fall evokes images of joyful hayrides and mounds of colorful pumpkins, both of which you can find at Sweet Berry Farm located just down the road in Marble Falls. Meander through the sprawling patch and pick your pumpkin, bump along on a hayride, or try to find your way to the end of the corn maze. There are enough activities here to keep the family entertained all day, and the prices are budget friendly as well.
5. Johnson City
Whether you pronounce it “pe-can” or “pa-con” (the Texan way), there’s no denying the deliciousness of this buttery nut. Though locals have been munching on them for hundreds of years, it wasn’t until 1919, that the Texas Legislature made pecans the official state nut of Texas. There are plenty of places you can buy locally sourced pecans (try Navidad Farms), but it’s also fun scouting out the fallen nuts yourself. Johnson City, and several other small towns have pecan trees surrounding the courthouse in the main town square; these are great places to scout out pecans. Grab some bags and get to gathering the fruits of fall. If the pecans aren’t enough to satiate, you can head across the street to the Pecan Street Brewery for some delicious burgers and beer.
With warm summers and mild winters, Texas has an ideal climate for growing wine grapes. Wineries have sprouted up all over the Lone Star state with a high concentration surrounding Austin, making the area like a Texan Napa. Nothing beats escaping down a wine trail and into the country to enjoy sweeping views of the hill country with a glass of wine in your hand. While there are several great wineries to choose from, Driftwood Estate Winery offers some excellent vintages that pair well with views of the vineyard and surrounding farmland just down the hill from the tasting room’s perch.
For 48 years, the tiny town of Round Top (population 90) has hosted an antique fair that brings thousands of shoppers to the area. Much to the delight of antique enthusiasts, the show has outgrown the Rifle Hall, where it was first held, and now sprawls into the surrounding fields and towns. With literally miles upon miles of antiquing to be done, you’re sure to find that perfect piece you’ve been looking for. Be prepared for lots of walking, and make sure to dress in layers to keep up with the ever-changing fall Texas weather. If you get hungry, be sure make a reservation to dine at the famous Royer’s Café and save room for the legendary homemade pies that are alone worth the trip.
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