The Ultimate Trail to Tavern 3-Day Weekend in Austin

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Known for its live music, tacos, and outdoor recreation, Austin does many things well. On a nice day, which is pretty standard in Texas Hill Country, Austinites know how to spend a full day that’s equal parts exploration, exertion, discovery and indulgence.

Austin has countless options for ways to spend your days in the outdoors, be it on trails or patios, but do as the locals do and opt for both. Here’s our three-day itinerary pairing the best of Austin’s trails and taverns. Live like a local for a weekend, and even get out of town for a day. Either way, you really can’t go wrong in Austin.

Day One

The boutique Heywood Hotel is within walking distance to restaurants, shops, and nightlife.The boutique Heywood Hotel is within walking distance to restaurants, shops, and nightlife. vjlawson2001

No visit to Austin is complete without a visit to one of its many greenbelts. Kick off your trip at Barton Creek Greenbelt — 13 miles of winding trails along Barton Creek, through lush green forest, over protruding root systems and past red rock walls. If you’re visiting in hotter months, start your day early to avoid the heat that comes with a Texas Summer.

Pick up the trail at Twin Falls for a particularly great hike now that Barton Creek is once again flowing. The trailhead is at 360 and Mopac, just a couple miles from downtown, with a parking lot for easy accessibility. The trailhead lies at mile 4.75 of Barton Creek Greenbelt, with Twin Falls just a half mile down trail. You can also get to Sculpture Falls at mile 6.25. This is an out-and-back hike, so take on as much (or as little) distance as you’d like, though we recommend visiting both falls before turning back.

Once you’ve gotten your trail fix, an old school Austin establishment called Dry Creek Cafe & Boat Dock is calling your name. The cash-only bar has neither a boat dock nor a cafe, but it’s full of old Austin charm, characters, cheap beers, and a good ol’ country jukebox. The best part? The patio overlooking Austin’s Mount Bonnell.

As for dinner, head past Mount Bonnell (a great place to watch the sunset), before stopping by Laguna Gloria and Mayfield Park to see the beautiful live oak trees, peacocks, and gardens that are on the grounds. Then, grab a seat at nearby Draught House Pub & Brewery, showcasing a vast selection of local Austin brews and the city’s best food trucks, including Best Wurst on Mondays and Quality Seafood on Tuesdays. Insider’s tip: There are free brats every Saturday at 4 p.m.

When you’re ready to call it a night, get cozy at one of Austin’s most quaint local hotels: Heywood Hotel. Located on Cesar Chavez on Austin’s East Side, staying at Heywood gives you the opportunity to explore a different side of Austin before and after your daily field trips (if you feel so inclined). Boutique indeed, the hotel has just seven rooms in an old house that pair old Austin bungalow charm with minimalistic, but still well-dressed touches like artwork by local artists. And, it’s within walking distance of some of Austin’s most celebrated businesses.

Day Two

Breakfast at Mi Madre’s is a must.Breakfast at Mi Madre’s is a must. Matthew C. Wright

Today you’ll take advantage of one of Austin’s many waterways and partake in an old-school tradition: a trip down the Lower Colorado River. Whether you prefer a canoe or a kayak, you can rent one from Cook’s Canoes, an old-fashioned canoe livery situated on the Lower Colorado in Webberville, Texas, about 25 minutes east of Austin.

But first, breakfast tacos. Since you’re staying on the East Side, head to Mi Madre’s Restaurant** **on Manor Road for some of the best breakfast tacos in the city, all served on housemade tortillas. We recommend going a la carte, so take your pick and fuel up for a day on the water. You can’t go wrong with a #6 (potato and egg) or a #15 (carnitas, avocado, and cilantro).

From there, you’ll head toward Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, which becomes FM 969 before arriving in Webberville at the livery. Like the days of yore, the old men who run the livery will load you into a yellow school bus, take you up river and let you paddle your way back. Opt for the 7 or 11-mile route that’ll give you a quiet, easy ride down a wide section of river, hugged by giant trees, green shoreline, and the occasional sand bar that makes for a good breaking point.

When you make it back to the landing point, swing by Live Oak Brewery in nearby Del Valle, which is about a twenty-minute ride back toward Austin. Find a seat within the rows of picnic tables under the live oaks and kick back with a house-made beer. They’ve got everything ranging from year-round, seasonal, and limited edition beers. Live Oak Brewery also hosts local food trucks so you’ll have the opportunity to sample some of Austin’s most well-known mobile cuisines. And, if you feel up for another brewery,Zilker Brewing Company is just a few blocks from Heywood Hotel and offers some of the best locally made beer in some of the best-designed cans.

Day Three, In-Town Option

The spring-fed Barton Springs are an Austin hot spot on a warm day.The spring-fed Barton Springs are an Austin hot spot on a warm day. Lars Plougmann

Before embarking on the day’s adventure, swing by Austin’s acclaimed Mozart’s Coffee Roasters on Lake Austin Boulevard. The long-time Austin establishment has one of the best patios in the city, incredible house-made coffee, and a wide selection of muffins, pastries and cheesecakes, always made in house.

From there, you’ll take on a section of trail in the heart of Austin. Ten miles of hiking and biking trails, known as the Ann and Roy Butler Trails, course through downtown Austin, edging along Lady Bird Lake and connecting Austin landmarks the entire way. Hop on the trail on the south side of the South 1st Bridge, heading west toward** **Zilker Park. This lakeside section is incredibly lush, shaded by giant trees, and runs parallel to some of Austin’s famous Barton Springs Road restaurants and bars.

Enjoy a leisurely two-mile walk along the lake to Zilker Park. Once arriving at the park, you can throw a blanket down and soak up the sun, toss a frisbee, or take a dip in the spring-fed Barton Springs , which is one of Austin’s most famous landmarks.

In the afternoon, head over to Rainey Street, which is one of Austin’s most celebrated neighborhoods. Once a residential neighborhood, the street is now a charming strip of old houses turned bars and restaurants. Grab an outdoor table at Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden, which has one of the best patios in the city and is a great place to cozy up after a day spent outdoors. Banger’s specializes in authentic German sausages and pints on pints on pints.

Day Three, Out-of-Town Option

The Jester King Brewery is well known for it’s sour beers.The Jester King Brewery is well known for it’s sour beers. Jester King Brewery

While Austin has much to offer within its city limits, locals frequent parks and waterside escapes outside the city, too. After all, Texas Hill Country is famous for its swimming holes. A local favorite is Krause Springs, which is about 40 minutes outside of town in Spicewood, Texas. Since you’ll be heading outside of town, plan to leave Austin in the morning and to spend high noon at the springs.

As you enter the 115-acre plot of land, you’re first greeted with a butterfly garden that just begs for a stroll. The property is registered on the National Register of Historic Places, so the entire place has a quirky vibe. There are 32 individual springs to enjoy, and you’ll find locals sprawled out on towels, swimming, and enjoying the shade of the towering cypress trees. Find real estate on one of the giant, water-smoothed rocks, lay out a towels and some snacks and let the day float by.

Head back toward Austin before sunset, but first stopping by Jester King Brewery for one of the brewery’s famous sour beers. Rows of picnic tables are lined up beneath gnarly live oak trees with antique chandeliers hanging from their curly limbs. Kick back in the shade of the tree and prepare for a wild sunset over the country horizon. As for dinner, order a salad and made-from-scratch pizza from Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza, which shares the property with Jester King. And, perhaps, opt for another round of sour brews. Note: Both Jester King Brewery & Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza are *only *open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

If you find yourself up for one last nightcap, we suggest a rendezvous at Whisler’s. Also on East 6th, the eccentric bar features a fantastic backyard, creative cocktails and an interesting atmosphere… antique mirrors, an old bathtub, and a mezcal bar upstairs. But be forewarned: The oranges are dusted with crushed crickets *not *sugar. We speak from experience.

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Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co.

Featured image provided by Johannes Schneemann

The Best Trail to Tavern Pairing in Dallas-Fort Worth

The Dallas-Fort Worth area may be a sprawling metropolis, but there’s no shortage of natural beauty both in the city and among its (vast) outskirts. This is Texas, after all, and Texas is big. And spread out. And quite wild. Folks here also appreciate a good craft brew or a good number of other poisons with our long-loved Tito’s Vodka being made in state and, now, even bourbon and (Texas) moonshine. Our days are also long and, in the summer, often grueling. So we’ve gotten real good at pairing two of the things we love most ‘round here: trails and ales. Whether downtown lovin’ is your cup of tea (er, booze) or you prefer a watering hole outside of town, here are five pairings for your day off.

1. Dogwood Canyon | Bishop Cider Company


For those who appreciate rare flora, observing endangered birds, and fresh cider, this pairing goes quite nicely with a spring day. Begin your day just outside of Cedar Hill State Park, southwest of Dallas in Cedar Hill, Texas. Here you’ll find Dogwood Canyon, founded by the good people of Wild Birds Unlimited. In the spring, Dogwood Canyon is rich with color as the flowering dogwoods blossom, and also rich with birdsong, as hummingbirds are regulars around these parts. It’s also thought that the endangered golden-cheeked warblers live among the reserve. The trails within Dogwood Canyon are short, but they’re also hilly and picturesque with scenic overlooks providing views of nearby Cedar Hill State Park and Joe Pool Lake.

Once you’ve had your day’s flora and fauna fix, head just due north to Bishop Cider Company in Southwest Dallas’ Oak Cliff. With ciders named things like Crackberry and Suicider, Bishop’s cider may be unconventional in the text of the old school, offering up cider with jalapenos, peaches, pecans, and hops, but that’s precisely what makes it so Texas. Even better, you are assured a high-quality concoction at the Cider Company because the owners’ philosophy is simply: “Is this a cider that we want to drink all day every day?” And that’s a philosophy we can support.

2. Lake Grapevine’s North Shore Trail | Grapevine Craft Brewery

Sunset at Grapevine Lake Austin Marshall

North Shore Trail runs along Lake Grapevine in Grapevine, Texas (northwest of Dallas) and offers an incredibly scenic out-and-back hike and bike trail up to 12 miles each way. There are three entry points to the trail, though you should take note of the two free entry points (because we’re saving our money for a post-hike brew, right?): Murrell Park and Twin Coves Park. Twin Coves Park technically has a fee, but the official Lake Grapevine site says if you park outside of the gate and enter the trail, there is no fee. Because the trail follows alongside Lake Grapevine, it’s an incredible place for those who enjoy chasing a stellar sunrise or sunset (though if drinking is on the agenda, perhaps sunset is a better choice).

After the sun sets (or rises—we aren’t judging), head over to Grapevine Craft Brewery. The local brew joint says “craft is their middle name.” There’s always a selection of rotating seasonal and limited release beers and the year-round staples like the crisp Monarch Pilsner (which is a great choice after a hot day aside the lake) and Nightwatch Oatmeal Stout (which makes for a good cool weather beer). Grapevine Craft Brewery is an award-winning kind of place, with awards won from events like the Great American Beer Festival and the Denver International Beer Competition. They often feature great local food trucks too, so you can sample the finest of Grapevine in just one sitting.

3. Big Cedar Wilderness Trails | Deep Ellum Brewery

Southwest of downtown, Big Cedar Wilderness Trails offer more than twenty miles of pristine, well-kept trails that are great for hiking and biking. There are both short and long loops that cross over the highest elevation in the city, which provides a great sunset viewing point and beautiful views of a nearby lake and downtown. Some of the trails are moderate, so those seeking a solid workout before imbibing have the opportunity to experience a good bit of elevation change, while still being close to downtown Dallas.

Once you’ve finished your Big Cedar elevation, it’s only appropriate to go to what is, perhaps, Dallas’ longest celebrated brewpub—Deep Ellum Brewery in the heart of downtown Dallas, where they say “love runs deep.” We can argue that post-hike cheer and a solid ABV can certainly lead to love running deep. The Deep Ellum IPA is a go-to classic at the brewery, while other local favorites include its Double Blonde and the Double Brown Stout. If you’re the kind who prefers to take a sixer for the road, the Easy Peasy IPA is described as a “perfect summer beer” and travels well.

4. Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge | The Collective Brewing Project

Brewmaster Mike Goldfuss filling up a cold one. Jake Wheeler

Fort Worth is a little less big city and a whole lot more old-school Texas. And that means the area immediately surrounding the city is a lot less developed than nearby Dallas. The Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge is a sprawling refuge that provides nearly 4,000 acres of beautiful land along the West Fork of the Trinity River. Paddlers and hikers love the park for its pristine landscapes and outside-the-city vibes. There are more than twenty miles of hiking trails ranging from a quarter of a mile to 3.3 miles, and several entry points to the river, so land and water folks alike will enjoy the well-preserved ecosystems within the refuge.

Whether you’ve spent the day paddling along the Trinity or hiking the refuge’s trails, Fort Worth’s The Collective Brewing Project is a perfect next stop to wind down and hydrate. They call themselves Fort Worth’s “first franken-monster of a brewery” and use the hashtag #funkytownbeer, both of which are a warm invite to their tucked away taproom in an unassuming corner of the city’s Southside. Staple beers include their Mustache Rye’d and Tropic Thunder. And, if you’re anything like the masterminds behind Collective Brewing, you may be tempted to take a growler to go. Maybe even all the way to Big Bend.

5. Oak Point Park & Nature Preserve | Nine Band Brewing

Just twenty miles northeast of Dallas in Plano, Texas is an 800-acre nature preserve called Oak Point Park. The park was recently named a Certified Audubon Sanctuary because of the number of bird species that flourish within the preserve, making it an ideal day trip for birdwatchers and photographers too. Offering 3.5 miles of paved trails and more than seven miles of soft-surface trails that follow along Rowlett Creek, the park provides access to an environment that’s largely undisturbed as well as a pavilion and amphitheater. While the trails at Oak Point Park are not technical, they are far from the bustle of city life and immerse you into an important, peaceful, and beautiful ecosystem.

When you’ve finished exploring Oak Point’s trails, head just six miles north of Plano to Nine Band Brewing in Allen, considered the Plano-area’s first microbrewery. The 8,000-foot facility and taproom is filled with vats brewing up three signature beers and a range of seasonal blends, and communal, handmade wooden tables that make bringing a big crew or rallying a new one an easy task. Whether their 6% Nine Band Pale Ale or their 10.6% Toad Choker Barleywine is more your speed, Big Band’s taps are eager to pour you a post-adventure brew that’ll keep you on your toes, or bring you to your knees. Bottoms up!

Wear from the trail to the tavern…

Msshorts WsBluehoodie

Men’s Wonderer LS Shirt $79, Rover Short $75, Motile SS Polo $52,  Transverse Shirt Jac $119

Women’s Lean Layering Tank $32, BFT Hoodie $89, Festivator Short $49

Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co.