So you've done the River Walk, seen the missions, and wandered the corridors of the McNay Art Museum. Never fear, there's a whole other Texas (several different ones, actually) just a few hours - in any direction - outside the big city of San Antonio. Strap on your seat belt and take a ride.


About one hours


1. Visit the wine country. Follow the Texas Hill Country Wine Trail through colorful fields of spring wildflowers, peach orchards, and Tuscan-like terrain right to the doorsteps of more than 20 different wineries. Use the map and taste at your own pace, stopping for lunch in Fredericksburg or a picnic along a lake or a stream. www.texaswinetrail.com

2. See a live show. Known as the Live Music Capital of the World, Austin offers an array of musical talent. Indulge your aural senses at any of the 200 music venues open every day as they showcase the likes of Robert Earl Keen, Bob Schneider, Kelly Willis, and Dennis Quaid for your listening pleasure. www.austintexas.org/music

3. Float the day away. Rent a tube (or canoe, kayak, or raft) and float down the Guadalupe River, starting in the charming, Teutonic New Braunfels. The river flows downstream through gorgeous terrain and includes dips, falls, rapids, and tranquil stretches. Though not required for a safe ride, guides can be hired from places like the Gruene River Company. www.toobing.com


About two hours


4. Head to Old Mexico. Though the culture of Old Mexico abounds in San Antonio, why not drive south to experience the real thing? The border town of Laredo (and of Nuevo Laredo in Mexico) blends vibrant Mexican influences with the elegance of colonial Spain. Shop for hours along San Bernardo Avenue, which offers 40 blocks of master craftsmen, Mexican import vendors, and tons of bargains! www.visitlaredo.com


About three hours


5. Hit the beach. Once a rustic fishing village, Port Aransas, located on Mustang Island, is moving uptown — so to speak. The luxurious condos and coffee bars already existed, but now an Arnold Palmer–designed golf course is under construction. Take a long walk on the beach, dangle your feet off the pier, or head out from the marina for some deep-sea fishing. www.portaransas.org