The Houston metropolitan area is one of the nation’s largest population centers, so it makes sense that wealthy Houstonians make their second homes and take their Formula 1 weekend getaways in Austin. But it isn’t just the oil barons and business tycoons who like to road trip from Houston to ATX.

A road trip from Houston to Austin is worthwhile no matter your income level. After all, Austin’s food scene runs the gamut from taco trucks to fine dining restaurants requiring coats and ties.

Even though the point of your trip is to come enjoy Austin, several spots along the way beckon you to stop for an hour or two. In this road trip guide, we’ll take you from Houston to Austin and back again in a counterclockwise route, coming to Austin on US Highway 290 and returning to Houston via State Highway 71 and Interstate 10. This gives you different roads to travel and more side stops to make. You can even take the trip in reverse if you want. It’s up to you!

Alright, let’s get onto those vital stops…

Brenham

Once you head out of Houston on Highway 290, your first stop is about an hour down the road in Brenham. If you leave mid-morning, you’ll arrive in town just in time for lunch at Volare Italian Restaurant. The food is authentic yet accessible to those whose extent of Italian dining experience is spaghetti, ravioli, and chicken parmesan. If you’re a seafood lover, try the Salmone Alla Griglia, a fresh filet of salmon marinated in lemon pepper, grilled and served with fettuccine alfredo. Or, if you’re more in the mood for locally inspired fare, K-Bob’s Steakhouse is southern dining done right. Try the chicken fried chicken, but beware: It’s so much food you may have to be wheeled out.

Once you’ve had a nice meal, take a stroll through historic downtown Brenham where many buildings date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. It’s one of the nicest downtowns in central Texas thanks to the city’s major revitalization efforts in the 90’s that placed an emphasis on growing tourism. One particular point of interest are Brenham’s historic public and private cisterns. Toubin Park in downtown Brenham features a private cistern built around 1880. Public cisterns scattered across Washington County collected rainwater to fight fires and were the first of their kind in Texas. The city also has a replica of an 1800’s horse-drawn fire buggy, which you can see from the street.

While the first thing that comes to mind about Brenham is Blue Bell Ice Cream, public tours have been suspended since the company’s listeria outbreaks at multiple facilities. After reluctantly laying off employees and weathering subsequent listeria incidents, Blue Bell is still producing ice cream and working its way back into grocery stores around the country. But you can’t watch them make the ice cream just yet.

Now, onto your next small town stop ….

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