How to Escape SXSW: The Best Austin Day Trips

All eyes turn to Austin each spring as the Texas capital prepares for South by Southwest (SXSW), the annual film, music and interactive media festival that serves as a launching pad for new ideas and technologies. Next time you fly to the heart of Texas, reward yourself with these exceptional getaways.

Rest, Relaxation and Ranching at Travaasa

Photo: Tyler Sharp

A 40-minute drive outside of Austin brings you to this experiential resort in the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, where the ideal vantage point over the lush hill country is from the cliffside infinity pool. The retreat offers everything from morning horseback rides to massages that will unwind muscles tense from over-tweeting #SXSW. Try a yoga or meditation class, or learn new moves like the Texas two-step. The resort will even book you time with a life coach to reboot. Looking for a shot of adrenalin? Try the Prickly Pear Challenge Course, where you navigate your way through a state-of-the-art obstacle course located 10 metres in the air.

Wade into the Hamilton Pool Preserve

Central Texas has one of the largest networks of rivers in the state – there are 30 or so swimming holes within 50 kilometres of Austin, including the spectacular Hamilton Pool Reserve, a 232-acre preserve nestled inside a small canyon. Walk along Hamilton Creek through juniper-oak savanna to the historic swimming hole and grotto and take a dip in the canyon’s jade-green pool. A large 15-metre waterfall cascades overhead, limestone slabs rest by the water’s edge and large stalactites hang from the ceiling. Best to arrive early: Capacity is limited.

Hit the Greens at Barton Creek

Play golf on one of Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa’s four distinct world-class courses. Created by renowned golf architect Tom Fazio and sport legends Ben Crenshaw and Arnold Palmer, Barton Creek’s courses consist of 4,000 acres of well-manicured greens, challenging layouts and stunning vistas. The Fazio Foothills signature course (named the best resort course in Texas by Golfweek magazine) offers a challenging 18-hole track with cliff-lined fairways alongside natural limestone caves and waterfalls. Palmer’s course is a big-hitter’s delight, perched on a secluded hilltop overlooking Lake Travis. The resort’s countryside location also allows for a large outdoor pool, 11 tennis courts and over 300 rooms (with plenty of space to store your clubs or entertain the kids). Take a couple of strokes off your game with expert instructors from the Omni Barton Creek Golf Academy, who use the latest technology to analyze your swing.