Road trips: five Texas destinations

Photo Credit: Daniel Hublein

Not everyone can go home for the holidays. For out-of-state or foreign students, getting back can be costly and a hassle. Fortunately, you don’t need to go far to find the perfect holiday escape. Texas offers a number of scenic towns rich in history, exhibits and nature. We’ve put together a list of the top five destinations perfect for either a simple day trip or a short weekend getaway. These spots won't be overrun with tourists, and you won't have to break the bank getting there. Load up with a camera, friends and a tank of gas to enjoy the Lone Star state away from bustling Austin.

one-and-a-half hours away from Austin
Pronounced like “Bernie,” this small town of 10,000 people is nestled away in the Texas Hill Country. Established in 1849, it was named after Ludwig Börne, a Jewish German author and publicist. Boerne is known for its small-town charm and spirited display during the holiday season, complete with hot chocolate and horse-drawn carriages on Main Street. Brothers of the Flame, a fire-dancing group, line the street corner. Notable people from Boerne include Hilary Duff and actress Hilary Duff and wrestling start “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.

Six hours away from Austin
“The Heart of Big Bend” is located 26 miles east of artist hub Marfa. This small town is the perfect place to escape the city streetlights and a go-to for vacationers who appreciate being close to nature and enjoy camping. Be sure to save some time for the drive through West Texas, more suited for a longer weekend rather than a day jaunt. Big Bend State Park is also a two-hour drive from Alpine, ideal for hikers and nature enthusiasts. The Big Bend area provides the perfect opportunity for taking a break to appreciate the simpler things.

Three-and-a-half hours from Austin
Foodies unite! Roanoke is known as the "Unique Dining Capital of Texas." Located near the Dallas-Fort Worth area, it's home to the Tom Thumb Food & Pharmacy and United Supermarkets distribution centers. Its nickname is derived from the number of independent restaurants located on Roanoke’s Oak Street. Although remote, it's ideal for the stereotypical Southern epicurean. In addition to the numerous restaurants, Roanoke is home to a hotel that the famous duo Bonnie and Clyde once resided in during the 1930s.

Three-and-a-half hours from Austin
Named for the native grapes found in the surrounding land, Grapevine’s motto is “Aged to perfection.” Recently numerous wineries have opened, great for students 21 and older. Grapevine Wine Tours offer daily shuttle visits to three of the area's most acclaimed wineries. The trip includes lunch or dinner, tasting at the wineries and a tour of the historic downtown. During the holidays the town center is also decorated with lights and ornaments, and Santa and his reindeer even pay a visit. Only three-and-a-half hours away, Grapevine would make a great day trip during the holidays.

Crystal Beach
Four-and-a-half hours from Austin
A sun-soaked becah trip might seem strange for the middle of winter, but who are we kidding? It's still 80 degrees outside (bless you, Texas)! For those who love the beach but not the crowds, Crystal Beach, also known as Patton, is a great option. It's located on the Bolivar Peninsula in Galveston County, a more secluded part of town. If you enjoy camping and bonfires, Crystal Beach is your ideal destination. However, at nearly five hours away, Crystal Beach would most likely have to be a weekend destination. There is a bed and breakfast not too far from Crystal Beach called Out By the Sea Bed and Breakfast, a perfect place to relax for the weekend.