Inspired by one of my favorite shows, The Daytripper, I thought that today I would tell you about one of my favorite daytrips: to Goldthwaite, Lampasas, and San Saba. The reason I love it is because it’s less-trafficked and offers a mash up of history, conservation, and small town charm all in one small radius.
The landscape in this part of Central Texas features rolling hills and long views of ranchland, so not much to complain about there. Even though it’s only a little over an hour from Austin suburbia, it is somehow protected from the urban fray and remains pristine open Texas hill country.
• The highlight of this area is the Texas Botanical Gardens and Native American Interpretive Center, aka Legacy Plaza, a city block-turned-native garden on the main street of Goldthwaite. This garden is far more than just a place to see pretty plants. It’s an outdoor museum of historic artifacts and plants showing the rich history of people who called Central Texas home 6,000 to 10,000 years ago. As you walk into the garden, you easily forget you are on main street. Boulders brought in from nearby ranches recreate the cliffs and canyons found along Colorado River, this area’s distinguishing natural feature, and a stream meanders through the property. Native plants and flowers cascade over the boulder walls and you’re likely going to see butterflies and birds happily taking advantage of this urban habitat. Every so often throughout the garden there are placards describing various points in history and artifacts demonstrating how people lived centuries ago. The Center offers educational programming for all ages on topics ranging from native plants to bugs to ancient civilizations. See their website for all the details and upcoming events: www.legacyplaza.org.
• Regional guided tour – If you want to get out into the countryside, the staff at Legacy Plaza can set you up with private tours of nearby ranches where you can see even more restored native grasslands and historical artifacts.
• Mills County General Store – After the garden, pop over to Mills County General Store for some shopping. They have everything from candy to cast iron, plenty of things you need, and plenty of things you don’t. (More information at www.therealmillscountygeneralstore.com).
• Toupsie’s in Lampasas – This is a great lunch stop if you like Cajun food!
• Mill Pond Park – A pretty stop for an afternoon picnic, Mill Pond Park has a spring-fed lake and a beautiful waterfall. There’s a playground, trails, and basketball court, as well as shaded picnic tables.
• Regency Bridge in San Saba – To satisfy those engineers in your bunch, I recommend making a stop at this one-lane wooden suspension bridge built by hand in 1939. You may recognize it from the intro to Texas Country Reporter. It’s quite a sight amid the rural landscape and provides great views of the Colorado River. One of Regency Bridge’s precursors collapsed under the weight of a herd of cattle. #OnlyinTexas!