I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, being outdoorsy is a trend and I’m obsessed. I’m not sure when this movement began, but if you haven’t gone hiking at least three times, what are you doing with your life? Hopefully, the days of being lazy and not caring about anything are over and we can get back to leading a fulfilling life (why was this ever even a thing, being lazy is NOT cool). Our generation is taking over and hiking one hill at a time (probably for Instagram purposes). If you don’t believe this is a trend, look at the top adventure brands that are excelling because of us (Patagonia/Chacos/Eno) and Barefoot has an excessive amount of cool outdoor clothing. Needless to say, getting outside and exploring is happening and you need to be a part of it, so here are my favorite places to take my dog to. (I chose top four not because I’m lazy and couldn’t think of a fifth, but because four deserves to be headlined also.)
Dinosaur Valley State Park; Glen Rose, Texas
I grew up only about fifteen miles away, so Glen Rose was always our go to. It’s one of those towns where it seems like everyone has their life together. It’s charming and has so many natural venues but Dinosaur Valley is my favorite. This 100+ acre state park has so much to offer, it has rivers running through it, 20 miles of trails, and a natural swimming pool called the Blue Hole. There’s a ledge of dirt that you can run off of and jump into the Blue Hole and you’re surrounded by huge rocks and trees that shade the entire pool. The best part, is there are actual dinosaur prints, and yes they’re’ real (I’ve seriously argued with someone for like an hour on if they’re real or not)! My favorite time of the year to go is obviously the spring, the first feild you see driving up is covered in Blue Bonnets and it’s majestical. My friends and I love taking a little road trip here and spending the day just hanging out and seeing what trouble we can get into (jk we don’t cause trouble).
Clark Gardens; Mineral Wells, Texas
I cannot say enough good things about these gardens, they feel like home! I had a best friend growing up and this was our sacred place, it makes all those memories rush over me everytime I even think about it. I really can’t believe I’m writing this, growing up I always complained when my parents took us to gardens like it’s such a random thing to want to go do (but it’s so worth). This garden sits kind of in the middle of nowhere, it’s 50 acres smacked in the middle of the country around Mineral Wells. They of course have the Japanese inspired area (what good garden doesn’t), a native Texas section and seasonal flowers galore. The coolest part I think is this structure that spirals, and if you go to the bottom its covered in vines, eye level with a small pond (dreamy am I right). Long story short, if you’re trying to impress me and take me on a date, I want to go here.
Krause Springs; Spicewood, Texas
How can I make a list of the best outdoor places, and not include on in the Austin area? You can’t, that’s how. Anywho, wow wow wow Krause Springs in naturally unnatural. It’s so surreal, but it’s all organic so that make’s it deserving of a spot on my list (because I’m so important lol). Near the office, they have an almost like fairy garden with giant wind chimes and that was enough to win me over. But then, you walk down and see an actual swimming pool that uses the water from the water from the river to fill it. As if that’s not enough, the river has rocks you can tan on, giant trees you can swing from and if you do a little walking, you can jump off a ledge that about 20 feet high (there’s also caves you can swim into, I was too scared though). The atmosphere is what you can expect from the Austin area, amazing. I feel as if it’s underrated, overshadowed by Hamilton Pool and the Guadalupe River, but it’s worth the $8 cover fee.
Possum Kingdom Lake; Graford, Texas
The best times are on the water (proven fact, don’t @ me). I’m biased and grew up on this lake, but it’s the best lake in Texas. The whole lake is surrounded by giant cliffs and a woodsy terrain so that contrast is pretty cool (sorry I like artsy things like the contrast of a landscape). They have two specific cliffs that make an almost entry way into a bay called Hell’s Gate. Inside Hell’s Gates are basically mansions and a plethora of yachts, also cool. This is where all the boats tie up and just have a good ole time. I admit, this isn’t hiking or that adventury, but it’s outside so counts. Also, if you go here, eat at Mary’s Cafe in Strawn, Texas and order the chicken fried steak (you’re welcome).