Are you looking for tips to plan an amazing Austin to San Antonio drive? If yes, you have come to the right place! In this guide, I have mentioned everything you need to know to plan a scenic drive from Austin to San Antonio.
It might be a little surprising to know but when you are driving from Austin to San Antonio, there are lots of amazing attractions to visit and explore. Sure, the interstate I-35 route is a bit boring but you can always make it fun.
Both Austin and San Antonio are lovely places to visit in Texas with a lot of beautiful sights for you to explore. But if you have some time on your hand, then you can take a detour on your road trip to cover other fun, nearby places too.
Below, I will be covering a few of the best places to visit on your short road trip from Austin to San Antonio in this article to make the most of it. Apart from that, I will also be covering basic details of this trip including San Antonio to Austin drive time, tips on how to make this drive, and more.
So, if you are excited about driving from Austin to San Antonio too, then here is everything you need to know!
How Far Is It From San Antonio To Austin?
When you are planning a road trip between two cities, the first thing you need to check is the distance between them. So, if you are wondering how far is it from San Antonio to Austin, we have you covered.
If you are taking the shortest route via I-35 S, then the distance from Austin to San Antonio is 79.8 miles or 128.4 km. However, this distance can increase or decrease depending on where you start or end your journey.
For those taking I-10 W and I-35 S, the distance to cover between these two cities is 86.7 miles or 139.5 km. On the other hand, if you take the TX-130 S and I-10 S, then you need to cover a distance of 100.9 miles or 162.4 km.
There are different routes to choose from that will affect the driving distance between these Texas cities. So, make sure you plan your route in advance.
How Long Does It Take To Drive From Austin To San Antonio?
The next important thing that you might be wondering about is how much time it will take for your Austin to San Antonio drive. A scenic drive from Austin to San Antonio can take around 1 hour 30 minutes, depending on the route you choose.
If you want the shortest San Antonio to Austin drive time, then it would be 1 hour 15 minutes via Interstate 35. However, do remember that this time can vary depending on what time during the day you are planning your trip, how many stops you are making, and so on.
Don’t worry. Regardless of which route you are taking, you can easily complete your Austin to San Antonio drive in under 2 – 2.5 hours.
What To Expect On The Austin To San Antonio Drive
In all honestly, Austin to San Antonio drive is quite boring, especially if you stick to the Interstate 35. There is nothing special about the views on this route but you can definitely make it better by making stops at amazing locations nearby.
Plan a scenic drive from Austin to San Antonio by taking day trips on your road trip. Another thing that you could do is choose the backroads for driving between these two cities and avoid the interstate route altogether.
Do remember that this will increase your drive time considerably but at least, you will enjoy the views on your road trip!
Tips For Driving From Austin To San Antonio
Here are a few tips and tricks to utilize your time better on your Austin to San Antonio drive or San Antonio to Austin drive.
You Don’t Have To Stick To The Interstate/I35
Yes, the fastest route from Austin to San Antonio is the interstate but that doesn’t mean that it is the only route.
You will find many backroads that will take you to San Antonio/Austin too. The backroads are the best way to enjoy a scenic drive from Austin to San Antonio with many beautiful Texas destinations to discover on the way.
There are many country roads connected to the interstate that takes you through Texas farms where you can enjoy the greenery views with fresh air!
Try And Avoid Rushhour On The Drive From Austin To San Antonio
Let’s face it, both Austin and San Antonio are popular cities with large populations. So, it is no surprise that driving here during rush hour is likely to be a disaster.
Avoid the rush hour by exploring some location or getting a nice cup of coffee for your road trip. You can also pull off the road and stretch your legs a bit until it is safe to drive again.
Generally, the rush house would be from 7 AM – 9 AM or 4 PM – 6 PM. Thankfully, these times are perfect for getting breakfast or evening snacks so, do that and get away from the traffic. Once you avoid traffic, your San Antonio to Austin drive time will reduce considerably.
Leave Time On Your Schedule For Stopping And Exploring
One of the most crucial things to do when planning a road trip is to plan for stops on your drive and there are several ways to go about it.
If you are a spontaneous person, then you can simply start driving and stop wherever you feel like. It would be sort of an adventure, not knowing what unique attraction you might find on your way. This will not only make your Austin to San Antonio drive exciting but quite memorable too.
On the other hand, if you research a little about the things to see between Austin and San Antonio in advance, then you could save a lot of time on the road. This way, you would already know about the places that you could visit on your roadtrip and you can plan your stops to coincide with them.
Whether you are the spontaneous one or the planner, a drive from Austin to San Antonio will no doubt be amazing!
Pack A Lunch Or Plan To Stop Somewhere Tasty
Of course, a roadtrip without food is no roadtrip. Food is an essential part of your planning as you would need your strength to drive and explore the places on your drive from Austin to San Antonio.
If you are in a hurry or don’t want to waste time at a restaurant or cafe on the way, then you can take a packed lunch. You can either prepare it at home or you can get it from a place offering takeaways.
For those who have time to spend, trying out new restaurants or food in the area could be a good idea. Research up on the restaurants when you are planning the drive or simply stop at a cute town to check out what they offer.
On your San Antonio to Austin drive, you would easily be able to fit 1-2 meals depending on which route you are taking.
Fill Up On Gas At The Beginning Of Your Trip So You Don’t Have To Stop
This seems like the most obvious tip for planning a road trip but make sure that you start driving from Austin to San Antonio on a full gas tank.
A full gas tank ensures that you need to make fewer stops at the gas stations and you don’t have to pay higher prices at a few remote locations. It also means that if you get lost on the drive, there is nothing to worry about.
You can make several extra stops on the way and can cover fun things to see between Austin and San Antonio.
Best Things To See Between Austin And San Antonio
One of the most exciting places for a day trip on your San Antonio to Austin road trip is New Braunfels. It is a 35-minute drive north from San Antonio and only 3 minutes off I-35.
Home to two amazing rivers – Guadalupe and Comal, this small town in Texas is the best place to enjoy tubing in the state. For an adventure, go tubing on Guadalupe River but if you are traveling with family, then Comal River is a better choice. It is a shorter river than Guadalupe with some amazing waterslides that your kids will love.
It is also home to some amazing state parks such as Cypress Bend and Landa where you can spend a day exploring around the beautiful landscape and can even camp for the night. There is also an amazing waterpark known as Schlitterbahn Waterpark that can be fun for the entire family to visit.
There are many beautiful historical and architectural gems to visit here as well including the German built Gruene Hall. Overall, this is one of the top things to see between Austin and San Antonio, especially as a day trip from San Antonio.
San Marcos is a beautiful town in Texas that you must include in your San Antonio to Austin road trip. It is a 50-minute north drive from San Antonio and just 3 minutes off the Interstate 35.
From hiking in the numerous national parks to trying the amazing restaurants, there is a lot to do around here. There are many other outdoor activities to enjoy here as well such as floating in glass bottom boats on San Marcos River, bird watching or fishing in the parks, and so on.
The city offers many indoor attractions to explore here as well including art galleries, museums, and so on. If you love art, then you can take a stroll around to find the murals and mermaids that are placed throughout the city.
Outlet Malls For Shopping Along The Way
One of the best things to do on your Austin to San Antonio drive is to make a stop at the outlet malls and buy whatever you need. Thankfully, there are many outlet malls on this way so, you have the option of making many stops to purchase your desired items.
While there are many outlets on this route, there are a few that you should definitely check out. Start with the Round Rock Premium Outlets in Austin before you begin your drive to San Antonio. Next, you will find San Macos Premium Outlets in San Marcos followed by a few others on the way.
Most of these outlet malls will have both standard and luxury shops and make for a good stop to look around.
Natural Bridge Caverns
Natural Bridge Caverns was discovered in 1960 and is one of the most fascinating things to see between Austin and San Antonio. It is one of the largest underground formations in the state and is only a 35-minute drive north from San Antonio and around 14 minutes from the interstate.
These caves are great for escaping the Texas heat and are over two miles long featuring limestone formation. Visitors can explore the first half mile of the caverns as part of a guided tour here. You can select from the five tour options available here that varies from normal walking tour to the adventurous cavern exploration tour.
There are many things to do aboveground as well including a maze, rope course, gem paning, and more. Once you are done exploring around, you can eat at the restaurants here and can buy souvenirs for your road trip too.
Blue Hole Regional Park
One of the most beautiful swimming holes to visit in Texas, especially on your Austin to San Antonio drive, is the famous Blue Hole Regional Park. It is a 45-minute drive south from Austin and 25 minutes west from the interstate.
It was converted into a park in 2005 that features several hiking trails, a community space, volleyball and basketball courts, and so on. There is also a dedicated swimming area for those who want to take a quick swim during their scenic drive from Austin to San Antonio.
If you plan to make a stop here, then do reserve a slot in advance as this place can get really crowded during the summer season.
Jacobs Well Natural Area
Located 45 minutes from Austin and 31 minutes off the Interstate 35, Jacobs Well Natural Area is another place to add to your scenic drive from Austin to San Antonio. It is one of the best day trips from Austin where you can enjoy a dip in the cool water of the well and escape the Texas heat.
The water here stays 68 degrees consistently due to the undergroun caves that make up the Jacobs Well. In a few places, you can actually see these caves up to a mile deep. Jacob Wells were quite important for the Native Americans and have become a popular destination for the divers now.
It is one of the most dangerous spots for diving so, only experienced divers are allowed to swim inside it. Don’t worry though, there are several shallower sections of the wells where inexperienced divers can enjoy a swim.
Be careful when you are taking a dip in the Jacobs Well and you are bound to have an amazing time here on your Austin to San Antonio drive.
When you are driving from Austin to San Antonio, you have to make a stop at the historic city of Lockhart in Texas Hill Country. This small town is 35-minute drive south of Austin and is 25 minutes off I-35.
This is one of the best places to stop for food as this city is the BBQ Capital of Texas. You will find many amazing barbecue joints and breweries to grab a quick meals during your scenic drive from Austin to San Antonio.
If that isn’t enough to add it to your itinerary, then here is something that definitely will. This small town gives the Old West feel and has been a filming location for a lot of movies. Check out one of the Texas’ oldest library, Dr. Eugene Clark Library, that was built in 1899.
You will find many historical buildings to explore here and several hiking trails to enjoy as well. This charming town has it all! If you are looking to spend some time hiking on different trails or learning the history of the city while enjoying the best BBQ in the state, then do make a stop at Lockhart.