An overhead view of people swimming and relaxing in a spring-fed pool
Comal River Tube Chute in New Braunfels. Photo by Kenny Braun

Hill Country

Venture outdoors for fun and relaxation in Marble Falls

By Melissa Gaskill

Travelers won’t actually see many waterfalls when visiting Marble Falls. The town’s namesake cascade was submerged when the Colorado River was dammed in 1951 to create Lake Marble Falls. And the predominant rock isn’t marble; it’s granite. The native stone provided the building blocks for the construction of the Texas Capitol in the 1880s. Obviously, this Hill Country town knows how to make the most of things. Today, Marble Falls is a fast-growing community with an array of offerings to satisfy all sorts of weekenders. The walkable downtown harbors dozens of local shops, galleries, restaurants, and breweries, many with outdoor seating for patrons to enjoy the weather and people-watching. Anglers and water-skiers visit for Lake Marble Falls. Nearby Inks Lake State Park offers camping and water sports, and Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge is known for hiking and birdwatching. For a serious workout, Spider Mountain Bike Park and Reveille Peak Ranch offer challenging terrain for mountain biking and trail running.


McKenzie Guest House
On a quiet block off Main Street, this circa-1907 clapboard hotel building went through several iterations before a renovation in 2018. The lodging offers five spacious and well-appointed suites (starting at $200/night) with private kitchens and living spaces, a bungalow, and porches perfect for sitting a spell and enjoying the verdant gardens.

An alumnium pie plate piled high with pie, whipped cream, merangue and a topping

Coconut meringue pie at Blue Bonnet Cafe. Photo by Brandon Jakobeit


Blue Bonnet Cafe
A destination for comfort food since 1929, this café packs in hungry customers daily from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and till 1:45 p.m. on Sundays. The menu features homestyle cooking from pancakes to fresh-baked pies. The meringue is legendary. Chicken and dumplings are offered on Tuesdays. Don’t be surprised if you have to wait for a table.

Texas State Parks: Hidden Gems

Situated along the Pedernales River, across from the former president’s ranch and birthplace, this day-use park is especially famous for its spring wildflowers. Try fishing, picnicking, and wildlife viewing, as well as a portion of the state’s official Longhorn herd. Visit the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm to see how ranches in this area operated in the early 20th century. A swimming pool is available from June through mid-August.

Longhorn Cavern State Park
South Llano River State Park
Devil’s Sinkhole State Natural Area

Blanco State Park
Colorado Bend State Park
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
Garner State Park
Government Canyon State Natural Area
Guadalupe River State Park
Hill Country State Natural Area
Kickapoo Cavern State Park
Inks Lake State Park
Lake Brownwood State Park
Lost Maples State Natural Area
McKinney Falls State Park
Old Tunnel State Park
Pedernales Falls State Park

For more information, directions, and amenities, get your free mobile guide to all 80-plus state parks:


Lake Marble Falls
This sheltered body of water at the heart of town provides a scenic setting for fishing, kayaking, and picnicking. Cast a line from shore or rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard from Just Yakin’ to paddle among granite boulders and along craggy cliffs. Lakeside Park offers a walking trail, picnic tables, and a swimming pool.

Sculpture on Main
Since 2007, this outdoor public art program has placed diverse artworks along Main Street and a few side streets downtown. Permanent works include a bronze statue of country music great and former Marble Falls resident Floyd Tillman near the lake. Others are rotated each spring. New last year are two geometric sculptures by homegrown artist John Russo III.

Sweet Berry Farm
At this farm 4 miles from town, you can pick your own strawberries, tulips, and ranunculi and take photos in the fields (check the website for bloom updates). Kids enjoy the pony rides, bounce house, and goat feeding. And you can’t go wrong with a simple stroll through the grounds. The farm is open in spring and fall. Admission and parking are free.

Hill Country Wildflowers
Marble Falls makes a fitting home base for viewing Hill Country spring wildflowers. Blooms depend on the past year’s rainfall, but most years bring bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, winecups, and firewheels. Reliable routes can be found west of Marble Falls, with a side trip to Lake Buchanan. State Highway 29 takes motorists to Balcones Canyonlands.


Longhorn Cavern State Park
The Civilian Conservation Corps built the entrance to this cavern, located 15 miles from town, in the 1930s. Tours cover a mile, following an ancient riverbed. Guides point out formations like Queen’s Throne and spin tales of the cave’s history as an outlaw hideout and underground dance hall.


Bear King Brewery
Choose from a dozen or so craft brews served at long picnic tables inside or on the covered patio. The beers come with quirky names, such as Monkey Bridge Hefeweizen and Lady May, a hazy pineapple IPA, but the flavors speak for themselves. The food menu includes tacos, salads, and burgers. Live music on Fridays puts the foam on top.

Fiesta Winery
The Baxter-McCoury family uses Hill Country and High Plains grapes to make about 40 different wines, ranging from dry reds and whites to semisweets and sweets, including sparkling and dessert wines. At the location on Main Street, relax in the tasting room or take a glass of your favorite outside to sip beneath a giant oak tree.

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