Texas is filled with vast landscapes and historic sites. One of the highlights of Texas living is the Hill Country, located on the Edwards Plateau in the central area of the state. This region is known for its rustic, hilly landscapes, wineries, ranches, parks and sparkling waterways. Many people move to this region for its year-round warm climate, family living and outdoor views. It’s no secret that visitors often return seasonally or end up moving to the Hill Country, and not for the scenery alone. The Hill Country also provides the best in local cuisine and endless activities.
Famous for its hilly terrain, the Hill Country boasts some of the most desirable real estate in Texas, with everything from large ranches to posh waterfront estates where indoors and outdoors mesh seamlessly. You’ll find rugged sweeps of limestone dotted by hardy trees like mesquite, cedar and live oak, interspersed with prickly pear cactus.
Cities and Towns with Character
This highly sought after countryside is centrally located among some of Texas’ major metropolitan areas, including San Antonio and Austin. And anyone who has visited them will tell you that these are no ordinary cities. Both blend the conveniences and culture of a big city with unique Texas charm.
Austin draws more than 30 million visitors each year, thanks in part to its quirky, artsy vibe and popular festivals like Austin City Limits, Euphoria, and South by Southwest. Meanwhile, San Antonio attracts around 37 million visitors each year, who come not only to experience Texas’ rich history by visiting the Alamo and strolling along the picturesque River Walk, but also for a diverse smattering of music and cultural events, including a vibrant Day of the Dead celebration and Fiesta Week.
Halfway between the two cities, you’ll find the college town of San Marcos, which includes a historic downtown and various waterways on which to float, kayak and paddleboard. Towns like Fredericksburg, Blanco, Lakeway, Boerne, Luckenbach, Driftwood, New Braunfels, Gruene and Wimberley also offer charming entry points for exploring the Texas Hill Country. In addition to offering a laid-back country lifestyle, perfect for retreating after a long day of work in the city, these towns have their own unique character:
- Fredericksburg has a local German community with a unique dialect, and easy proximity to natural wonders like Enchanted Rock, a 425-foot-tall pink dome made of granite.
- Blanco, known as the “Lavender Capital of Texas,” is a sleepy town with an Old West aesthetic that comes alive for the Lavender Festival in the springtime.
- Lakeway, founded on a 2,700-acre ranch owned by a Houston oilman and rancher, sits on Lake Travis and boasts golf courses, tennis courts, marinas, its own airport, and a hotel and spa, along with plenty of park spaces and trails.
- Boerne is a great place for families, where many executives from nearby San Antonio tend to own land, with everything from breweries and wineries to natural wonders like Cave Without a Name, which sometimes hosts performances.
- Luckenbach is small on population but big on culture, and its western feel serves as the perfect background for the various country music performances it hosts annually.
- Driftwood’s rolling hills and winding waterways, combined with a smattering of interesting boutiques and restaurants as well as cozy wineries give it a comfy southern charm.
- New Braunfels is roughly midway between Austin and San Antonio, and is known for its Oktoberfest celebration and a 10-day affair called Wurstfest, along with the activities centered on the Comal and Guadalupe Rivers, both of which meander through this small town.
- Gruene is the place to go if you want to explore the area’s German heritage and architecture, with many of its spaces listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Once a standalone town, it’s now a district of New Braunfels, in Comal County.
- Wimberley is situated less than a half-hour from San Marcos but offers picturesque, small-town living among nature. Its natural attractions include a popular swimming spot called Blue Hole and Jacob’s Well, a small but deep pool that leads to underground caverns.
While for some the Hill Country offers a unique getaway, many others have found that living in the Hill Country offers something for people with interests as diverse as hunting, ranching, gourmet dining and exploring nature. Following is a Hill Country attraction guide that locals and visitors alike can use to navigate the many opportunities presented by this beautiful region.
Hill Country Wineries and Breweries
Texas is known for many things, but many don’t associate Texas with wine. However, it’s the second most visited wine region in the United States after Napa Valley. Over 300 wineries are dispersed across Texas. The Hill Country hosts over 100 of these wineries, where you can schedule tastings, tours and more. Wine trails are sprinkled throughout the Hill Country to give visitors an array of tasting rooms with hundreds of options.
For example, the Hill Country Tasting Room is one of the top wine tasting rooms in the area. Not only do they support local wines, they also specialize in serving local beers, ciders and meads, and also serve food and snacks. Reserve tasting rooms for special occasions or a day out with family and friends.
Another popular option, the Guadalupe Wine Trail runs near the Guadalupe River. Six small wineries make up the trail, which starts in Fredericksburg and ends in New Braunfels. You can find Singing Water Vineyards, Kerrville Hills Winery, Dry Comal Creek Vineyards, Chisholm Trail Winery, Sister Creek Vineyards and Bending Branch Winery along this popular trail. Fredericksburg also offers the option of booking a wine party bus to experience the local wineries along the trail.
Some tours provide transportation, while others let you walk or travel at your own pace. Other options on the wine trail include cafes and bakeries where you can grab a bite, or restaurants where you can sit down to a full dinner service. If you like what you taste on the Hill Country wine trail, many of the wineries have wine club packages.
A few of the famous wine stops are:
- William Chris Vineyards, known for low-impact Texas-grown wines. Fruity profiles dominate their wine selections and signature brands.
- Texas Hills Vineyards, whose popularity comes from its award-winning wine selections. Enjoy sensory classes and winemaker dinners when you schedule a tasting room experience.
- Signor Vineyards, which allows tastings by reservation or walk-ins. Four generations of vintners have run this 200-acre winery filled with farmhouse charm.
You can find these and many more vineyards strewn throughout the Texas Hill Country. Grapes grown right here in the United States yield some of the best wines. And no two vineyards are alike in their wines or tasting events, so a visit to just one winery simply will not do. Each winery focuses on specialty wine selections that you can find only there.
No description of Hill Country libations is complete without mentioning the local breweries. Beer trails are as favored an activity as wine trails. Reserve a shuttle or drive at your leisure to visit the breweries that boast local beer and cuisine.
Hill Country Ranches
Ranches just scream Texas. And the Hill Country is home to many ranches that are open to visitors — two of the most famous guest ranches are Dixie Dude Ranch and West 1077. For those new to ranch lingo, “dude” ranches offer a more guided experience for guests, while “guest” ranches allow their guests to choose their timing for activities. Both options have fun events available to visitors.
Visitors can get a taste of ranch life with horseback riding, hiking, or fishing. Camping another popular activity when visiting ranches. Booking a stay at one of these ranches allows you a personal look into what Hill Country living is like firsthand. You’ll also learn why so many continue to return and ultimately look for ranches for sale in the Texas Hill Country.
Hill Country Parks
Outdoor living and activities are key to experiencing the Hill Country, and one of the best ways to appreciate the outdoors is visiting one of the state parks. State parks offer golfing, water sport equipment rentals, hiking and picnicking. Colorado Bend State Park even offers cave tours and guided hikes; hidden within the park is Gorman Falls, a stunning 70-foot waterfall hiking destination. Below are a few of the most popular parks in the Hill Country:
Hill Country Waterways
The Texas Hill Country encompasses some of the most mesmerizing landscapes and rivers in the state. Many visit rivers and lakes within the state parks to view the scenery unique to each location and enjoy the waterways for activities such as:
- Paddle boarding
There’s an activity for everyone in your family in the Hill Country waterways. Kids can splash in natural creeks and try to spot wildlife like deer, roadrunners and armadillos. A favorite activity for friends and families is to float the river at Comal River in Landa Park. And to really beat the Texas heat, cool off in the top swimming holes around the area, for a refreshing summer experience.
Buy or Sell Your Hill Country Land with TexasLand
TexasLand has real estate opportunities in the heart of the Hill Country that will give you access to some of the best attractions in the state. Our local real estate agents with on-the-ground expertise will give you a personal and tailored experience, whether you’re buying or selling your property. Agents can present your properties to a global audience of potential buyers or find you the dream location for your own Hill Country living.
Contact us today to talk with an agent about selling your property or to view ranches and land available in the Texas Hill Country.