Day Trips

Outdoors Austin, an easy-to-maneuver reference guide, can help you discover the treasures of Austin. The third edition of the Sierra Club's popular guide book is one of the best resource collections ever assembled of the who, what, and where of outdoor recreation in a 100-mile radius of Austin, whether you're looking for water recreation, a camping spot, or just a peaceful place to collect your thoughts.

It is amazing that editor Nancy Fuentes could pack so much information in less than 200 pages. With the help of 64 volunteers and professionals, Fuentes has covered just about every outdoor activity imaginable from gardens to hang gliding. Left out are those activities that are not consistent with the Sierra Club's philosophy of "to explore, enjoy, and protect the nation's scenic resources."

This is the first place I have ever seen precise directions to Airman's Cave on Barton Creek (3/4 of a mile downstream from the Loop 360 bridge on the left bank as you're looking back upstream). Did you know that there are 200 caves in Travis County, but Airman's is the only one on public land?

The guide book first appeared in the late Seventies and was updated, redesigned, and reprinted in February 1996. Profits go to the Austin Regional Group of the Sierra Club. The book is published by Texas A&M Press and is available at most area bookstores for $12.95.

The Great Stays of Texas, published by the Historic Accommodations of Texas (HAT) and edited by Sharry Buckner, is another useful storehouse of information to have around the house if you travel anywhere in Texas. The book lists the 87 member properties of HAT. This is the place to begin when looking for a change of pace from the roadside motels on a business trip.

Meeting the criteria for being historic seems to be as simple as being an old house, but the book does include some properties with interesting, if obscure, historical significance. In Winnsboro you can stay in the mansion once owned by Governor Jim Hogg's in-laws (Thee Hubbell House, 903/342-5629).

The list covers guests houses, bed & breakfasts, inns, and hotels in some of the most popular tourist areas of Texas. The Great Stays of Texas is available from HAT members (there are four in Austin) or for $9.95 from HAT,
800/HAT-0368 or

The Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail map is useful to an avid birder or just a weekend naturalist looking for new territory to explore. Put together by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and the Department of Transportation, the guide lists nature areas open to the public. Best of all, the colorful map is free.

Birdwatching is one of the fastest-growing pastimes, and the Texas coast with over 450 species of birds has more than any other place in America. The two state agencies and coastal communities have realized the tourist potential of birdwatching and developed a trail of birding sites between Houston and Corpus Christi. The first of a series that will eventually cover 600 miles of Texas coast, this map and guide covers the central coast.

The map is available from state travel information centers, 800/452-9292, or

Coming up this weekend...

Melodrama comes alive at the Bastrop Opera House for the last two performances of My Sister in This House, Mar. 7 & 8. Reservations are being taken for a Bastrop sleepover with two plays and a night at a local bed & breakfast, Apr. 4-May 3. 512/321-6283.

Steel Guitar Jamboree at the Harvey Hotel in Dallas attracts performers and vendors, Mar. 6-9. 214/285-1251.

Old Car Picnic brings hundreds of classic cars to the San Jacinto Battleground Monument in Houston, Mar. 9. 281/479-2431.

Coming up...

St. Patrick's Day Celebrations happen in the Texas towns of Dublin, Shamrock, San Antonio, Dallas, and Surfside Beach,
Mar. 14-15. 800/452-9292.

Riverfest happens every weekend along the Colorado River from San Saba to Bay City, Mar. 15-May 17. For a map, call

Columbus Discovers Palacios when the replica of the Niña arrives at Turning Basin #3, Mar. 15-23. 512/972-3960. n

Day Trips, Vol.1, a book of the first 100 day trips from this column, updated and expanded, is available for $6.95, plus $3.05 for shipping and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, 1712 E. Riverside Dr., Box 156, Austin, TX 78741.

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More Day Trips
Day Trips: Watergarden, Corpus Christi
Day Trips: Watergarden, Corpus Christi
Back and better than ever after seven-year dry spell

Gerald E. McLeod, May 17, 2024

Day Trips: Village Creek State Park
Day Trips: Village Creek State Park
Celebrating the 30th anniversary of providing diverse forest along a free-flowing creek

Gerald E. McLeod, May 10, 2024

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