Introduction | Road trips of 100 miles or less from San Antonio, Texas
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Texas Hill Country Road Trips: Great Drives Near San Antonio

Though there's tons to do in San Antonio, the city's surroundings offer an array of enticements as well, including renowned barbecue, pockets of German heritage, and Texas Hill Country rivers, forests, and wildflower-dotted meadows (pictured). And all of that is within a 100-mile drive of San Antonio.

These highly doable road trips—some of which could be completed on a single tank of gas—make for excellent weekend getaways for San Antonio residents and let visitors to the city tack on a mini vacation to their vacations. Whether you're lucky enough to live in San Antonio or you're just visiting, here are the most appealing destinations within 100 miles. 

Note: We've left out Austin from this list in favor of less well-known destinations, but the quirky Texas capital is within range (about 80 miles northeast of San Antonio) and very much worth exploring. For a thorough rundown of both cities, check out Frommer's EasyGuide to San Antonio and Austin

Bandera | Road Trips of 100 Miles or Less from San Antonio, Texas
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Bandera

54 miles from San Antonio

Founded in 1853 at the heart of the Great Western Cattle Trail (immortalized in the epic cattle drives depicted in the book and movie versions of Lonesome Dove), Bandera deserves its trademarked nickname: Cowboy Capital of the World. Thanks to forward-thinking preservationists, the town still has many of its historic buildings, and feels in many ways like the set of a John Ford movie.

What to do:

• Take a self-guided tour of the town’s historic sites, plus the Frontier Times Museum, famous for a taxidermied two-faced goat. A self-guided walking tour is available from Bandera's official tourism website.
• Attend one of the town's frequent rodeos.
• Visit the state-of-the-art Bandera Natural History Museum, which displays impressive models of dinosaurs and ice age animals created by the same company that crafted creatures for Jurassic Park.
• Stroll along the Native Plant Trail at 77-acre Bandera City Park.
• Go fishing outside of town at Bandera County Park at Medina Lake or at the Lost Maples State Natural Area. Both sites are carpeted in wildflowers come spring.
• Try a dude ranch vacation, complete with hayrides, cookouts, trick rope exhibitions, horseback rides (like the ones at Silver Spur Ranch, pictured above), and actual cattle drives. The Bandera area has a number of top-notch ranches; go to banderacowboycapital.com for info.

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Boerne | Road Trips of 100 Miles or Less from San Antonio, Texas
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Boerne

32 miles from San Antonio

Boerne (pronounced like the first name of Vermont's Sen. Sanders) was established in 1849 by German settlers. They named the town after Frankfurt-born political satirist Ludwig Börne. Known for its shopping, Boerne's main street holds chichi clothing boutiques, antique shops, crafts vendors, and art galleries. Boerne Market Days, a monthly craft fair, draws browsers from far and wide. Nineteenth-century limestone buildings fill the lovely historic district. 

What to do:

• Spelunking is popular in these parts. Cascade Caverns is a beaut, with a 100-foot underground waterfall and a number of walking trails. Cave Without a Name (pictured) has even more chambers to explore. Both attractions are doable by tour only.
• Guadalupe River State Park is a particularly appealing stretch of riverfront for canoeing, tubing, fishing, and swimming. There are also some scenic hiking trails.
• Cibolo Nature Center is right in town, but allows visitors to explore four different ecosystems: grassland, marshland, woodland, and river bottom.

Canyon Lake | Road Trips of 100 Miles or Less from San Antonio, Texas
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Canyon Lake

44 miles from San Antonio

"Where Watersports Are King" is the tourism tagline here, and that pretty much sums up Canyon Lake's appeal. It's one of the deepest lakes in the state, going down as far as 43 feet in some places and brimming with catchable fish. This is not a natural formation, though. The reservoir was created by the Army Corps of Engineers between 1958 and 1964 from part of the Guadalupe River. The agency built eight campgrounds; two marinas and numerous boat docks line the water as well.

What to do:

• Watersports! If it can be done on the water, it can be done on Canyon Lake. We’re talking swimming, Jet Skiing, kayaking, and boating. Rentals of all sorts are available, and so are lessons.
• The reservoir is stocked with largemouth bass, white bass, and other prized catches, making this a premier fishing destination.

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Fredericksburg | Road Trips of 100 Miles or Less from San Antonio, Texas
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Fredericksburg

70 miles from San Antonio

Named in honor of Prince Frederick of Prussia, this picturesque town was founded in 1846 and displays many of the hallmarks of 19th-century Texas. These include typical Fachwerk houses—limestone buildings with pretty diagonal wood supports—and tiny "Sunday houses" where farmers could stay overnight before church and other functions in town. Fredericksburg is the hub of a bustling wine industry, and also a good base to explore a number of natural and historic sites. In spring, day trippers take the Willow City Loop from Fredericksburg to see the Hill Country’s bluebonnets and other wildflowers in bloom. At the peak of blossom season, the road is as crowded as many New England roads during fall foliage time.

What to do:

• The National Museum of the Pacific War is perhaps the biggest surprise in town. It's the only U.S. museum dedicated exclusively to World War II's Pacific Theater. Highlights include a captured Japanese submarine and multimedia battle simulations.
• About 18 miles from town sits a natural wonder: a dome of solid pink granite rising 600 feet from the ground. Pushed up by volcanic forces eons ago, the formation still makes creaking sounds. In fact, there are a number of Native American tales about evil spirits residing in the rock. Beyond the noises, Enchanted Rock State Nature Area is a top hiking destination.
• Not one, but two parks devoted to former president Lyndon B. Johnson grab the attention of many visitors. The sites re-create not just the "Texas White House"—LBJ’s retreat during his presidency—but also the Texan culture that shaped his boyhood.
 Grape growing began in the Fredericksburg area in the late 16th century, thanks to the arrival of Franciscan friars. The lion's share of wineries you can visit are situated along Wine Road 290.
• Luckenbach, the town that inspired a hit duet sung by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, is a weird and wonderful little place, deeply steeped in the cowboy ethos. Since the 1970s the town has been known for unique events like all-female chili contests and a no-talent contest. The outdoor bandstand is a great place to catch live music.

Garner State Park | Road Trips of 100 Miles or Less from San Antonio
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Garner State Park

93 miles from San Antonio

Garner State Park is one of the most popular spots in Texas for camping out. During high season the campgrounds are usually full by noon. Visitors flock here for the pristine and calm Frio River, the lush green landscape, and the legendary summer evening dances.

What to do:

Family-friendly fun is a top priority here. Popular activities include paddleboarding, swimming, fishing, mini golf, hiking, canoeing, tubing, and geocaching.

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Hamilton Pool Preserve | Road Trips of 100 Miles or Less from San Antonio, Texas
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Hamilton Pool Preserve

87 miles from San Antonio

A cave once surrounded this circular swimming hole in the town of Dripping Springs. The cave collapsed thousands of years ago but many of its features still exist, giving this spot an otherworldly beauty characterized by grottoes and waterfalls (when there’s been rain). Rocky outcroppings overhang parts of the pool, supplying some much-appreciated shade.

To preserve the delicate ecobalance, visitors are required to make online reservations in advance and pay a small fee. 

What to do:

Swimming, hiking, and bird watching are the main activities here.

Longhorn Caverns State Park, Burnet | Road Trips of 100 Miles or Less from San Antonio, Texas
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Longhorn Cavern State Park

100 miles from San Antonio

Even when aboveground temps are inferno-like, these caverns in Burnet remain pleasantly cool. That may be why so many people—from outlaws to Native American warriors—hid out here over the centuries. You’ll hear about those stories and learn about the spectacular geologic formations when you take a tour. 

What to do: 

• In addition to touring the caverns (for a small fee), you can go hiking up top and take a look at a small exhibit about how the Civilian Conservation Corps cleaned up the site in the 1930s.

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Lockhart | Road Trips of 100 Miles or Less from San Antonio, Texas
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Lockhart

68 miles from San Antonio

When it came time for the Texas Legislature to determine which municipality should be named the "Barbecue Capital" of the state, lawmakers went with this tiny town over a big city. And with good reason: The BBQ here is second to none and well worth a pilgrimage.

What to do:

 Chow down. That’s the main reason you come to Lockhart, where dry-rubbed hunks of meat are the marquee attraction. Kreuz Market is a classic; so is Black’s Barbecue (pictured), founded in 1932 and said to have the oldest barbecue pit in Texas. Pro tip: Traditional Texas barbecue doesn't come with sauce—though Kreuz Market will give you some if you ask.
Affordable golf is another reason to visit the area. Lockhart State Park has a nice 9-hole course along with well-maintained hiking trails shaded by lots of elm, pecan, oak, and ash trees. There’s good fishing here, too.

New Braunfels | Road Trips 100 Miles or Less from San Antonio, Texas
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New Braunfels

32 miles from San Antonio

Another German settlement, New Braunfels sits on the junction of the Comal and Guadalupe (pictured) rivers, which made the town a transportation hub back in the day and a watersports hot spot now. It has several small history museums and water parks, including the original Schlitterbahn.

What to do:

• History buffs will enjoy popping into several of the museums, which cover railways, local culture, and handcrafted furniture.
More caves can be spelunked at Natural Bridge Caverns, named for a majestic 60-foot arch spanning one entryway. Many of the passages are multihued and sculptural.

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San Marcos | Road Trips 100 Miles or Less from San Antonio, Texas
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San Marcos

50 miles from San Antonio

Natural springs have been attracting humans to this area for 12,000 years. Nowadays, the past exerts a pull, too—the entire downtown area of San Marcos is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. But the town's most popular spots are probably its two outlet shopping centers: Premium Outlets and Tanger Outlets

What to do: 

Soak in the natural springs at Spring Lake. The waters maintain a temperature of 72° Fahrenheit. At the nearby Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, a number of tours educate visitors about the unique ecosystem. Stroll on a boardwalk over the wetlands or take a glass-bottom boat excursion.
• The San Marcos River is arguably the most pristine in the state. Go tubing, kayaking, canoeing, or swimming. Rent tubes from the local Lions Club.
Antiquing in the neighboring town of Wimberley is a Texas tradition. If you visit on the first Saturday of the month from April to December, you'll catch a large antiques-and-crafts fair. The Wimberley Glassworks shows off the work of talented artisans as well. 

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