Austin

6 Reasons to Drive to Dripping Springs

Texas Hill Country beckons.

Photo courtesy of Destination Dripping Springs
Photo courtesy of Destination Dripping Springs
Photo courtesy of Destination Dripping Springs

Known for an eye-catching landscape, abundant vineyards, stylish stays, and a dining scene that rivals Austin’s finest, Dripping Springs has long been an in-demand locale for dreamy weddings. But even for the non-nuptial crowd, the area is a destination worthy of weekend wine crawls, glamping under the stars, and high-end eats courtesy of some seriously lauded chefs. 

Take the short drive to Dripping Springs-not to mention neighboring Driftwood-and see for yourself via these six handpicked, beautiful-to-behold, and just plain fun ways to experience this little nook of the Texas Hill Country.  

Courtesy of Fitzhugh Brewing
Courtesy of Fitzhugh Brewing
Courtesy of Fitzhugh Brewing

See what’s brewing along the hill country craft ale trail 

The Texas Hill Country has long been synonymous with great wine but in recent years, the picturesque region has seen a serious uptick in craft brewing. And, Dripping Springs is home to a solid cross section of established and newer outposts specializing in everything from crisp summer sippers to funky farmhouse ales. Get tasting at Twisted X Brewing, Acapon Brewing, 12 Fox Beer, Ghost Note Brewing, and Hedgehog Brewing before sitting down for lunch. Hungry? Grab a hand-tossed pizza at Suds Monkey Brewing Co., smoked meats and sandwiches at Bell Springs Brewery, or comfort food inside Fitzhugh Brewing‘s kid-friendly, modern farmhouse digs. Elsewhere, Family Business Beer Co., co-owned by actors Jensen and Danneel Ackles (of Supernatural and One Tree Hill fame), is a popular destination for folks seeking great beer in a family-friendly setting. (Fun fact: the on-site Cajun truck, Jep’s Southern Roots is owned by Duck Dynasty’s Jep Robertson.) 

There are also a few breweries sitting just outside Dripping Springs’ city limits that shouldn’t be missed. Situated on a 165-acre ranch, Jester King Brewery focuses on wild fermentation resulting in (wildly) unique beers that have earned the brand countless international awards. (And, their pizza is top-notch.) Walk over to Last Stand Brewing for a quick pint before ending your day at Vista Brewing, just 7 miles southeast in Driftwood. Sip on European-style beers that thoughtfully highlight the local terroir while feasting on Vista’s hyper-local, farm-to-table menu offerings. 

Courtesy of Treaty Oak Distillery
Courtesy of Treaty Oak Distillery
Courtesy of Treaty Oak Distillery

Discover destination-worthy distilleries

Whether your go-to drink is a vodka soda or an Old Fashioned, you’re bound to stumble onto (or into) a boozy Dripping Springs outpost schooled in both spirits and hospitality. Treaty Oak Distilling is a one-stop-shop for whiskey buffs, cocktail nerds, and foodies. Set aside an entire afternoon to roam the distilleries’ oak tree-covered, 28-acre ranch in search of whiskey and gin, tours and tastings, cocktails, live music, and fantastic BBQ at Alice’s Restaurant. For summer-ready crushable cocktails, hit up Deep Eddy Vodka for (real fruit) flavored vodka flights, cocktails, and food truck fare in the tasting room or on the dog-friendly patio. A quick stop in between larger producers can be spent at Remington Family Distillers for whiskey, vodka, and coffee liqueur before hopping over to Frog Pond Distillery for small-batch gin and vodka. Agave enthusiasts, make a beeline for Desert Door Distilling in Driftwood for sotol tastings and cocktails. (Sotol, a cousin to mezcal and tequila, is made from wild-harvested West Texas desert spoon plants.) The Instagram-worthy, rustic-chic tasting room and amazing farm-to-table cuisine from Eden West (the same team from Eden East) make Desert Door a must for anyone with great taste.  

Courtesy of Duchman Family Winery
Courtesy of Duchman Family Winery
Courtesy of Duchman Family Winery

Stroll stunning vineyards and sip on world-class wines 

From quirky natural wine producers to stately villas with sprawling vineyards, the Texas Hill Country is peppered with wineries of all shapes and sizes. In Dripping Springs proper, stop in for tastings, tours, and bites at Solaro Estate Winery, Graveyard Vineyards, Hawk’s Shadow Winery, Hamilton Pool Vineyards & Farms, Parmeson Wines, and Bell Springs Winery. (Bell Springs Winery is also home to Bell Springs Brewery and The Sidecar, a Prohibition-style wine bar.) 

Those looking to stretch their legs can truck out over to nearby Driftwood and pay a visit to Duchman Family Estate, Driftwood Estate Winery, and ever-popular Salt Lick Cellars. Afterwards, head north to Fitzhugh Road to the tasting room shared by Wine for the People and C.L. Butaud, two unique winemakers producing classic and crushable wines with 100% Texas-grown grapes. 

Courtesy of Greater Goods Coffee Co.
Courtesy of Greater Goods Coffee Co.
Courtesy of Greater Goods Coffee Co.

Eat your way through an impressive lineup of restaurants and bakeries

Much like the dizzying array of boozy offerings, Dripping Springs culinary landscape also oozes with artisanal creativity and quality, with chefs adding a local spin to everything from French haute cuisine to pizza. Kick things off with a locally roasted coffee from Greater Goods Roasting Co. then nosh on pastries, bread, and pizza made with local heritage grains from Barton Springs Mill at Abby Jane Bakeshop. In the mood for something hearty? Thyme & Dough has casual diner fare on lock, while Alice’s Restaurant at Treaty Oak Distilling does incredible BBQ and sides. 

For wedding groups and special occasions, nothing beats Tillie’s. Located at Camp Lucy, the upscale eatery melds Texas Hill Country flavors with global accents in an architecturally stunning space. Alternatively, newcomer Le Vacher churns out classic French brasserie classics with a Texas spin-think local Akaushi beef, roasted bone marrow, and an expertly curated wine selection. 

Have a sweet tooth? Don’t miss Skull & Cakebones for locally sourced pastries you’d never guess were vegan. Down in Driftwood, hit up Hays City Store & Ice House, a local institution that covers all its bases from the sports-fueled cheap beer crowd to craft cocktail-loving foodies. And if you’re still lamenting the closing of East Austin’s Eden East (who isn’t?), you’ll be glad to know that it just moved down the road to Driftwood. Chef Sonya Coté’s Eden West food truck at Desert Door Distillery is keeping the original outpost’s creative take on farm-to-table delights alive and well. You can’t go wrong with the hot quail knots, scrumptious quail bites with a crispy blue corn crust served with carrot mole and fermented hot sauce. On your way back to town, pick up a pizza or pastrami sandwich at Pieous. The chewy sourdough crust, garden fresh toppings, and house-cured pastrami make for a mouthwatering experience well worth the trek. 

Courtesy of Lucky Arrow Retreat
Courtesy of Lucky Arrow Retreat
Courtesy of Lucky Arrow Retreat

Soak up Hill Country charm while glamping in a stylish yurt, unwinding at a luxe resort, or kicking back in a cozy cabin

Whether your ideal accommodations are uber romantic, one-with-nature, or simply the kind that gives your followers major FOMO, Dripping Springs has your number. For those seeking a luxury experience, Camp Lucy is unrivaled. The name might evoke childhood memories, but the sprawling ranch and breathtaking resort are beyond sophisticated. From the interior design that looks plucked from Elle Decor magazine to the dreamy chapel, vineyard, and canopy of ancient oak trees, Camp Lucy is, to put it plainly, #goals. 

Over at Lucky Arrow Retreat, guests are free to choose their own adventure. Stay in a (air-conditioned and heated) yurt decked out in smart Texas Hill Country style, post up in a breezy cabin, or take over a full-size home fit for the entire crew. No matter where you opt to lay your head, you’ll definitely find yourself stargazing on the Moon Deck, hanging out poolside or in the Beer Garden, or sitting around the campfire with friends come nightfall. 

Just off Fitzhugh Road, The Liney Moon provides accommodations that are equal parts modern and quirky. Book a room in the main house with your group or get back to the land by reserving one of the tiny cabins that pepper the property. If doing yoga while overlooking a tree-filled valley is more your tempo, check out 13 Acres Retreat where small, stylish cabins line the hillside for truly awe-inspiring views of the area’s famously technicolor sunsets. 

Courtesy of Hamilton Pool Preserve
Courtesy of Hamilton Pool Preserve
Courtesy of Hamilton Pool Preserve

Take a dip, set out on a hike, go for a swing, or simply lay back and stare at the starry skies above

Home to both one of the state’s most captivating natural escapes as well as an outdoor family-friendly sports funplex, opportunities to cherish the great outdoors are not in short supply. Start out by booking a reservation at the historic Hamilton Pool Preserve, where visitors can hike the trails before cooling off with a swim in the otherworldly natural swimming hole. The “pool” was created when the dome over an underground river eroded, leaving a jade-colored water feature rimmed by a collapsed limestone grotto with a 50 foot waterfall in its wake. (As a result of the unprecedented freeze this past winter and its effect on rock stability, swimming may or may not be allowed, check the current restrictions here.) 

At Reimers Ranch Park, active folks can get their fresh air fix by swimming, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and gazing up at the cosmos thanks to an onsite observatory equipped with two powerful telescopes open for public use. Elsewhere, newly debuted kid- and pet-friendly Dreamland acts as a outdoor entertainment venue with concerts, food, a beer garden, and sports facilities including a 42-acre disc golf course, a mini-golf course considered to be one of the most challenging in the country, pickleball courts, lawn games, and public art. 

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Anastacia Uriegas is a Thrillist contributor.

Austin

Get Lucky at These Irish Bars in Austin

Drink a green pint on St Patrick's Day at these Irish bars in Austin.

Photo by Melissa Vinsik, courtesy of Cork + Barrel
Photo by Melissa Vinsik, courtesy of Cork + Barrel
Photo by Melissa Vinsik, courtesy of Cork + Barrel

In the midst of all the SXSW chaos, it helps to remember that there’s a rainbow at the festival’s end-that is, the hangover-blessing we’ve been granted of having St. Patrick’s Day 2023 fall on a Friday. Whether you attribute this small win to the Gregorian calendar or the luck of the Irish, it’s sure to amp up the already liver-damaging activities associated with this cultural celebration. However, √Čire is more than just leprechauns and Colin Farrell-it’s a breathtaking land full of warm, welcoming, and good-hearted people. Fortunately, there’s a way you can get a taste of the Republic’s spirit, and a dark stout, at the same time by hitting up one of Austin’s various Irish pubs. From cozy, intimate spaces decked out like small taverns in Cobh, to modern dives with all the party energy of Temple Bar, our list has the best spots in the city to “erin go bragh” all out on March 17.

Photo by Jane Yun, courtesy of BD Rileys
Photo by Jane Yun, courtesy of BD Rileys
Photo by Jane Yun, courtesy of BD Rileys

B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub at Mueller

Mueller
With a giant model of a beer tap literally decorating their front door, you can’t miss B.D Riley’s, nor doubt that this East Austin hang is a spot to down some serious brewskis. And its name, and perfect pours of Guinness, aren’t the only aspects they draw from the Emerald Isle-the entire pub itself was actually designed and built in Dundalk, Ireland, and shipped over for assembly in Bat City. Such authentic decor calls for equally authentic sounds, therefore, on St. Patrick’s Day, B.D. Riley’s will feature an all-day, four-artist bill of live, trad-inspired music. So, while you may not start the day knowing all the words to “The Galway Girl,” you are bound to sing along by last call.

Kelly’s Irish Pub

Bouldin Creek
Having only opened this past December, Kelly’s is the new kid with a brogue on the block. Occupying the space which formerly housed tapas restaurant Winebelly, this pub had big shoes to fill for South Austin barflies, but quickly won them over with an impressive whiskey selection and friendly atmosphere. A big reason behind the real deal √Čire vibes can, most likely, be chalked up to the fact that one of Kelly’s owners was actually born and bred in Ireland-and the dedication to delivering a true-to-life experience is evident in everything from the shepherd’s pie to the witty bartenders. For St. Patrick’s Day, they are getting the party started early with live music and an opening time of 8 am.

Photo courtesy of Jack & Ginger's
Photo courtesy of Jack & Ginger’s
Photo courtesy of Jack & Ginger’s

Jack & Ginger’s

The Domain
While The Domain may boast more bars than you can shake a shamrock at, there’s only one spot in the North Austin entertainment behemoth that can be properly called an Irish pub: Jack & Ginger’s. Start off the night with selecting a tasting flight from their over 82 beers on tap, then, move onto shots poured straight from their Irish Whiskey Tours-after loosening up with a round or two, you might just find yourself with the gift of gab. And, before snapping a selfie over Jack & Ginger’s see-through glass floor, balance out that buzz with food offerings like a giant soft pretzel or a round of fried pickles.

Photo courtesy of Foxy's Proper Pub
Photo courtesy of Foxy’s Proper Pub
Photo courtesy of Foxy’s Proper Pub

Foxy’s Proper Pub

Downtown
Here’s a spot that visibly radiates with Irish pride-at Foxy’s, the glow of green beams out from the bar’s lighted panels, and across their chandelier made of Jameson bottles. When it comes to cups and chow, their commitment to the theme continues-the use of the word,”proper,” in the pub’s name alone indicates you’re in for a heavy pour of the standards. Consequently, the taps are abundant with essential Irish sips, including Guinness, Magners, and Smithwick’s. With Lone Star on draft, there’s also a nod to Texas tradition as well. But don’t fear if you’re bored of beer-Foxy’s variety of whiskey-based cocktails will let you switch it up (and still keep it Celtic). March 17 will find them celebrating with live music, whiskey tastings, and swag giveaways.

Photo by LEVY Architects, courtesy of Cork + Barrel
Photo by LEVY Architects, courtesy of Cork + Barrel
Photo by LEVY Architects, courtesy of Cork + Barrel

Cork & Barrel Craft Kitchen + Microbrewery

Round Rock
Compared to a flight to Dublin, the 30-minute drive to Round Rock’s Cork & Barrel is much more convenient-not to mention, won’t require waiting in a TSA line. A mix between a modern Austin beer garden and a historical Irish pub, this spot’s spacious interior and expansive outdoor patio guarantees there will be enough room for the whole crew to cheer “sl√°inte.” And, their microbrewery’s signature beers are the ideal drinks to do such a toast with. The menu of specially crafted drafts includes a blueberry wheat, an Irish red ale, and a vanilla stout. This St. Patrick’s Day also marks Cork & Barrel’s two-year anniversary, and they are throwing down for the double-celebration with live music, yard games, Irish food specials, and plentiful amounts of green beer and Irish Car Bombs.

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Molly Moltzen is a Thrillist contributor.

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