The first home I ever owned is in beautiful Driftwood, Texas, just a few miles from the infamous Salt Lick BBQ, saltlickbbq.com. Recently, we invested in another property in town and leased our Driftwood home and I can’t tell you how much I miss the sunsets, the farm fresh eggs from my neighbor, the stars, creeks, and nature. Wimberley, Dripping Springs, and Driftwood are all within a 30-40 minute drive from downtown Austin. Before you know it, you are surrounded by wineries, artists’ galleries, bed and breakfasts, lavender and goat cheese farms, olive orchards, natural swimming holes and so much more.
There’s so much to do you can’t possibly do it in a day but that’s the beauty of being so close; you can come back every weekend.
Living in Driftwood, Texas is the best of both worlds. Since Driftwood isn’t in the city of Austin nor Dripping Springs, the tax rate is lower. Our children receive all the benefits of the outstanding Dripping Springs’ schools and we are only 22 minutes from downtown Austin.
Scott Roberts, the owner of the Salt Lick, is planning a 540 acre mixed-use development on his family’s property, driftwoodtx.com. The word is he wants Driftwood, Texas to be Texas’ Napa Valley. The Texas Hill Country is already second to Napa as the most visited wine region in the country.
Long known as the BBQ destination, Driftwood, Texas has expanded its palate with fine Italian dining. Mandola’s Trattoria Lisina on FM 150 recommends reservations as the wait can often be hours. I don’t mind waiting because you can go next door to the winery, grab some wine, bread, and cheese and unwind on their gorgeous Tuscan-inspired grounds. I crave their doughnut holes with the vanilla bean custard sauce and the vanilla gelato with a shot of espresso. trattorialisina.
Driftwood Vineyards is open just about every day of the year for tastings. Bring lunch and have a picnic on their beautiful grounds overlooking the 14-acre vineyard and the gorgeous hill country valley.
Dripping Springs and Wimberley
Exploring the hill country requires nourishment so pick up some amazing, scratch-made pastries, soups and sandwiches at Rolling in Thyme and Dough Bakery on 290 West in Dripping Springs.
Pieous and Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza are neck and neck in my book for the hill country’s best pizzas. Stanley’s is located on a beautiful piece and off Fitzhugh Rd. They share their property with Jester King Brewery – an award-winning brewery and one of the first to brew organically. It is family friendly and a place you’ll want to linger with plenty of room for the kids to run around, play soccer and enjoy some of the hill country’s prettiest views.
There are many breweries and distilleries popping up in the hill country. Another recent addition is Twisted X, members of the Tex Mex Beer Revolution. Their tasting rooms are open every day.
While in Dripping Springs, stop at New Canaan Farms, a few miles west of town on 290 for dozens of jams and sauces made on site. They’ll put together a custom basket that makes the perfect gift for anyone and any occasion.
Next, head to Wimberley one of the hill country’s most popular tourist and artist towns. You can pick up a bottle of fresh olive oil at Texas first olive oil orchard, bvranch or have a fantastic meal from locally sourced ingredients at The Leaning Pear.
While in Wimberley, make sure to visit the famous square for dozens of quaint shops offering everything from hand-rolled cigars to gourmet cooking supplies. And by all means, grab a pie to-go from Wimberley Pie Company.
Creeks and Swimming Holes
If you like outdoor activities, the hill country has plenty of creeks for swimming and kayaking, parks for nature walks and trails for biking. One of the more popular parks is Pedernales Falls. Hamilton Pool’s natural swimming hole is the perfect escape from the Texas heat. Wimberley also has a natural swimming hole that is open between Memorial Day and Labor Day, called Bluehole.
Nature enthusiasts should make time for a visit to David Bamberger’s 5,500 acre ranch preserve near Johnson City, bambergerranch. There truly is no better conservation classroom around and Mr. Bamberger is one of our greatest treasures. Take a tour or take classes but plan on seeing a herd of endangered Scimitar Horned Oryx, a man-made bat cave, dinosaur tracks and so much more.
Besides the beauty, the fresh foods, the artists and nature, the hill country’s popularity and growth can also be attributed to its’ schools.
Dripping Springs ISD is an award-winning School District that just opened a state of the art elementary and middle school at the Sycamore Springs’ campus in the northern quadrant of Hays County. In addition, Waldorf, St. Stephens, Rio Blanco Montessori, and Cedars Montessori are just a few of the many private school options in the area.