With its raw Texas beauty and old-fashioned charm, Dripping Springs has always been a peaceful escape just beyond the big-city buzz. But in recent years, this once-sleepy town has morphed into a playground of fun for everyone from foodies to families. Dripping with more distilleries, breweries and wineries than traffic lights and home to everything from wide-open spaces and sublime swimming holes to farm-to-table restaurants and unique lodging that beckons an overnight stay, this tiny town sitting just a half-hour west of Austin serves up a big slice of Hill Country heaven. If you haven’t visited in a while, here are some reasons to take a road trip right now.
Dripping Springs is an easy day trip, but with lodging options like Lucky Arrow Retreat, which opened earlier this year, you might want to spend the night. Home to yurts as well as cozy breezeway cabins, a handful of porch houses and a large ranch house dotting its sprawling Hill Country property, Lucky Arrow Retreat really is — like its Instagram-worthy beer garden wall reads — “your basecamp for adventure.” For a memorable glamping experience, rest your head in one of Lucky Arrow’s 10 yurts — standalone 200-square-feet units named for Texas musicians and outfitted with plush queen beds, turntables, heating and air conditioning, coffee makers, Yeti coolers and fully-stocked mini-bars. Because the yurts only accommodate one or two guests, our family of five bunked up in a porch house, which offers similar amenities inside a slightly larger space and also features an ensuite bathroom, separate bedroom with a queen bed and full sleeper sofa that proved great for our kids. Firepits for staying toasty and roasting s’mores, private hot tubs and a communal beer garden, heated pool, wooden swings and lawn games are sprinkled around the 15-acre grounds. Taste the flavors of the Hill Country by passing through the property’s private gate leading to neighboring Bell Springs Winery, Brewery and SideCar Tasting Room, or venture out on a guided Hill Country excursion in Lucky Arrow’s vintage nine-seater Land Cruiser Troopy.
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Dripping Springs is within arm’s reach to summertime’s most sublime swimming spots, including Hamilton Pool Preserve, Blue Hole Regional Park, Jacob’s Well and Pedernales State Park, but this is the perfect time of year to soak in natural beauty at its five parks, like the 64-acre Charro Ranch Park. For some Saturday night Texas fun, head to Mercer Street Dancehall’s new location on Ranch Road 12 to two-step to the tune of live bands. Check out the revitalization reshaping downtown’s historic Warehouse District, which is sprouting new boutiques, dining, an art studio for commissioned artists to display their works and a speakeasy. On our recent trip, we delighted our kids with a trip out to Carly’s Critter Camp, a true animal sanctuary and petting zoo with around 80 well-loved animals spanning hedgehogs, bearded dragons, miniature donkeys, alpacas, chinchillas, roosters, pigs, tortoises and more. Almost all of the residents making up Carly’s animal compound are either rescues or family surrenders and none of them are kept in cages — they happily roam free between pets and cuddles. We booked an appointment online at carlyscrittercamp.com (admission is by appointment on weekdays), but you can also book private parties and sign up for seasonal day camps.
Although Dripping Springs didn’t officially become “wet” until 2002 with its first liquor store opening in 2004, today the town has been dubbed a “tipsy trifecta” thanks to its eight wineries, nine distilleries, 11 breweries and four tasting rooms. We love Treaty Oak Distillery & Brewery — and not just for the amazing craft beers and cocktails on tap. A trip out to Texas’ only distillery, brewery and winery includes an idyllic 28 acres of raw Hill Country beauty where the kids can run free as you sip a La Vie en Rose made with Waterloo No. 9 gin and rose simple syrup, nosh on a local charcuterie and cheese board or hearty barbecue plate from Alice’s Restaurant, and sway to live music. While it gets crowded during peak times on pretty fall days, a visit to Jester King Brewery is worth the wait. This authentic farmhouse brewery sits on 165 acres of preserved land and offers free public tours, wide-open spaces for the kids to run and a farmhouse kitchen serving up made-from-scratch pizzas made with dough leavened with the same wild yeast used to ferment their beers. Still thirsty? Visit the newly renovated Deep Eddy Vodka Tasting Room every Thursday through Sunday, which is family-friendly and offers craft cocktails, music and a glimpse into how its award-winning vodka is made.
Dripping Springs is home to a burgeoning food scene anchored by a bevy of farm-to-table and family-friendly restaurants. Get a hearty start to your day with deliciously authentic European crepes served sweet or savory at Crepe Crazy. Refuel with fresh sandwiches, soups and salads made with local ingredients sourced from the Dripping Springs Farmers Market at Rolling in Thyme and Dough. When dining out with kids, we love Verde’s Mexican Parrilla for its authentic grilled Mexican dishes, quenching margaritas (there are 150 tequilas to choose from) and a huge outdoor area with a playground. Route 12 Filling Station is another solid family choice thanks to its please-everyone menu, extensive craft beverage selection and on-site splash pad and playscape. Indulge at Tillie’s, located at the luxurious Camp Lucy, for an unforgettable upscale dining experience featuring American nouveau fare such as smoked salmon rillettes, salt and pepper Texas quail and peach-soy-glazed pork belly with daikon puree and kimchi vinaigrette.