By Courtney Griffin
Just as the idea of the perfect date varies from person to person, from a bowl of Cheetos and a Netflix marathon to dinner at a five-star restaurant, so do honeymoon dreams. While monthlong trips to far-off exotic lands might be perfect for some soon-to-be-wed couples, others facing budget and time constraints may prefer to take a simpler route and stay closer to home.
Here are a few honeymoon destinations in several different price ranges within driving distance of Central Texas.
For couples who prefer to be outdoors and active but don’t have a bundle of cash to spend, beautiful state parks dotting the landscape throughout Central Texas offer both camping and cabins for rustic romantic getaways. Just a few hours away, Lost Maples and Garner state parks are worth the visit and the drive.
Lost Maples is a 2,100-acre park north of Vanderpool on the Sabinal River. True to its name, the park is home to a large number of maple trees that produce beautiful fall colors. The area is also good for bird-watching, swimming and hiking. Fees range from $3 to $5 per adult, depending on the season. For more information, go to www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/lost-maples.
Garner State Park, a 40-minute drive south of Lost Maples, has less foliage but more river. Two miles of the Frio River wind through 1,774 park acres, and visitors can fish or swim in the clear, cold, and often shallow waters. In the summer, notable attractions include a Frio Bat Tour ($12 per adult) where couples can watch one of the largest Mexican Free-Tail bat colonies in the world take flight.
Camping per night is $10 to $20 per vehicle and overnight park fees are $5 per adult. Primitive cabins are $130 per night. For more information, go to www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/garner.
For those who don’t want to rough it, several bed and breakfast establishments and vacation cabins are located in the Lost Maples and Garner State parks area. Check out www.utopiatexas.info or do a Google search for Concan and Leakey for lodging options.
Closer to home, The Vineyard at Florence, nestled in the rural countryside west of Jarrell and Interstate 35, ripples with romantic ambiance. A half-hour drive from Killeen and Temple, the 32-acre winery provides an intimate atmosphere where couples can choose to “make it a night” or not. Dinner and live music costs about $50 per couple with additional bottles of wine ranging from $25-$90 per bottle. Couples can choose to schedule an appointment at the spa for $100-$250 per person. Tuscan-style villas range from $150 to $1,000 per night.
The winery also has close ties with the University of Texas at Austin Polo Club, so depending on the time of year, couples can catch a polo match. Go to thevineyardatflorence.com.
Newlyweds not limited by their budgets and who prefer the lights and action of the big city can honeymoon at The Driskill Hotel on Sixth Street in downtown Austin. Built in 1886, the pristine hotel is full of historic luxury and downtown views and features unique suites ranging in price from $500 to $1,000 per night. The Driskill is within walking distance of many live music venues, the bar district, five-star restaurants and other nationally renowned eateries such as the Odd Duck, where chefs whip locally sourced ingredients into creative, seasonal menus. Go to www.driskillhotel.com or oddduckaustin.com.