Just 30 minutes west of Austin, many people know Driftwood as the home of world famous Salt Lick Barbeque. But what many people don’t know is that in the Driftwood and Wimberley area are several great wineries, accommodating lodgings, tasty restaurants, and fun activities to keep you entertained for days. By all means, grab some great grub at Salt Lick, but then enjoy Wimberley and the surrounding area before going home.
Millions of people who live in the area between Austin and San Antonio are looking for places to go for daytrips or long weekends, but many are not aware of some of the great attractions in their own back yard. For example, in between the small towns of Driftwood and Wimberley, less than an hour from Austin, are some great getaways for people of all ages and interests. Whether it’s visiting some world class wineries, enjoying great outdoor activities, the arts and shops, or the great selection of wonderful eateries, the Driftwood/Wimberley area has it all.
Driftwood Estate Winery
For starters, Driftwood Estate Winery is located on a bluff overlooking vineyards and an open field where goats graze in emerald green pastures. Sitting on the terrace, sipping on a glass of Longhorn Red and enjoying the spectacular view, somehow the stress and everyday worries melt away.
This scenic winery has earned its reputation as “The Texas Winery and Vineyard with the Million Dollar View.” Owner and winemaker Gary Elliott is especially proud of his Longhorn Red 2012, a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Syrah, the top-rated Texas wine of the 2015 Houston Livestock Show.
Wimberley Valley Winery
Founded in 1983, this great winery between Driftwood and Wimberley is open seven days a week. There is plenty of comfortable seating around the large U shaped couch in front of the fireplace and in the private rooms. Outside are several large outdoor seating areas on the beautiful grounds and spacious patio.
One visit and it is clear why Wimberley Valley Winery is so popular for both small and large private events, and is a Hill Country favorite for weddings. Visitors can even climb aboard an antique double decker bus under one of the huge live oaks on the property. Popular wines include the smooth Cellar Select Red Reserve and the colorful and flavorful Blueberry Wine.
Duchman Family Winery
Just down the road from Driftwood Estates, Duchman Family Winery is proud that their wines are “100% Texas Grapes. 100% Texas Wines.”
Their Vermentino is widely recognized as one of the finest wines in Texas, and the Canto Felice, meaning “Happy Song,” is a proprietary blend that brings together Texas grown Italian varietals in rapturous flavors of spice and a touch of sweetness. Weddings hosted by Duchman become extra special events with the outdoor venue beneath majestic oaks as well as the spacious indoor banquet rooms.
Just a few blocks from the downtown shopping area, Wimberley Inn is a wonderful family run lodging nestled in the woods with each unit backing up to trees and a winding creek. It’s a great place to stay for a few nights or a week, centrally located to the many attractions of Wimberley and the Driftwood area.
Under new management since November of 2016, current owner Peggy and her family are working hard to upgrade this 19-room lodge. They also are making every effort to make a stay at the Wimberley Inn a friendly, pleasant experience. Based on our two night stay there, Peggy has succeeded.
Guests are treated to well-appointed rooms with many outdoor seating areas to enjoy the beautiful natural setting. For breakfast, we were treated to egg cups wrapped in bacon with melted cheese, spinach and blue cheese scones, and a selection of fresh fruits and yogurts.
The Inn is that perfect place for a romantic getaway with your sweetie. And for small groups, The Wimberley Inn is a great choice for wedding parties, family gatherings, and small business meetings or retreats.
The Leaning Pear
Without question, The Leaning Pear is the premier place for lunch or dinner in Wimberley. When Rachel and Matthew Buchanan lived in Perugia, Italy, they learned to love the Italian cuisine of their adopted home. The couple relocated to New York, where Matthew received his degree in Culinary Arts at the renowned Culinary Institute of America.
The two Aggies then returned to their native Texas, and opened The Leaning Pear in Wimberley in 2006. They moved to their current location in 2013, a modern contemporary building with a large outdoor deck overlooking Cypress Creek.
We started with the outstanding crab cakes and the house salad, consisting of spiced pecans, goat cheese, and a tasty pear and shallot vinaigrette. For entrees, my wife had the tasty Spoke Hill Pizza, a wonderful concoction of roasted winter squash, brie, pasilla chile, sage, and pecan cream. I chose the chicken and grits, a perfectly cooked breast served in a cast iron skillet with green chile-bacon grits. To top off our wonderful meal, we shared the Ancho Dark Chocolate Terrine – YUM!
Hays City Store
What used to be an old filling station at the intersection of FM 3237 and FM 150 is now one of the most popular restaurants in the area. Tamra and Travis Tindol are the owners of Hays City Store, a restaurant known for scratch made Texas comfort food, including their best-selling burgers and chicken fried steak.
In nice weather, Hays City can seat about 80 outside in their lovely beer garden. On this Saturday night, the place was packed with happy customers thoroughly enjoying their meals.
My wife enjoyed a tasty Blackened Redfish served over Tejas rice and topped with avocado tomatillo salad. I was happy with the Sonora Burger, a delicious hunk of beef with avocado, roasted pepper relish, and chipotle aioli served on a fresh bun from New World Bakery. We also shared an order of the giant onion rings Hays City is known for. We were so pleasantly full we decided to skip dessert.
But when our waiter, Connor, brought us a bowl of Berry Heaven, we couldn’t resist. We decided to have a bite or two, but one bite led to another, and before we knew it, we had devoured the entire thing. Berry Heaven is aptly named – a croissant with cream cheese and cinnamon, then covered with cream and a trio of berries – blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries. Absolutely delicious!
Wimberley is “Bootiful”
As visitors drive or walk through Wimberley, an unusual and memorable site jumps out at almost every turn. Fifty colorful boots strategically based throughout the town capture visitors’ attention, with each boot uniquely decorated and named to signify something important to the town.
The “Wimberley is Bootiful” campaign is sponsored by the Wimberley Valley Arts and Cultural Alliance. The boot pictured below is between The Leaning Pear and The Sugar Shack, home to the delicious Mexican Chocolate Chile Cupcakes, which were award winners on the hit television show, Cupcake Wars.
The Great Outdoors
For those who love the great outdoors, Wimberley offers a wide variety of fun activities. Blue Hole Regional Park is a beautiful natural preserve with cool crisp water beneath giant cypress trees and a large open grassy area for lounging.
Blue Hole also offers sports fields, playgrounds, picnic areas and a pavilion. Furthermore, Wimberley is home to Jacob’s Well, Mount Baldy, Wimberley Zipline Adventures, and miles of hiking trails.
Wimberley and the Arts
You cannot talk about Wimberley and not mention the arts. Wimberley has the honor of being recognized as a Texas Cultural District, and is the smallest Texas town so recognized. Lovers of the arts can enjoy the many galleries and shops throughout town. Or they can attend a live performance at The Wimberley Playhouse or at EmilyAnn Theatre and Gardens, named for a talented high school student killed in a tragic accident.
Wimberley has been a popular retreat for artists, writers and musicians for years. In addition to the galleries, shops and performing arts venues, be sure to clear your calendar for the most popular Market Day in the area.
From March through December, on the first Saturday of the month, Market Days welcomes treasure hunters from all over the country. Other popular attractions for the arts include Wimberley Glassworks and Silo Glass, two local studios that produce and sell artistic works made from glass.
So the next time you want to get away for a few days, take a drive down a winding road through the heart of the beautiful Texas Hill Country. Whether you are looking for a romantic weekend or a family vacation, you are sure to find your “little piece of heaven” in Driftwood and Wimberley.
Read more reviews of Wimberley Inn on Trip Advisor, a MilesGeek affiliate.