As I stood ready to let go for my first zip line ride, I knew that in less than a minute, I would be standing on the opposite platform with an expanded mind from learning from a new experience, facing a new challenge, and gaining more confidence. Solo travel is exactly like that.
Isolated in a 13-mile stretch of land in Central Texas stands a forest of pines known as loblolly’s. Because this unique forest is located more than 100 miles away from its closest genetic match, the loblolly pines are often referred to as ‘the lost pines.’ For the well-seasoned solo traveler, or for someone ready to take their first solo adventure, letting go in this unique area is a great experience.
Perhaps nothing quite captures the essence of letting go like standing on a wooden platform 100+ feet over the lost pines and jumping off. Granted, the staff at Zip Lost Pines will assure that your harness and helmet and equipment are secure before giving you the ok to let go. It is an interesting example of what stepping outside your comfort zone can do. Standing on the platform attached to an intricate system of pulleys and weights preparing to take the first zip line ride of the day – the nervous energy was palpable. And consistent with the solo travel phenomena, by the time you’ve finished one trip, you’re ready for another – the group grew more enthusiastic and confident after each zip.
With an 18-hole championship golf course, full spa, tennis courts, swimming pools and a lazy river, the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa is a popular respite from city living. Known for catering to businesses and families, the property is also a welcome respite for solo travelers. The resort does a great job of embodying the Texas spirit without being kitschy. Country music keens on the speakers and the staff, mostly local, present an air of Texan authenticity. By dedicating a portion of its 405 acres to a small sampling of Texas livestock, the resort has successfully set itself apart in the most unique Lone Star way.
Professionally operated by a team of Mascot Handlers, the immensely popular Lost Pines Corral provides the guests the opportunity to get ‘up close and personal’ with the two longhorn steers who live on the property along with alpacas, mini-horses, goats and a 75-pound (and growing) pig named Beans—who loves belly rubs. If a peaceful getaway is what a solo traveler is seeking, sitting on the lawn or your patio and watching the steers graze and the goats play just mere yards away is one of those experiences that seems simple at the time, yet tends to be the memory that lasts the longest. There are resorts and spas, and then there is Lost Pines Resort and Spa with livestock living in peaceful harmony at your fingertips.
The resort has a number of places to eat and due to the temperate climate it’s almost always possible to eat al fresco. The breakfast buffet is impressive and will appease the heartiest of appetites but, for a reticent solo, ordering from the breakfast menu is always an option. The standout among the resort’s restaurants is Stories Fine Dining. The signature steakhouse does not limit itself to beef, offering some of the finest fish and seafood (including Maine lobster bisque). It was the homemade bread and sweet butter with truffle oil, however, that had this traveler asking for it the next day (to be told it is only available at Stories).
The resort offers packages and spa specials and, during holiday times, it is advisable to check the schedule – for example, in December you can watch Santa arrive on one of the longhorn steers – which could become your instantly viral Instagram post.
Before heading home, be sure to make a stop at the Berdoll Pecan Candy & Gift Company located nearby on Interstate 71. The family-owned operation produces and sells five variety of pecans that are the highest quality you’ll find anywhere. On the off chance they are closed, you can buy pecans and homemade pies from the customized vending machine that sits on the front porch.
Solo travel is the fastest-growing segment of the travel industry and is predicted to continue to be so for another ten years. Solos experience the freedom and confidence of traveling somewhere, ‘je suis soule’, (the French phrase for on your own), and are increasingly welcomed everywhere. Sometimes it’s fun to get lost in the crowd but in the Lost Pines area of Texas, solos can get safely lost in nature – and that’s an experience that is hard to beat.
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Cover photo courtesy Marci Charles, Zip Lost Pines
Haven Lindsey resides in Austin, Texas. She is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience writing on topics including healthcare, addiction, public policy, education, travel, food and human interest stories. This article is part of an ongoing solo travel series exclusive to Texas Lifestyle Magazine.