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Creating the perfect summer day for you and the kiddos isn’t an easy feat in the most normal of times – and these times are anything but normal. That’s why Free Fun in Austin has partnered with happyly to offer you a bevy of curated activities for an active family day. It’s our mission to inspire fun and safe summer outings so you can spend less time planning and more time playing.
This week the happyly team takes you to Pioneer Town at 7A Ranch for a well-rounded experience with a variety of recreational opportunities the whole family will enjoy. For those who would prefer not to stay overnight (though free-standing cabins are an option for a higher level of safety), you can cool off at a nearby swimming hole and grab some barbecue en route back to Austin. Plan a fulfilling, family-friendly adventure less than an hour outside of the city, in Wimberley and Driftwood.
Before we continue, we want to remind you that with the rise of COVID-19, it’s best to stay home. We encourage you to consider the safety of yourself and your neighbors. Our family fun day features will remain online as a reference that you can access when you are able to safely experience the highlighted locations.
Let’s Take A Road Trip To Wimberley!
Looking to make a quick getaway? Then gather up the kids for a short road trip that’ll drop you back in time. Kinda. Approximately 50 minutes southwest of Austin, you’ll find the kitschy and kid-approved Pioneer Town. Located on the grounds of 7A Ranch in the quaint town of Wimberley, entering Pioneer Town will make you feel like Marty McFly traveling back to the wild wild west.
The area, done up in 1880s garb, features a functioning arcade and ice cream parlor, as well as an opera house, the pioneer chapel, and a bottle house – yes, the house is actually made entirely of glass bottles.
Kids and adults alike will get a kick out of the old-timey town, which provides loads of photo ops and fun sights to explore. According to 7A’s office clerk Maengel Gonce, Mrs. Glover’s Cowboy Museum opens shop on weekends for would-be pioneers to explore the space’s vintage antiques too.
Consider A Stay at 7A
For those looking to make a weekend out of it, 7A Ranch is not just home to Pioneer Town, but a lovely resort sitting on the banks of the Blanco River. Located on 14 acres in the middle of Texas Hill Country, 7A offers prime river access for swimming and fishing, as well as a new pool, and numerous trails for exploring.
To keep with the wild west theme, consider booking a room in the Pioneer Town Inn (rooms include two queen beds, cable TV, a small refrigerator, microwave, and a coffee pot). Otherwise, with even better social distancing safety, 7A offers roughly a dozen cabins, sleeping from four to twelve, that each achieve various levels of glamping depending on your family’s desires. There is also a newly renovated cottage called The Hideaway.
Some are fully equipped with air conditioning and full kitchens, some feature open porches for more camping vibes, all are absolutely charming. It’s also a popular spot for large family gatherings and celebrations. Although currently suspended until further notice due to COVID-19, 7A usually offers day passes to their section of the river for swimming, fishing, and enjoying year-round. It’s normally between $5-10 per person depending on the time of year and free for children under 5.
Know before you go:
Pioneer Town is free and open to the public to explore and we highly recommend dressing the part! However, the arcade and ice cream parlor is closed until further notice due to COVID-19. Other precautions are also in place to maintain safe physical distancing, so 7A’s river access and pool are only open to guests this time.
If you choose to stay the weekend, pack for swimming, fishing, kayaking – whatever floats your boat – on the Blanco River. Cabin rates vary by time of year and size. See the website for the most up-to-date rates.
Pro tip: if you’re not staying at 7A, pack a picnic because your next stop is a divine swimming hole, not food!
Pioneer Town at 7A Ranch
Location: 333 Wayside Drive, Wimberley
Hours: Pioneer Town is open to foot traffic during daytime hours, seven days a week.
Price: Pioneer Town is free to wander. Cabin rates vary by season and size. See the website for the most up-to-date rates.
Cool Off At Blue Hole
You just can’t drive to Wimberley without visiting Blue Hole – be warned, reservations are required to access the swimming hole but trust us, it’s worth it. The water is deep, cool, and a clear mesmerizing blue. Seriously, it looks like something out of a fairytale.
Only ten minutes from 7A Ranch, this park allows swimming from May to September for $6-10 per person – again, it’s worth it. Reservations are available in two distinct time slots: morning, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., or afternoon, 2 to 6 p.m.
The water can be deep, so floaties tend to make the experience more enjoyable for those who don’t love to swim. The grounds surrounding the swimming area are well-shaded so it’s the perfect place to plop for that picnic we told you to pack.
If you ever tire of swimming, Blue Hole offers more than just pristine water. Stretching out across 126 acres, you’ll find over four miles of trails, a basketball and sand volleyball court, and more. Please check the website for the most updated COVID related restrictions.
Blue Hole Regional Park
Location: 100 Blue Hole Lane, Wimberley
Hours: Swimming, daily 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 2 to 6 p.m.; park – daily, 8 a.m. to Dusk
Price: Adults $10; Senior (60+) $6, Youth (4-13) $6; Military $6; Children 3 and under free.Website:
Refuel With BBQ From The Salt Lick
End the day on a delicious note with barbeque from this Austin institution (though it’s actually in Driftwood). This spot promises nearly a dozen meat options, with little frills that are sure to please all the carnivores in your caravan (veg options are limited to potato salad, coleslaw, and beans). Whatever you do, save room for the cobbler. Like most eateries in and near Austin, the dining room at Salt Lick is currently closed, but take out is available, and – because the restaurant sits on a large parcel of land – the outdoor dining area is open to guests.
The Salt Lick
Location: 18300 Farm to Market Rd 1826, Driftwood
Hours: Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- Fishing is allowed in 7A’s river so bring poles and some bait.
- Picnic lunch.
- Floaties for Blue Hole.
Happyly is the country’s only mobile-first family activity planning app focused on helping families live their best life.
We are passionate about supporting families in a fulfilling, balanced, and active outdoor lifestyle. How? By developing resources and delivering inspiration to fit your personal needs, whether it be for planning an afternoon or a long journey. With the help of happyly, you will save hours of wasted time planning, as well as the frustration and disappointment your tribe feels when your plans don’t turn out as you hoped.
By doing the leg work and endorsing our favorite activities based on first-hand knowledge, our expert team saves valuable time for our community, empowering parents to be fully present when it matters most. Working parents spend an average of twelve waking hours a week with their children. When you break it all down, it’s not a lot. So even just one or two hours a week spent searching or planning is just too many. Let us help you spend less time planning and more time experiencing life together.
If you have ideas for our next installment in our Family Fun Day Austin Series, we welcome them at [email protected]. Enjoying our content? Please download the free happyly app for fast access to all of our blog content, favorite activities, and expertly designed curated days, both locally and in many communities and travel destinations across the country.