While Texas cities boast lots of activities, some of the best family-friendly adventures are found out in the Texas wilderness. These eight new venues offer unique, luxurious getaways that incorporate their natural surroundings.
1. Lucky Arrow Retreat, Dripping Springs
Quirky and cool, the Lucky Arrow Retreat ranch-style property features 36 unique lodging options, a silver Airstream trailer as the guest check-in and an intimate event venue inspired by the surrounding Texas Hill Country. The accommodations range from laid-back yurts to secluded upscale cabins and the Ranch House, which sleeps 12.
The hero of the property is their hip beer garden, the central gathering space for fun and relaxation.
Lucky Arrow Retreat also offers daytime and evening tours of the Hill Country via its fleet of vintage Toyota Land Cruiser Troop Carriers.
2. The Yoki House at Cypress Valley Canopy Tours, Spicewood
Go for the ziplining and stay in the tree! Deep in the heart of Central Texas near Spicewood, among the rolling hills and cool springs, sits the region’s first treehouse resort at Cypress Valley Canopy Tours (CVCT). The Yoki House, the newest addition to the resort, is a fully equipped private forest sanctuary for couples, adventure seekers, artists and families.
Yoki House features a suspended treehouse and a separate bathhouse that are connected by a 60-foot suspension bridge. The bathhouse sits at the edge of the ravine with floor-to-ceiling windows for bird watching and stargazing from the comfort of a custom soaking tub. Other treehouses include Juniper, a one room glamping structure where you walk down the road to the bathroom. The Nest sleeps 4-6 and the outdoor shower is the hero of this house!
3. Son’s Island, near Seguin
If water is your thing, you have to check out the most fascinating hidden spot we’ve seen in Texas, Son’s Island, for a fun camping adventure. This island is a real-life hidden island on Lake Placid. You rent a cabana for the day (departure time is 6:30pm) in order to cross on to the island via a 100-foot private wooden bridge. The rental is good for eight people but you can add up to 15 for an additional fee and two cars are allowed per cabana.
As long as you can stand the water temperature, you can visit year-round. Bring your food (each cabana has a grill) and beverages and you can rent rafts, paddleboards and kayaks. In addition to swimming, fishing, barbecuing and beach volleyball, there’s live music on the weekends.
4. Cinnamon Shore, Port Aransas
Port Aransas is one of the most well-known beaches in Texas due to its fun sandy beaches you can drive on—and even camp on, for free! Probably the most upscale lodging in Port Aransas is Cinnamon Shore, located on a stretch of Highway 361. A master-planned community, full of pastel colored beach houses and condos, where most people are riding cruisers or dune buggies (golf carts), the pace is relaxed.
Families from around the state have built a tradition of spending their time off at Cinnamon Shore, splashing in one of three pools, tossing the football on the open-space lawns or traversing the dunes to get to the beach. High season is definitely the summer months but rentals are available year-round.
We love that once you arrive, you park your vehicle and have no need to drive until it’s time to depart. Because you have a full kitchen, washer/dryer and even restaurants, this is a self-contained vacation destination!
5. Turnkey Vacation Rentals, The Reserve at Lake Travis
An out-of-the-way home rental exists at The Reserve at Lake Travis, a quiet community (backed by well-known Texan Red McCombs) where homes are owned by residents but Austin-based TurnKey Vacation Rentals makes rentals easy. The new Farmhouse Collection features a two-story home with four bedrooms plus a loft featuring a bunk bed with pullout trundle, easily sleeping 11 people. The home is new, clean and fully equipped with all modern technologies.
The hero of the farmhouse is the view out the back patio, offering beautiful sunsets. Pair that with a glass of wine and you’ve gotten off the beaten path!
In the summer, guests can enjoy a community pool area with waterslide, right next to the marina. Guests can also enjoy several wineries nearby, distilleries and the famous Hamilton Pool.
6. Smythwick Castle, Smithwick
Located in the Hill Country village of Smithwick west of Austin, Smythwick Castle & Lodge is a “country castle” nestled on 10 acres filled featuring a creek, a pond and grand old oak trees. Chickens, white and indigo peacocks and goats watch guard over the castle.
The original owners who built the house were Bavarian (hence the turret) and an ex-CIA agent—which lends unique characteristics to the house. The current owners bought the property in late 2012 and have renovated the home with a fun and funky decorating style, featuring hand-painted doors, tassels and sweeping curtains.
With wood-burning stone fireplaces and a unique Old World brick courtyard, this lodge is great for a quiet getaway. The five guest rooms sleep 10 comfortably but the house can hold up to 16 for parties who rent out the whole lodge.
7. The Ruby Hotel, Round Rock
Just four blocks off Main Street, nestled off into a quiet wooded enclave, sits the Ruby Hotel. Backed by local investors, this adorable boutique hotel (39 rooms/ 3 suites) is a homegrown effort that was much-needed.
The property is tucked back into a beautiful spot along Brushy Creek and is full of large trees on three acres, providing the ideal relaxed stay. The property belonged to an aging couple whose family sold it after their passing.
The cozy bar sits in the original home, open until 10 pm weeknights and until midnight on weekends. Enjoy light appetizers while sipping on a great wine, craft beer or specially-designed cocktail.
8. Getaway, Dallas
For a unique secluded, secluded stay in the woods, check out Getaway, the startup that offers mindful escapes to tiny cabins nestled in nature. Getaway’s tiny cabins provide the perfect backdrop to enable city dwellers to slow down and reconnect with themselves, their loved ones, and nature.
The cabins are designed to supply everything guests need (and nothing they don’t), offering a simple space with a queen-sized bed, mini kitchen, bathroom, private outdoor area with fire pit and seating, as well as provisions and analog activities like basic games and classic novels.
Getaway’s first Outpost in the Lone Star State, Getaway Piney Woods, is within close distance of several noteworthy attractions, including Tyler State Park, Lake Palestine and Cedar Creek Lake. The Outpost spans 99 acres in the lush forest region.
What Kind of Traveler Are You? Take Our Quick Quiz!
Cover: Son’s Island is the ultimate outdoor experience for water-loving families. Courtesy photo