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We’ve all come to a point in quarantine where we’re getting restless and looking for ways to get out of the house. While that’s important for our mental health we also have to keep social-distancing in mind and the safety of others. We figured out a way you can do both! Day trips to some of the most beautiful Texas town squares is the way to go. You’ll be following social distancing guidelines and if you stop to pickup food in any of the cities you’ll be helping local businesses which is so vital at the moment.
Though the hustle and bustle may be limited at this time, the architecture and beauty of these town squares make a road trip totally worth it. And, hey, you don’t even have to get out of your car if you don’t want to.
Austin.com is and always has been a site that celebrates and promotes the unique people and places of Austin, TX and surrounding cities. Though many businesses, locations, and events are closed at this time, we continue to highlight those things so that you can plan to experience them in the future.
Here are some of the best Texas town squares near Austin!
The lovely Texas town of Bastrop retains its historic charm: charming brick storefronts line the streets, artisans and artists display their handcrafted wares, and local chefs crisp chicken-fried-steak and catfish to perfection. Perfectly positioned along the banks of the Colorado River, cozy downtown Bastrop offers something for everyone and it’s only a 40 minute drive from Austin. Visit their website to see all the delicious curbside food options currently available. Be sure to click the “Film” tab at the top of their page for a little surprise!
Main Street is all locally owned businesses, operated by people that call Fredericksburg home. Franchises and chain stores are not allowed in the National Historic District (which runs along Main Street) so rest assured that your Fredericksburg shopping experience will be unique. Fredericksburg might be an hour and half drive outside of Austin but the scenic Hill Country drive, in addition to the town square, makes it totally worth the trip! And you may find some wineries, breweries, and distilleries along the way that are open, as they have ample space for socially distancing.
Stroll beautiful downtown Georgetown and appreciate some of the finest Victorian architecture in the state of Texas. Enjoy the restored historic buildings and landmark descriptions that describe a portion of Georgetown’s rich history. Georgetown is considered “The Most Beautiful Town Square in Texas,” an award-winning “Main Street” designated city. And it’s only 30 minutes outside of Austin! Super random fun fact: the 80’s flick Johnny Be Good starring Anthony Michael Hall and Robert Downey Jr. filmed in the square.
Just an hour outside of Austin, the city of Gruene looks like a film set rather than a real town. Located on the banks of the Guadalupe River, Gruene is on the National Register of Historic Places. Enjoy the restored turn-of-the-century buildings, where Gruene has been gently resisting change since 1872. Be sure to snap a pic in from of the infamous Gruene Hall where legends like Gruene Hall has hosted such acts as Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, George Strait, and Lyle Lovett have all played. It was also a filming location for the film Michael starring John Travolta.
A presidential hometown of renowned history, dramatic natural beauty, time-honored traditions, and creative innovations. The headwaters of the Texas Hill Country Wine Trail, Johnson City has few stoplights… but a lot of charm. It’s also a great place to see wildflowers this time of year. The city’s website even suggests seeing the flowers as a way to relieve some Covid-19 related anxiety. Johnson City is just an hour outside of Austin and seems like a great place to go to get out of the house.
San Marcos isn’t just known for its outlets, It also has a plethora of locally-owned shop, restaurants, bistro,s and nightspots that adorn every corner of historic downtown San Marcos. So eat locally and enjoy what the city has to offer. You can even take a self-guided tour of the 10 seven-foot mermaid statues painted by various artists installed all around the city. What a good way to get out but still follow social-distancing guidelines. And it’s only 40 minutes outside of ATX.
Waco’s vibrant Downtown Cultural District offers unique locally owned shops, restaurants, and more. Thanks to Chip and Joanna Gaines, Waco has become quite the hotspot, but the city remains true to its roots and has only flourished under its new found fame. There’s so much good food and scene spots here that it makes the hour and forty minute drive worth it, especially since you can easily take in the suspension bridge and riverwalk area without interacting with a crowd.
Lockhart has several claims to fame. In 1999, the Texas Legislature proclaimed Lockhart the “Barbecue Capital of Texas” so make sure you snag some from one of the four major barbecue restaurants while you’re there. The Caldwell County Courthouse is absolutely stunning. You may recognize it from being featured in various TV shows and films, including Waiting for Guffman and most recently the HBO series “The Leftovers.” Lockhart is located just about 30 miles from Downtown Austin.
The City of Smithville is located in a still-rural section of eastern Bastrop County. Buescher State Park is just outside of town, and Bastrop State Park is just about 10 miles down Park 1C Road Smithville is a great place to stop between Austin and Houston. Smithville boasts an airport, a recreation center, some of the finest city parks anywhere, and some of the friendliest people on the planet.
Before you head out of town please check with each city’s websites for a details about how Covid-19 is affecting their hours and businesses. We recommend that you even perhaps look into how you can help while you’re there.
As things slowly and safely start opening up, we’ll continue to post about cities and experiences you can have without having to leave the great state of Texas. Until we get the all clear, please stay safe and continue practicing social-distancing.
All photos courtesy of the official city/ chamber websites.