Most visitors to Burnet County in the Highland Lakes region, about an hour northwest of Austin, come for the water. Boating, fishing and swimming are the main attractions at the chain of seven turquoise Colorado River reservoirs that meander through this scenic part of the Hill Country. It’s easy to spend a perfect summer day splashing in Devil’s Waterhole at Inks Lake State Park, water-skiing on Lake Buchanan (pronounced “Buck-cannon” by those in the know), or fetching bass. and catfish on Lake LBJ. Increasingly, however, there is also plenty to do on land. A growing number of wineries, cafes, shops, and even the state’s only ATV park with a chairlift await. Between the towns of Burnet (“It’s Burn-it, Durn-it. Lurn-it!”, as the locals will be quick to remind you) and Marble Falls, which are separated by an easy fifteen-minute drive, it There are more than enough ways to spend an idyllic weekend here, while avoiding the crowds that flock to more touristy spots such as Fredericksburg or Galveston.
Eat + Shop
The perfect place to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the sunset over Lake Buchanan, this upscale restaurant features large windows and a large terrace. The kiwi fried chicken and seafood cobb salad with shredded salmon and prawns stood out.
This modestly sized white brick storefront invites showcases of sweet concoctions, each one more enticing than the next. The pecan toffee is the main attraction. Choose from dark, milk or white chocolate, or take home a decadent tub of caramel topping to drizzle over ice cream. Owners Michele and Steve Parsons are generous with the free samples; there is also a cafe-bar and a comfortable lounge area. The Parsons also own Third Street Treasures, the airy gift shop next door, where you can browse ceramic tchotchkes, jewelry, and more.
This quirky breakfast and lunch spot is popular with locals, which is always a good sign. The four-egg omelettes and chocolate chip pancakes are divine. As you eat, take a moment to admire the handcrafted table designs, which include a bicycle made of knobs and a guitar buried under acrylic.
This eclectic mix of artwork is the creation of over sixty local artists and volunteers. Take a stroll through the displays and choose a piece that will remind you of your Highland Lakes getaway. 90% of the proceeds from each sale are donated to the artist, whom you may even meet.
Opened last fall, this cheese shop is located in the central courtyard of Marble Falls and offers tangy, creamy and distinctive cheeses. Stop by for a sample of Prairie Breeze Aged White Cheddar (or whatever else suits your palate), and you’ll likely stay for a plate of charcuterie and a bottle of wine.
A bakery that celebrates happy times, this café is decorated with hanging photos of happy customers biting into sweet treats. The stuffed cookie – it’s actually two cookies stuffed with frosting – is as big as a dinner plate and perfect for two.
Taste + Grill
Under new ownership this year, Flat Creek is growing and innovating. The eighty-acre estate is stunning, with a jaw-dropping tasting room and covered outdoor area offering sweeping views of the vineyard. Sit back and sip the Super Texan, a blend of Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Primativo and Petite Syrah, or try the Aglianico, one of the most in-demand wines. The property is also home to a championship-level disc golf course, open to the public.
A great tasting stage indoors and outdoors, Perissos offers a typical Roussanne aged under an acacia tree for six to eight months. It’s the same type of wood used to build the tabernacle mentioned in the Bible, hence the drink’s nickname, holy wine. Visitors return for the Viognier and the daring Italian stallion. Even on a busy weekend, the cellar doesn’t feel crowded.
Owners Karen and Blake DeBerry have selected Mediterranean varietals well suited to the hot, arid Texas climate, such as Sangiovese and Malbec. The hilly setting of the tasting room (Torr Na Loches translates to “hill above the lakes”) offers magnificent views. On a hot summer day, try the Afternoon Delight, which the DeBerrys call “sugar-free sangria.” Don’t leave without trying the tempranillo, which has a hint of clove that will have you sipping.
The town of Burnet wanted a tasting room, and Wedding Oak agreed. Without having to visit a vineyard, you can sample the popular Bridal sweet wine series or try one of the eleven new wines – yes, eleven – that debuted in April 2022.
City dwellers will be blown away by the dark skies and bright constellations at this lookout, located in the Canyon of the Eagles complex and featuring a sliding roof that opens to the sky. Presentations start at 10 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday and are $10 per person. An astronomer will use telescopes and computer-aided images to help you locate your zodiac sign and all those constellations you learned about in school.
Work out on the 3.4-mile round-trip Devil’s Backbone Nature Trail, which passes several small waterfalls and a wildlife viewing station before climbing to scenic water views. Finish your hike by joining an age-old Texas tradition: jumping into Devil’s Waterhole from a precarious rock perch. (If eight-year-olds can do it, so can you, and swimmers often cheer each other on.) Take a naturalist-guided walk for a chance to spot the endangered golden-cheeked warbler, which nests exclusively in Texas, then rent old-fashioned paddle boats and check out the cute Ranger Station store.
Descend into this ancient cave carved out by the river, where tiny bats sleep above your head. The lighting makes this walk surreal, as flashlight beams bounce off the rocks and highlight every crevice. Your guide will tell you about the history of the cavern, when Depression-era bands once played underground and well-dressed attendees danced and dined in most of the cavern. In some areas, you’ll stoop until your back hurts; in others, you’ll strain your neck staring at the towering ceilings.
The only chairlift-served mountain bike park in Texas offers routes for all skill levels. This popular place attracts children and adventurers. The names of the trails give you a clue as to their level of difficulty, from Itsy Bitsy to Stinger; boat and cabin rentals are also offered. The view from the lift only gets better as you go up the mountain, with Burnet County stretching out below you.
If you do anything on the water, this should be it. Climb aboard this double-decker boat for a relaxing ride on Lake Buchanan and the Colorado River. This waterway was once dry; now the submerged willows reach their branches out of the water, seeking the sun. Turn a corner and gasp as an unexpected waterfall reveals itself among the limestone cliffs. During the scenic eighteen-mile wilderness cruise, you may see wild cows and pigs grazing on a sandbar where the Comanches once came to cool off. In winter, bald eagles nest on the cliffs.
Canyon of the Eagles (purnet)
As you drive up Ranch Road 2341, the turquoise waters of Lake Buchanan suddenly appear. Your resort is right in front of you and you will be met there by a personal shuttle to your cabin. Covered decks with rocking chairs are the perfect place to relax. For a more rustic experience, pitch a tent in the resort’s primitive campground or park your RV.
This newly built property features shipping containers converted into modern cabins, some stacked to accommodate larger groups. On-site is Peddler’s Pies, which makes delicious wood-fired pizzas with a multitude of toppings, and Templeton Tavern, an outdoor bar with live music, a cornhole, and a fun rustic vibe.
Sit in a rocking chair on the wraparound porch and feel free to use the kitchen to cook a meal at this guesthouse, centrally located in Burnet. Creaky hardwood floors, floral wallpaper, gold drapes, antique furniture, and a clawfoot tub bring charm to each private suite, which includes a living room, large bedroom, and bathroom. Every stay here includes a breakfast voucher to use at one of the many local restaurants.