Black's Barbecue is located 30 miles outside of Austin in Lockhart, one of several self proclaimed barbecue capitals of Texas, and is the oldest barbecue restaurant in Texas continuously owned by the same family. Four generations of the Black family serve up smoked meats, homemade sausage and barbecue sauces every day of the week except Thanksgiving day and Christmas. Black's Barbecue has been featured in The New York Times, Southern Living, Texas Monthly, Bon Appetit, Gourmet, The Food Network, Money Magazine and The Travel Channel.
Well worth the hour drive from Austin, Wimberley is a picturesque community featuring one of the most beautiful swimming holes in Texas. The Blue Hole has been a popular spot for swimmers and picnickers since the 1920s and in 2005 was aquired by the City of Wimberley as a public park. Surrounded by ancient cypress trees and 126 acres of natural forests and native grass fields, Blue Hole is open between Memorial Day and Labor Day and there is an admission fee. No life guard is on duty and dogs are not allowed.
Formed when a cave over an underground river collapsed thousands of years ago to create a 45 foot waterfall and water filled grotto, Hamilton Pool is approximately 30 miles southwest of Austin. The Reimers, an immigrant family from Germany, bought the property in 1880 to raise sheep and cattle. Prior to the 1800s, Tonkawa and Lipan Apaches lived in the area and there is evidence of humans in the area dating back over eight-thousand years. Operated by the Reimer family through the 1980's as a private recreational area, Travis County purchased 232 acres from the Reimer family in 1985 and today Hamilton Pool is operated as Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve. Admission is charged and parking is only available for 75 vehicles. The parking lot is closed temporarily when capacity is reached and vehicles are then admitted on a one out, one in basis. During the summer months the lot is usually full by eleven. Swimming is periodically prohibited due to high bacteria levels in the pool and a heavy rain will typically close the pool to swimming for a week or so. Nesting cliff swallows contribute to high bacteria levels in the early summer. For updated swimming conditions, call the Preserve at 512-264-2740. The trail down to the pool is a over a quarter of a mile in length and includes a series of rock steps descending into the canyon. Sturdy footgear is recommended. To get to Hamilton's Pool Preserve, take Highway 71 west of Austin through the town of Bee Cave and turn left onto FM 3238 (Hamilton Pool Road). Travel 13 miles to the Preserve entrance on the right.
Situated on a bluff overlooking Cypress Creek, this privately operated recreational area owned by Elton and Jane Krause is on the National Historic Register as an undisturbed Indian burial ground. Krause Springs is located 35 miles west of Austin in Spicewood, Texas and has been in the Krause family for several generations. Elton Krause and his sons have done all of the beautiful landscaping and rockwork themselves, including the rock picnic tables. The Krause home sits at the edge of the parking lot with a spring-fed swimming pool behind the house. The overflow from the pool cascades 25 feet below into a towering cypress tree and fern lined natural swimming hole and creek. There are thirty-two springs throughout the campground as well as lush tropical plants and magnificent trees. Some of the cypress trees are estimated to be over one thousand years old and the live oak trees are between one and two hundred years old. Overnight camping is allowed with some hookups for recreational vehicles and admission rates vary depending on day use or overnight use. Krause Springs is also available by reservation for weddings, receptions, company parties and family reunions. To get to Krause Springs, take Texas Highway 71 west from Austin, cross the Pedernales River, drive 7 miles, turn right on Spur 191 at the Exxon Station, right on County Road 404 and look for the sign on the left.
Kreuz Market was started in 1900 by Charles Kreuz as a meat market and grocery store. The smoked meat was sold on butcher paper without sauce or utensils. Charles passed the business along to his sons and son-in-law who ran it until 1948, when Edgar Schmidt, who had worked there since 1936, bought the market from the Kruez family. In the sixties, Edgar closed the grocery store and kept the BBQ, later selling the business to his sons, Rick and Don Schmidt. The building itself was always owned by the Kruez family and in 1999 the Schmidt family lost its lease on the building and moved the business from its original home of 99 years to a bigger facility a quarter mile north of the old location. Meat is ordered by the pound in the smoke room and served on butcher paper without sauce.
Opened in 1949 in Taylor, Texas by Louie Mueller, Louie Mueller Barbecue made it's first appearance in Texas Monthly Magazine in 1976 and has been written about in countless magazine articles since. Louie Mueller Barbecue has been a set location for three feature films, profiled in several documentaries and featured in Food Network "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" with Guy Fieri. Louie Mueller Barbecue was also named "Official Best Barbecue in Texas" in 2008. Inside the smokey interior of Louie Mueller BBQ are meats sold by the slice or by the pound on butcher paper. BBQ sauce, sliced bread or crackers, pickels and onions are sides that come along with the meat. World famous Austin guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughn and his older brother Jimmy Vaughn did a photo shoot for their album “Family Style” at Louie Mueller BBQ shortly before the untimely passing of Stevie Ray Vaughn in a helicopter crash in 1990.
Originally immigrants from Czechoslovakia, the Mikeska family settled in the farming coimmunity of Taylor at the end of the 19th century. The family meat business began in the 1920's and after World War II Rudy Mikeska began a catering business at the Taylor Country Club and became famous for his high profile clients including President Lyndon Johnson, State Senators, US Congressman, Hollywood actors, and the British Royal family. In the fifties and sixties, Rudy and his brothers opened BBQ stands all over Central Texas. In 1971, Rudy Mikeska combined all his businesses into one massive restaurant and catering complex in Taylor, Texas known as Rudy Mikeska's Bar-B-Q. Texas Monthly Magazine named the Mikeska family The First Family of Texas Barbecue. Mikeska's Bar-B-Q has been featured on numerous network and cable television programs including the Food Networks Food Nations Program with chef host Bobby Flay, PBS, the Discovery, the CBS Early Show and the Travel Channel with Chef Andrew Zimmern. The restaurant in downtown Taylor is now closed, but Mikeska brand meat products are available online and the Mikeska family still operates restaurants in Temple, Belton, Cameron, Killeen, El Campo and Columbus, Texas.
Schlitterbahn Water Park in New Braunfels began as a camping resort on the Comal River in the early 1970s where campers floated down the river in large rubber inner tubes. That original campsite has grown to a 65 acre water theme park featuring miles of tube chutes, winding rivers, uphill water coasters, wave pools and kid-friendly water playgrounds. Food is available for purchase, but picnic coolers are also allowed in the park (no alcohol or glass). One day and two day admission tickets are available as well as season passes.
Nina Schmidt Sells established Smitty's Market in 1999 in the building that housed her father's Kreuz Market for more than 50 years. The market sits in the same location where barbecue has been sold in Lockhart since the turn of the last century. Smitty's Market features brisket, coarsely ground handmade sausage,pork chops and boneless prime rib. Meats are sold by the pound on butcher paper without sauce. Lockhart is about a 45 minute drive outside of Austin.
Southside Market & Barbeque was founded in 1882 and changed hands several times until 1968 when it was purchased by the Bracewell family. Since then, three generations of the Bracewell family have prepared the 100% beef coarse ground sausage with black pepper, and cayenne known as Elgin Hot Sausage. The hot in hot sausage refers to the way it's smoked, not it's spiciness. All of the meat at Southside Market & Barbeque is slow-cooked on a pit using real Texas Post Oak wood and served both by the pound on butcher paper and as part of a plated meal. The menu includes the famous Original Elgin Beef Sausage, beef brisket, beef ribs, beef steaks, pork spareribs, baby back pork ribs, pork steaks, chicken and mutton. After a meal a hand-dipped cone of Blue Bell ice cream is available at the ice cream counter. Elgin is a 45 minute drive from Austin.