Travel | May 10, 2022 7:15 am

Three-Day Weekend: Horseshoe Bay Resort Is a Texas Hill Country Oasis

The luxe retreat is teeming with restaurants, bars and championship golf courses

Slick Rock
Slick Rock
Horseshoe Bay

Stipulated: weekend getaways deserve three days. Any longer, and… it’s not really a weekend. Hence our series, Three-Day Weekend, dedicated to revealing the state’s best drivable destinations. 

Going away for a long weekend is meant to be relaxing, but with all the necessary planning and coordination, that tranquility can unravel before it even begins. Especially if you’re traveling with a partner or group and no one can decide on a destination. One person wants to lie beside a pool sipping umbrella drinks. Someone wants to post up in a spa. And another just wants to golf all day. Problem? Nah. Just go to Horseshoe Bay.

Horseshoe Bay is an accessible resort situated on Lake LBJ in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. It’s just over an hour outside of Austin, two hours from San Antonio and four hours from Dallas and Houston. The sprawling, 7,000-acre property has 400 guest rooms and suites, four golf courses (five if you count the 18-hole putting course), several pools and multiple bars and restaurants, so you’re always within arm’s reach of a large steak, a stiff drink or a chance to make birdie. Here’s what to know before you go.

Guest Room at Horseshoe Bay
Guest Room at Horseshoe Bay
Horseshoe Bay

Where You’re Staying

Those 400 rooms range from standard to not-standard. The Hotel Tower is where you’ll find traditional guest rooms, best for solo travelers, couples and anyone on a budget. They’re plenty comfortable, if a bit plain, with one king bed or two double beds, a desk and floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the property. If you’re traveling with a crowd, the Palm Villas feature one, two or three bedrooms, separate living areas and kitchens, plus private balconies and patios. Horseshoe Bay also offers private home rentals, so you can get that residential feel while still taking advantage of all the amenities. And if you really like it here, you could consider buying one of the on-property condos. Though, as far as impulse buys go, that’s a bit more extreme than raiding your mini-bar.

Yacht Club at Horseshoe Bay
Yacht Club at Horseshoe Bay
Horseshoe Bay

What You’re Eating and Drinking

Whether you’re at a Vegas mega-casino or an all-inclusive in Mexico, one of the undeniably best perks of staying at a massive resort is that, no matter the time of day, you’re always just a quick request away from a cold beer and some shrimp cocktail. Same deal here. 

Yacht Club sits on the water and is the flagship restaurant. It’s the best option for dinner and serves a classic menu of steaks and chops, fresh seafood and all the accompaniments you’d expect, like French onion soup, a wedge salad and crab cakes. 

J’s Restaurant and Bar is more casual, decked out in woods and leathers. It opens early, so if you have a morning tee time, head on over. Breakfast includes smoked salmon bagels and avocado toast omelets, lunch brings salads and sandwiches, and dinner moves to larger plates, like chicken fried steak and pecan-crusted trout.

The Waterfront Bar & Grill is a casual spot for seafood and tacos. The Whitewater 360 Sports Club is where you’ll go to watch a game alongside pizza and beer. There’s a pool bar, naturally, for all your aquatic drinking and snacking needs. And the golf courses have club houses serving food and drinks. So you’ve got options.

Pools at Horseshoe Bay
Pools at Horseshoe Bay
Horseshoe Bay

Play Some Golf. Or Tennis. Or Nothing.

Horseshoe Bay is known for golf. You can tell because of all the guys walking around in brightly colored polos. But also because the site is flush with fairways and greens. The three Robert Trent Jones, Sr.-designed courses are known as the Texas Triangle and regularly make local and national best-of lists. 

All three courses feature significant tee-to-green elevation changes. Slick Rock is famous for its “million dollar” 14th hole, in which golfers drive their carts across a 35-yard-long, stepped waterfall. Apple Rock was renovated and reopened in 2019, and is one of the most scenic courses in Texas, with fairways that stretch along Lake LBJ. And Ram Rock is the most challenging of the trio, with narrow fairways and an island green on the par-three fourth hole. 

There’s also the Jack Nicklaus Signature Course, Summit Rock, which was named “Best New Course in America” by Golf Digest when it opened in 2012. It’s members-only, but you’re probably the type of person they’d like as a member. Alternatively, you can skip all that serious golf and hit the Whitewater Putting Course. It’s 18 holes of manicured greens, rose gardens and water hazards, so it’s not your typical putt-putt.

If golf’s not your thing, or you just want to mix it up during your stay, Horseshoe Bay also has tennis courts and pickleball courts. And when you’ve had enough activity, the spa offers sports massages and soothing treatments, like hot stone massages and Himalayan salt scrubs. Although, to be clear, you don’t have to actually do anything to earn a trip to the spa.