Explore Texas this Labor Day Weekend with a tourist-free destination vacation


Labor Day weekend is just around the corner, and you might be dying to get off campus and do something new and fun. Why not take the opportunity to explore some of the natural wonders that Texas has to offer?

I did some research on day trips in the areas surrounding San Antonio that you can test out this weekend, from beaches to hikes to sightseeing. Since I’m from out of state, I always feel I need to see as much of Texas as possible to catch up with my Texas-grown peers. If you were born and raised in Texas and think you’ve seen it all, keep reading. You might not have heard of some of these hidden gems.


Been to Galveston too many times or looking for something calmer than South Padre? Try Rockport Beach, known for being clean, safe, romantic and only a 2.5 hour drive from campus. Another clean and peaceful option is Mustang Island, just a bit farther south than some of the popular Texas beaches, also only 2.5 hours away. And if you’re willing to make the 3.5 hour drive, Matagorda Bay Nature Park is worth your visit. This quiet beach is said to be one of the most beautiful spots on the coast, according to “Texas Monthly.” There’s plenty to do, from bird-watching to fishing or just relaxing in the sun.

Hike + Swim

Have you climbed Enchanted Rock and swam through Barton Springs and Hamilton Pool? If so, you know that the Texas Hill Country has a variety of beautiful landscapes, including swimming holes and hills to climb, and it’s just around the corner from campus. If you’re eager to find more waterfalls and scenic outlooks, I’d recommend these next three destinations. Less than an hour away from campus, Blanco State Park provides visitors the opportunity to hike along or wade in the beautiful falls, go fishing, camping and even tubing. Another great place to take a hike or go for a swim is Garner State Park, located along the Frio River. Make sure you head out early if you plan to make the 1.5 hour drive, because the park is known to close early in the day before it gets too full. And if you’re planning on stopping by our neighboring city of Austin this weekend, I’d recommend taking a look at McKinney Falls. Just 20 minutes from downtown Austin, the park showcases beautiful falls that pour over a limestone ridge, with paved trails that are nice for biking, hiking or enjoying nature.

Tiny Texas Towns

Maybe nature isn’t really your thing. If you weren’t born to climb mountains, but you still want to get out of your dorm this weekend, I have just the thing for you. Maybe you’ve already been to the Oktoberfest in Fredericksburg or gone dancing in Gruene, but have you seen these three tiny Texas towns? Round Top, Texas is a quaint community about two hours out from San Antonio that offers more antique and vintage shops than you could ever dream of. You can also take a scenic drive through the surrounding area and explore the art and food that the town has. For those of you who are beer connoisseurs (and over 21), check out Shiner, Texas, home of the brewery that produces Shiner Beer. If you want to make the 1.5 hour trip, their opera house and city parks are also sites to see. Lastly, if you’re a foodie, you should definitely hit the road for only an hour to visit Lockhart, Texas, which “Texas Monthly” boasts is the “barbecue capital of Texas.” Try one (or all!) of their famous barbecue joints, and stop by some of the museums and parks.

Before I send you off to explore Texas, I want to encourage y’all to do some research yourself. Make sure you’ve checked for hidden entrance fees, unknown opening hours and weather warnings, so you don’t have an unpleasant surprise when you get to your destination. Once you’ve done that, give these a try or come up with your own list of potential day trips and let us know what you think. Have fun, Tigers. And make sure to remember the sunscreen.