1. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Located on 284 acres, The University of Texas Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center provides education, outreach, research and more to conserve native plants and create sustainable landscapes. The center offers tours of the expansive space where visitors can learn about native plants, the Edwards Aquifer and more. The center was also named the Botanic Garden and Arboretum of Texas in 2017.
- 4801 La Crosse Ave., Austin
The 48-acre park offers swimming, fishing and hiking. The park’s conceptual plan lays out proposed improvements, including new bathrooms under renovation and updating for Americans with Disabilities Act access. Construction will be done in summer 2023.
- 6701 Lakewood Drive, Austin
Founded in 1963, the museum has the largest comprehensive art collection in Central Texas. The museum grounds are under redesign for new programming. Work will be complete in the spring, and the museum is still open to the public.
- 200 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Austin
The business reopened in 2022 at The Domain and provides comedy shows, classes and other events. Seasonal food and drinks are available during shows. Tickets are available online.
- 11506 Century Oaks Terrace, Bldg. B, Unit 100, Austin
5. Hill Country Galleria
The outdoor retail, dining and entertainment center hosts events throughout the year, including live music and art shows. New businesses in 2022 include El Dorado Gallery and luxury boutique The Emporium. In the future, the Galleria has goals to add more green space and enhance walkability.
- 12700 Hill Country Blvd., Bee Cave
6. The Patio at Typhoon Texas
The Pflugerville water park opened its indoor-outdoor “eater-tainment” venue in November. The Patio hosts live music events, and the menu features barbecue, burgers and chicken tenders.
- 18500 SH 130 Service Road, Pflugerville
7. Kalahari Conventions and Resorts
The Round Rock location opened in November 2020 and offers an indoor and outdoor water park, restaurants and spas. Kalahari will expand its outdoor resort pool to include an action river, a children’s slide pool and a bar pool to its facility with completion expected in mid-2023.
- 3001 Kalahari Blvd., Round Rock
8. Lakeline Park
Phase 1 of the new city park in Cedar Park, located off Bell Boulevard and Little Elm Trail, will be completed in early 2023. The design of Phase 2 will begin in 2023. Once fully built, Lakeline Park will be the city’s largest at 200 acres. Amenities include picnic facilities, a playground, a kayak launch, hiking trails, sports fields, a fishing pier and a multipurpose pavilion.
9. Mel’s Lone Star Lanes
The bowling alley first opened in 2008 under ownership of siblings David Kellerman and Dot Ammons. The facility has 40 lanes of bowling, arcade games, billiards, cornhole, and a bar and grill. In 2022, Bowlero Corp. took over management.
- 1010 N. Austin Ave., Georgetown
10. Canyon Lake Gorge
During the summer flood event of 2002, more than 34 inches of rain created floodwaters swelling Canyon Lake over its spillway for the first time since the reservoir was completed in 1964 that carved out a 64-acre gorge, exposing cretaceous-period fossils, limestone and other curiosities. Visitors can explore dinosaur fossils, exposed areas of the Trinity Aquifer and see recently exposed waterfalls and springs. Guided hikes are available seasonally along with other events.
- 16029 S. Access Road, Canyon Lake
11. Buda Amphitheater & City Park
Located in the heart of downtown, the Buda Amphitheater & City Park is home to various events all year long, such as the Wiener Dog Races, Fajita Fiesta and more. When not hosting events, the park has amenities for the whole family to enjoy for free, including the great lawn, a playground, a splashpad, basketball courts and more. The park can also be rented for private events.
- 204 San Antonio St., Buda
Considered the heart of downtown, Mary Kyle Hartson City Square Park has undergone massive renovations in the past two years to enhance the downtown experience. The park has a gazebo, a playground and various picnic areas throughout with walking paths and fresh shrubbery for all to enjoy. Americans with Disabilities Act improvements have also been made at the park for accessibility to all. The park is also home to the city’s monthly Kyle Market Days, which feature local vendors.
- 101 S. Burleson St., Kyle
Learn about some of the city’s most precious resources at the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University. The center aims to protect the environment and educate others about the resources through educational materials, recreational activities and more. The center offers glass-bottom boat tours of Spring Lake, tours of the Wetlands Boardwalk and more that share information about exotic and native species, plants and other lifeforms.
- 201 San Marcos Springs Drive, San Marcos
The city of San Marcos has a variety of free outdoor activities and amenities like the river as well as the Purgatory Creek Natural Area. There are more than 1,000 acres with over 10 miles of walkable trails within the upper and lower Purgatory trails. The trails are accessible with an ADA trail in the upper Purgatory section. The trails are open for walking, running, biking, bird watching and other outdoor activities.
- Upper Purgatory: 1753 Valencia Way, San Marcos
- Lower Purgatory: 2102 Hunter Road, San Marcos
Located on the outskirts of San Marcos lies a stretch of outlet malls with shops and restaurants ranging from Nike and Levi’s to Saint Laurent and Prada. Stores regularly have anywhere from 20%-50% off merchandise and other deals.
- San Marcos Premium: 3939 S. I-35, San Marcos
- Tanger: 4015 S. I-35, San Marcos
At just 72 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, the San Marcos River is the city’s gem that starts at the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment and runs south into the Blanco and Guadalupe rivers with various entry points throughout the city. The 75-mile-long river is perfect for swimming, tubing, kayaking and other water activities.
- Sewell Park: 601 University Drive, San Marcos
- City Park: 170 Charles Austin Drive San Marcos
- Rio Vista: 555 Cheatham St., San Marcos
Tucked away in San Marcos lies a family-owned and -operated park, founded in 1893, chock full of a variety of attractions. Learn about the geological eras of the Earth in the Wonder Cave or hop onto the train that travels through the animal park to see exotic species. There is also an observation tower, 120 feet high, that overlooks the Hill Country.
- 1000 Prospect St., San Marcos
18. Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo
The Animal World & Snake Farm is a zoological park that is home to over 500 different species of animals. Accredited by the Zoological Association of America, the zoo has a special focus on superior animal husbandry, conservation, education and research. The zoo has an interactive show schedule, an outreach and education program, birthday party and field trip venues, and other activities for visitors.
- 5641 S. I-35, New Braunfels
The Comal River is spring fed from the Edwards Aquifer making the water temperature a steady 70-72 degrees Fahrenheit year-round and is one of the shortest navigable waterways in the United States. Along with its reputation for a short, calm float, the New Braunfels city tube chute—a rapid manmade water slide just below Prince Solms Park in New Braunfels—provides some rapid excitement right in the middle of the float.
- 100 Liebscher Drive, New Braunfels
The Gruene Historic District, a small town originally settled by German farmers in the 1840s, has developed into a live music, shopping and river recreation area popular to visitors and residents alike. Home to the Gruene Hall, Texas’ oldest dance hall, the small town was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 as an entire district. Many historic buildings in Gruene have been preserved and turned into shops, restaurants and bars.
- 1601 Hunter Road, New Braufels
The Guadalupe River begins at its headwaters near Kerrville in the Texas Hill Country and wanders 230 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. After the river exits the Canyon Reservoir Dam, it provides plenty of slow and rapid areas to float or paddle from Sattler through New Braunfels and south to surrounding areas, with multiple entry and exit points. Camping along River Road just outside New Braunfels is available at multiple locations.
22. Landa Park
In the heart of New Braunfels and the start of the Comal Springs, Landa Park encompasses 51 acres and features trails, a miniature train and paddle board excursions. Visitors can also take in the view of Landa Lake, play miniature golf and walk the Panther Canyon Trail while enjoying being outdoors at Landa Park.
- 110 Golf Course Road, New Braunfels
Bordering the Comal River in downtown New Braunfels, the Schlitterbahn New Braunfels Waterpark Resort is open in the summer months to help Texas visitors and residents beat the heat. The large waterpark has four sections that feature a swim-up bar, a lazy river, a children's area and other attractions. The family-friendly Schlitterbahn resort has lodging and dining options for visitors to stay between taking advantage of the waterslides, pools and river rides around the park.
- 305 W. Austin St., New Braunfels
24. Morgan's Wonderland
Located on 25 acres, this theme park focuses on inclusion, featuring 25 ultra-accessible rides and attractions. The park defines ultra-accessible as the ability to remove physical and economic barriers for children and adults with special needs. Rides include a Ferris wheel with wheelchair access, themed playgrounds and more. Alongside the main park, the site offers Morgan's Inspiration Island, which is an ultra-accessible splash park. Guests with special needs receive free admission to both parks.
- 5223 David Edwards Drive, San Antonio
The Natural Bridge Caverns were discovered in the 1960s, and the area has become a popular destination for visitors to see cave formations 180 feet below the ground. Several tours are available to experience different sections of the lighted caverns. Above-ground attractions include a zip rail and ropes course, a maze, gem and fossil mining, and dining and shopping options.
- 26495 Natural Bridge Caverns Road, San Antonio
The Robert L.B. Tobin Land Bridge at Phil Hardberger Park connects both sides of the park with enough space for both wild animals and people to safely cross over Wurzbach Parkway in San Antonio. The land bridge provides continuity between each side of the park, which is filled with a variety of trails, dog parks, nativescape, a butterfly garden, wildlife blinds, Salado Creek greenway and more.
- 8400 N.W. Military Highway, San Antonio
Serving as a “living museum of native and imported plants,” the San Antonio Botanical Garden is 38 acres of botanical diversity, showcasing 35 endangered and rare species for more than 40 years. The gardens offer educational classes and activities, events, and gardening tips.
- 555 Funston Place, San Antonio
There is more to exploring Texas’ Spanish colonial past than just the Alamo. The San Antonio Missions—the only United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Site in Texas—are operated by the National Park Service and offer a variety of history, nature and culture to explore. Missions Conceptión, Espada, San José and San Juan provide unique glimpses into the architecture and culture of the 1600s-1700s. There are also active Catholic parishes at the missions to visit.
- Mission Conceptión: 807 Mission Road
- Mission Espada: 10040 Espada Road
- Mission San José: 6701 San Jose Drive
- Mission San Juan: 6101 Graf Road