5 Drive-To Destinations to Put the Thrill Back In Your Weekends.
The thrill is gone. Not in your relationship — but in your boring date night and weekend routine. Maybe you’ve fallen into a rut: always frequenting the same restaurants and entertainment venues and forgetting that there’s a world of fun just a few miles down the road. It’s time to put romance back into your routine with a fun Hill Country road trip.
Of course, romance means different things to different couples. For some, hiking and rock climbing together is exciting. For others, a Rockport fishing trip with a guide is your favorite kind of fun. For some, curling up on a couch in front of the fireplace and sipping wine does the trick. Others like to poke around shops or check out new microbreweries or take winery tours. Some love fine dining, others love dancing, some like live music, and others just want to make beautiful music together in a romantic log cabin.
Whatever romance means to you, the Hill Country has it, and it’s all just a sweet little road trip away. Here are our top five favorite Hill Country getaway destinations for a thrilling weekend away.
Sinya at Lone Man Creek, Wimberley
I can’t imagine anything both my husband and I would like more than a weekend at this glorious safari-style stay, high on a hill outside Wimberley. Designed to be like a luxury safari tent you might find on the Serengeti or the Maasai Mara of Africa, Sinya is a spacious cottage with a king-sized bed, a full luxury bathroom with a claw-footed bathtub and a shower, two decks (one with a hot tub and outdoor shower), a barbecue grill and seating area and the best spot to watch the sunset. I can’t think of any other Texas spot quite as special as this, and because of that it’s often solidly booked many months in advance. So book your stay now. It’s the most romantic Hill Country spot I know, so it’s No. 1 on this list. Want to travel with another couple? Just a few miles away is another great hideaway spot, Grove House and Poet House, where two guest suites are adjacent to one another and have a private patio where you can sip wine and grill dinner. Get three couples together, and one of you can stay at Sinya while the other two stay there. These are some of the nicest, newest properties you’ll find about 60 miles from San Antonio. Afterward, poke around the town, eat at one of the restaurants there, and support a town that has been hit hard by flooding but has bounced back beautifully.
The Austin Street Retreat, Fredericksburg
This enchanting little compound of “Sunday Haus” accommodations has been around for decades, but it’s still one of our favorite Hill Country retreats. There are five unique suites on this property tucked just a block off Main Street in a quiet, tree-shaded lot. Our favorites are El Jefe (a two-story suite with an enormous spa tub upstairs and a fireplace downstairs in the bedroom) and Annie’s Cabin, also with a bedroom fireplace, king-sized bed and an enormous luxury bath. This is an old-school-style romantic place where you can cuddle under the covers to the glow of the fireplace, or you can enjoy a bottle of wine outside by El Jefe’s patio fireplace. If you think your husband won’t go for something quite so quaint, maybe he’d prefer to check into the more “manly” Hanger Hotel near the Gillespie County airport—an art deco meets Restoration Hardware-style hotel that you’ll like too. I’ve never met a man who didn’t like the Hanger Hotel and its retro-style soda fountain and diner. In the evenings, you can sit in lawn chairs next to the runway and watch small planes take off and land while you sip a beer or cocktail. While in Fredericksburg, be sure to eat (and shop) at Vaudeville on Main Street and have a glass of wine at Lincoln Street Wine Market. Another great thing to do is have a chauffeur-driven tour of local wineries along Highway 290 from Johnson City to Fredericksburg.
The Trois Estate at Enchanted Rock, outside of Fredericksburg
The Trois Estate at Enchanted Rock has long been a favorite of our family—especially our son. Hike to the top of Enchanted Rock, and then spend the evening sitting on the restaurant rooftop watching the sunset. This charming little village was inspired by San Miguel de Allende and looks a bit like a mini-Santa Fe village. With adobe buildings, a grotto and chapel where you can even renew your vows, and guest suites where you can spend the night in Texas-style surroundings, this is a place you’ll want to return to again and again. It’d also be the perfect place for a wedding.
Whether you just want to drive there for an evening of music at Texas’ oldest dance hall, or you want to stay in a charming riverside bed and breakfast spot like the Gruene Mansion Inn, the little Gruene Historic District (just outside New Braunfels) is a quick and easy getaway designation about 45 miles from San Antonio. While in the area, be sure to eat at Myron’s Steakhouse in New Braunfels for a special romantic supper or have a nice dinner at Huisache Grill, with its fresh seasonal farm-to-fork fare. Want something more laid-back? Try the sliders and onion rings at Mozie’s, or order a chicken-fried steak at The Grist Mill. We’ve gone there for 30-plus years, and (thankfully) it never changes.
Mandola’s Winery and Trattoria Lisella, Driftwood
Just east of Buda and south of Austin’s Oak Hill Area, not far from the famous Salt Lick BBQ, rests an authentic Italian-style winery and restaurant that fits the bill for big romance. Always wanted to see Tuscany? Trattoria Lisella is as close as you can get without leaving Texas. Drive up for a fabulous evening dinner and then stroll around the grounds, sip some local wine out on the patio, take a winery tour, and make a Sunday day trip out of it. Better yet, do all that and then spend the night nearby at the Sage Hill Inn above Onion Creek. This mini-trip to a Texas version of Italy would be a fun way to put the thrill back into your date nights and weekends this winter.