5 Central Texas Vacation Spots that Are Worth the Splurge

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When it comes to planning a vacation in Texas, nothing compares to the ease of booking a getaway where entertainment for the whole family awaits for the price of a hotel room. In these Central Texas vacation spots, families are spoiled for choice, with so many kid-friendly destination hotels, resorts and things to do.

One of the best Central Texas vacation spots: Hyatt Regency San Antonio
Hyatt Regency San Antonio

Best Central Texas Vacation Spots

From Dallas to Austin to San Antonio, Central Texas has countless options when it comes to splurge-worthy getaways. If you’re looking for a hotel experience that the whole family will enjoy–with a golf course, spa, water slides, nature hikes, bike trails, zip lines, and more–here are a few Texas resorts that won’t disappoint.

JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa 

San Antonio, Texas

Vacation in Texas
JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country. Photo by Heidi Gollub, BigFamily TMOM.

Located on 600 acres of scenic rolling hills, JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country is the largest JW Marriott property in the world. The resort’s River Bluffs Water Experience—free for hotel guests—features a 650-foot rapid river ride, three huge water slides, a children’s water park with a beach entrance and smaller slides, a variety of heated pools and whirlpools, and a 1,100-foot long lazy river. JW Marriott recently announced a $16 million water park expansion, opening in the spring of 2016, which will increase the size of River Bluff Water Experience from six to eight acres! Additions will include another sandy beach entry pool, spa, cabanas, and two new translucent body slides featuring thrilling 60-foot drops.

Outside of River Bluff Water Experience, vacationing families will discover a world class spa with a private outdoor pool, teen lounge, 36-holes of PGA TOUR golf, hill country hiking and biking trails, an organic culinary garden, and eight on-site restaurants.

Secluded in Cibolo Canyons, 20 minutes from downtown San Antoniothe JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa promises fun-filled adventures for the entire family. 


Nearby Attractions: Fiesta Texas; San Antonio River Walk.

Vacation in Texas
Hyatt Lost Pines. Photo by Heidi Gollub, BigFamily TMOM.

Hyatt Lost Pines Resort and Spa

Cedar Creek, Texas – 13 miles east of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

The first time I visited Hyatt Lost Pines I thought I might just move in and stay forever. The secluded resort borders McKinney Roughs Nature Park and, although just a few miles outside of Austin, feels hidden away deep in the woods. The perfect blend of rustic scenery and modern comforts, Hyatt Lost Pines boasts 405 acres of picturesque rolling hills, native trees, golf courses, nature trails, gardens, and water features.

The Crooked River Water Park is the resort’s main attraction, with its 1,000-foot lazy river, waterslide, sandy beach, hot tub, and water volleyball. Guests of all ages love floating along the relaxing river ride, breathing in endless views of waterfalls and lush landscaping.

The resort offers so many free activities once you are on the property, you really could stay for days. Rent bikes, play tetherball, or climb up for a turn in the dunk tank. You will find a playground, basketball and tennis courts. Go for a stroll through the hummingbird and butterfly gardens, visit grazing longhorns, or venture off-property to hike on one of the numerous trails in the neighboring 1,100-acre nature park. In addition to all this, Hyatt Lost Pines publishes a weekly recreation guide that is jam-packed with free activities. During summer months, kids can enjoy campfire s’mores, movies on the lawn, face painting, crafts, sports, and old-fashioned games.

Nearby Attractions: Bastrop State Park; The Dinosaur Park.

Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa

San Antonio, Texas

Vacation in Texas
Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa. Photo by Heidi Gollub, BigFamily TMOM.

Built on the grounds of a historic San Antonio ranch, Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa successfully captures the quiet calm of yesteryear. It is a lovely, tranquil place, tucked in amongst native landscaping, where you can explore delightful gardens and wildflower meadows. The crown jewel of this resort is its nature-inspired five-acre water park. A beautiful cascading waterfall marks the entrance to the 950-foot Ramblin’ River, which was designed to replicate some of the area’s most popular tubing rivers. Guests pick up inner tubes at the mouth of a limestone half-tunnel, which takes you from the activity pool into a flowing waterway. As you float along, carried by the current, you can enjoy the colorful landscape of Redbud Trees and Mountain Laurel.

New in 2013, Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa added a heated FlowRider ®, for hotel guests to try body boarding, kneeboarding or stand-up boarding year-round. In addition to the surf machine, the resort added a 22-foot tower slide, perfect for children ages five and up.

Upon check in, guests receive an Activity Guide, which lists the schedule of recreational activities. This will ensure visiting children have plenty of free options to keep them entertained, including organized games, sand castle building, face painting, movies on the lawn, zoo shows, and horse-drawn wagon rides. Bikes can also be rented for free. A large playground, complete with tetherball and ping-pong, is available for play at any time. Additional amusement, such as pony rides and hair braiding, are available for a fee.

Nearby Attractions: SeaWorld San Antonio and Aquatica.

Great Wolf Lodge

Grapevine, Texas – Located in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex

Vacation in Texas
Great Wolf Lodge. Photo by Heidi Gollub, BigFamily TMOM.

My kids talk about Great Wolf Lodge in the same excited tones that used to be reserved for Disney World. They ask to go back again and again. And truly, the hotel is amazing. Majestic wolf statues guard the entrance to 98,000 square feet of indoor, air-conditioned, action-packed fun. Inside the woodland-themed wonderland, there is an impressive 80-foot tall water park that features 10 indoor waterslides, six pools, a wave action river, and an interactive treehouse waterfort. Outdoors, there is a ropes course and a second 84,000 square foot water park that is open seasonally.

When you need a break from aquatic activities, lure your children out the water with the promise of MagiQuest. This enchanting game allows kids to go on nine interactive quests and three adventures, spanning all eight floors of the hotel. Purchase a MagiQuest wand and let your kids loose to search for “runes” throughout the hotel, which are needed to complete each quest. As kids point their wands at anything from treasure chests to framed pictures on the walls, the hotel comes to life at their command.

Nearby attractions: LEGOLAND Discovery Center; SEALIFE Aquarium.

Gaylord Texan

Grapevine, Texas – Across the street from Great Wolf Lodge

Vacation in Texas
Gaylord Texan. Photo by Heidi Gollub, BigFamily TMOM.

Gaylord Texan has proven that everything really is bigger in Texas. The hotel’s huge nine-story, temperature-controlled atrium is filled with 4.5 acres of indoor gardens, a river, restaurants and shops. Eating Tex-Mex at the Gaylord’s Riverwalk Cantina, listening to a strolling Mariachi band, and gazing out over the koi-filled waterways and waterfalls, you will feel as if you have been transported to San Antonio’s famous River Walk, but with the benefit of air conditioning.

Visit Gaylord Texan in the summer to enjoy the 10-acre outdoor pool and lazy river complex, Paradise Springs. Your kids will be champing at the bit to try the 27-foot tall waterslide, the 25-foot-long zip line and the 600-foot lazy river. They can also check out the outdoor Game Pavilion, which features shuffleboard, bocce ball, croquet, and a large campfire pit.

During the hotel’s SummerFest, families can enjoy many fun scheduled events through Labor Day. Free activities include Friday Night Fireworks, poolside movie nights, and fireside ghost stories. Other options are available for a fee. In the winter months, guests will love bundling up for indoor ice slices and snow tubing at the annual ICE! attraction.

The Woodlands TexasLooking for more Texas vacation ideas? We can help. We’ve been there!

Where’s your favorite vacation spot that is worth the splurge? Share with us in the comment section below.

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