So you've just moved to Austin, in the heart of Central Texas, and you can't get out of the state without driving eight hours in any given direction. Are your road trips ruined?
Absolutely not. In fact, they're just getting started.
This week, you'll see stories useful for someone new to Austin in anticipation of Austonia's "How to Austin" event. To attend, sign up here.
You know what they say about Texas, everything is bigger here. In fact, one of the best things about living in Texas is its size—you never have to leave to find a good time. Here are some of the Lone Star State's humble sights and scenes, both near and far. The drive time estimate is measured from downtown Austin.
San Marcos - 45 minute drive
Ask any local San Martians and they will tell you there's no place they'd rather spend the weekend than sun-bathing at Sewell Park or on the Blanco River, floating to their heart's content. It may look like just an ordinary body of water but the river naturally stays 70 degrees year-round, is kept very clean with the help of the community and is brimming with local plant life and creatures.
However, nature isn't the only thing this college town has to offer. Home to Texas State University and a widely-renowned set of outlet malls, San Marcos also has a quaint downtown with dozens of shops, restaurants and bars. Stay for Gil's Manske rolls and Rhea's world-famous artisan ice cream—it is worth the trip.
Wimberley - 55 minute drive
With its homemade boutiques, locally-sourced restaurants and even Tiki bars, Wimberley's cute and colorful town is enough to make anyone stop in. The town is a quintessential example of the Hill Country with its sprawling mounds and luscious atmosphere. Stop by on a Saturday for its famous Market Days, which features almost 500 vendors, before chowing down at The Leaning Pear.
Although the town is picturesque, it isn't even the main attraction. Wimberley is the home to Jacob's Well and the Blue Hole, one of the most popular swimming holes in Central Texas. Feel your inner daredevil come to life when you jump off a 15-foot cliff into Jacob's Well and then go for a peaceful swim in crystal clear waters at Blue Hole.
Johnson City - 1 hour drive
The former home of the 36th president of the U.S., Lyndon B. Johnson, Johnson City is appropriately named. There, you'll find the LBJ Ranch, where you can tour the former president's childhood home, ranch and the Texas Whitehouse.
After you've wrapped up in Johnson City, Pedernales Falls State Park is just a quick drive away and is an excellent place to spend the day hiking, swimming and enjoying the Texas view. The park was immortalized in Richard Linklater's film "Boyhood," so it has a special connection to Austin.
Marble Falls - 1 hour 10 minute drive
Fitting the same vibe as many other small towns on the list, Marble Falls has a charming downtown with a bevy of local eateries. However, the real attraction to Marble Falls is the beautiful nature that surrounds it. With rock formations galore, Longhorn Cavern State Park will bring out your inner adventurer while you tour, hike and picnic in the Cave of Legends.
If you would rather spend your day in the sunshine, Sweet Berry Farm is a great way to spend an afternoon and get your berry fix at the same time. Just remember to go in-season and share your goodies with your loved ones.
San Antonio - 1 hour 15 minute drive
As one of the bigger cities in Texas, San Antonio is packed to the brim with things to do. You're not a true Texan until you've walked the halls of the Alamo. And if that isn't enough history for you, check out the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.
While in SA, you simply can't miss the famous Riverwalk. San Antonio's Riverwalk is home to delicious Mexican food that you can eat riverside, levels upon levels of shops and attractions, a pavilion for live bands and dancers, all complete with beautiful scenery to follow you as you walk.
Fredericksburg - 1 hour 20 minute drive
This small town is not just known for its peaches, though make sure you don't leave until you get some. With more than 30 wineries and tasting rooms to visit while you're in town, you'll practically be swimming in local wine— there is even a road, Wine Road 290, dedicated to the nectar.
If drinking isn't your bag, roam the 200 Instagram-worthy acres of Wildseed Farms to pick a lush wildflower bouquet or take a hike up to Enchanted Rock for the view of a lifetime.
Houston - 2 hour 45 minute drive
It may be the furthest drive on the list but a well-versed Texan is one who is familiar with their sister cities. Houston is a cultural mecca and one of the most international cities in the U.S. All that to say, Houston has great food, fabulous museum culture and plenty of monuments to visit.
While you're there, make sure to visit the second-most populated Chinatown in the U.S., NASA's Space Center and the San Jacinto Monument and Museum. For a truly unique experience, visit the Rothko Chapel, which houses several original Mark Rothko paintings. The exhibit is free but you must follow one rule: complete silence once you enter.
There are so many sights to see in Texas so if you finish all these, don't worry, Texas is always going to be interesting.
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Giga Texas, the massive Tesla factory in southeast Travis County is getting even bigger.
The company filed with the city of Austin this week to expand its headquarters with a new 500,000-square-foot building. The permit application notes “GA 2 and 3 expansion,” which indicates the company will make two general assembly lines in the building.
More details about the plans for the building are unclear. The gigafactory has been focused on Model Y production since it opened in April, but the company is also aiming for Cybertruck production to kick off in mid-2023.
While there is room for expansion on the 3.3 square miles of land Tesla has, this move comes after CEO Elon Musk’s recent comments about the state of the economy and its impact on Tesla.
In a May interview with Tesla Owners Silicon Valley, Musk said the gigafactories in Berlin and Austin are “gigantic money furnaces” and said Giga Texas had manufactured only a small number of cars.
And in June, Musk sent a company wide email saying Tesla will be reducing salaried headcount by 10%, then later tweeted salaried headcount should be fairly flat.
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You’ll have to leave city limits if you’re looking for a proper ranch property like 417 Acres Shipp Lake Ranch, aptly named for its acreage. The property comes built out with three farmhouses, one of which has bedrooms and two bathrooms and two of which have two bedrooms and one bathroom. The nearly untouched property, which surrounds the 100-plus-acre Shipp Lake, has remained in the same family since the early 1900s and gives you picturesque views for the making of a dream home. In fact, the previous owners ran a water ski camp on the property.
Sitting waterside on Lake Austin, this home gives you the unique opportunity to own a piece of the lush Hill Country with views of Mount Bonnell. The 2,750-square foot, three-bedroom, four-bathroom house allows you to integrate indoor and outdoor life with large windows opening to an outdoor living area. The crown jewel is the .76-acre parcel of land that tapers off to your own lakeside resort, featuring an covered outdoor kitchen, fire pit, stone boat house to store your water sports supplies and veranda sitting at the mouth of the water, perfect for an entertainer.
Got dreams of becoming a real Texas rancher? 7814 Brown Cemetery Rd. is the perfect place to start with 40 rolling acres of land and its very own swimming hole. Just east of Austin in Manor, the modest-on-the-outside home clocks at 4,412 square feet with five bedrooms and five-and-a-half bathrooms, but there are an additional two living structures on the property. The horseshoe-shaped pond sits in the heart of the property and comes equipped with a water slide, diving board and a fishing dock.