Water Spots in Central Texas + Ways to Keep Cool AND Have Fun This Summer


It’s getting hot, hot, hot. And even though the outside temperature is rising, your body temperature doesn’t have to, with these fun, water-based ways for you, your friends and the kids to keep cool in the out-of-doors.

Central Texas is one of the most water-replete areas of the state, and with all the rivers and lakes in and around the Hill Country, there are countless watering holes to explore. In Wimberley, Jacob’s Well is one of our favorites. One of the longest underwater caves in Texas and an artesian spring, Jacob’s Well has been a beloved swimming hole for generations, and is a source of water for recharging the Edwards Aquifer. The water stays at a constant 68 degrees throughout the year, so it’s a wonderful place to cool down in the summer, too. There isn’t too much room for wading or actual swimming, but there is a rock face on the side of the well that makes a great diving board. And the hole goes 30 feet deep, so there’s no chance of diving too far.

Plum Creek, TX

Photo courtesy of Visit Wimberley

Also in Wimberley is Blue Hole, a more traditional swimming hole with changing rooms and restrooms, stone walkways in and out of the pool, and ladders for the deeper areas. The hole is shaded by mature Cypress trees, and there is a nice, grassy area across from the water that is perfect for a family picnic or for drying off in the sun. There’s a $7 entry fee – but it’s well worth it. Both Jacob’s Well and Blue Hole are less than 20 minutes away from Kyle, making them a perfect afternoon excursion for cooling off with the family or friends.

Up north in Austin, there’s the Barton Creek Greenbelt, an urban oasis of trails for running or biking and great watering spots like Campbell’s Hole, Twin Falls and Sculpture Falls. They’re really popular places for Austinites to explore, and some of them are a bit of a hike, but they’re magical natural spaces, and are great for people watching. Here’s a PDF map of the Greenbelt with details about trails, water spots and access points, courtesy of the Austin Parks & Recreation Department.

Plum Creek, TX

Photo of Sculpture Falls courtesy of Flickr

For at-home water fun for the family, there’s a lot that can be done with sprinklers, ice and the outdoor hose. Games like water limbo, splash tag and musical sprinkler freeze are great games for a crew of kids, and there’s always a traditional water balloon or water gun fight. Here’s a pretty robust list of some great water-based outdoor games for summer parties or those afternoons where your house is the place to be.

You can also have your kids play outside with ice to keep cool in the summer. Freeze action figures in blocks of ice for an icy excavation game, or make an art craft out of ice by sprinkling salt in a block of ice to melt the cracks and tunnels. Then drip liquid watercolor paint into the tunnels and see the beautiful patterns that the salt created.

Plum Creek, TX

 

Then there’s always the traditional pool action. Plum Creek has two in the neighborhood – Fergus and McNaughton – each with their own distinct personalities, and the City of Kyle’s public pool is open throughout the summer. Plus they have fun programming going on this summer, too.

So whether you want to stay in the neighborhood, in the city, or do some exploring, there’s so much to do to keep cool this summer in Central Texas. For more watering holes in the area, check out some of our past posts here.

Central Texas Guide to Wildflower Season


Tis the season for wildflowers. And we sure live in the right place for them, don’t we? Every March and April, Central Texas becomes a little more beautiful, and a LOT more colorful, as wildflowers bloom in the green spaces along the highways and hills of the state. Of course, wildflower season varies from year to year (based on the weather and rain conditions), but with TxDOT  literally distributing over 300 pounds of wildflower seeds across the state each year, there’ll be plenty of natural eye candy for you this spring. So, to help you make the most of the wildflowers this season, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best places for viewing them in Central Texas. But, really, the best way to experience the phenomenon is to hop in the car and wander around for yourself until you stumble upon a hidden gem.

Plum Creek, TX

In Fredericksburg, Willow City Loop is one of the most popular wildflower destinations in the Hill Country. The 13 mile drive meanders through some of the oldest and most unique geology in Central Texas; so naturally, the chiseled terrain is beautiful any time of year, just especially breathtaking in the spring. The two-lane road winds through the area’s canyons and hills, and offers stunning views of the landscape, as well as the area’s meadows, fully ablaze with color. Also in Fredericksburg, Hwy 965 on the way to Enchanted Rock offers prime wildflower viewing as well. Plus, the road takes you out to Enchanted Rock, which, in-and-of-itself is worth the drive.

West of Austin, Marble Falls and Burnet offer additional areas for experiencing the beauty of Central Texas’ wildflowers.  Located on Lake Marble Falls, just five minutes away from Lake LBJ, the wildflowers in Marble Falls are perfectly complemented by the area’s water offerings as well. While in the area, be sure to stop in at the Bluebonnet Café in Horseshoe Bay – a fitting place to fuel your eyes and your gas foot for the colorful adventure you’ve embarked upon. A short drive away from Marble Falls, Burnet is another beautiful wildflower destination in the area. In fact, it is officially recognized by the Texas legislature as the Bluebonnet Capital of Texas. For other prime wildflower viewing in the area, check out Park Road 4 off Hwy 281 between Burnet and Marble Falls. You won’t be disappointed. And, while on Park Road 4, be sure to check out Longhorn Cavern State Park, which offers visitors an incredible underground and above ground cave experience.

Plum Creek, TX

If you’d rather experience the wildflowers on foot this year, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Wildseed Farms are incredible places to experience some color. Both places feature acres upon acres of open green (and multi-colored) space for exploring, and they also play host to various special events and activities throughout the year. Check out each of their websites for more information about their upcoming wildflower-related events and activities for the whole family.

Plum Creek, TX

If this isn’t enough wildflower info for your taste, TxDOT’s website is another great resource for wildflower information, including best places and times for viewing, as well as detailed descriptions of where to find the best spots this season.  With over 800,000 acres of open highway, more than 5,000 species of wildflowers and 30,000 pounds of seeds distributed each year, there should be plenty of beauty for you to experience and enjoy.

Romantic Getaways, Views and Restaurants in Central Texas for Valentine’s Day


Central Texas is a wonderful place to celebrate Valentine’s Day. The area is replete with romantic views, beautiful locations and literally TONS of things to do on a date. And, the scenic Texas Hill Country offers countless breathtaking places for a quick kiss, or some nighttime star-gazing as well – away from the lights and the traffic of the city. So, to help you celebrate Valentine’s Day the right way, we’ve made a list of some of our favorite romantic things to do in and around the Hill Country and Kyle, Texas.

Plum Creek, Texas

Photo courtesy of TripAdvisor

This year, Valentine’s Day falls on a Thursday – making a romantic weekend getaway the perfect V-Day gift for your loved one – and there are countless bed and breakfasts in the area that offer couples a tranquil retreat from the stress and chaos of day-to-day life. Biscuit Hill in Canyon Lake, for example, is a 5,000 square foot house designed to look like a home built in the 1800s that offers scenic views, abundant wildlife and a close proximity to countless Central Texas attractions. Additionally, guests at Biscuit Hill can enjoy a complimentary 4-5-course breakfast every morning, free wifi, in-room refreshments, a personal fireplace, and a robust movie library. Some rooms even come complete with their own private hot tubs, too!

In Wimberley, the Blair House Inn bed and breakfast creates the perfect environment for relaxing and enjoying the company of that special someone as well. Blair House rests on 23 scenic acres, and offers visitors absolutely wonderful views of the surrounding Texas Hill Country – along with an outdoor swimming pool and a whirlpool spa. Additionally, the inn provides state-of-the-art spa services that are available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day, at no extra charge. All massages begin with full one-hour sessions, and additional time may be added by the half hour.

Plum Creek, Texas

Photo courtesy of Rare Austin

In Austin, the oldest operating hotel in the city, The Driskill Hotel, and Hotel Saint Cecilia on South Congress, both offer love birds the perfect environment for enjoying a romantic weekend in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the Capitol City. Romantic restaurants are EVERYWHERE in Austin, too, so there is no limit to the romantic food options available to you and your date. Some of the most iconic romantic restaurants in the city include The Driskill Grill, La Condesa, Chez Nous, Peche and Justine’s Brasseire, among others. Justine’s, pictured above, is located in an industrial neighborhood in East Austin. But don’t let the location fool you – the restaurant is the epitome of romance, evoking a Parisian atmosphere with it’s fabulous ambiance, a light-strung patio and a menu of delicious French food items. It tops the list of romantic restaurants in the city, so prepare to be amazed.

Plum Creek, Texas

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

If a natural romantic experience is more your thing, Central Texas is chock-full of breathtaking hot spots and views for sneaking a kiss, or for the 1950s’ favorite pastime of “parking.” Some of our favorites in the area include the stretch of Highway 290 between Dripping Springs and Fredericksburg, which is perfect for nighttime star-gazing with your loved one, Enchanted Rock all the way out in Fredericksburg, and the crème de la crème – the Devil’s Backbone. This beautiful loop takes adventurers on a 122 mile stretch along State Highway 32 amidst breathtaking views of rolling hills and steep drops on either side of the road. There is even an isolated rest stop, so you and your date can pack a dinner and watch the sunset on the big day. But, beware, the area is renowned for ghost-sightings. But that might work to your benefit, right?

Winter Films for those Cold Nights


We know, it’s cold. But what’s a better cold-weather activity than sitting down, all cozy on the couch, or in a nice, dark theater to watch a movie? Not much. Some stellar films came out this holiday season, and there’s a ton of winter weather classics to keep you occupied and content when its cold and blustery outside.

Groundhog Day – 1993

Plum Creek, TX

Starring Bill Murray in his comedic prime, Groundhog Day is a winter classic that celebrates, or mocks, one of the season’s most iconic holidays. Murray plays an arrogant, self-obsessed weatherman, who, during a Groundhog Day assignment, finds himself reliving the most boring day of his life, over and over and over again. At first, he’s confused and upset, but after he’s relived the day a few times, he decides to take advantage of the situation. A funny, February classic that’s worth a watch before Punxsutawney Phil rears his furry head on February 2.

Ice Age – 2002

Plum Creek, TX

Set in the pre-historic days, Ice Age is an animated children’s film about, well, the ice age. Animals around the world are heading south to avoid the phenomenon, except a motley crew of soon-to-be friends – a sabertooth tiger, a clumsy sloth and an agitated wolly mammoth. They find a lost human infant on their journey up north, and they attempt to return him to his tribe. The movie’s a major laugh – for the young and old alike – which set in motion a series of three other hilarious children’s films.

Cool Runnings – 1993

Plum Creek, TX

Cool Runnings is loosely based on the true story of a Jamaican bobsled team’s debut in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Canada. An improbable and inspiring story, Cool Runnings is a great winter film, about overcoming obstacles, working hard and having faith in yourself.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – 2004

Plum Creek, TX

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a romantic, science fiction film that uses a nonlinear narrative to tell the story of an estranged couple who have erased each other from their memories. Since its release in 2004, Eternal Sunshine has developed a cult following, and it won the 2004 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The film stars Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood and a uncharacteristically serious Jim Carrey. A definite winter must-see.

Zero Dark Thirty – 2012

Plum Creek, TX

Zero Dark Thirty is a chronicle of the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden after the terrorist attacks of September 11th. It was released in December to wide critical acclaim, and has been nominated for 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay. It’s one of the many amazing films to put on your to-watch list before the Academy Awards in February.

For a complete list of Oscar nominated films, visit the official Academy Awards website soon, so you can catch some of the winter releases while they’re still in theater before the awards.

Fall Foliage and Wine in Central Texas


Plum Creek, Kyle Texas

The turning trees of Vermont and New Hampshire might have a little something on our Texas vegetation this time of year, but a stunning quilt of colors can also be found in the Lone Star State, not too far from Kyle. The bigtooth maples, sumacs, sycamores, chinaberries and cottonwood trees of the Central Texas Hill Country offer a show of color this time of year to help get you into the feeling of fall. And, while you’re out there absorbing the colors and smells of the season, why not check out some of the many Texas wineries out to the west?

From Austin to Fredericksburg and beyond, the Hill Country is fast becoming one of the most visited wine areas in the country, so, this fall, you can try some of the tastiest red wines in the state, or find the perfect gift for that wine aficionado on your list. In fact, the Texas Wine Trail is even offering a Holiday Wine Trail from November 30 through December 16th, which allows you to visit each of the 32 Hill Country wineries during the 17 days of the Tour to experience all the Texas Wine Country has to offer. Tickets to the self-guided Holiday Wine Trail are $60 for two and include one grapevine wreath to be picked up at the winery of your choice, one ornament from each winery visited, and a 15% discount on 3-bottle purchases from each winery.

If you’d rather take things on your own speed, or if you don’t have the desire to try EVERY winery to the west, here are some vineyard groupings for you to check out, depending on how far you want to travel.

Closest to Kyle are the wineries in Driftwood – the Duchman Family Winery, the Wimberley Valley Winery and the Driftwood Estate WineryWimberley Valley is closest to Kyle just 20 minutes west on FM 150, and Duchman and Driftwood Estate are a close jump away. Each winery’s tasting room is open daily, so any day a week you can sample some delicious vino. Just be sure to check their websites for hours.

Closer to Austin, Bell Springs Winery and Solaro Estate offer wine tastings and events in Dripping Springs, 40 minutes away from town to the northwest. Every Saturday this November and December, Bell Springs offers live music in the afternoons from local and regional singer / songwriters. Make a day of the excursion by enjoying some of the best BBQ in the region at The Salt Lick or walk around the trails and absorb the natural beauty of Hamilton Pool.

Even more wineries call the Hill Country home farther out west on 290 near Fredericksburg. For a full list of wineries in the area, check out this interactive map, which even offers a list of suggested day trips.

So whether you want to explore new wines and expand your palette, or if you’d rather pour a glass yourself and cuddle up by the fire (if it ever gets cold enough), wine is in full supply in Central Texas. Cheers!

 

Farmers’ Markets A-Plenty


Spring is in full swing in Central Texas and residents are rejoicing by getting outside, gardening and seeking out local markets. Farmers’ markets dot our Hill Country landscape and Plum Creek residents are perfectly situated to take advantage of this feast of riches.

Plum Creek, Kyle TX

Several markets in Buda, Austin and Dripping Springs lie just north of Kyle’s city limits. The Buda Farmers’ Market takes place every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Main Street, in the parking lot of City Hall. Drive a few more minutes north and you’ll find yourself with even more options. The SFC and Hope Farmers’ Markets cater to different areas of Austin, yet all provide locally sourced produce, artisan crafts and live music. SFC markets offer Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday market days north, south, east and west of central Austin. Hope has two east side markets open Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m. Just a bit west of Austin, Dripping Springs hosts a Thursday market from 3 to 6 p.m. Local bakers, ranchers, farmers, chefs and craftsmen provide visitors a chance to sample their wares and enjoy a bit of the western Hill Country scenery.

Plum Creek, Kyle TX

Shifting the focus to the east of Kyle, the Bastrop 1832 Farmers’ Market is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Tuesdays from 2 to 6 p.m. This market functions as a business, with a legislative board, a target market and a charitable arm that donates to local nonprofits. Customers are even polled to gauge their experiences and to find areas that could use improvement. For a full experience that extends beyond the normal market, head to Bastrop to find a seamless operation. On the way back home, stop at the Lockhart Main Street Farmers’ Market, open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Along with browsing the fresh produce, baked goods and preserves, visitors can shop artisan crafts and enjoy live music.

Plum Creek, Kyle TX

Traveling south, people in search of locally-sourced produce and goods can find and abundance in San Marcos and Wimberley. The San Marcos Farmers’ Market hosts a Saturday and Tuesday market in two San Marcos locations. Every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., visitors can head to San Antonio St. for fresh vegetables, fruit, baked goods and more. Tuesdays, the market is located on Edward Gary St. from 3 to 6 p.m.

Plum Creek, Kyle TX

If a smaller town experience is preferred, simply head west on Rand Road 12 out of San Marcos until it hits Mill Race Lane in Wimberley, Texas.  The Wimberley Farmers’ Market is open every Wednesday from 3 to 6 p.m. and is a strictly produce-only market, so be ready to stock up on fruits and vegetables.

Plum Creek, Kyle TX

For residents who prefer to keep their money local, Kyle has a market closer to home. Just a few minutes north of Kyle, residents can head to the 150 Market located at Michaelis Ranch on FM 150 for a unique farmers’ market that rotates wares. The first Saturday of the month is dedicated to local artists and craftsman while the other Saturdays feature purveyors of fresh produce, garden plants and other foods.

Gather the reusable bags and containers, make sure you’ve got plenty of cash and fill up the tank for a fun farmers’ market road trip, near or far.

Wedding Season Hits the Hill Country


With wedding season upon us, a multitude of save-the-dates, invites and thank you notes start piling in the mailbox.  Whether you’re a guest, in the bridal party or betrothed to wed, wedding season can put a strain on your creativity but rest easy, we’ve got you covered.

Something Old

go20TX, Plum Creek, Kyle TXConstructed from repurposed wood and tin, Vista West Ranch was built on the grounds of a private home and offers the perfect backdrop for true intimate, entertaining Hill Country wedding.  Family owned and operated, Vista West Ranch ensures each wedding party is set for a memorable and worry-free event.  It’s the perfect way to cross “something old” off your list.


Something New

Based in Austin, Texas, Limbo Jewelry Design offers artisan taste at an affordable price.  Even though every gal wants to broadcast her marriage in her own way, this dainty little ring offers subtlety and style, and, just like every marriage, each one is unique.


Something Borrowed

go20TX, Plum Creek, Kyle TXLoot Vintage Rentals does not offer your run-of-the-mill wedding rentals.  Their mismatched china, suitcases, vintage frame displays, colored glass jars, and even handmade garlands provide couples with unique and personable décor for their wedding needs.  Based in Austin, Texas, Loot covers everything from seating, to dining, and even altars for all of the Texas Hill Country.


Something Blue 

go20TX, Plum Creek, Kyle TXGentlemen always look a bit more dapper with a bow tie. STAG offers a range of vintage inspired clothing and accessories for the modern man.


Photo Credits:
Covet.Collect.Connect.
STAG
Loot Vintage Rentals
Limbo Jewelry Design