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This scenic road trip takes you through Central Texas’ acclaimed Hill Country, a fantastic region for wines. Beginning in music-centric Austin and ending in San Antonio, the tour leads you on a slow, hilly ramble through small towns with rejuvenated Main streets and past vineyards, farms, peach and apple orchards, and lavender fields.
Day 1: Austin
Bustling Austin, the state capital, revels in its slightly eccentric, music-obsessed reputation. Spend your day and evening in South Austin, an attraction-filled area just south of downtown that some consider a microcosm of the city’s spirit.
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A few options for the day: Take a stroll or ride along the 10-mile Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake. (You can rent a set of wheels at Barton Springs Bike Rental & Tours.) Afterward, if you've packed a swimsuit, take a dip in nearby Barton Springs, a quarter-mile-long swimming hole beloved by locals with a temperature between 68 and 70 degrees.
Also consider exploring SoCo (South Congress), an eclectic entertainment district about 2 miles east of Barton Springs. There, eccentric shops sell everything from funky artifacts to handmade cowboy boots, and you'll find lots of spots for tacos and other quick bites. Grab a hot one at Jo’s Coffee.
For hearty meals, there are many great restaurants in the SoCo area. For lunch or dinner, try Loro Austin, a local hot spot near SoCo where two James Beard Award winners fuse barbecue and Asian cuisines with tasty results. On a nice night, grab an al fresco table at Perla’s in the heart of the district for fun people-watching and a delicious seafood meal. The wood-grilled Creole oysters are as good as the name sounds.
For your evening entertainment, take your seat in a SoCo mainstay: the Continental Club, the legendary live-music venue that hosts performances on its famous stage daily.
Or have a cocktail in the Rainey Street entertainment district, an enclave of 19th-century bungalow houses turned clever bars on the southern edge of downtown, less than 2 miles from SoCo’s main buzz. Try Icenhauer’s, housed in a well-preserved circa-1895 home.
Where to stay: A former union hall near Barton Springs, the 93-room Carpenter Hotel appeals with a minimalistic, mid-century chic feel.
Day 2: Austin to Johnson City/Hye (92 miles)
Prepare for a day of wine tasting with a hearty breakfast at Forthright, a cozy café in downtown Austin. A favorite: the thickly cut avocado toast.