I needed to be in Austin, Texas for work and decided that this was the perfect opportunity for a road trip since I would be flying into Houston to start my business trip. The most important question then became: is there anything to do on a road trip between Austin and Houston? What pitstops might I expect? I found a few helpful TripAdvisor posts but not terribly much information on things to do while driving in this part of Texas. Fortunately, Google Maps also helped me identify some possible spots for a quick break on the approximately 3 hour drive between Houston and Austin. I decided to take Route 290 on the way to Austin and Route 71 to Route 21 to Route 290 on my return for a bit of variety.
Pitstop at Buc-ee's
Buc-ee's is the classic Texas road trip stop. I might have driven right by if not for the recommendation of a friend. What is Buc-ee's? It's an awesome rest area and gas station. You can stop and use the restroom, shop for snacks, and generally bask in the kitsch. Buc-ee's is also a go-to place for Texas-sized souvenirs.
Chappell Hill Kolaches
Apparently, the corridor between Houston and Austin was settled by Czech and Slovak immigrants. Because of this, look for kolaches. Based on a Google Maps recommendation, I stopped at Chappell Hill for a sweet glazed kolache. I opted for the sour cream variety which is most popular according to the person working there.
Blue Bell Ice Cream
Is there anything to do on a road trip between Houston and Austin? Yes, apparently there is lots of eating :-) Based on my research before the trip, I'd identified Blue Bell Creamery in Brenham as a must-stop along the road on the way to Austin. For a dollar, you can sample a scoop of their delicious ice cream. I opted for the maple pecan. Blue Bell was set-up like an old-fashioned ice cream parlour and also featured a small gift shop. I had the place to myself when I visited on a Monday morning. I read online that they used to do creamery tours. Apparently, they don't do tours anymore which was fine by me since I was tight on time.
Experience Small Town Texas
Driving back to Route 290 after my stop at Blue Bell Creamery, I drove through Brenham proper and got a taste of small town Texas. It's worth turning off the highway on the trip between Houston and Austin to see any number of charming towns.
Scenic Forgotten Byways
On my way from Houston to Austin, I pretty much took a straight shot on Route 290. On my return trip from Austin to Houston, I decided to take a few more detours to see what I was missing. On a whim, I turned onto Old Potato Road near Paige, Texas. It was like being transported into another world. I saw rusty oil drilling equipment (a pumpjack), an alpaca farm, and of course plenty of Lone Star motifs.
Texas Big Sky
One thing that really impressed me on the road from Houston to Austin was not strictly a thing to do but awesome nonetheless. Driving along, my jaw dropped just looking at that famous Texas big sky. For a while, happy little clouds dotted the landscape and swirled into interested patterns that kept me entertained and fascinating on the long straight drive.
Roadside Attractions at Weikel's Bakery
Road trips in the U.S.A. are never complete without stopping at a proper roadside attraction. Based on another Google Maps recommendation, I stopped at Weikel's Bakery. I was pleased to see an over-sized metal dinosaur outside to greet me. Across the street was an antiques shop selling old signage. It was all very kitsch but charming at the same time.
So what's the verdict? As you can see, there are a number of things to entertain road-trippers driving between Houston and Austin. I wouldn't got out of my way to do this road trip but if you have another reason to be driving between Houston and Austin (like I did for business), you'll definitely be able to keep yourself entertained along the way.