Once you’re west of MoPac Boulevard in West Austin, you begin to see the gradual transition of the lush land east of Austin to the rugged hills that cover hundreds of miles to the west. The thick grasses and full trees have yet to give way to the rocky western terrain, so West Austin has the best of both worlds — greenery and hills.
This natural backdrop provides a serene setting as you move from place to place down your West Austin day trip itinerary. Make sure at least one or two of these experiences are on your list.
1. Your new favorite neighborhood pastry shop
Few things are better in the morning than a hot cup of coffee and a sweet pastry. Warmth and sweetness envelop you from the inside out, and your day is off to a great start. And at the end of the day, sidling up to a piece of cheesecake or carrot cake is the perfect end to a good day or a bad day.
At Russell’s Bakery on the southeast corner of Balcones Drive and Hancock Drive, you can have each. They open at 6:30 on weekday mornings and 7:00 on the weekends, and they’ll give you your breakfast pastry fix with an assortment of danishes, muffins, croissants and cinnamon rolls. They close at 8:00 p.m. on weekdays and 5:00 p.m. on weekends, so you’ll have to take your nightcap cake to go.
They also serve light lunches — soups, salads and sandwiches — perfect for saving room for dessert. You can start your meal on a health kick, but by the end, you’ll certainly break your diet.
2. The easiest mountain climb you’ll ever make
When you think of climbing a mountain, you probably picture a guy suspended from ropes making his way along the underside of an outcropping above a canyon. Well, that isn’t mountain climbing in Austin.
Mount Bonnell is the highest point within the city limits. A short walk up some steps you’ll find a breathtaking view of of the Colorado River, the hills of West Austin and the multi-million dollar homes on the shore. You’ll be too high to spot celebrities in their bathrobes, but you know they’re down there.
3. Italian food and wine with a view
The view from the dining room and patio of The Grove Wine Bar & Kitchen’s Lakeway location is quintessentially Austin. Enjoy a glass of wine from their wide selection, and dine on Italian food as you look eastward toward Austin. Get there before the sun goes down, and watch the fading light change the scenery.
As you sip your first glass of the evening, make sure you order the bruschetta as an appetizer. You get three variations per order, so you can mix and match as you choose. But you must try the figs, brie, and julienned apples. And you can’t go wrong with your other selections, so you’ll be happy with your choices.
After that, peruse the entrees. They have outstanding pizzas big enough for two or three people to share and wide selections of small plates, entree salads, sandwiches and classic Italian dishes. The view, the wine and the food will compel you to take your time and savor your experience.
4. Ziplining over Lake Travis
Boating is a great way to see Lake Travis, but what if you could fly over it? Well, you can with Lake Travis Zipline Adventures. Each zipline tour last three hours and takes you down five different ziplines. The coup de gras is a 2,800-foot line that starts on a 20-story cliff.
If you’re worried about safety, don’t. They exceed industry standards for safety precautions, and they have their zipline course inspected annually by an independent inspector. Their staff must pass a written exam, an on-course practical assessment and a rescue assessment. All tour guides and crew are First Aid and CPR certified.
If after taking flight with Lake Travis Zipline Adventures you discover you like ziplining, you can try more Austin area ziplining places.
5. Your dog’s new favorite hiking trail
The 2.5-mile Turkey Creek Nature Trail within Emma Long Metropolitan Park is an off-leash area for dogs. And the trail is ideal for them. You and Fido will cross the creek several times, and he’ll certainly want to hang around and frolic in the water.
The park has RV and tent camping, so you can easily turn your day trip into an overnight camping trip with just a little planning. If you’re interested in more Austin hiking trails, you have ample options. Go explore!