12 Amazing Things To Do In Scenic Dripping Springs
Back then, the small town of Dripping Springs was nothing more than a farm and ranch with a few log homes, farmhouses, a post office named Nannie, and dripping limestone ledges. Located just 17 miles southwest of Austin, Dripping Springs now flourishes with the many treasures of the Texas Hill Country and is called the gateway to the Hill Country.
Dripping Springs’ rich history and modern flair mixed with its natural springs, rolling hills and striking views make this quaint Texas Hill Country town a wonderful place to visit any time of the year. It has 36 wineries, breweries and distilleries in the area and is the only town in the Hill Country to have all three. You might think people come just to drink (and it’s not called “Sipping in Dripping” for nothing), but this upscale city has so much more to offer. For example, Dripping Springs is also known as the marriage capital of Texas. And for good reason – the sights and the places. There are 35 wedding venues in Dripping Springs.
The community and visitors can enjoy several great events throughout the year. When planning your visit, look for events such as the Founders Day Festival in April, the Fair and Rodeo in July, Dripping with Taste in May and October, and the Dripping Springs Songwriters’ Festival in October.
I was lucky enough to visit Dripping Springs for the day while on a wine tour through the Texas Hill Country. Destination Dripping Springs took us to a few wineries and treated us to a Salt Lick BBQ lunch.
1. Historic Mercer Street Meander
Travel back in time as you stroll down Mercer Street and marvel at the unique storefronts unchanged since the 1870s. Shop and browse the quaint boutiques and perhaps sip something to drink. If lucky, there may be live music outside.
For something fun, grab a beer at the Barber Shop bar. And do me a favor – when you walk in, ask if you can have your hair cut. Warning: Lots of laughs will follow. The building was once a barber shop and the original barber pole is still attached to the exterior of the building. Newcomers to town, naturally, think it’s still a barber shop.
2. Historic Mercer Street Walking Tour
After shopping in the city center, take a beautiful walking tour to see 18 historic sites, from homes to gas stations, stores, and more. Make sure you don’t miss the landmark of the springs that gave the town its name – they are number 2 on the list. All but one of the sites are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Stop by the visitor desk at 509 Mercer Street to pick up a map of all the sights and routes.
3. Cimb A Rock at Milton Reimers Ranch Park
Reimers Ranch is well known for its world class outdoor rock climbing. Not a climbing fan? No problem, there’s more to do here. Mountain bikers can enjoy the 18 miles of trails, anglers can enjoy white bass fishing in the Pedernales River, and swimmers can enjoy playing at the beach. If nothing else, step out to enjoy the panoramic view of the Texas Hill Country.
Pro Tip: There is a small cash-only daily usage charge. No credit card accepted.
4. Take an orchard tour at the Texas Hill Country Olive Co.
Texas Hill Country Olive Co. is an award-winning, family-owned olive oil company located in Dripping Springs. You can participate in olive oil tastings, orchard tours, lunch at the bistro, as well as store collections, buy gifts and even become a member of the olive oil club – like a wine club but with olive oil. They share many recipes on their site.
5. Wineries, breweries and distilleries, oh my!
With 36 drinking establishments within 15 miles of each other, there’s no doubt you’ll find a favorite. Whether it’s wine, beer, or the tough stuff, Dripping Springs is definitely a fun place to grab a friend or two for a good time.
We visited Solaro Estate Winery and enjoyed a tasting of their finest wines and an ear full of information from the proud owner. I now know more about growing vines than I ever expected. I loved our experience here because I found a great tempranillo that I consider my favorite red wine. We also visited Driftwood Estate Winery, where we enjoyed a wine tasting, then walked out and sat on the ledge overlooking what we all love about the hills: the views.
6. Explore Charro Ranch Park
Surround yourself with some of the most beautiful nature trails in Dripping Springs. Go for a run on the jogging trails, bring your binoculars for bird watching at the birding station, or take a leisurely walk and picnic. All of this and more is available at Charro Ranch Park.
Pro Tip: For a true birding experience, plan to visit during spring or fall migration. Check with the visitors office for more information.
7. Hamilton Pool Preserve
Every outdoor enthusiast should plan a visit to see this nature reserve. It’s not often you come across something this beautiful unless you live nearby. I am planning my second visit later this year just to take in the sights and watch the 50ft waterfall plunge over the box canyon. Hamilton Pool Preserve is home to the golden-cheeked warbler and various other birds. So pack your binoculars, hiking boots and plenty of water and enjoy the view. Guided tours are available.
At first glance, swimming is no longer allowed and there seem to be strict rules regarding entry, swimming, parking and pets. I strongly suggest calling before you go or reading the website carefully. The public information line for the most up-to-date reserve status is 512-264-2740.
Pro Tip: You will pay car fees and per person fees. Cash only at the reserve and car reservations are best done online. Pets are not allowed.
8. West Cave Outdoor Discovery Center
Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center is a 76-acre nature preserve with caves, water springs, birding areas, and more. Individual and group tours are available. My top pick would be the self-guided Westcave Uplands tour. For a small entrance fee, take a leisurely stroll for up to 1.5 hours through oak trees and spring wildflowers.
Pro Tip: Reservations are required in advance. Hours may vary.
9. Shop local at the Farmer’s Market
One of my favorite activities is visiting farmers markets wherever I go. In addition, I like to support the inhabitants. If you love a local farmers market like me and are in town on a Wednesday, head to the market on Hwy 290 and Ranch Road 12 from 3-6pm. Look for fresh produce, fun products and live music. The Dripping Springs Farmer’s Market is open year-round.
10. Drive South to Driftwood
If you thought Driftwood was a town, I’m sorry to disappoint you – it’s not. I was ready to consider it one of my favorite small towns in the Hill Country until I was told it’s not a town, just an area of Dripping Springs. Although Driftwood is not a town, it East a place you will want to visit. It houses the famous Salk Lick BBQ restaurant with an out-of-the-ordinary outdoor dining area. Even if you don’t like BBQ, it’s worth a visit for a drink outside and listening to live music. Also in Driftwood are wineries, wedding venues, restaurants, vineyards, breweries, a park, accommodations and even a place to dance! I’m sure I missed a few.
11. Mercer Dance Hall
Speaking of places to dance, are you up for a little boot-scootin? Pack your boots, and maybe your cowboy hat, and head 3 miles out of town (toward Driftwood) to the Mercer Dancehall. Not just a dance hall, one might think. This one has tables and serves food. You can even rent a hut nearby. Check the website for upcoming events – your favorite singer just might show up on the online calendar!
12. Lodging in Dripping Springs
I don’t know about you, but if I were to spend more than a day here, I would book the most scenic stay I could find. Well, if you’re like me, you’re in luck. From retreats and bed and breakfasts to vacation rentals, ranches and lodges, there’s the perfect place for everyone to rest in Dripping Springs. A starting point is online at I Love Dripping Springs Vacations. There are several charming overnight stays on the list. Otherwise, there is a list of places to stay in the visitor’s guide. Be sure to order a visitor’s guide when planning your trip. I always order one as part of my planning process.
Pro tips: The locals here are very proud of their town and want everyone to know that the best friend chicken in town can be found at the Shell station on Highway 290! And whether you’re coming for the day or the weekend, they hope visitors visit historic sites as well as wineries!
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