A LITTLE MORE THAN TEN years ago, back when I was attending college at the University of Texas at Austin, I went to Horseshoe Bay for the weekend with some friends. I remember trying to learn how to water ski—for the record, I could never get up—and simply hanging out at the lake.
Until last year, I hadn't been back to Horseshoe Bay. I discovered that not much has changed—the grounds are still beautiful and the decor is still seventies. Of course, I'm talking about the main meeting areas and facilities. Horseshoe Bay, a private resort development on the shores of Lake LBJ, was the brainchild of Norman Hurd and Wayne Hurd, both of Brady. They purchased property and founded Horseshoe in the early seventies. Condos and hotel rooms are available for rent (in case you aren't a member), in which case you have access to all the resort's amenities during your stay. What's not to like? Clay tennis courts, a first-rate golf course (the eighteen-hole putting course, Whitewater, is truly spectacular), swimming pools, Chinese gardens, and naturally, the lake.
It must be noted that Lake LBJ—and all the surrounding lakes that make up the upper portion of the Highland Lakes—is the draw in this part of the Hill Country. Lake LBJ is one of the most popular, but Lake Marble Falls, Inks Lake, and Lake Buchanan can be just as enjoyable. If you don't feel like forking out the dough for a fancy pad at Horseshoe Bay, there are many other options, including numerous rental houses and "resorts"—don't expect the Four Seasons—along the banks of Lake LBJ. Or for a day trip, you can rent personal watercraft and boats at the Lake LBJ Yacht Club and Marina. After a spin out on the water, grab a bite to eat at the on-site restaurant, which offers burgers, sandwiches, and seafood dishes.
But there is more to this area than lots of lakes. Landlubbers should head into Marble Falls, where there are plenty of antiques shops along Main Street to keep even the most seasoned shoppers busy for an afternoon. Or spend some time picking strawberries at Sweet Berry Farm on FM 1980, just outside of town. If it isn't strawberry season (March, April, and May), ask about the blackberries and vegetables out back. On your way back into town, you'll pass Texas Granite, the quarry where all the granite for the Capitol came from.
A stop at the venerable Blue Bonnet Cafe is a must. At this homestyle eatery, breakfast rules (the homemade biscuits are delicious), but the chicken-fried steak rates high too. Of course, the Blue Bonnet is famous for its pies. Last time we visited, we heard one patron ask her friend on the way out: "Are the pies really that good?" The answer is yes. If you are looking for seafood, try the Jamin House Cafe, which sits on Lake Marble Falls. Not only is the food good but the view is spectacular. The Wild Horse Grille on Main Street offers everything from quesadillas and satays to steaks and baby back ribs. Just be sure not to go swimming after that big meal: Any truth to that old wives' tale is doubtful, but you can never be sure.