This State Is One of the Best in the U.S. for a Spring Road Trip — With 800,000 Miles of Wildflower-lined Highways

Welcome to Central Texas in the springtime — you'll come for the bluebonnets, but stay for the wine and barbecue.

Colorful field of Texas wildflowers in Hill Country, including bluebonnets

Kanokwalee Pusitanun/Getty Images

As my plane landed at Austin-Bergstrom Airport, the view from my window was a luscious and vibrant field of bluebonnets. This specifically Texas welcome couldn’t have been more perfect — and it's one of my favorite homecoming sights as a native Texan. Whether you're landing at the airport or driving along the many highways of Texas, you’ll know it’s spring when the grasslands shift from a brownish green to a bright blue. It’s cause to celebrate as visitors and locals make their way to the fields of bluebonnets for seasonal photoshoots, picnics, or hikes with loved ones. As with many things, Texans take great pride in their state flower, and this time of year, that pride is on full display — as, of course, are the flowers. The lupine flower is a symbol of joy and when the flowers make their appearance from mid-to-late March through April, there's no better time to be in the Lone Star State.

Flowers to Look For in Texas

A close up of Texas bluebonnets at early bloom

Courtesy of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Bluebonnets, a common name for a few species of lupines, are found throughout the entire state of Texas. While Central Texas is home to an especially colorful array of wildflowers, the bluebonnet is the official state flower and the showstopper of spring.

The Texas Department of Transportation is a long-time advocate for the proliferation and protection of the state’s wildflowers. Since the mid-1930s, there has been a push to preserve the wildflowers' growth, not only for their beauty, but for their role in preventing soil erosion. To this day, the state department (TxDOT) implements a no-mow policy until after the spring bloom as well as annually buying and sowing more than 30,000 pounds of flower seeds for over 800,000 miles of highways. It is this practice that makes Texas’s state highways and farm-to-market roads the most prime viewing areas for wildflowers. 

While the state boasts several wildflower routes to drive, the area to focus on is Texas Hill Country. Central Texas, around Austin and San Antonio, are the best places for bluebonnets, wine, and barbecue – and the area is easily accessible from two major airports.

Where to See Wildflowers 

Exterior view of buildings and the wildflower gardens at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Courtesy of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Lady Bird Johnson is credited with much of the country’s and state's conservation and beautification efforts of the mid-century. In Texas, she saved Enchanted Rock, a state natural area, from becoming a granite quarry, and on her 70th birthday, she opened what is now known as the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin. This legacy alone makes the wildflower center an absolute must. Learn about all things Texas wildflowers and nature from the center’s experts through the guided audio tour and take in the natural beauty of native plants and flowers. The center also has maps of drives in Texas with the best views of wildflowers.

Wildseed Farms is another top stop, as the nation’s largest working flower farm, and is a short drive from the main street area in Fredericksburg. This sprawling 200-acre farm has trails and gardens to explore with opportunities for learning about the state’s native plants and wildflowers. Visitors can shop for seeds, plants, and farm goods, and visit the wine tasting room where they serve wine made from grapes grown on-site.

Where to Stay

Aerial view of Camp Lucy in Dripping Springs, Texas on a sunny day

Jerry Hayes Photography

Camp Lucy in Dripping Springs is best for those looking for upscale resort accommodations. They offer several on-site experiences like hiking, archery, yoga, and alpaca feeding. Farther west along US highway 290 is the newly updated (yet still retro-feeling) Stonewall Motor Lodge in Stonewall. Originally built in the 1960s, it housed President Johnson's press pool when he came to town. It's a perfect place to stay on a wildflower road trip. Hill Country Herb Garden in Fredericksburg has a selection of tiny cottages for a cozy night in town. Not only are the cottages chic, the spa is surprisingly intimate and luxurious and the restaurant has some of the best brunch in Texas Hill Country. For the adventurous, Missing Hotel near Marble Falls (in the northern side of Hill Country along U.S. highway 281) offers contemporary glamping among the secluded wilderness. And if you’re near Marble Falls, be sure to stop by the famed Blue Bonnet Cafe to top off your Central Texas bluebonnet trip.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles