With Halloween approaching, it's time for a spooky day trip outside of Austin. In general, day trips are a fantastic way to break up the monotony of daily life and simply escape. Add a little seasonal spooky to that, and you're in for a real treat.
The following destinations come with history and lots of lore, they are creepy and interactive, and — best of all — they are all within a two-hour drive of Austin.
Grand Central Cafe
The Grand Central Cafe wasn’t always a cafe — or even located in Kingsland. The Queen Anne-style Victorian cottage was the principal location in the 1974 film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which was shot in Round Rock. In 1998, the current owners purchased, dismantled, and moved the house to Kingsland, across the street from the historic Antlers Inn. The cafe offers American-style breakfast, lunch, and dinner options — with Leatherface nowhere in sight.
1010 King Ct., Kingsland
Victoria's Black Swan Inn
Chances are you’ve never heard of Victoria’s Black Swan Inn. The Victorian-era mansion was built in 1867 on the site of the 1842 Battle of Salado Creek (now called The Battle of Rosillo Creek). The inn, which functions more as an event venue these days, has a history rife with tales of tragedy, and, purportedly, the hauntings to back it up. Experience it for yourself every Friday night on one of the inn’s popular ghost tours. If creeping around a haunted house at night isn’t your thing, the inn also offers brunch every second Sunday.
1006 Holbrook Rd., San Antonio
The Devil's Backbone Tavern
Blink and you might just might miss this tiny roadside beer joint and live music venue. The Devil’s Backbone Tavern was built in 1932 and is situated at one of the most picturesque lookout points along FM 32 in Comal County. Inside you’ll find a charmingly aged aesthetic with old hardwood floors, stone walls, and even a bullet hole above the front window. Over the years, the Devil’s Backbone Tavern has garnered an almost cult status through its appearances in song (Todd Snider’s “The Ballad of the Devil’s Backbone Tavern”) and film (Drop Dead Sexy). It’s the tavern’s reputation for being haunted, however, that gives the bar an added, spooky draw. Be warned, this establishment is cash-only and shutters at midnight.
4041 FM 32, Fischer
Liberty Tree Tavern
The Liberty Tree Tavern is the epitome of a Hill Country dive bar: old and friendly and replete with cold, cheap beer. The building dates back to the early 1900s and, at one point, was the site of the town funeral home and mortuary. Presumably, this fact is where the bar draws most of its ghost stories.
117 N. Main St., Elgin
Old Coupland Inn & Dancehall
The Old Coupland Inn & Dancehall is probably the most popular place in Coupland. The building was constructed in 1904 and, over the years, housed a drug company, hardware store, newspaper offices, grocery, and possibly even a brothel. It is the latter that many blame for the alleged haunted activity onsite. Nevertheless, the Old Coupland Inn & Dancehall is a rare historical treat to behold, a slice of Texas history and culture about 40 minutes outside of Austin.
102 Hoxie St., Coupland
Caldwell County Jail Museum
Spend the day locked up at the historic Caldwell County Jail Museum. The dominating red brick structure, built in the Norman castellated style of architecture, served as the fourth Caldwell County jail from the early 1900s until 1983. The five-story building contains nine main cells on the second, third, and fourth floors, as well as a basement, which served as solitary confinement (and storage). The jail cells are foreboding, claustrophobic, and quite spooky in their aged, untouched state.
314 E. Market St., Lockhart