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From the Arts to the Parks: 9 Top Things to do in Bastrop Texas

Colorado River Bridge Bastrop
The bridge over the Colorado River in Bastrop. Photo Credit: Visit Bastrop

Bastrop’s small-town charm is inescapable, with a historic downtown to stroll, a river to paddle, and several parks to explore. Less than an hour east of Austin, Texas, Bastrop is home to a cluster of loblolly pine trees along the shores of the Colorado River. The historic downtown features live music most weekends and charming restaurants and shops. Home to four different parks that offer camping and recreation, visitors can camp in a historic cabin. However, non-campers will find a luxury resort too. Here are the top things to do in Bastrop Texas.

9 Top Things to Do in Bastrop Texas

  1. Visit a Park.
  2. Take a Hike.
  3. Paddle a Kayak.
  4. Camp in an Airstream.
  5. Zip across the Treetops.
  6. Float a Lazy River. 
  7. Visit the Zoo.
  8. Stroll Historic Downtown Bastrop.
  9. Eat Pecans.

Buescher and Bastrop State Parks 

Standing next to each other, Bastrop and Buescher State Parks protect 7,600 acres. Each is a regional destination for outdoor recreation. One of the most popular activities is to ride between the parks, on a bike or in a vehicle.

Bastrop State Park

The westernmost strand of loblolly pines is protected in the parks.  In 2011, a forest fire raced through Bastrop State Park, damaging many of the pine trees. The young trees cover the scars of the fire. However, the power of forest fire is evident.

Visitors can find clusters of old-growth pines in Bastop State Park, especially around the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built cabins. The cabins used local materials when built in the 1930s by young men as a part of the New Deal. Each mirrors the design of the National Park Service’s rustic architecture style,

The centerpiece of Bastrop State Park’s historic architecture is the Refectory. The CCC finished the building using local walnut, oak and pine. Artisans in the CCC built furniture for the Refectory along with other parks like Indian Lodge out in West Texas. The enduring CCC craftsmanship of the Refectory earned Bastrop State Park’s National Historic Landmark designation. This is one of the top things to do in  Bastrop, Texas.

What to do in Bastrop State Park 

Bastrop offers hiking with 8.5 miles of trails. Some of the trails can be used for biking as well. 

State Parks don’t require a fishing license; most loan out equipment. Great for families who want to try out fishing. The visitor center is the place for equipment then drop a line in Lake Mina, a .5-acre lake. 

Visitors will fnd a pool at Bastrop State Park, open seasonally with additional admission.

Bastrop cabin
One of Bastrop State Park’s historic cabins. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Camping in Bastrop State Park 

Bastrop State Park offers historic cabins set among an old-growth pine forest. Each cabin offers a/c and heating, an outfitted kitchen, a full bathroom, and a fireplace. 

The smallest cabin offers accommodations for two people for $110 a night. The largest cabin offers accommodations for six people for $150. 

Additionally, there are three campgrounds with restrooms, showers, and flush toilets. Campsites include fire rings and picnic tables.  Choose from RV sites with hook-ups, tent sites with water or electricity, along with walk-in sites. 

Located at 100 Park Road. Day-use adult admission (12+) is $5.

Buescher State Park 

Buescher State Park is connected to Bastrop State Park by Park Road 1C.  Both parks can be explored on the same trip. 

Buescher State Park offers more plant diversity than Bastrop’s, and its forest grows more oaks and cedars. Buescher State Park is further away from downtown Bastrop and closer to Smithville. It is also one of the top things to do in Bastrop, Texas. 

What to do at Buescher State Park

Visitors will find 6 miles of hiking trails. The 12-mile road connecting the state parks is a popular route for cyclists with shade and small hills. 

Buescher State Park Lake is 30 acres. Visitors can rent a canoe at the visitor center by the hour or fish with the park’s loaner gear. Texas State Parks don’t require fishing licenses. 

Camping in Buescher State Park 

Centered around its lake, campers will find walk-in, tent and RV sites. Additionally, Buescher offers screened shelters, premium shelters, and mini-cabins. Restrooms with flush toilets and showers are located in each of the three camping loops. Campsites start at $15. 

Screen shelters feature screens on all sides, including a table and overhead light. Premium shelters offer solid wood walls and more privacy, though no beds. Outside campers will find fire pits and picnic tables at both types of shelters. Screen shelters start at $25. 

The mini-cabins offer a/c and heat along with a microwave and mini-refrigerator. Each is outfitted with a pair of bunk beds and an interior table. Mini-cabins are $85 a night.

Located at 100 Park Rd. 1E. Day-use adult admission (12+) is $5.

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LCRA Lake Bastrop

The Lower Colorado River Authority owns two parks on Lake Bastrop—North Shore Park and South Shore Park. Both parks offer restrooms with showers and flush toilets. Find dump stations and ice makers. Camping fees start at $35.

LCRA North Shore Park

On the north shore, the LCRA North Shore park features lots of camping options, including RV sites, tent sites, and Airstreams for rent. Visitors will find a fishing pier, boat ramp, swimming and rental kayaks, SUPs and corcl for rent by the hour or day.

Located at 603 RM 1441. Reservations are recommended for overnight stays. Day-use admission for adults is $5, and kids 12 and under are free.

South Shore Park

This park offers lots of camping options, including RV sites, tent sites, and cabins for rent. Visitors will find mini-golf, rental boats by the hour, or day.  The fishing pier, boat ramp and swimming area are available for use as well.

Located at 375 South Shore Rd. Reservations recommended. Day-use admission for adults is $5, and kids 12 and under are free.

 

McKinney Roughs Nature Park 

With over 1,100 acres and over 18 miles of trails, McKinney Roughs is a popular day-use park. Its meadows are stunning during the wildflower season (spring through summer). Visitors should start at the nature center to see native plants and live animals. It’s one of the top things to do in Bastrop, Texas. 

Located at 1884 Highway 71 West. Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Day-use adult (12+) admission is $5.

Zip Lost Pines

Bastrop features the longest dual-line canopy tour in Texas. With six lines, visitors will explore the treetops, and the trip takes about 2.5 hours to complete.

Located at 1760 Highway 71 West, next to the McKinney Roughs Nature Park main entrance. Open from Thursday to Monday. Rides start at $49 per person. Reservations required.

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Colorado River
Kids can take paddling trips down the Colorado River in Bastrop. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Paddling Trails along the Colorado River

For water lovers, paddling the Colorado River through town is a top thing to do in Bastrop, Texas.  As an official paddling trail, paddlers will go under bridges and pass groves of cottonwood trees. With two different trails,  both either start or exit in the center of Bastrop. 

  • Wilbarger Paddling Trail is 14.3 miles, an all-day trip. Enter at Utley Bridge on FM 969 and exit at Fisherman’s Park. 
  • El Camino Real Paddling Trail is a 6.4-mile, half-day trip. Enter at Fisherman’s Park and exit at the Lost Pines Recreational Trails. 

Bastrop River Company

Rent single kayaks, double kayaks, canoes, and SUPs by the hour. It also arranges trips on both paddling trails. Trips include a one-way ride to or from Fisherman’s Park. Trips start at $50, including the equipment. 

Located at 1400 Willow Street. The season runs from March until the end of October. Reservations are recommended for weekends and holidays.

Capital of Texas Zoo

Home to 500 wild and rare animals in an intimate outdoor facility. Animal feedings are available too. If traveling with little kids, It’s one of the top things to do in Bastrop, Texas.

Located at 376 A Jenkins R. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission (12+) is $15 and kids (2 to 11) are $10.

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credit: Visit Bastrop

Visit Historic Downtown Bastrop

Walk along the sidewalks of Downtown Bastrop and find public art and murals. From murals to painted utility boxes to galleries, the downtown is a destination for the arts.

Lost Pines Arts Center hosts events located at 1204 Chestnut St. 

Deep in the Heart Art Foundry hosts tours to see how bronze sculptures are fabricated. Located at 405 S. Jackson St. 

Astro Record Store offers a wide selection. Located at 910 Main Street. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. 

The Painted Porch Book Store is located next door at 912 Main Street. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Bastrop Opera House hosts several performances of the community-led theater. Located at 711 Spring St. 

Bastrop County Museum and Visitor Center

Learn about the history of Bastrop with displays of Native American artifacts recovered in the area. See displays of cotton farming and coal mining. 

Located at 904 Main St. Open from Monday to  Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission is $5 and kids 12 and under are free.

Bastrop 1832 Farmers Market 

Open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Located at 1302 Chestnut St.

Berdoll Pecan Candy Company

Pecans are a big crop in Central Texas so get some pecan candy as a souvenir. And don’t forget to grab a squirrel selfie with Ms. Pearl the Squirrel out front. It’s one of the musts for Bastrop, Texas.

Located at 2626 Highway 71 West. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (5:30 p.m. during the winter).

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Get a table overlooking the Colorado River in downtown Bastrop. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Where to Eat in Bastrop 

Meander Bastrop’s charming streets to find homey dining spots with menus packed with Texas favorites.

Maxine’s Cafe 

A stable for Texas cooking from mile-high pancakes to burgers and chicken fried steak. And next store is its bakery. 

Located at 905 Main St. Open daily from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

The Grace Miller

Order up favorites like Rosemary Peach Chicken along with burgers and pasta. Check its calendar for live music. 

Located at 706 Pine St. Open Monday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

The Bearded Baking Company

Find baked goods and treats, coffee and breakfast and lunch items on Main Street.  

Located at 1006 Main St. Open Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Neighbor’s Kitchen and Yard

Overlooking the Colorado River, Neighbor’s offers several decks for lots of outdoor seating. Find lunch, dinner and cocktail menu along with standout pizzas. Check out its calendar for live music too. 

Located at 601 Chestnut St. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. 

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Where to Stay in Bastrop

Bastrop offers everything from historic cabins to a luxurious resort, and both are s’mores ready with a location minutes from Austin Bergstrom International Airport.

Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort

The Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort is the destination for those wanting a laid-back, luxurious escape. Packed with activities, the resort offers bikes for all ages, a lazy river under the shade of century-old pecan trees, and nightly s’mores.

Find resort activities on-site, farm animals, and several restaurants. Rates from $200 plus resort fee.

Located at 575 Hyatt Lost Pines Rd.

 

Bastrop, Texas, less than an hour from Austin, offers an outdoor destination with two Texas State Parks, three regional parks, paddling trails along the Colorado River, a dual zip line, a zoo, along with a vibrant and historic downtown. Get the details to plan your small town getaway to Bastrop in this guide with lodging and dining recommendations. What to do in Bastrop Texas | State Parks close to Austin | Where to stay in Bastrop | Small Town Texas getaways #Bastrop #Texas

Catherine Parker has a passion for travel and seen all 50 U.S. States. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn't a North American airport that she hasn't landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting architectural and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas dividing her time between writing and restoring a pair of 100-year-old houses. She shares her life with her three kids and her husband.

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