Almost everyone in Austin has their own version of Cheers, but sometimes you want to go where no one knows your name. That’s when it’s time to go on a road trip.
While the brewery and winery scene is not to be missed, the Texas Hill Country is also home to some of the best bars in the state. From a hard rocking dive in an unexpected town to a true Lone Star icon, these spots are much-needed breaks from the day-to-day. Convince a teetotaling friend to drive, then hit the highway.
Fredericksburg is, of course, known for its quaint German architecture, lush wineries, and upscale shops. Thanks to this dive bar, it’s also one of the most unexpected places in the area to rock out. Trade the daytime polo shirt and walking shorts for jeans and a concert tee, then belly up to the bar for a shot and a beer. The lineup of metal acts is something even Austin’s most die hard heshers would approve of.
Schlitterbahn has much to recommend, but it's hardly a hotbed for mixology. After a long day of splashing about, trade in the park's sugary drinks for a decidedly more adult libation like a solid Old Fashioned, a kiwi mojito, or a classic Moscow Mule. While taking a breath, send the sunburnt kids to play shuffleboard, foosball, or arcade games before the whole family enjoys an artisan pizza.
No list of destination drinkeries would be complete without Texas’ oldest dance hall, a hallowed space that has hosted some of music’s biggest legends, from Little Richard to Loretta Lynn. True, beer snobs may scoff at being unable to find their favorite IPA, and there’s no hard booze to speak of, but suck it up, order a Bud, and be happy that this spot is still kicking.
Random Beer Garden
With cool attractions like Cascade Caverns and Cave Without a Name, Boerne has long been a day trip destination for Austinites looking to beat the heat — especially since it is also the home of a bar with one of the largest tap walls in the state. Choose a brew from local favorites like Alamo Beer Company or Fredericksburg’s Altstadt Brewery or cult favorited from cult American craft breweries like Bell’s or Cigar City. The sirloin and brisket burger is the perfect pairing for almost any pint.
If Der Daiwei’s Metallica and Megadeth don’t do it for you, Fredericksburg also offers classic cocktails set to Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. This shabby chic space boasts a solid selection of Texan whiskies and balanced cocktails like a hibiscus margarita and a Texas take on the traditional derby, made with bourbon and grapefruit instead of gin and peach bitters. Designated drivers will be thankful for the artful charcuterie and strong coffee drinks.
The Wild Ass Hey Barn
Part of the appeal of this Kerrville institution comes from the slightly bawdy name. But that's not all it has to offer. It’s rustic interior is pure Texana, with a dance floor roomie enough for spinouts. Frequent live music keeps the fun going into the night. And the beer and wine selection, while not fancy, is just what’s needed after a day of fishing or a canoe trip down the Guadalupe River.