A Longhorn’s guide to the Hill Country

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Photo Credit: Lauren Ibanez | Daily Texan Staff

In the hustling and bustling life of a UT student, weekend trips can be few and far between. The research, planning and execution can seem daunting. For a last-minute "treat yourself" weekend, a one-day escape or road trip, check out the list below with must see places at accessible costs and locations in the Hill Country. Squeeze every last drop of adventure out of summer — Texan style.

The Hill Country is known to host the perfect weekend trip where rivers run cold and clear past limestone bluffs, rocky ranchland and hills that arise from eastern flatlands.

San Antonio

Only an hour away, San Antonio offers an expansive palette of history and modern amenities. Stories of epic Texas heroics lie within the Alamo, where it’s free to walk through the museum, $7 for an audio tour and $15 for a guided tour. Next door, the River Walk winds through the city’s heart. For those on a budget, walking is the way to go, as food and shopping tend to increase in price at this touristy area. The Pearl Brewery, a former operating brewery in 1883, now hosts a mix of retail, dining and living ventures, as well as music and farmers market events. If all else fails, San Antonio is also perfect for students on the hunt for a delicious taco.

San Marcos

San Marcos is home to the Premium and Tanger Outlet malls, great for bargain shopping or retail therapy. The San Marcos River is perfect for those looking to get off of their feet and float their stress away in a donut-shaped inflatable. Visitors can “tube” for free by bringing their own or rent tubes and take a shuttle to the river for as little as $12.

Wimberley

At just an hour outside of Austin, Wimberley’s main attractions include Old Baldy Park with panoramic Hill Country views, the Wimberley Square with shopping and dining and swimming at Blue Hole Regional Park and Jacob’s Well. Blue Hole Regional Park has $10 admission, and Jacob’s Well costs $9 to swim. The Market Days, Wimberley’s most famous attraction, occur every first Saturday from March through December at Lions Field. Bargainers and shoppers from all over to join hundreds of vendors displaying a variety of products.

Fredericksburg

The scenic loop, called the Devil’s Backbone, adds just 15 minutes to the typical hour-and-a-half drive from Austin to Fredericksburg and is reportedly the most haunted stretch of Texas highways. Visitors come from all over to see the sweeping vistas and take aesthetic Instagram shots.

Among German wineries, bakeries and shops, Fredericksburg also has the Pioneer Museum, rich with the history of the German pioneers of the Hill Country. Tickets cost $7.50. The National Museum of the Pacific War features WWII exhibits, including a recreated combat zone. Students with an ID can purchase a ticket for $7, according to the Pacific War Museum webpage.  A great place to have a wallet-friendly picnic is the Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park, which blooms with wildflowers in the spring and offers free admission.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

Enchanted Rock is a pink granite mountain open to the public for camping, hiking and picnicking, among other things. Campsites range from $14 to $100. Texas Parks and Wildlife suggests travelers call ahead of time, especially during peak months, September through May, to know what to bring and when to arrive.