It’s everyone’s favorite time in Austin. Spring has sprung with brilliant explosions of wildflowers dotting the highways. The legacy of beloved first lady Lady Bird Johnson, Mother Nature’s annual display never fails to touch our hearts and make us proud to be Texans. They won’t be around forever, but there is still time to dust off the Nikon and grab a few fabulous shots.
There are many viewing opportunities in and around Austin, however the most spectacular stretches of roadway and open fields can be found in nearby Hill Country counties — within a one- to two-hour drive.
It’s always a good day when you explore Austin’s Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. In addition to the abundant wildflower sightings, the center has over 650 native Texas plant species in its gardens and trails.
St. Edward’s University, Bull Creek District Park, and Quinlan Park Road in Steiner Ranch also offer amazing views of wildflowers within the Austin city limits. And although the flowers have started to fade, there are stretches north of the Pennybacker Bridge to Spicewood Springs Road that have plenty of color too.
Muleshoe Bend is arguably the most beautiful place for wildflower sightings. Located in Spicewood, there is a 6.5-mile bike trail as well as opportunities to camp. For a day trip, pack a picnic and take in the views of the glorious wildflowers.
Willow City Loop
Take 290 West to Johnson City and Fredericksburg with a detour to enjoy the Willow City Loop, which is a favorite for motorcyclists.
Not to be missed on the Willow City Loop is the Knot in the Loop Saloon — a true Texas treasure where locals gather at the bar to sip Lone Star beer and tell tall tales. Eclectic does not begin to cover the decor. You could spend hours just exploring the things that cover the wall (including a vintage poster of the famous 1953 Elvis and Johnny Cash tour). There is a pool table and a jukebox with every country classic you have ever courted to or cried about. The jalapeño poppers and burgers are also highly recommended.
You can also treat yourself to a tasting and enjoy the lavender fields at Becker Vineyards along the way.
Hill Country drives
There are several beautiful drives and “wildflower loops” near Austin. We personally love driving out to The Hyatt Lost Pines for the scenery and a nice lunch. Highway 71 toward La Grange does not disappoint, and Highway 290 between Manor and Elgin is also a good bet.
There are some great photo ops on the bluebonnet trail if you take SH 16 north of Llano to RR 1323. In Kingsland, head to the famous railroad covered in wildflowers (CR 321 crosses the track), perfect for a postcard shot.
Additionally, you can take scenic wildflower drives through Horseshoe Bay, Granite Shoals, and Inks Lake for some waterside bluebonnet views.
You can find out more information on the best wildflower sightings here.