When it comes to choosing a getaway, the Hill Country doesn’t have to campaign hard for our affections. Its lush expanses of bounding green hills and serpentine rivers stretch over some 25 of the most idyllic counties in the state. And those picturesque towns that cling proudly to their heritage lend themselves perfectly to that quintessential summer endeavor: the road trip. Driving for miles along rural state highways and squiggly back roads with no particular endpoint in mind is a vacation unto itself. Of course, you’re going to need a base camp from which you can launch your daily jaunts, and I’ve picked the perfect spot: cabins along the Guadalupe River. So stuff the Grand Wagoneer with tubes and coolers and hit the road. Who knows? The dramatic views and rolling terrain may even get your kids to stop texting, if only for a moment.
Where to Stay
Enjoy the view from the Hideout on
Nothing sets off my “too good to be true” radar like hearing the words “luxury” and “cabin” in the same sentence. But the alarms in my head were silenced when I pulled into the Hideout on the Horseshoe, a tree-lined property situated on a bluff about four miles west of Canyon Lake. The nineteen wood cabins are nobody’s idea of roughing it, with full-sized refrigerators, first-class toiletries, and comfy beds with wagon-wheel headboards. The greatest amenity, however, is just outside each front door: a shaded porch overlooking the opalescent Guadalupe River. To access the clear, green water, just take the vine-covered walkway down to the Hideout’s stone landing and hop in. Or arrange for the tubing shuttle to deposit you at the nearest put-in for a one- or three-hour float along the river’s horseshoe-shaped loop. One thing the Hideout doesn’t have is room service, but there are several notable dives nearby, including Jay and Diane’s Horseshoe Grill, a walk-up stand that serves gloriously greasy burgers.
Where to Go
Mileage from cabins 9 miles
Though smaller than Fredericksburg’s central drag, Boerne’s Main Street has just as much oompah. On the historic Hauptstrasse—that’s German for “a cluster of delightful, bank-account-draining boutiques”—you can find hand-forged iron chandeliers at Calamity Jane’s, vibrant floral frocks at Ella Blue, and ice cream sodas at the Tall Pony. Not to mention impressive nineteenth-century architecture, like the recently restored Kendall County Courthouse and the limestone Dienger Building, which houses the public library, where you can view a rare 1614 Low German Bible.
Mileage from cabins 55 miles
Because Comfort’s historic district is so humble, out-of-towners don’t swarm this German settlement like they do others in these parts. Which means you don’t have to limber up for an elbow-throwing, antiques-accumulating spree; instead, you can take your time ambling between the well-preserved buildings that house unassuming enterprises like Wilson Clements Antiques (nab Mexican sugar molds made of Spanish cedar or mango wood), the Tinsmith’s Wife (a knitter’s paradise that hosts Friday night stitch-a-thons), the Comfort Common (the old Ingenhuett-Faust Hotel that’s now a B&B and antiques co-op), and the Comfort Cellars Winery (the homemade jalapeño wine is too novel not to try). Better yet, sit for a long spell at High’s Cafe and Store. As you scoop up homemade hummus with garlicky pita chips or lick the frosting off a lemon cupcake, let the locals fill you in on the antigovernment antics of their Freethinking founders, which might, in turn, get you thinking about your own Slowmoving forebears.
Mileage from cabins 40 miles
After spending the morning near Stonewall traipsing through LBJ’s Texas White House, head east on U.S. 290 to Johnson City to eat lunch at the—wait! Was that a