Visiting Bastrop Texas–The Heart of the Lost Pines (update January 2021)

Tammy Brown

Visiting Bastrop Texas

Visiting Bastrop Texas can be an easy day trip from Austin, San Antonio and most of Central Texas, but  it’s really worthy of a weekend visit. I love the relaxed feel of the town.  It’s easy to park, easy to get a table at a restaurant, easy to get around. and easy to be charmed.  Bastrop people are super friendly, and you can count on that when you shop and dine.  Bastrop offers history, beauty, nature, art, music, and activities.

Things I Love about Bastrop

History:

Bastrop was occupied by Spanish soldiers as early as 1804, and established as a city 6 years before Austin.  Bastrop is home to 131 registered historical buildings.  The walkable Main Street area and the adjacent historical neighborhood offer beautiful examples of 19th century architecture with a Texas vernacular.  The Bastrop Historical Society Museum and Visitor Center tells the story of Bastrop with very nice exhibit.  Read this article by the Austin-American Statesman for more about the history of Bastrop.

The Colorado River:

The river is wide and beautiful.  Right downtown at the Bastrop River Company you can rent a canoe or kayak and take off exploring.  When you are visiting Bastrop, have dinner on the river at Neighbors Kitchen and Yard where you will most likely find an excellent local band, really good pizza and salads, and amazing pepperoni rolls.

visiting Bastrop TX
Sunset on the Colorado from Neighbors Kitchen, Bastrop TX

Speaking of restaurants and music:

Restaurants and music are a popular combo in downtown Bastrop.  Grace Miller’s, and The 602 Brewing Company offer free live music from local musicians along with your dinner.  For karaoke and dinner specials in a casual atmosphere try Old Town Restaurant and Bar.  

More restaurants downtown:

For a great steak in a more traditional, fine dining setting, Piney Creek Chophouse is the place.  For small plates and farm to table cuisine, the newest downtown sensation is Storehouse Market and Eatery.  It’s right next door to Copper Shot Distillery which has the best outdoor patio in Bastrop for live music and drinks.  If you are in the mood for fried seafood, PawPaw’s might be the place for you.

Our other favorites

The Roadhouse has the best burgers and shakes in town.  Cedar’s Mediterranean Grill  offers both Italian and Mediterannean food.  My favorite dish there is lamb and okra stew.

Shopping:

Lost Pines Art Bazaar is the kind of shop you can spend hours browsing in.  They have a carefully curated selection of books, gifts, and children’s clothing that won’t disappoint as well as beautiful imported rugs. My other the favorite store is Astro Record Store. with a collection of vintage records of all genres and a very knowledgeable owner who is always willing to help or let you browse in peace..

Galleries:

Bastrop supports its artists!  The Lost Pines Arts Center offers a wide range of work by talented local artists.  The place for art downtown is The Bridges Emporium.  Inside you’ll find several galleries featuring Bastrop artists  CJ Jordan,  Marlene Outlaw, Marie Blazek, Maria Montoya Stayton, Ginger Baldwin,  Jeffrey Stayton, and more!

Public Art:

As you stroll around town, you’ll notice that Bastrop is rich in public art.  The Transformer Project features murals by local artists painted on electrical transformer boxes with fun subjects likes boots and butterflies.  You can see my mural of the Lost Pines behind Grace Miller’s.  And here’s a link to the Sculpture Map which takes you on a tour of all the outdoor sculptures in Bastrop.

Visting Bastrop TX
Bastrop Public Art

First Friday Art Walk:

On the first Friday of every month, most of the shops and all the galleries stay open until 8:30.  You’ll find free snacks and wine, music, and lots of art.  It’s a casual and friendly event.  After checking out the art, it’s still easy to get a table for some Texas cuisine and live music. This event is temporarily suspended.

Fourth of July:

Imagine a fireworks display and symphony that you can easily park and walk to! No shuttles, no camping out for hours just to get close.  It reminds me of the good old days in Austin.  We’ll be there!  Text me and we’ll meet up!

Parks and Lakes:

Bastrop State Park, Buescher State Park, Fisherman’s Park, North Shore Park, South Shore Park…Something outdoors for everyone .  Here’s a link to a list of all the parks and all the information about hours and attractions.  Bastrop State Park schedules nature hikes and family activities most weekends.  Here’s the calendar of events.

Visiting Bastrop TX
Bastrop TX Lakes

Birds:

Bastrop is a rich habitat for birds and a popular spot for birders.  The website Ebird lists 358 species for Bastrop County, and expert birder and author, Brush Freeman, has recorded observation of 357 species. I have identified 145 species at Little Piney.  Bastrop has the honor of being a designated an official Bird City. 

Visiting Bastrop TX Lost Pines
Painted Bunting at Little Piney, Bastrop Texas

Moments:

I’ve listed my favorite attractions, but it’s these moments, often repeated, that capture the essence of what I love about Bastrop:

  • Seeing three or four generations of a family dining at a large table at Maxine’s.
  • Watching the sunset on the Colorado from the deck at Neighbors.
  • Listening to seasoned musicians perform oldies at Gracie’s mostly because they love to play.
  • Deciding where to have dinner at the last minute and not having to wait for a table.
  • Asking for help or advice and being responded to generously..
  • Exchanging warm smiles and small talk with warm and friendly people.
  • Observing the cohesive, supportive community response to floods and fires.
  • Christmas Bird Count

Places to stay:

If you decide on a weekend visit, consider renting a cabin at 9E Ranch , one of the historic bed and breakfast inns, or the Airstream campers at North Shore Park.

Comments welcome!

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