With the end of this brutal summer finally (hopefully?!) in sight, it’s time to start planning for fall. Call it the second summer because it’s still plenty hot to enjoy the outdoors but no longer hot enough to melt pavement. Here are six perfect spots for a well-deserved fall getaway. Grab one (or more) as your just reward for surviving another scorching Texas summer.
Bastrop Lake North Shore Park
This LCRA park in Bastrop hugs the shore of a constant temperature lake for swimming, paddling (canoe, kayak, SUP and Corcl rentals available) or fishing (with a boat launch and jetty). The park offers nearly 10 miles of hiking and biking trails, including one connecting the park to the south shore of Lake Bastrop, as well as a sand volleyball court. Stay in one of 5 Airstream motorhomes, 2 cabins or 6 safari-style tents. All have grills for cooking and patios for enjoying the view of the lake and the stars while sipping a cold one. Other dining and entertainment options near Bastrop include a distillery and several breweries and taprooms. Neighbor’s Kitchen & Yard and Iron Bridge Icehouse, both located on the banks of the Colorado River, serve food, craft beer and cocktails, as well as live music.
At this Corps of Engineers reservoir, choose from four campsites with RV and tent camping options. Enjoy swimming, fishing, kayaking (rentals available at Russell Park) and hiking. The crown jewel is the Good Water Trail, a 26-mile loop around the entire lake through a variety of terrain, with multiple trailheads offering the option of shorter hikes. Restaurants, wine bars, breweries and other accommodation options can be found near Georgetown. Check out Barking Armadillo Brewing and, in Courthouse Square, three wine tasting rooms and several dining options.
Matagorda Bay Natural Park
Located where the Colorado River meets the Gulf of Mexico, Matagorda Bay offers miles of deserted beaches for combing and wetlands for paddling. Rent beach chairs, carts, and kayaks (guided tours available), play miniature golf, fish on the beach or pier, or go bird watching. In addition to Airstream rentals and RV and camper sites, visitors can now rent one of 10 new bungalows that can accommodate six to eight people, with fully equipped kitchens, outdoor patios, gas grills and fantastic views.
Miles of beach, without the summer crowds: what else do you need? Well, maybe a place to stay, and you’ll find all the options from luxury condos to kitschy cottages in this seaside town. Plenty of dining and entertainment options, too. Try local seafood at places like La Playa Mexican Grill, Fins Grill & Icehouse, and Seafood and Spaghetti Works. Have a drink at Bernie’s Beach House, Port A Beer Hut or Moby Dick’s. Rent bikes, golf carts, surfboards and kayaks from Island Surf Rentals (check out the Lighthouse Lakes Paddling Trail). Or just sit on the beach.
Painted Sky Inn
Located on a quiet inlet to Lake Buchanan, this waterfront property offers rooms for two to ten with kitchens and lake views, plus a tiny house and vintage Airstream. Amenities include fire pits, barbecue grills, a fishing pier, and canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards. Find miles of hiking trails at Canyon of the Eagles and Inks Lake State Park (day pass reservations recommended), or visit several nearby wineries (Torr Na Lochs and Fall Creek, to name a few). to name just two) and breweries (Save the World Brewing and Double Horn Brewing), as well as restaurants in Burnet and Marble Falls.
The aptly named Frio River is famous for swimming and tubing in the summer. Garner State Park is the most popular way to enjoy the river, but it can be difficult to get weekend reservations. Another option is Neal’s Lodges, a sprawling family-friendly resort that includes 81 cabins, 10 lodges, 17 condos, 45 RV hookups, and 16 tent sites, plus a country store and dining room. Watch the emergence of a bat in nearby Frio’s Cave or a little further in Kickapoo Cavern State Park. Saturdays are for fine dining at Laurel Tree and dinner at Lost Maples Café, both in Utopia, and Concan also has several restaurants (some close after the summer season, so check the websites).