There are endless recreational activities to do at Lake Travis when the weather is good, but what about those great locations around the lake? Navigating the best things to do in Lake Travis isn’t so hard when you have some helpful travel tips. Here are the top recommendations that will help flesh out your next trip to Lake Travis.
Lakeside dining at its finest
Unless you’re bringing your own food and snacks, it can seem hit or miss for finding good comfort food on any trip to Lake Travis. And though you might need to go the extra mile, here are some dining choices that will be rewarding and filling after a day of lakeside fun.
Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill
It’s only a short half-hour drive to Moonshine Patio Bar and Grill directly from Lake Travis, so making reservations ahead of time is perfect timing. They don’t do breakfast but this is the best joint for lunch, dinner, and late-night cravings. They serve southern comfort food including corn dog shrimp and chicken fried steak, but also offer veggie and vegan options likewise. Just like everything in Texas, these portions are certainly large and the service is always friendly.
SP Brazilian Steakhouse
So close to the lake, it’s less than 10 minutes down the road to reach SP Brazilian Steakhouse. This meat-lovers hotspot is open for brunch, lunch, and dinner and has a huge salad bar for anyone picky about eating meat. If you haven’t experienced Brazilian steak before, you’ll be an instant fan, to say the least. They feature great meals, desserts, and awesome service all-around, so don’t miss this meaty Mecca close to the lake.
Another amazing place to visit that is just half an hour from the lake is Franklin Barbecue. Now, if you don’t know who Aaron Franklin is, you certainly won’t have heard of the Legendary Pitmaster John Mueller. Aaron, at a young age, started working as ‘food prep’ for Mueller and learned his BBQ craft thereafter. In a last-minute twist, Aaron even bought Mueller’s custom smoking pit under very strange circumstances.
To make a long story short, Franklins Barbecue is more than your standard BBQ joint flavor. It’s a chance to taste what you’ve only heard about BBQ in legends. Truly a spot to eat once (or more) in your life!
Delightful photo sights
Getting a picture-perfect selfie or group photo is always a challenge if you can’t find the right angle. Then again, some spots around the lake are certainly going to be memorable and iconic. Take a closer look at these locations for your next photo opportunity.
You’ll need a reservation to enjoy this amazing grotto and depending on the time of year will determine the level of water that’s there. When the water is plentiful, it’s an iconic visit complete with waterfalls and amazing picturesque memories. It’s best to view this spectacle after the rainy season or between March and October. Space is limited, so be sure to check ahead to see if this lesser-known attraction is right for you when you go.
Hippy Hollow Park
A true Texas tradition and one of the few places where you can let it all hang out. Hippy Hollow is an 18+ reservation since it’s a nude beach retreat, where you can swim and even do some fishing. You do need a good pair of water shoes since the rocks can be jagged and slippery, but once there it’s quite relaxing. If you’re a free spirit and don’t mind a short hike to get there, this is definitely one location to cross off your bucket list.
This is a campground that allows overnight camping for a small reservation fee. The location itself feels more like a fairy jungle and has such an organic sensation rather than your typical camping experience. The main spring has a rope swing and waterfall and there is also a butterfly garden that will fuel your imagination. There are certainly some of the biggest trees that you’ll ever see in Texas, making this spot perfectly shaded and peaceful.
The Lake Travis Triangle
Fun on the water is nice but sometimes you just want to stretch your legs for a stroll. Lake Travis is full of wonders that often intersect with each other. This is one triangle that you can explore that gives you a different perspective on hiking and park activities around the lake.
Arkansas Bend Park
For a location that is only 300 acres, they managed to pack in 5 miles of hiking trails that will supply you with panoramic views of Lake Travis. The trails are well kept and there is also plenty of space for picnics and lakeside views. It’s a great place to get away for an afternoon when activity on the lake seems too crowded for comfort. Because the park has three separate fingers that merge into the lake, there are plenty of cove spots to explore for keepsake memories.
Bob Wentz Park
Even if you scoff at paying the $10 fee to enter this park, it’s a little slice of heaven compared to the crowds you’ll likely encounter on Lake Travis. Aside from that, you can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities there including overnight camping and hiking. It’s also a haven for scuba divers if you bring your gear. It’s a beautiful retreat that doesn’t feel touristy whatsoever.
Mansfield Dam Park
A small park that is only $5 to enter if you’re under the age of retirement, but is well worth the views of the lake and has lots of picnic tables and grills for grilling events. Surprisingly it’s another great place to enjoy an afternoon if you’re looking to enjoy the water without being swamped by hundreds of tourists in the heavier traffic areas of Lake Travis.
Blink and you might miss it…
There are many odd mysteries surrounding Lake Travis and some of them are literally right under your nose. If you haven’t heard of these little-known attractions, now is the time to find out why these hidden destinations are a lot closer than you think.
This is less than 10 kilometers from Lake Travis and is a natural geothermal pool that is fed by underground springs spewing up warm water that is naturally 78-70 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. The pool itself is three acres in size and is said to have natural healing abilities. This is why it has seen an increase of 800,000 people per year visiting in recent years. The best part is that admission is free!
The Sometimes Islands
Long before Lake Travis was ever a lake, the various hills and valleys around the area were all different heights. In the center of the lake, there are a series of islands that form when the lake has less water than usual. Recently, the level of the lake has increased to the point that the Islands are not seen so easily. The last time they appeared was before 2015 due to drought. You can also see the current water level updates here.
It’s also called Monkey Island, Rattlesnake Island, and Starnes Island but is still a popular place to go if you’re looking to enjoy some quality time on a party barge. Not to be confused with the other Snake Island that is located on Lady Bird Lake not far from Austin. It’s located where you see a mass of party barges gathered at the lake itself, which is where you can find its current location.