Like everyone else in the world, we’ve been getting pretty stir crazy lately so when a friend posted a few pictures of her family’s stay in Wimberley, Texas, I needed to be there pronto. We’ve been to a lot of different places in the Texas hill country, but somehow we’d never made it to Wimberley. As it turns out, it was the ideal little spot for a socially distanced couples getaway.
I’m sure before COVID it was probably even better without all the closures. We would have loved to do a wine tour and visit some distilleries, but the ones we were interested in were either closed or charging outrageous prices. Hamilton Pool looks amazing too, but it was also closed. Still, we found plenty of things to do, places to eat, and ways to enjoy the area and each other’s company.
Where to Stay in Wimberley:
Cabins on the Square
We stayed at Cabins on the Square in “downtown” Wimberley. I’m actually really hesitant to share this place because I really want to keep it my own little secret. But I did learn about them from my friend who was nice enough to share and they’re just too perfect not to tell the world. The whole property is clean and comfortable, and cute as can be! They have the main house for rent that’s big enough to sleep 7 and includes a kitchen. Another cabin has 3 separate units, each with 2 queen beds and a bathroom.
But our favorite was the cozy cabin, just big enough for 2, tucked away on the far side of the property. It was indeed “cozy” (which translates to teeny tiny), but it was perfect! The main room had just enough space for a king-size bed and not much more (but it was insanely comfortable, by the way). The bathroom is separated by just a little curtain in the doorway, but to be honest, there wouldn’t have been room for an actual door there anyway. Tiny, yes, but it is the cutest little cabin ever!
One of the main draws to this property is the location. The bulk of the shops and restaurants in Wimberley are all within walking distance (hence the name, Cabins on the Square) and popular swimming holes are all just a few miles away. In an area without much parking, you get the ideal parking spot every time. But even as part of the Wimberley main square, the property is set back just enough to ensure peace and quiet.
Our absolute favorite part of staying at Cabins on the Square was the private access to Cypress Creek just out back. In the Texas heat, it was so refreshing to wade through the water, feel it rush around your legs, and hear it splashing over the rocks. Every night we sat with a drink in hand, listening to the water and watching fireflies, solving all the problems of the world. We came here to relax and simply enjoy each other’s company, and that’s exactly what we got.
Things to Do:
Jacob’s Well is technically a spring-fed, fully submerged cave system that feeds Cypress Creek and flows into the Blanco River. But really, it is the ultimate Texas swimming hole because it is literally a hole full of freezing cold water. The main cave opening is bordered by rocks that even give it the perfect natural diving board. The entire park is over 81 acres and is open year-round for hiking and other outdoor activities. Located only about 4 1/2 miles from downtown Wimberley, Jacob’s Well is an absolute must-see (and swim) if you are in the area.
You can enter the park to hike for free, but swimming is by appointment only (and yes, they stamp your hand and have a park employee present to check). For us, there were only a couple other families there at the same time, but I hear it can get crazy packed. Tickets to Jacob’s Well are $9 apiece and sold in 2-hour blocks. We got the first time for that day, from 10 am-12 pm. In my opinion, it was the very best time to go. The park actually opens at 8 am, but swimming doesn’t start until 10. We got there a little early to take pictures of the well without a bunch of people in it, and as soon as 10 am hit, Dustin was the first one in. We actually had the whole place to ourselves for a little bit!
The water is SO SO SO cold. Just like any hill country river, I suppose. But man, you never really get used to that shock. There are really 2 obvious places jump from. The lower rock is nerve-wracking enough because you just know hitting that water is going to feel like jumping into straight ice. The rocks above are for those who are a little more daring. I’m surprised I jumped at all, even from the lower rock, but of course, Dustin had to do the upper rocks. I was certain I was about to watch my husband lose his footing just getting up on the rocks and then hit his head in the fall and die at Jacob’s Well. Luckily, that’s not the story I’m telling you today.
Instead, I have a story about how I stupidly tried to walk across the slick river bottom to get a picture of Dustin jumping from the other side. I had my fancy phone in one hand and my extra fancy camera in the other. The river floor was super slick and I knew I was in trouble after just a step or two through the water, but it looked like going back would have been harder than going forward. Of course, I slipped and fell into the freezing cold water and dunked my phone and camera and almost died. There was another guy there that helped me back up and saved my camera, but there was no saving my pride.
The moral of this story is to wear good water shoes. Crocs are not good water shoes. Also, look a little closer than I did at the rocks. I’d thought the only way to get to the opposite side was to go across the river or to hike all the way around, but there is a little crevasse you can sneak through and easily get to the small boardwalk built just for this purpose. Let that be a lesson to you.
Blue Hole Regional Park is another popular hill country park with a classic little swimming hole along Cypress Creek. There is a lot more room to swim at Blue Hole than there is at Jacob’s Well, but the water is equally as cold. The park has 126 acres of space for outdoor activities, including several miles of hiking trails, and is owned by the city of Wimberley itself.
Like Jacob’s Well, to visit the park itself you do not need a reservation, but for swimming, you do need tickets. I actually got them for the same day as Jacob’s Well because that was all I could get but it worked out perfectly. Blue Hole tickets are $10 apiece and are sold for either morning or afternoon slots of 4-hour increments.
When you first enter the park, there is a huge grassy area where people claim their spot and set up camp, just like at the beach. It’s the perfect place for sunbathing, without the sand in your cheeks. I didn’t even see the swimming hole right away through all the trees. It’s actually just another spot along the river with privately owned property on the far side as well as upriver and downstream. But this section of slow-flowing water is a little slice of heaven. The big cypress trees lining the water, and the kids (and dads) jumping out of the tree on a rope swing make it that idyllic spot where kids spend their summers in every movie of all time.
Technically they have 2 rope swings (or chain swings really) but when we were there one of them was closed due to the dock being damaged by flooding. There are also a few little spots to reserve tables and chairs. But really, I think if you bring yourself a chair, a towel, and a good float, you’re set for a good relaxing day.
I know I’m probably the last person on earth who hadn’t ever been to Luckenbach, but now that I have been I can finally be somebody! Because you know… everybody’s somebody in Luckenbach… Never mind. Anyway, I’ve always wanted to go and it’s not far from Wimberley, so I finally got an excuse!
We went on a weekday so we may not have gotten the full experience, but this was meant to be a socially distanced getaway so it was perfect. There were plenty of people there, but every group had plenty of space. The singer stopped and talked to us during a break and he said he came that night thinking he was playing lead guitar. It wasn’t until he got there he found out he was a one-man show. As with everything, I’m sure COVID was to blame in some way for the headliner not showing, but I’d have never known he came unprepared. A dude with a guitar just playing whatever song came to mind is exactly what I’d pictured Luckenbach to be.
For the few people who have never hung with Waylon and Willie and the boys, picture the biggest most beautiful cypress trees you’ve ever seen, all strung with lights. Then add loooong picnic tables, good company, live country music, a few chickens wandering here and there, and a cold drink in your hand. That’s it. That’s everything you need in life, isn’t it? That’s Luckenbach, Texas.
The night we went was free but I know a lot of shows you need tickets for. Seating for outdoor events is first come first serve. Most shows are listed online as being family-friendly and (even though we didn’t have our kids with us) I’d agree with that, except for there being several smokers. Still, there’s plenty of space to just position yourselves upwind if that’s an issue. The gift shop inside the old post office closes well before the show ends, but I think the bar is open later. The Feed Lot was closed the day we visited but they seem to serve the typical grilled/fried fares you’d expect.
We didn’t stay too late and I don’t know how late it generally runs, but even if you just stop for a picture in front of the Luckenbach Post Office, the detour is totally worth it! Just know that when you try to sneak a picture of the rooster, he crows as loud as possible and totally gives you away.
Texas Hill Country Olive Co.
Dustin and I were so excited to visit Texas Hill Country Olive Company. We have friends who went to Italy a year or so ago (long before COVID) and came back joking about how they are now wine and olive oil snobs. So of course we wanted to go tell them the Texas stuff is where it’s at. I’d verified they were open, and we hit the road. This place is not right in town but it’s not too far by Texas standards. The road feels like you’re going out into the middle of nowhere, and you sort of are.
When we got there it didn’t seem too busy so we were excited to go do an olive oil tasting. But of course, even though they were open, they had stopped doing tastings because of COVID. I have to say I don’t understand why they couldn’t do tastings if they were still open and serving food, but I’ll admit I don’t know how their tastings work, so it is what it is.
We walked around the shop for a while, but without being able to taste anything we didn’t want to buy an expensive (to me) bottle of olive oil I didn’t even know if I’d like. We chose to get gelato made with olive oil instead. I got chocolate (obviously), and Dustin got goat cheese cherry (because he’s always gotta try the weird stuff). I’ll admit, even his weird flavor was pretty good. We wouldn’t have gone here if we’d known we couldn’t do a tasting but it sounds like it is a popular place when COVID doesn’t ruin everything. Guess we’ll just have to go back one day.
Hill Country Wine Shoppe
This wine shop was almost right next door to Cabins on the Square and by the time we came inside, we wondered why we hadn’t done several tastings already. Unlike other places in and around Wimberley, you can choose tastings by red, white, or sweet. I don’t like to waste time with stuff I know I won’t like and their tastings included all of the wines on each of their lists, not just one or 2. Psst! If you like sweet wines, the list is longer and their chocolate wine is to die for!
The shop doesn’t really stand out on the outside (other than just being the typical cute little shop in Wimberley), but the wooden bar on the inside was over 100 something years old and has been shipped all around to be used in a ton of old movies. It’s a small little place but it was one of my favorite stops in Wimberley. My only regret is not buying more bottles!
Where to Eat in Wimberley:
Creek Side Cookers BBQ
Our first night in Wimberley we ate at Creekside Cookers BBQ. The name Creekside was what drew us in, and sure, it’s close to the creek, but there is no creek access, let alone creek view from the restaurant. Still, we had walked there, we were starving, and the barbecue smelled amazing so we claimed an outside table and ordered some drinks. Our goal was to keep as socially distanced as possible and this place had a cute little outdoor seating area with large picnic tables that made it easy.
I kinda love places that have their own signature drinks with quirky names. Dustin got the “Dude” and I got “Brisket juice.” I’ll admit I don’t even remember what was in either of them, but the bartender was new and accidentally gave us doubles. Cheers!
As an appetizer, we ordered the brisket queso and guac. I love me some guac, but the brisket queso was phenomenal. Like, I may never eat regular old queso again. We also shared a giant BBQ stuffed baked potato that had the same delicious chopped brisket mixed in. Of course, as always, by the time we’d finished our appetizer, we weren’t even hungry but we (I) ate every bite of that sucker anyway.
Sugar Shack Bakery
For breakfast, before we hit Jacob’s Well, we stopped at Sugar Shack Bakery. This place was charming and exactly what you’d expect from a hill country bakery. We weren’t in the mood for sweets just yet (though they looked like perfection) so we got a Texas kolache with cheese (which was Texas-sized, of course) and my favorite, a jalapeño popper croissant. They were everything you’d expect and then some and I couldn’t decide if I was glad or mad that we’d gotten them to go instead of sticking around because what I really wanted was about 5 more of those croissants!
We hit up Yelp looking for a good local place and Mima’s kitchen seemed to be THE spot. It was also the same place we’d seen a line at earlier so it had to be good. Standing in line and maintaining social distance made it hard to see the menu until you get to the front of the line, so when we got there we decided to just order a few tacos a la carte so we didn’t hold up the line. You can never go wrong ordering tacos, right?
On the opposite side of the building from the service line is a shaded little outdoor seating area and we were literally the only ones utilizing it. The metal patio tables with Mexican bunting hanging overhead really round out a good taco if you ask me. The tacos were great but I would have also liked to go back and try something else if we’d had more time. We almost did go back to Mima’s actually because a lot of little mom and pop restaurants were either closed due to COVID or had weird hours, whereas Mima’s was open the most often.
Los Olivos Market
Los Olivos was one of the places I really wanted to visit after reading all the Trip Advisor reviews for things to do in Wimberley. Half of the shop is filled with a variety of sauces, jellies, dips, and seasonings available for purchase. Many of them they let you try and most I’d bet you couldn’t find anywhere else. The rest is a wine bar/tasting room that serves light lunches and snacks.
Dustin and I did a wine tasting and ordered an appetizer of pita bread with a cream cheese and black raspberry chipotle dip. I scarfed it up before Dustin could get much of it and I had to buy a bottle of the sauce to take home. I’m actually afraid to try to make it because my memory of this dip is so phenomenal I’m afraid my home version won’t live up to the hype. This was the only place we ate inside but there was only one other group dining there at the time. They sat at the bar and we sat in the window, far away from each other.
As we were strolling along we came across this cute little candy shop and decided to go in. To get the kids something, of course. And maaaaaybe me too. Once inside we saw they didn’t have a huge selection, but what they did have was good stuff. They had saltwater taffy, a bit of the old-time favorites, and some of the new stuff too. We got each of the kids a square lollipop and a pack of Fruit Stripe Gum because its high time Harper had a little exposure to such a classic. We also got a bag of mixed taffy for us to munch on over the next couple of days.
This might have been my favorite meal on the entire trip. We found it on Yelp but for some reason when someone mentioned it was a gas station taco shop I pictured one of those cute restaurants that have been converted from an old gas station. Nope. This is literally a taco shop inside a Shamrock gas station. Hence the name. But when you see a ton of locals and the wait is fairly long, you know it’s going to be good. And it was amazing! We sat outside and enjoyed our Taco Tuesday special at the table next to the “Tacoholic” sign. Next time we go, we’ll make like a local and call our order in. Mostly because I need some time to decide. Their menu is reminiscent of a Torchy’s selection, with the same deliciousness but at a much better price.
Monster Ice Cream
We went into Monster Ice Cream to see if they had anything else the kids might like because the sign outside said they sold candy. Once inside we saw they really only had a couple of little things (candy wise) and nothing all that exciting to bring home to the kids, but when we saw all the flavors of Amy’s ice cream we had to stay and try almost all of them. We each ended up getting a cone with 3 different flavors, but even then we had a hard time narrowing it down in order to choose. We really weren’t intending to get ice cream, but now we’re telling everyone they need to try Amy’s!
Old 300 Barbecue
We ate at Old 300 Barbecue in Blanco on our way to Luckenbach. It seems like it’s normally a popular place, especially since we saw the huge amount of boxes they were shipping out. I mean, to order food delivered is one thing, but to have it shipped is totally another. It has to be really good. The dining room was open, but we were literally the only ones eating there. The decor was everything you’d expect of a gooooood Texas barbecue joint.
When our food arrived, even though we’d said we were dining in, was all packaged to go. To be honest, it wasn’t anything to write home about. I know a lot of places have had to settle with supplies that are less than or poorer quality than their norm, so I’m hoping this was the case with Old 300 Barbecue. It was still alright, but not the best I’ve ever had.
Our last morning we had breakfast at Wimberley Cafe. We’d already tried to eat here but both times it was closed so I was glad we got the chance before we left. I don’t know what it is, but I love me some breakfast food when we’re on vacation! Their dining room was open but we chose to sit outside. I was afraid our spot would be in direct sunlight before our meal was done, but someone planned those seats out perfectly. The fans and misters sure helped too.
I ordered migas (eggs scrambled with bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, cheese, and tortilla chips) because I’ve somehow never had it before, and I think this may be my new go-to breakfast meal. It adds a little bit of a salty crunch but in just the right amount. Dustin ordered the 2 eggs and 2 cakes meal. I thought surely that wouldn’t be quite enough, but those pancakes were as big as his face!
Wimberley is officially a place we plan to return to, and if you know me you know I don’t do that often. I still need to experience Hamilton Pool and the wineries/breweries/distilleries when they can finally get back to some sort of normal. Though we obviously ate a LOT, there are still several restaurants I need to try too. The big question though is whether we’ll take our kids next time!
Have you been to Wimberley? What other things do we need to try?