Ten Texas getaways get students off campus

Jillian Bliss

[Updated at 11:07 a.m., minor copy edit]

Editor’s Note: To suggest a topic for next week’s list, leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Daily Texan staffers compiled several locations offering fun-for-a-day getaways within driving distance of UT. Our top 10 choices offer culture, history, recreation and relaxation for those needing a change-of-scene.

1. Glen Rose: Home of Fossil Rim Wildlife Ranch, Dinosaur Valley State Park, Big Rocks Park and the Paluxy River, Glen Rose is a small Texas town about three hours north of Austin and full of large natural wonders. Whether feeding a giraffe at Fossil Rim, walking among fossilized dinosaur footprints or giant boulders along the river, “daycationers” can find a unique experience awaiting them in Glen Rose. At slightly smaller attraction, the Somervell County Historical Museum, visitors can learn more about local history after enjoying lunch at one of several cafes surrounding the county courthouse on the town square.

2. South Padre: College students don’t have to wait until Spring Break to hit the beach, as South Padre Island sports a slightly less turbulent scene during the months outside of March. The cool fall air blowing in the sea breeze every day also brings a Mexican craft fair, the World Championship Shrimp Cook-Off, concerts and a fishing tournament during the month of November.

3. Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park: Austin wasn’t always the capital of Texas, as those who travel about two hours east to Washington will find. The state park is home to a replica of Independence Hall, where 59 Texan delegates signed the Texas Declaration of Independence in 1836, as well as the Star of the Republic Museum, the Fanthorp Inn historic site and the Barrington Living History Farm. The park also hosts living history reenactments and special events throughout the year.

4. Enchanted Rock: To the naked eye, Enchanted Rock looks like just another one of the hills surrounding Fredricksburg. But venture closer to find 640 acres covered by the giant granite rock, where many escape to stargaze, hike, rock climb and camp yearround.

5. Goliad: Some may have visited the Alamo so many times they’ll never forget it, but they should remember Goliad as well. The town is home to Presidio La Bahía, where Texan Army Col. James Fannin and his soldiers were slaughtered on Palm Sunday in 1836. The Presidio highlights a monument erected for the fallen soldiers, as well as a gift shop and daily tours. It was also featured on a haunting episode of the Travel Channel’s “Most Terrifying Places.”

6. New Braunfels: Although Schlitterbahn Water Park closes its doors during the fall, the town of New Braunfels kicks off its annual 10-day “salute to sausage” known as Wurstfest beginning Friday. With fried foods galore, more beer than a frat party, carnival rides and polka music, Wurstfest opens on weekdays at 5 p.m. and weekends at 11 a.m. at $8 a ticket.

7. Boerne (pronounced “Bernie”): Boerne is about two hours away. Boerne will take more time to get to but is worth the drive because of its shops, boutiques and eateries. The vegetation in several parks is quickly turning to the colors of fall, creating a perfect setting for picnics and recreation.

8. Lake Georgetown: Those who would rather venture upstream can find Lake Georgetown approximately 45 minutes from Austin. Featuring fishing, hiking, boating, camping and swimming, the lake serves as a sweet escape for those bored with sipping margaritas at Carlos and Charlie’s on Lake Travis.

9. San Antonio: San Antonio will be forever famous for the town’s historical significance in the Texas revolution. While the Alamo is an ever-popular tourist destination, try checking out the surrounding 18th century Spanish missions. Texans have preserved Mission San José, San Juan, Espada and Mission Concepción, which feature weekly masses to this day.

10. Gruene (pronounced “green,” like the color): Located 45.9 miles from Austin, Gruene was founded by German settlers in the 1840s. After a brief period of time as a ghost town, a developer revived the area in the 1970s as a historical district in New Braunfels. The town features Gruene Hall, the oldest working dance hall in Texas where local country legends play nightly, as well as shops and dining. Gruene is a perfect place to visit for those looking to “go out with their boots on.” 

Printed on Thursday, November 3, 2011 as: Ten driver friendly getaways get students off campus