If you have a little sense of adventure and an itch to explore the back roads of Texas, take a drive out to Llano TX. On this day trip, you will get a true taste of the Texas Hill Country scenery. There are several routes you can take to get there, but if you get off the beaten path a little, you will be rewarded with amazing views and maybe even some wine.
Take THIS ROUTE from Cedar Park to Llano and back. Enjoy lunch in Llano TX and then take a drive through the backroads of the Hill Country along the famous Willow City Loop. Stop by two wineries, one with an amazing view and another in a relaxing atmosphere among the tall oaks and vineyards. If you are getting close to dinner time on the way back, stop in Marble Falls at the Blue Bonnet Café for some home cooking. This is a long all day road trip so plan accordingly.
If you have more than a day, spend the night in Johnson City where there are several good restaurants and plenty to do. Pecan Street Brewing is excellent for casual dinner. Highly recommend the pecan chicken! Bryan’s on 290 is more upscale and very popular with the wine crowd, so make sure you check for reservations.
The drive there will take you through Leander, Liberty Hill and on to Bertram. Bertram is a tiny Texas town that has been trying to revitalize for years. A few years ago a storm destroyed my favorite building sadly. You can actually take a train from Cedar park to Bertram and on to Burnet. The Austin Steam Train offers train excursions just for the fun of it or special themed rides like the wine train, holiday rides and more.
You will then pass through Burnet, home of the annual Bluebonnet Festival. Past Burnet on the left side of 29 you will pass Torr Na Lochs winery. If you have a chance to stop, check out their amazing view! They also have cheese trays for a little snack along the way. You might even spot some donkeys or longhorns wandering around.
Past Buchanan Dam you will eventually come to Llano TX. There are several good places to eat there. Cooper’s BBQ is great to get the true Texas Hill Country experience and it’s right on 29. Fill up on BBQ and then head to the downtown area to walk off your lunch. Turn off Hwy 29 onto 16, cross the river and you will come to the small, but quaint downtown. There are a couple little B&B’s there if you want to make a weekend of getting out of town. Not much to do there for two days, except just relax.
Typical of Texas, the county seat of Llano county houses an old courthouse situated on the town square. It’s a sleepy little town, but it’s fun to just see the old buildings and wonder what life was like way back when in the middle of Texas.
My favorite antique store is in Llano and I’ve gotten some excellent finds there. Much more reasonably priced than bigger city stores. Check out Whimseys Antiques if you park near the courthouse and walk back over the river on the pedestrian bridge. There is a park on the other side too where you can get down to the river to dip your toes.
A famous scenic wildflower drive in Texas is the Willow City Loop, which is a scenic detour off Hwy 16 through Willow City, which isn’t really a city as much as it’s just a pretty spot. Continue on through the backroads of Fredericksburg towards Johnson City. There are a few places to stop and see some local wildlife, longhorns and majestic views.
After a scenic drive down the Willow City Loop you can make your way towards Johnson City with a stop at Southold Farm and Cellars. Call ahead to make sure they are open and serving wine. They also have a good food truck, but check the schedule. The main attraction is the view. Also along the noted route is Ab Astris Winery pictured below. It’s a nice place to relax under the oaks with a glass of wine. Picnics welcome too if you want to bring an afternoon snack.
There are many great wineries in this area of Texas including Kuhlman Cellars, Ron Yates, William Chris, Adega Vinho, Lewis and so many more. You’d have to spend several days in the area to enjoy all of them. See our Small Town Road Trips post for more things to do in Johnson City.
If you are staying longer in Johnson City, visit the LBJ Ranch, known as the Texas Whitehouse. This area has so much rich history and places to explore. We have been many times and always find something new to do.
Enjoy exploring Central Texas!
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