Exploring Texas’ Hill Country … Approved ✅

IMG_6222If you have following our social media accounts, you know that we just got back from 5 days in the Texas Hill Country. We explored Canyon Lake, Greune, New Braunfels and more! We had so much fun, so let’s break it down into activities:

(*** Note: Links for this post will be on the first mention of the activity, community or business name.)

 

Lodging

IMG_6550This time we stayed at Jellystone Hill Country Campground. To be honest, we’ve fallen in love with Jellystone after our visit to the Lone Star Jellystone Campground and wanted to try another one (read about our adventures here). This time we invited my mom and stepdad to join us and they were able to get an RV site next to us.

This Jellystone Campground has some many of the same features and activities that the Lone Star Jellystone Campground had, and a few new things, so it was a great experience to be able to explore the park and its amenities. From the start Jamie wanted to go explore. I’m surprised that we were able to get the RV set up without having to stop and explore. Once Daddy unloaded the scooter, he was off.

Campground Activities

 

One new activity that Jamie was OBSESSED with was the Jumping Pillow. So if you haven’t see these, it like this giants inflatable trampoline that is on the ground, rather than on legs. Jamie LOVES them. He went once, sometimes twice a day, rotating out adults to go with him (it was at the front of the park near the entrance). They had also placed covering over most of it so that helped with the sun exposure (I am a huge advocate of sun screen and skin care).

Jellystone Hill Country also has a calendar of scheduled activities for the weekend, so we participated in a Hey, Hey Ride (no hay, but pulled by a tractor), 2 scavenger hunts, some games and more (but this times not the s’mores)! The scavenger hunts were really fun, there was one that you did with a group and had 15 minute to find as many items as possible and another where you follow a map to match numbers to letters and solve a puzzle for a prize from the Ranger Station. (Spoiler alert: It was a patch!) We had so much fun just at camp, and Jamie has a chance to ride his scooter and play with other kids in the camp area.

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George and Jamie also spend some time at the pool area (I had injured my arm on day 2). There was pools and splash pads, and interactive water playground and slides. The slides were not working the first few days, but they got the part in fairly quickly and had it up and running by Sunday. I was impressed with how well they kept guests informed of the progress of the repairs. They also had an indoor pool, but we didn’t explore that one on this visit.

There were many activities we just didn’t have a chance to get to as well, like laser tag. They had a good sized “Old West Town” set up for laser tag (extra cost activity) that we explored while on the second scavenger hunt. Other activities includes a mining wash where you could purchase bags of dirt to mine for “treasures”, an indoor arcade, disc golf, various playground, various ball courts and arts and crafts. They even had a dog park which Buster enjoyed exploring despite not falling for any of Daddy’s pleas to go through the obstacles on the dog course.

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Exploring the Area: Gruene, Texas

IMG_6365We definitely made sure to explore the communities through the Hill Country. We have always loved visiting Gruene, Texas when we are in the area and this time was no different.

We went in the late afternoon with plans to eat dinner, walk around and look at the stores and such. Since Jamie and my parents were with us, taking in a show at Gruene Hall wasn’t on the schedule, but we saw a poster for one of our favorite Texas Bands, Two Tons of Steel. You can find them at Gruene Hall every Tuesday in the summers. (Two Ton … Tuesdays!!!)

We ate dinner at the Gristmill, which was amazing as always. Most of the seating is either outdoors or open to the outdoors and this time we were lucky enough to sit on the back porch overlooking the river. We were not lucky enough to get a table that had a fan blowing over it, but we survived.

After eating (the food was so good!) we decided to walk a bit to help us feel normal again. We went to most of the little shops and heard the bands starting up as we passed Gruene Hall. A

Experiencing New Eateries

We always love looking for new places to eat when we travel and have found that one of the best ways to find an unknown hot spot is to ask the locals. We had heard that there were many great BBQ places in the area, but George was determined to find one with inside seating because we had been out in the heat a lot. So we decided to try Bare Bull BBQ. BEST. DECISION. EVER.

O.k., maybe not EVER, but definitely one of the top decisions we made that weekend. The food was amazing, the staff was conversational and overall it was just an amazing experience. So much so, that we went back a second time to eat. There is a full review on our Facebook page (and I never really had any intention of doing food reviews on Mom Approved Adventures, but it was that good!)

The best was hey had combination sandwiches!! Our whole conversation while eating the second visit was about how genius of an idea that was and how we hadn’t seen it as a menu item on BBQ places (and living in Texas, we’ve been to a lot of BBQ places!) So next time you are visiting a new area, ask the locals where they go. You can bet that they have some great secret options and it may not be as crowded as the tourist spots!!

Water Adventures: Tubing on the River

You really can’t go to the Texas Hill Country in the summer and not explore tubing. We went tubing on the Guadalupe River on Friday and had fun, but the river was a bit low. We’ve been going for years and I never really thought about the river being low. We’ve been when its high and the rapids areas are a little more dangerous, but I never really thought about low water. So there was a lot of walking over rocky portions and dragging Jamie in his tube, because he was light enough.

This is when I injured my arm, because I am naturally clumsy, so when you add slippery rocks and new water shoes (I lost my favorite ones) there was bound to be some struggles. (I didn’t get hurt badly, just landed on my elbow when I fell because I refused to let go of Jamie’s tube even though George assured me he wouldn’t float off into the river never to be seen again. Yes, I’m a helicopter mom near water.)

IMG_6660On Sunday, George, Jamie and my stepdad took a boys’ trip to go tubing in the Comal River in nearby New Braunfels. Apparently, the water there was higher and getting there when the park (water entrance) opened meant there were not many people there. Jamie said that they had a blast, George said he didn’t have to get out of the tube at all to wade through low areas. Jamie added that there were a lot of places that were “so fast and fun Daddy said Mommy would tie our tubes together and hold my arm.” I guess that means it was way more fun!

All in all, river adventures when you are in The Texas Hill Country is a “must do” activity to have on your schedule.

Other Adventures: Hiking and Exploring Comal River

While we were exploring the area, we decided to take Buster on a hike or two while we explored. There is a lot of things he is limited on doing when we are on vacation, so we try to do long exploratory walks with him. We arrived on Thursday evening, so on Friday we decided to go explore around the Comal River near the Dam Corps of Engineer Road. At Canyon Lake Overlook we found some trails that led us down to the lake where we had nearly a whole beach to ourselves except for a couple fishing on another side and boats and jet skis in the distance.

This was Buster’s first water adventure and he loved it! I high recommend taking proper shoes and some sunscreen because the sun was definitely not playing. If you take dog with you, make sure to bring water for them to drink as well.

Natural Beauty: Devil’s Backbone

One thing George definitely wanted to do was go see Devil’s Backbone, a limestone ridge that stretches from Wimberley to Blanco. We talked to the staff at Bare Bull BBQ who told us that there is parts of the land that is owned by The Boy Scouts of America that was sold and now there are plans for a development there. We drove out to the Overlook to show Jamie, and discussed how places of natural beauty and open ranges such as this will one day be gone, paved over for homes and businesses. We have a short video of our limited view of the area from the Overlook Point on our Facebook page if you’d like to see it.

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Overall, our trip to The Texas Hill Country was amazing. Its always wonderful when you can find a place with so many diverse activities. We’ll post some of our scenic photos in a slideshow below.

Here is more information if you are considering this trip …

  • There are many lodging options in The Texas Hill Country: Hotels, Resorts, Campgrounds, Bed & Breakfasts, Cabins, etc. Find one that suites your family best.
  • making an itinerary is helpful because you may get overwhelmed with all the options, but be sure to balance indoor and outdoor activities because the summer can be quite hot (temps were in low 100s in early June).
  • Let there be flexibility in your schedule, because things will change. It’s best to be open to taking things as they come.
  • Water bottles for each family member!! Sunscreen in water in the summer and even winter is important. You don’t realize how hot it is with all those rocky canyons and such.
  • A little research goes a long way. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed, there are lots of helpful agencies like Hill Country Visitor website and city CVBs, like Play in New Braunfels,com whom I worked with about 10 years ago when I was an Entertainment Editor for an Army newspaper.

Bonus Points for Mom:

  • This is a great way to get your kids into nature. There were so many hiking, swimming, and exploring options.
  • Souvenirs … there are lots of places to get keepsakes, but don’t forget to take photos!
  • There are so many photographic sites that make amazing photos, you can always ask locals to give you the “inside scoop”.
  • There are many historical sites and landmarks that can make learning fun!
  • This will definitely be a place where every night the kids will go to bed without a fuss!
  • There are so many diverse activities for families of all types- indoor and outdoor, energy-burning and calming, this is definitely a memory-making vacation.

Some of our more scenic photos …

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