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Pining Away

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Find a change of scenery and pace—without having to travel far and wide—in the Lost Pines region of Texas.

Story and photos by Niki Jones

Sometimes in life, we just need to travel and get a change of scenery—literally. When you’re in the middle of a state as big and vast as Texas, it takes seemingly forever to get anywhere with a different landscape, which many of us don’t have the time for. But head east of Austin, and in less than an hour, you’ll be greeted by a whole new set of trees, rolling hills and rustic vibes.

Here, we offer up a suggested itinerary for a relaxing yet fun-filled long weekend among the pines.

THURSDAY

4 p.m.: You were fortunate enough to cut out of work early and beat the rush heading east on Highway 71. Exhale as you pull into the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa, a sprawling 405-acre property. Navigate the picturesque and winding entrance roads and rejoice in the sight of the massive plantation-style property. Leave your car with the valet, give your bags to the attendant and make your way through the Texas-ranch-themed, airy lobby to check in.

4:22 p.m.: Step onto your balcony or patio, take a seat and enjoy the fresh air paired with the sound of nothing but birds and an occasional cow mooing in the distance.

6:01 p.m.: Head to Shellers Barrelhouse Bar, a casual Southern joint with a farmhouse feel. Choose from an extensive list of local beers and wines, or order a specialty cocktail. We recommend sipping on the basil watermelon cooler. Pair it with Shellers’ Shiner Bock queso for a cheesy treat, then dig into some prime-rib tacos. Not ready to give up yet? The Lost Pines s’mores martini is the ideal way to end the meal on a sweet note.

8:06 p.m.: Take a wandering stroll throughout the property. The buildings are lit beautifully and the landscaping is stellar. Head to one of the resort’s two fire pits and claim a rocking chair. Spend an hour or two rocking by the toasty fire, then make your way back to your room for a good sleep. And rest up because tomorrow is going to be filled with activities.

FRIDAY

7:52 a.m.: Make your way to Firewheel Cafe, a sunny, rustic space with plenty of room and a fantastic variety of menu items. Try the Lost Pines breakfast sandwich: two fried eggs, chipotle cheese spread and candied bacon on toasted sourdough.

8:43 a.m.: Take your coffee to go and head through the lobby, out the back doors, down the path to the river. Sit a spell on the dock, sip your coffee and take in the jaw-dropping beauty of the Colorado River.

9:38 a.m.: You’re fully caffeinated and ready for a big adventure. Just five minutes down the highway is McKinney Roughs Nature Park, where you’ll find Zip Lost Pines, featuring six dual ziplines. Fly over the pine forest and across steep canyons, or challenge your buddies to a race through the air. Not up for heights? Stay on the ground and traverse the 1,100-acre park’s 18 miles of hiking trails. 12:13 p.m.: All that adrenaline worked up a huge appetite, so head a little farther east to the new outpost of the famous Southside Market, a 133-year-old, family-run barbecue joint. Try the famous sausage, add some brisket and grab a few unique spices to go for some cooking adventures back home.

1:37 p.m.: Are you feeling like a true Texan? Step it up a notch with a new pair of cowboy boots from Texas Boot Company. Enjoy a complimentary margarita as you try on that pair of Luccheses you’ve been dying to go two-stepping in.

2:55 p.m.: Make your way back to the resort and strut through the lobby in your fancy new boots. After receiving a few passing compliments, make a quick room stop before heading to Spa Django for the signature Eight Greens Facial.

5:49 p.m.: If you’re lucky enough to visit the resort on the first Friday of the month, check out the First Friday Art Walk in downtown Bastrop. Grab a complimentary glass of red or white wine at Lost Pines Art Bazaar and easily spend an hour or more perusing storefronts filled with unique gifts and home items curated from throughout the world. Make your way down Main Street, making sure not to miss Relics Jewelry and Gift Emporium or Art Connections Gallery. Cap off your walk by ducking into Viejo’s Tacos y Tequila for a specialty margarita. After all, it was voted Best Margarita in Bastrop County by local residents.

7:04 p.m.: All that shopping has made you hungry, and pizza sounds perfect. Neighbor’s Kitchen & Yard overlooks the Colorado River, and features live music and a full bar, plus some excellent pizza. Try the Tree Hugger, a homemade pie topped with spinach, feta, tomatoes, Kalamata olives and artichokes.

8:28 p.m.: Follow the sounds of acoustic guitars just a few steps next door and enjoy Pickers on the Porch, an impromptu gathering of local musicians at Copper Shot Distillery. Taste test some samples of the delicious moonshine, pick a favorite (Ours is apple pie!) and head back out to the porch to appreciate some of Texas’ finest live music.

SATURDAY

9:13 a.m.: Head back to downtown Bastrop’s Main Street to Maxine’s Café, an award-winning spot that’s beloved by locals and sports a bevy of Texas charm and friendly service. Choose from a variety of Southern classics, like biscuits and gravy, grits or chicken-fried steak and eggs. Or if you want to go big, choose the Texas Monthly Stacker, a pile of 12 griddle cakes served with a quarter-pound heap of crispy bacon.

10:22 a.m.: Mosey on down to Chestnut Street to visit the Bastrop 1832 Farmers Market, hosted in a renovated barn, and peruse the booths of locally grown and made wares. Pick up some grass-fed beef, fresh farm eggs and possibly one or two delicious pastries to enjoy on your drive home. For good measure, throw in a handmade soy candle. That way, no matter where you call home, you can always be reminded of the fantastic trip you took to the Lost Pines region of Texas.

PETS IN THE PINES

So, you don’t want to leave your pup at home? No worries! The Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa is pet-friendly. For a $150 fee (good for as long as a six-night stay), the resort allows one dog weighing less than 50 pounds or two dogs with a combined weight of 75 pounds or less. The resort will even provide your pooch with a dog bowl and bed. Dog cleanup stations are offered on the property as well.

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