Tuesday, November 19, 2019

7 Best Stargazing Spots in and Around Texas Hill Country

7 Best Stargazing Spots in and around Texas Hill Country

Have you ever had that moment where you are taking a break from your normal everyday life and you look up and notice the bright stars overhead? Relaxation and amazement issues down from those celestial sentinels. What's more, you can see them because you aren’t surrounded by all the light pollution and noise of the city.

It is a blissful experience to sit and stargaze. So, where do you go to stargaze? First step, away from the city. While you might be able to climb a rooftop, the noises and glares from city lights disturb the essence of stargazing. The Texas Hill Country and its surrounding areas are the perfect places to go as they offer endless opportunities to see stars and the Milky Way. This list is a compilation of the 7 Best Stargazing Spots in and around the Texas Hill Country.

1. Hill Country State Natural Area

Surrounded by scenic hills and rugged terrain the Hill Country State Natural Area is a preserved area that is left to be in its natural state. This area consists of 5,369 acres and is located 10 miles southwest of Bandera, TX. With most of the area filled with Texas live oak, Ashe juniper, and over 450 plant species, you will be overwhelmed with the beauty this area offers. Utilize the 40-miles of trails throughout for hiking, biking, or horseback riding. The area is open daily and the entrance fee for adults is $6 and free for children. Primitive camping is allowed but only within the designated campsites and fire must be within the fire rings. Stay warm and listen to nature's sounds while you stargaze.

2. Enchanted Rock

Popular among tourists and locals, the Enchanted Rock can provide you with the chance to star gaze upon a large pink-granite mountain. Located near Fredericksburg, TX, Enchanted Rock sits on 640 acres of serene desert beauty. Get there early enough to see where you are climbing because the trails can be windy, and you'll want to see clearly. Once you reach the top there is plenty of space to sit around and watch the stars with family and friends.

There can be limited parking here as the area fills up fast with visitors. Access fees are $7 per day for ages 13 and older. If you wish to camp, there is a primitive fee of $14 per night or campsites with water for $18 per night. If you get to this mystical wonder before sundown, enjoy other activities such as geocaching, bird sightings, and nature studies.

Person Sitting Beneath Starry Sky

3. Blanco State Park

Just one hour from Austin and San Antonio, Blanco State Park boasts a one mile stretch along the Blanco River with a span of 104.6 acres. After a fun-filled day of swimming, boating, fishing, and playing, you and your friends or family can sit around and look at the night sky. Blanco State Park has open spaces perfect for stargazing. Pair that with the reflection of the moon shimmering against the river and you have the perfect spot for photo ops or just relaxing.

While Blanco State Park hugs the river, the entrance fee to enjoy the beauty is $5/ daily for ages 13 and older. Camping is limited and ranges from $20–$25/ nightly. Only campsites with electricity are available here. Bring your lantern and enjoy the night!

silhouette of woman using telescope

4. Wimberley, TX

This small river-front town is the perfect place to enjoy a day shopping oddity stores and enjoying the true essence of Texas. This small town has minimal lighting, making it the perfect place to just look up and enjoy the stars. Wimberley is surrounded by many trails, so while you await the night sky, take a walk and find an isolated spot to take beautiful pictures. The great part about Wimberley is that it is located only 28 miles outside of Austin, so it is just a short trip from city life to quiet smalltown serenity.

silhouette of tree beneath dusky sky

5. Inks Lake State Park

Considered to be one of Hill Country’s many hidden gems, Inks Lake State Park is home to 1,200 acres. With activities like boating, scuba diving, hiking, camping, and fishing, this area is a great spot to relax and enjoy what nature has to offer. You can find Inks Lake one hour northwest of Austin. Whether you are on the water or on a hiking trail, there are endless amounts of opportunities to stargaze here.

With nearly 200 camping sites and 22 cabins, there is no reason not to come to Inks Lake State Park. Fees for camping range between $11 and $23 per night. Entrance fees to the park are $6 for ages 13 and older. Take a breather from city life and enjoy a night trip on the lake to see the bright stars.

water and vegetation beneath stars

6. Dripping Springs, TX

This city is another non-park option because it is home to beautiful scenery and hosts the Texas Night Sky Festival every year at the Dripping Springs Ranch Park. This event is free and widely popular in Hill Country. During this event in March, you can learn pro photo tips, enjoy music, food, and most importantly the stars. As a special treat, event-goers will get to hear stories about stars from indigenous cultures and expert speakers. This city is not to be missed!

Stony mount beneath stars

7. Lost Maples State Natural Area

Whether you want to attend a stargazing party or do it yourself, starry nights at Lost Maples State Natural Area is the place to go. With tools like Star Map, Sun and Moon Data, Spot the Space Station, TPWD Dark Skies Program, you can ensure you will have the best stargazing experience. Lost Maples State Natural Area, located in Vanderpool, is home to 2,906 acres surrounded by bigtooth maples and steep canyon walls. Hike to high points to capture the best views of the night sky. Lost Maples has an entrance fee of $6 per day for ages 13 and older. Enjoy camping, fishing, hiking, and bird watching prior to your night experience.

stars and stone mountains

The Texas Hill Country and surrounding areas are full of beautiful hidden gems. Some you'll need to search for and others, you just need to lookup. From pink-granite rock to tranquil waterfronts you can rest easy knowing that any one of these 7 Best Stargazing Spots in the Texas Hill Country will leave you wanting to come to the vast open land more often.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The 8 Best Breweries in Texas Hill Country

The 8 Best Breweries in Texas Hill Country blog cover image

The Texas Hill Country is a place of hidden gems, beauty, and infinite land. Among these acres of bluebonnets, serene deserts, various swimming holes, and rolling hills you can find local hand-crafted beer. Texas provides rich soil for farmers to produce the best vegetation that gets sourced by experienced brewers. These natural flavors are added to the brewing process and delivered to you in a cold glass or bottle. As you venture through these different hidden gems, stop into one of these 8 Best Breweries in the Texas Hill Country and enjoy time with family, friends, and hard-working brewers!

1. Boerne Brewery

Pronounced "bur-nee", this brewery is in Boerne, and is home to German heritage. This is a small-town brewery and prefers to keep it that way. One of the featured brews - Denim-Hosen, contains 5.5% ABV. This brew is known for its sweet tang and smooth finish. Using traditional German brewing techniques, Boerne Brewery adds a Texas twist to bring you a delicious craft beer. Some other brews you can find here include English ESB, American IPA, English old Ale, and some seasonal crafts.

large brass tanks with ladders for brewing

2. Barrow Brewing Company

As Bell County’s first microbrewery, Barrow Brewing Company opened its doors in 2014 at the Silver Spur Theater in historic Salado. Quality, sustainability, and community is the focus at Barrow Brewing, and they serve only the highest quality, well-crafted beer.  Using simple recipes and natural flavors, you can find brews like Mystery of the Deep IPA, Saison, Hefeweizen, Lager, and White Ale. The great part about Barrow Brewing Company is the small-town attitude that comes with it. They love working with other businesses and have found their home amongst their neighbors.

four small glasses of various beers

3. Bear King Brewing Company

Marble Falls, Texas is home to Bear King Brewing Co. Even though this brewery just opened in 2019, it serves only the best quality of crafted beer and delicious family food in their space of 5,500 sq. ft.  While you snack on their Embellished Nachos, sip on one of the many featured brews including Blonde Ale, India Pale Ale, Porter, Hefeweizen, and Black IPA. With ABV percentages between 5.2 and 6.8, you can enjoy quality time with friends and family without feeling bogged down.

diners at the end of a row of brewing tanks

4. Family Business Beer Co.

Even though you may catch Jensen Ackles here, there is nothing supernatural about this brewery. This family-owned business in Dripping Springs is made up of a team of amazing owners who work together to provide customers an exceptional brew 15-acres of land. This brewery has an abundance of craft beers like a German Pilsner, Single-Hop Cryo-Mosaic IPA, Rye IPA, and English Ale - to name a few. Relax in the shaded trees after grabbing a bite from the food truck. The best part about the Family Business Beer Co. is that they really are family-oriented. The land includes a playground for kiddos and accommodates pets.

stacks of silver kegs

5. Bluebonnet Beer Company

Located in Round Rock, Bluebonnet Beer Company has been serving up quality craft beer since 2013. The owner holds a degree in biology and brewing, so you can rest easy knowing the brew is well-crafted. You can find their bottled products in stores around the Round Rock area. The brews available year-round are Cream Ale, Texas Pecan Brown Ale, and American IPA. Some of their seasonal brews include Bavarian Helles, Bluebonnet Wit, Nitro Milk Stout, and Orange Blossom Honey Pale Ale. The owner’s mission is to provide flavorful, award-winning craft beers to customers and to create friendships with the community along the way.

visitors enjoying the grounds around the brewery

6. Jester King Brewery

This authentic farmhouse brewery located in Austin sits on 58 acres of land and provides delicious craft beer. With mixed culture beer, Jester King Brewery makes 100% spontaneously fermented beer. Some of the featured brews include Pattinson Porter, Rare Corals, Grim Harvest, Spiral Aged Ale, and English Mild Ale. Jester King offers fermented beer from stainless steel tanks in bottles and includes ale, imperial stout, and cedar-aged ale - to name a few. Barrel-aged beers are also a large part of Jester King Brewery and are made available in bottles. If you are looking for an abundance of craft brew, then look no further than Jester King Brewery.

the yellow exterior and coverings of Save The World Brewing Co

7. Save The World Brewing Company

Also located in Marble Falls, Save The World Brewing Company is owned by a husband and wife duo that left their careers as doctors to open a philanthropic brewery instead. The owners - Dave and Quynh - give all profits away to save lives! Dave has over 15 years of experience brewing, and together they have worked hard to craft delicious brews. Some of their crafted brews include Saison Ale, Belgian Style Pale Ale, and Rex Servus Grisette - with the highest ABV percentage being 7.2. All their brews are naturally carbonated, unpasteurized, and unfiltered. With all of that said, buy a beer and save a life.

wooden tables and barrels in the Vista brewing dining room

8. Vista Brewing

This 21-acre property in Driftwood boasts a storybook brewery complete with a tasting room, eatery, and beekeeping. With European style crafting, Vista Brewing features brews such as Rye Lager, American Lager, Wit, and Hefeweizen.  You can also enjoy fermented beer from the barrel or bottles of crafted beer to go. Although, coming to this brewery, you’re going to want to pull up a chair and stay awhile. Vista Brewing prides itself on having a fresh beer, made with flavorful homegrown produce. The bees on the property play an important role when it comes to keeping their land fruitful. Vista Brewing continues to grow and will treat you like family.

Sipping on a high-quality crafted beer is delightful. Knowing that experienced brewers take the time and energy to put in natural high-quality flavors, just makes the experience even more enjoyable. From the stainless-steel tanks on dozens of acres to the crafts of a celebrity beer, and to the production of aged barrel beer made from busy bees, these 8 Best Breweries in Texas Hill Country will be instilled in your memories.