7 Reasons to Start Your Next Hill Country Stay in Cedar Park
Live music, world-class wine, delicious craft beer and gorgeous scenery. There are many reasons to visit the Texas Hill Country, and you can experience some of the best this part of the Lone Star State has to offer in Cedar Park. Situated just 20 miles north of Austin, Cedar Park brings a lot more to the table than its ideal location. Whether you’re looking for your next grand hiking trip or to get a taste of Texas’ wine country, here’s why you should start your own adventure from Cedar Park.
You Can Explore the Hill Country on a Vintage Train Ride
From hiking endless trails past oak and mesquite trees to cruising miles of winding highways, there are many ways to take in the beauty of the Hill Country. Yet there’s nothing like riding the rails with the Austin Steam Train Association in Cedar Park. As soon as you climb aboard one of the beautifully restored train cars, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Each car, ranging from coach to an adults-only first-class lounge, retains its historic charm while also providing a true modern luxury: air conditioning. Settle into your seat and relax and watch the spectacular scenery of the Hill Country roll by.
Riding a vintage train is not something most of us do every day, but nevertheless the Austin Steam Train Association takes this to the next level by offering an array of tours. Enjoy a 66-mile round trip on the Hill Country Flyer, a six-hour journey that takes you on the wooden trestle bridge over the San Gabriel River and past rolling hills from Cedar Park to Burnet. Or, ring in the holidays by treating your youngsters to a trip on the North Pole Flyer, a magical ride with Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Savor a cup of hot cocoa, a Christmas cookie and all kinds of yuletide revelry on this two-hour excursion.
The Austin Steam Train Association has many different tours throughout the year. Check their website to see what’s coming up and to get your tickets.
Lake Travis is Right Around the Corner
Rugged limestone cliffs, sandy beaches tucked away in quiet coves and nearly 30 square miles of pristine blue water. A mecca for anglers, boaters, paddlers and summertime swimmers, Lake Travis is one of the most popular recreational lakes in Texas. This natural wonderland is a must visit, and Cedar Park is just 10 miles away. Start with an unforgettable view of the lake as you soar on the longest and fastest zipline in Texas at Lake Travis Zipline Adventures. Five ziplines ranging from 300 to 2,800 feet take you over canyons and thickets of oak trees, with the final line launching you off a 20-story-tall cliff.
After that shot of adrenaline, lounge in the sunshine on the beach at Volente Beach Resort & Waterpark. Take a dip in the protected swimming area or, if you still need a thrill or two, ride the water coasters in the waterpark. For even more fun on the water, conquer the floating obstacle course at Lake Travis Waterloo Adventures. Run, jump, climb and dive through the course that consists of nearly two football fields of monkey bars, walls, slides, balance beams and more. Even if you slide off one of the obstacles, you’ll fall into the crystal-clear waters of Lake Travis. That’s a win-win, in our books.
Travel Tip: Lake Travis Zipline Adventures and Lake Travis Waterloo Adventures are open seasonally. Check each attractions’ website before making plans to visit.
Escaping to the Outdoors is Easy
The Hill Country is known for its abundant beauty, and Cedar Park is no exception. Before you head out to explore some of its prettiest places, tie on your hiking shoes and explore the Brushy Creek Regional Trail, a 6.75-mile pathway that meanders under the shade of oak trees and past lakes and open meadows that are full of wildflowers in the spring. To get some time out on the water, rent a kayak from The Mobile Kayak and admire the scenery as you paddle the afternoon away on the tranquil Brushy Creek Lake.
Although there’s more than enough to keep you busy here, Cedar Park is close to some of the region’s top attractions. Bring your binoculars and traverse the seven miles of picturesque trails at the Balcones Canyonlands Wildlife Refuge, a natural oasis just 30 minutes west of town that’s home to more than 245 bird species throughout the year. Cruise about 20 miles north of town and you’ll find yourself in the subterranean wonder of Inner Space Cavern, one of the state’s most spectacular show caves.
You won’t need to go far to experience two of Texas’ other natural wonders, Hamilton Pool and the otherworldly granite mounds of Inks Lake State Park, both of which are one hour from Cedar Park. Just a little further and you’ll find yourself among the breathtaking limestone boulders of Pedernales Falls State Park or taking in Colorado Bend State Park’s beautiful waterfall.
There’s a world of adventure to enjoy in the Hill Country, and Cedar Park puts you right in the middle of it all.
The Tantalizing Tastes of the Hill Country are Here to Enjoy
If you love either wine or craft beer, Cedar Park is the place to be. Our own Bent Oak Winery boasts an inviting tasting room providing the perfect place to relax as you tip back a glass of cabernet sauvignon, dolcetto, or petit Verdot made with Texas-grown grapes. Next, stop by Thirsty Mule Winery and Vineyard, makers of award-winning reds and whites, some of which made using grapes grown in its own vineyard. Cedar Park is also conveniently located within a two-hour drive from the heart of Texas wine country.
For you craft beer connoisseurs out there, you won’t have to go far for a remarkable pint of your favorite kind of brew. Step into the tap room at Whitestone Brewery and take your pick from an impressive selection of beers ranging from a light and refreshing hefeweizen to an easy-drinking brown ale with tantalizing hints of chocolate and coffee. There are always seasonal beers on tap as well, meaning no two visits to Whitestone are the same.
You’ll find even more brews to try at Red Horn Coffee House & Brewing Co., a coffee shop and brewery that hits all the right notes with its beers. Make sure to give the House United Coffee Stout a try. Brewed with fresh roasted coffee, it’s bold flavor and subtle sweetness will make you feel like you’re having your morning cup of joe.
Whether you love beer or wine, you’ll find some of the Hill Country’s best when you stay in Cedar Park.
Cedar Park is Home to Pro Sports Teams
When you want to root for the home team, look no further than Cedar Park’s own H-E-B Center. It’s in this state-of-the-art venue that the Austin Spurs and the Texas Stars, the minor-league affiliates of the San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Stars respectively, compete. Get your tickets for the Spurs and you just may see future NBA players before they hit their prime (Danny Green and Kyle Anderson have suited up for the team in the past). Meanwhile, the Texas Stars take to the ice against the competition in the American Hockey League, which the team won in the 2013 – 14 season. Catch the Spurs and the Stars from fall through the end of April, and tickets for home games are available on both teams’ websites.
Not only is the H-E-B Center a major sports venue, but it also hosts Disney productions, live shows like Cirque de Soleil, comic-cons, conventions and some of the Austin area’s other big-time events. Click here for their great line up.
Upscale Hotels Offer Comfortable & Affordable Stays
No matter where you are, the start of a great getaway begins with where you’re staying. Here in Cedar Park, you’ll find multiple hotels where you can relax and unwind when you’re not exploring the Hill Country. While the spacious suites, complete with sofa beds and smart TVs, at Springhill Suites Austin Cedar Park have everything you need to rest and recharge, the location is even better. Dozens of restaurants are within walking distance, and the hotels bar that overlooks its swimming pool is an amazing place to kick back.
Meanwhile, Hyatt Place Austin’s plush rooms and suites have their fair share of modern luxuries, and the hotel’s breakfast bar is stocked with fresh eggs, bacon and more that will get your day started the right way. Plus, it is conveniently located near the H-E-B Center, Haute Sport Venue and The Crossover (coming in the spring of 2020).
For more places to stay in Cedar Park, check out the full list here.
The Best of the Hill Country is Just a Day Trip Away
Immerse yourself in one of the best live music scenes around, taste Texas-made whiskey and enjoy all the distinct German charm of the Hill Country. This may sound like three separate getaways, but in Cedar Park they’re just a day trip away. Drive 20 miles south of town and you’ll find yourself in Downtown Austin, the Live Music Capital of the World known for its vibrant night life and diverse dining scene. Rent a kayak and paddle along Lady Bird Lake and soak up the sun in Zilker Park, home to the Zilker Botanical Garden and Barton Springs Municipal Pool.
Get on Highway 290 west to Dripping Springs and you’ll encounter a wonderland of fine spirits. Wander into the tasting rooms of any of the town’s nine distilleries and you’re sure to try something you’ll remember (and you’ll probably take a bottle or two home with you). Get an early start and you’ll be in Fredericksburg within two hours, where you can explore Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, dig into delicious German food, and taste wines at the local wineries. You’ll be back in Cedar Park within a few hours, ending what we’d call one heck of a day trip.
No matter what draws you to the Texas Hill Country, you’ll find some of the best this part of the Lone Star State has to offer in Cedar Park. Learn more and start planning your visit here.