8 State Parks Near Austin – 90 Minutes or Less

Texas has so many great state parks to explore, but sometimes you don’t want to venture too far from your home base. Especially when you have kids with you!

You don’t really want to spend 3 hours driving to a park when you have small children because you don’t want them to be whining before you even start your hike! Fortunately, Austin has lots of state parks you can reach with just an hour and a half drive (or less!).

8 State Parks Close to Austin

Save these spots on your ideas list for the next time you’re looking for a fun day out at the park. They’re great for long summer days, for First Day hikes at New Year’s or any weekend you’re just itching to get out into nature!

1. McKinney Falls

The only state park within Austin City Limits, McKinney Falls is great for a hike, a swim or jumping off the rocks into the water below! The upper falls is great for jumping and the lower falls is a relaxing place to spend a day wading, swimming or hanging out under the waterfall.

The lower falls are a short walk from the parking lot across a mostly flat (though bumpy) slab of rock, so lots of people bring chairs and wagons of supplies to make it a fun day.

2. Bastrop State Park

Head east to Bastrop to take a hike through the pine oak trees — and to see the devastating aftermath of wildfire. Lots of the trees are still growing back after the fires that tore through Bastrop State Park in 2011. 

There’s a lookout on a hill you can hike too or you can drive to it if that’s a better fit. 

While you’re in Bastrop, hit up Buescher State Park as well. These two are very close together, so you can visit both when you’re out east. 

3. Pedernales Falls State Park

Pedernales State Park is a gem out past Dripping Springs. Its geography makes it an exciting place to explore — the limestone that juts out has been eroded by the river over time making pools and holes and water flows. Kids can throw rocks in the water or scramble up boulders.

Swimming is only allowed in certain areas, so pay attention to the rules for your own safety!

4. Guadalupe River State Park

This park is a party waiting to happen. Lots of people bring tents, chairs and speakers and camp out here for the day. The limestone cliffs provide shade in some spots, and there’s lots of space to spread out.

There are shallow areas (where we were) that are perfect to just sit or wade in, and deeper areas for kayaking or paddleboarding.

5. Blanco State Park

We make a yearly trip to Blanco State Park just to swim in the cool river! When the water level is normal, there’s a pretty waterfall that goes all the way across the dam wall between the upper and lower levels (both are spots where you can swim).

There’s also a small pool that’s perfect for smaller kids because it’s only a few feet deep and there’s no current.

We love to stop at a brewery on our way home!

6. Inks Lake State Park

We’ve gone out to Burnet to hike in this park several times in the past couple of years. It’s an easy drive (especially if you live on the north side of town), and there are lots of activity options. You can hike, swim, kayak or cliff jump.

The landscape is fun, with rocky pink hills and tons of cacti! Kids will enjoy just scrambling around the rocks.

7. Longhorn Cavern

Every time we go out to Inks Lake, we think we should head to Longhorn Cavern too. We haven’t yet because I haven’t been sure how patient the kids would be on a 90-minute guided tour (the only way to access the cavern itself) and it’s kind of expensive if they’re not going to enjoy it.

Maybe this will be the year now that they’re a little bit older!

8. Lyndon B Johnson State Park and Historic Site

My husband read a really good biography series about LBJ a few years , and since then, it’s been his dream to go on an LBJ tour of the hill country. It’s definitely NOT my dream day, but I wouldn’t mind going to the state park/historic site.

There are some short walking trails, a WWI-era living history farm, bison, longhorns and a swimming pool open in the summer. If you are looking for more to do than just hiking, this is a great option


Here are 6 more options that are very drivable from the Austin area if you’re looking for even more state park ideas for your next day trip or camping trip!

Looking for more hikes around town? Check out these 12 hikes in Austin city limits.

Or visit one of the best playgrounds in town (according to locals, so you know they’re good)!

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