Austin, Texas, is a varied and vibrant city recognized for its music, food, and culture. It does, however, have some of the most beautiful scenic drives in the country. There is something for everyone who enjoys exploring the outdoors, from hilly country roads and lakeside views to winding rural lanes and urban parks. Whether you live in the city or are traveling for the first time, you won’t want to miss these magnificent scenic drives that will take your breath away. In this blog post, we will walk you through the most picturesque and magnificent scenic drives in Austin, TX. So let’s go on the road and see what Austin has to offer.
#1. The Loop 360
The Loop 360 is an iconic scenic drive in Austin, offering panoramic views of the stunning Texas Hill Country. The route features winding roads, lush green hills, towering oak trees, colorful wildflowers, and picturesque vistas. One highlight is the famous Pennybacker Bridge, also known as the 360 Bridge, which spans across the Colorado River. This architectural marvel provides a stunning backdrop for capturing memorable photos. Along the route, several overlooks and scenic viewpoints allow visitors to enjoy the rolling hills, sparkling lakes, and vibrant colors of the changing seasons.
The Loop 360 is also known for its diverse wildlife, including deer, rabbits, and various bird species. Spectators can even spot a majestic hawk soaring above the treetops or a playful squirrel leaping from branch to branch.
#2. Barton Creek Boulevard
Barton Creek Boulevard, one of the best scenic drives in Austin, TX, offers a picturesque drive-through with lush greenery and towering trees, showcasing the area’s natural beauty. The well-maintained road provides a smooth and enjoyable experience for visitors. The Barton Creek Greenbelt is a popular outdoor destination for hikers, bikers, and nature enthusiasts, offering trails and swimming holes. Parking is available for leisurely strolls along scenic paths.
The drive passes by upscale neighborhoods and elegant homes, adding a touch of luxury to the picturesque scenery. The combination of natural beauty and architectural splendor creates a captivating experience that will leave visitors in awe.
#3. The Colorado River
Route 2222 in Austin offers stunning views of the Colorado River and its surrounding natural beauty. The winding road takes you along a picturesque route, offering panoramic vistas and serene surroundings. The lush greenery along the riverbanks creates a serene atmosphere, perfect for a peaceful escape from the city. The route offers numerous lookout points and scenic overlooks, providing a postcard-worthy setting with the vibrant hues of the river.
#4. Mount Bonnell
Mount Bonnell, located in Austin, offers a breathtaking scenic drive with stunning views of the city skyline, Colorado River, and Hill Country. The lush greenery and wildflowers create a picturesque backdrop, with the scent of blooming flowers adding to the sensory experience. The vantage point from Mount Bonnell offers a unique perspective of Austin’s natural beauty, showcasing the merging of urban and natural landscapes.
The peaceful surroundings and awe-inspiring views create a sense of tranquility, making it an ideal escape from city life, allowing visitors to reconnect with nature and find solace in its beauty.
#5. The Oasis on Lake Travis
A scenic drive along Oasis Bluff Drive to The Oasis, known as the “Sunset Capital of Texas,” offers breathtaking views of Austin’s stunning Lake Travis. The drive offers winding roads with various angles, making it an ideal destination for nature enthusiasts, photographers, or those seeking a peaceful escape. The Oasis is a sprawling complex with multiple decks and terraces, perfect for capturing the stunning sunset.
Visitors can enjoy a meal on one of the many outdoor patios, where the sun casts vibrant hues of orange, pink, and purple across the sky. The Oasis also offers dining options, from casual to fine dining, allowing guests to enjoy delicious Tex-Mex cuisine while taking in the picturesque backdrop of Lake Travis.
#6. Hamilton Pool Road
Hamilton Pool Road is an ideal destination for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers seeking to explore Austin’s stunning beauty. It is without a doubt one of the scenic drives in Austin, TX, and it takes you through the picturesque Texas Hill Country, leading to the mesmerizing Hamilton Pool Preserve.
The road winds through rolling hills with vibrant wildflowers and lush greenery, creating a serene and idyllic atmosphere. The preserve is home to a magnificent natural pool formed by thousands of years of water erosion, with turquoise waters against towering cliffs. After arriving, you can take a short hike down to the pool and enjoy a refreshing dip.
Beyond the pool, Hamilton Pool Road offers picturesque landscapes, rolling vineyards, quaint farms, and charming country homes. The road invites you to slow down and savor the Hill Country’s beauty, with ample opportunities to stop and capture memorable photographs.
#7. Lime Creek Road
Lime Creek Road is a hidden gem in the Texas countryside, offering a breathtaking scenic drive that showcases Lone Star State’s beauty. The winding road winds through lush green landscapes, rolling hills, and stunning vistas, offering glimpses of serene lakes, charming ranches, and vibrant wildflowers. One highlight is Lake Travis, where the road hugs the shoreline, providing panoramic views.
The road also meanders through towering oak trees, providing shade and a sense of serenity. Visitors can spot wildlife such as deer and other native animals. Lime Creek Road also offers access to hiking trails and parks, allowing visitors to explore hidden gems like cascading waterfalls and hidden caves.
#8. South Congress Avenue
South Congress Avenue is a must-visit destination in Austin, offering a unique and eclectic atmosphere characterized by local boutiques, vintage stores, trendy eateries, and live music venues. The street is filled with colorful storefronts catering to various styles and tastes. Food enthusiasts can enjoy a diverse range of dining options, including food trucks serving tacos and barbecue joints offering smoked meats.
The lively music scene on South Congress Avenue is also a highlight, with many bars and venues hosting live performances that showcase local talent and keep Austin’s renowned music culture alive. The vibrant colors, eclectic storefronts, and lively music scene create an experience that truly embodies the spirit of this dynamic city.
#9. Lady Bird Lake
Riverside Drive in Austin is a must-see scenic drive, offering breathtaking views of Lady Bird Lake. Starting east, the road winds alongside the lake, named after former First Lady Lady Bird Johnson. The serene ambiance is complemented by lush greenery, vibrant vegetation, and sparkling blue hues. The lake’s sparkling blue hues create a stunning contrast. Take a pit stop at one of the many parks along Riverside Drive for a leisurely stroll or picnic, allowing you to appreciate the tranquility of Austin’s outdoor spaces.
#10. East Riverside Drive
East Riverside Drive in East Austin is a hidden gem that showcases the area’s diverse and vibrant culture. It starts near the Colorado River and offers picturesque views and lush greenery. The area is known for its diverse mix of restaurants, food trucks, and bars, offering authentic local flavors. East Riverside Drive also features a thriving arts and music scene with galleries, studios, and live music venues. Visitors can enjoy contemporary art and live performances.
One highlight of the scenic drive is exploring Roy G. Guerrero Park, which offers trails, sports facilities, and picnic areas. Visitors can also take a leisurely stroll or rent a bike to fully immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the area. The vibrant street art on East Riverside Drive reflects the community’s creativity and spirit.
#11. The Texas State Capitol
The Texas State Capitol, one of the best scenic drives in Austin, TX, is located in downtown Austin and is a symbol of historical significance and architectural grandeur. Built in the late 19th century, it serves as the seat of government for the state and is a testament to the city’s rich history. The Capitol grounds offer a picturesque backdrop with well-manicured lawns, beautiful fountains, and statues of prominent Texans.
Visitors can explore the grounds, discovering fascinating insights into Texas history and its journey toward independence. The grounds also provide opportunities for leisurely strolls and picnics, with shady spots under trees to appreciate the tranquility and beauty of the landscape.
#12. Lake Austin Boulevard
Lake Austin Boulevard is a scenic drive in Austin, offering breathtaking views of the serene beauty of Lake Austin. Starting at Enfield Road, the road winds through charming neighborhoods, providing opportunities to immerse in the natural beauty. Lookout points and parks along the route offer perfect settings for picnics or leisure strolls, allowing visitors to enjoy the fresh air and soothing sounds of nature and admire the surrounding landscape.
One highlight of the scenic drive is the iconic 360 Bridge, also known as the Pennybacker Bridge, which spans across Lake Austin and provides a stunning backdrop for memorable photographs. Don’t forget to capture the beauty of this landmark as you make your way along the boulevard.
#13. St. Edwards Park in Austin
St. Edwards Park in Austin, Texas, is a hidden gem for nature enthusiasts. The scenic drive takes you through winding roads and lush greenery, offering glimpses of the stunning landscape. Upon arrival, you’ll be transported to a different world, away from the city’s hustle and bustle. The park offers various hiking trails, catering to all levels of outdoor enthusiasts. One highlight is the stunning Bull Creek, which meanders through the landscape, creating small waterfalls and tranquil pools.
The park’s tranquility is unmatched, offering a much-needed escape from everyday life. Keep an eye out for the abundant wildlife, including colorful birds and playful squirrels. The park’s diverse ecosystem provides a harmonious environment for both flora and fauna, making it a delight to witness.
Safety Tips for Scenic Drives in Austin, TX
Prioritizing safety during scenic drives in Austin is crucial for a memorable and enjoyable experience. To ensure safety, research routes, check weather forecasts, and follow traffic laws. Stay alert and avoid distractions while driving, such as using your phone, eating, or adjusting the radio.
Share your itinerary with someone to inform them of your planned route and estimated arrival time. Carry emergency supplies, such as first aid kits, flashlights, spare tires, jumper cables, water, and non-perishable snacks, to be prepared for unexpected situations.
Respect wildlife and nature by observing wildlife from a safe distance and disposing of trash properly. Plan regular breaks to stretch legs, rest, and rejuvenate, using designated rest areas or pullovers in safe locations. By following these tips, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable scenic drive in Austin.