If you’ve lived in Austin for a while, you’ve probably heard people talk about the sprawling Steiner Ranch area that strings out among the hills between Lake Travis and the winding Colorado River.
Its location and topography are among Austin’s best. Plus, Steiner Ranch has a fascinating history with more colorful characters and plot twists than any classic Wild West movie. These days, it’s a prime area for outings on boats, kayaks and paddleboards. And it has several beautiful walking trails, as well as a surprising number of savory restaurants to check out.
So, let’s take a look at some local landmarks to enjoy and soak in that Steiner Ranch vibe during a one-day weekend trip.
If you’re coming from the downtown Austin area, squeegee those windows off, grab your camera and prepare for a beautiful drive out into Hill Country.
Start out with some coffee and breakfast at Zack’s American Bistro to power the day. Zack’s is a favorite place among locals to catch a delicious meal — especially paired with their extensive wine list. But on weekends they open early for breakfast and brunch, with tasty kickstarters like french toast stuffed with sweet cream cheese and smothered in banana foster sauce or a hearty serving of biscuits and gravy.
Now that you’re powered up, take a lazy drive through the neighborhood to check out how Steiner Ranch has quickly transformed from a working cattle ranch to a prime real estate development packed with luxury homes and lush boulevards.
From here, there are three fun options to enjoy the area — hiking, boating or a luxurious spa.
If you’re looking for some fresh air and a little exercise, you could set out on some of the development’s scenic hiking trails. But you’ll need to know a ranch resident to invite you as a guest or you’ll need to get permission from development company Taylor Woodrow Communities since the trails are private. Consider taking the picturesque J-Canyon Trail through the conservation easement near the golf course.
If you don’t have access to the trails, consider heading down to the public park space and river access points along the Colorado River. Mary Quinlan Park is one of the only public park and boat ramp areas near Steiner Ranch, and it’s a prime spot to head out on the water with your watercraft. Nearby Selma Hughes Park is significantly smaller, but it’s also a good place to launch a kayak or enjoy the river views.
Just down the road from Mary Quinlan Park is Steiner Ranch Stand Up Paddle, where both first-timers and experienced paddlers can rent a paddle board and coast along the slowly-flowing river.
Or, if you’d like to reset your inner-being, consider pampering yourself with spa and wellness services at the luxurious Lake Austin Spa Resort. Pick from full-day or half-day spa treatments, which include more than 100 different options, including massages, facials and scrubs. Or you can stay overnight and plan even more activities to soothe the soul.
By now, it’s dinner time. And there are few better places to select a fine wine, order a hearty steak and take in the sunset than the Steiner Ranch Steakhouse. The steakhouse has a beautiful loft to enjoy the breeze as well as elegant indoor dining and live music on most nights.