You don’t have to spend your Spring Break shelling out thousands of dollars or jet-setting across the nation to create incredible memories with the fam (but if you’re into that jet-setting life, more power to ya, Mama!). We’ve got some pretty fabulous day trips all within a short drive of Austin, whether you’re looking to spend a few hours or a few days. Depending on how far you’re willing to travel, this list could be a few pages long. For those of us with LITTLE littles, a few hours in the car is more than enough, so here are five of our favorites within a two-hour drive.
(Distance from Austin: approx. 1 hour 40 minutes)
Halfway between Austin and Dallas, you’ll find the booming little town of Waco. If you haven’t heard of Waco for the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame, Texas Sports Hall of Fame, the Dr. Pepper Museum, or the fact that it’s home to the Baylor Bears, you… might be living under a rock. I say that in the nicest way possible because Waco is really quite the fun little town! If you aren’t visiting one of the spots already mentioned, be sure to check out some of these favorites:
Cameron Zoo– You’ll find over 52-acres of beauty at this natural habitat zoo along the Brazos River. After you check out the African Savanna, the Asian Forest, and the Galapagos tortoises, cool off a Grammy Nell’s playground and splash pad!
- Waco Mammoth National Monument– Did you know there’s a NATIONAL monument right in Waco?! (Don’t worry, we didn’t either!) Here you’ll find the nation’s only recorded discovery of a nursery herd of Columbian mammoths, which lived nearly 70,000 years ago! Bring a picnic and enjoy the park while your kiddos dig in the giant outdoor dig box. Super cool!
- Magnolia Market at the Silos– Okay, Fixer Upper fans– this one is *mostly* for you, but the whole family can find fun at Magnolia Market. Besides shopping the shabby-chic farmhouse decor, you can explore the gorgeous Magnolia Seed & Supply garden (complete with a teepee to play in!), play yard games in the large square lawn, grab a bite to eat at one of the many food trucks, and finish it all off with a treat from the famous Silos Baking Co. Trust us, those cupcakes are worth the wait!
(Distance from Austin: approx. 45 minutes)
Right outside of San Antonio, in the heart of the Hill Country is New Braunfels! You can visit the iconic Gruene Hall, Natural Bridge Caverns, or relax by one of the beautiful rivers. To entertain the littlest of tourists, hit a waterpark or the McKenna Children’s Museum!
Schlitterbahn– if you’re looking for miles of river, tubes, rides, and pools, THIS is it! Nestled right on the Comal River is this humongous waterpark that will surely entertain your entire family. Taking little ones? Visit Kinderhaven for tiny slides, a pirate ship, and shallow water playground. Enjoy lunch at one of over 25 locations in the park or pack a picnic!
Animal World and Snake Farm– What started as a small snake, reptile, and exotic animal attraction on the side of the road is now a fully zoo with over 500 species of animals! Explore on your own or check out the interactive show schedule for hands-on experiences that are sure to provide awesome photo-ops.
McKenna Children’s Museum– All the exhibits at the McKenna Children’s Museum are designed to inspire fun, hands-on, creative learning! Perfect for babes all the way up to big kids, they can pretend to launch into space, tend to a ranch, hit the arts and crafts area, and even explore a giant outdoor space!
(Distance from Austin: approx. 1 hour 30 minutes)
San Antonio truly embraces fun for all ages, which makes it perfect for a family getaway! Between the dining, shopping, water fun, and sight-seeing, you could easily make this a week-long trip. Here are a few of our favorite spots:
The DoSuem– This children’s museum is truly a dream come true! With activities for every age group and every interest, your whole family will have a blast. Depending on the weather, you can find exhibits both indoors and out for a full day exploring. Our favorite spots: Little Town (ages 0-5), The Great Outdoors (nearly 40,000 sq. feet of playscapes, treehouses, and lawn games), and the Sensations Studio (a variety of light and sound features to explore). Through April 8th, you can visit a special exhibit: “Run, Jump, Fly!” action-adventure station. According to the site, your kiddos “will learn to master different bendy poses in the Yoga Station, balance on a board as it moves through mountains and oceans in Surf Snow, and maneuver across a rocky wall in Climbing Canyon.”
- The Alamo: This little slice of history is a must-see! Asides from taking in the incredible history and impressive architecture, you can take part in a 1-hour guided tour, visit the Long Barrack exhibit, or watch a live living history demonstration.
- The San Antonio Zoo– as mentioned above, Spring Break is an awesome time to visit the zoo in terms of weather. Here you’ll find over 750 species of animals, including all your favorites as well as many exciting experiences (a zoo train, butterfly flight school, and the zootennial carousel to name a few!). If you’ve got little littles (under 5), you’ll want to check out the Tiny Tot Nature Spot! This little haven is designed to safely immerse your kiddos in nature by digging, climbing, exploring, and even getting wet!
Is relaxing poolside more your vibe? No worries! There are also great resorts within a short drive that will give you all the vacation feels.
(Distance from Austin: approx. 30 minutes)
Looking to escape and feel like you’re immersed in #vacationmode? This one’s for you, Mama! Located just outside of Bastrop, the Hyatt Lost Pines will allow you to forget that the city is a short drive away the moment you arrive on the property (after all, it does sit on 400 acres!). Between the water park, pools, horseback riding, archery, fishing, and more there is certainly no shortage of entertainment at Lost Pines! Personally, you’d find me frequenting the lazy river and the insanely relaxing spa, but that’s neither here nor there.
(Distance from Austin: approx. 1 hour 45 minutes)
Located in San Antonio, Hill Country Hyatt has a slightly different, yet still awesome, feel to it. You’ll still get the resort vibes, but you’re just a short drive to off-property dining and attractions. With a convenient 20-minute drive to the Riverwalk, you can still enjoy a 5-acre water park, spa, on-site golf course, and more. This one can easily be combined with a San Antonio day trip for a few days of unforgettable Spring Break-ing!
If you’re ready to load up and drive a little farther, there are a ton more daycation sites around the Austin area! Let us follow along on your Spring Break adventures by tagging us @austinmomsblog and using the hashtag #austinmomsblog.