Established by the Spanish in 1806, Bastrop, Texas is a picturesque town nestled on the banks of the Colorado River. Located about 34 miles southeast of Austin, it offers laidback vibes and loads of small town flavor. Beyond its abundance of historic homes and storefronts dating to the 1800s, it’s perhaps best known for its live music scene.
Bastrop has become a favorite jaunt for Austin locals and for movie crews -- fans of “Hope Floats,” starring Sandra Bullock, and the Jack Black movie “Bernie” will see a few familiar spots as they ramble through the streets. And that's not even to mention the shops, restaurants and watering holes, and variety of outdoor activities that this Texan town has to keep you entertained for days. Here’s your guide:
Activities: Browse the antique stores, galleries, and boutiques on and near Main Street. Among others, be sure to carve out time to visit The Texas Boot Company on Old Austin Highway, just outside of the historic district, because no visit to the Lone Star State is complete without bringing home a pair of cowboy (or cowgirl) boots.
Seeking some sun? Visit one of the eight nearby state and local parks -- such as McKinney Roughs Nature Park, Lake Bastrop Northshore Park, and the Colorado River Refuge -- for everything from hiking and biking, to kayaking and canoeing, to tubing and fishing. (All of these are pleasurable DIY activities, but if you want an organized excursion, try Bob’s Tail Guide Service.) You can also go horseback riding at Reach Out Ranch or through Sunset Trail Rides.
Eating and drinking: Belly up to the bar, grab a picnic table in the dining room, or enjoy the evening on the patio at Neighbor’s Kitchen & Yard, which overlooks the Colorado River. Hand-tossed pizza, wine, cocktails and local brews, as well as live music will ensure more than one visit during your stay. We especially recommend the margherita pizza with an Austin Amber.
Stop into Maxine’s Café on Main for early morning eats, lunch, or dinner and you’ll see why the diner was named one of Texas Monthly Magazine’s 40 best places for breakfast as well as overall small town cafes in the state. For more elegant fare, hit up Piney Creek Chop House -- start with bacon-wrapped sea scallops with garlic butter sauce or an impressive cheese board; move on to steaks, lamb chops, or sushi; and wash it all down with one of the signature martinis.
The Stay: Book a night at one of the many cozy and historic B&Bs or splurge on a stay at the luxurious Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa ($259 to $534 per night). A favorite secret getaway of well-heeled Austinites, the resort has grand suites and standard rooms, along with a two-bedroom, 2,400-square-foot guest cottage. The resort has a spa, five restaurants, a bar, and an ice cream parlor, as well as a pool and golf course. Tons of activities -- think: archery, horseback riding, biking, campfires, tennis, ziplining, and fly fishing -- keep you busy right on the property.
Getting There: Fly into Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and drive 42 minutes to Bastrop on TX-71.