If you want to see fireworks to ring in 2020 but don’t want to deal with traffic or crowds, consider booking a peaceful getaway at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines in Bastrop. The resort’s New Year’s Eve package includes family-friendly activities such as horse-drawn wagon rides, festival-style games and prizes, a dance club with a DJ, and ice skating.
Before the festivities begin, however, the kids will probably want to visit with a few of the hotel’s animal mascots. The two resident Texas longhorns, T-Bone and Ribeye, may look a little fierce with their 6-foot horns, but they’re well trained and don’t mind posing for photos.
The kids may also want to visit Blackjack, a mustang horse who enjoys a good nose rub. You’ll also see two miniature horses, Apache Dancer and Little Feather, wandering around the grounds. Perhaps the most unusual animals on the property are the alpacas, Yogi and Boo Boo. Boo Boo has even been known to kiss visitors on the cheek from time to time.
For those who prefer more conventional pets, there’s also a rambunctious little dog, Boots, running around the property.
Time to Horse Around
Several miles of trails among the pines provide the ideal setting for a mellow afternoon on horseback. Sign up for a trail ride at the Renegade Trailhead. A shuttle is available to take guests from the hotel lobby to the trailhead, which is located along the resort’s scenic entry drive.
Other activities available through the lodge at the Renegade Trailhead include archery lessons, trap shooting, fly fishing lessons, and bass fishing (at nearby Lake Bastrop; shuttle available). All activities are supervised by experienced professionals, in keeping with the resort’s commitment to safety.
The Wolfdancer Golf Club is surrounded by rolling prairies, towering pecan trees and scenic river valley.
At the nearby McKinney Roughs nature park, guests can go kayaking, canoeing, birding along 18 miles of minimally developed trails.
Get Serious about Relaxing
If you’re so sick of 2019 that you feel like you need to physically scrub it off of you, proceed directly to Spa Django. Through December 31, the spa is offering a special amaretto cider scrub. The creamy shea butter scrub will revitalize dry skin while surrounding you with the scent of warm apple cider. The treatment’s finishing touch involves applying an almond biscotti-scented whipped body cream to keep skin soft and glowing.
At the spa, you can also get a variety of massages, facials, manicures and herbal therapies. The facility is equipped with a sauna, whirlpools, and men’s and women’s relaxation pools.
New Year's Barbecue Feast
As part of the New Year’s Eve package, a family of four can chow down on a barbecue feast with all the fixin’s. After a day of outdoor activities (or serious relaxing), you’ll be ready to postpone your diet plans for another day.
You'll never go hungry at this resort. There are several formal and informal restaurants throughout the property.
For example, the resort's Stories restaurant offers a farm-to-table menu. Chef Tyler Brown updates the menu frequently to stay on top of what's fresh and seasonal in the area. Old Buck's Place, on the other hand, is quite a bit more casual. Located next to the Crooked River Water Park, Buck's is a place to sip a beer by the pool while enjoying a thick pulled pork sandwich or juicy hamburger.
Firewheel Cafe is a casual restaurant decorated with stained-glass windows made by a local artist. The windows create a bright, welcoming atmosphere. Sandwiches with fresh herbs and Texas goat cheese are popular here. And don't forget the sweet potato fries.
Dessert at McDade's Emporium
Located in the resort lobby, McDade’s Emporium was designed to look like an old-timey central Texas general store. You can get a Blue Bell ice cream cone or throw caution to the wind and buy candy by the pound. The store also features freshly baked pastries, coffee, fruit, sandwiches and locally crafted souvenirs and gifts.
Rocking by the Fireplace
If it’s frigid outside, you may want to warm up by the fireplace in the lobby. You can relax on a cushy love seat or zone out in a rocking chair as the feeling returns to your toes.
If you care to take a self-guided tour, you'll discover just how large the resort is. The AAA Four Diamond property has 491 guest rooms, 60,000 square feet of meeting space and over 240,000 square feet of outdoor facilities with pavilions and an amphitheater.
The resort as a whole encompasses 405 acres along the Colorado River.
Fun at the Firepit
The firepit near Shellers Barrelhouse Bar is a good spot to enjoy the fireworks, roast some s'mores and raise a glass for a champagne toast. Inside the bar, you can order specialty drinks such as the Moonshine Margarita, which is a potent combination of lemon, lime, Grand Marnier, agave nectar and Fitch’s Goat Moonshine. The “moonshine” is corn whiskey that is distilled just down the road in Smithville. While you’re killing time before the fireworks, you can play a round of pool or order a snack from the bar menu.
The Main Event - Fireworks!
Grab a seat outside, sip your champagne and enjoy the show. Watching fireworks in such a peaceful and fun setting is sure to lead to family memories you’ll treasure for years. And when it’s over, you’ll have a comfortable bed only steps away. Plus, a hearty breakfast for four the next morning is part of the package.
Visit Nearby Bastrop
During your stay, make sure you visit nearby downtown Bastrop. Check out the small but impressive Museum & Visitor Center of the Bastrop County Historical Society (904 Main Street, 512-303-0057). Large dioramas and other displays help tell the story of early Bastrop, from its settlement in the early 1800s through World War II. And since you’re already in the neighborhood, why not stop in at Simply Sweet (1010 Main Street, 512-321-0112)? The bakery’s specialty is cupcakes (including cheesecake cupcakes!), but Amy’s Ice Creams are also available. The charming storefront, originally built in 1882, is easy to spot due to the huge arched doorways and the ornately decorated railing on the second-floor balcony.
Although Bastrop State Park was devastated by a fire a few years ago, nature enthusiasts will enjoy seeing how the park is slowly coming back to life, with the help of thousands of volunteers who've planted pine seedlings.
The worst wildfire in Texas history devastated the area in 2011, and floods not long after that did even more damage to the park. It’s a sign of the resilience of nature, as well as the park’s devoted staff and volunteers, that the park is slowly sprouting a new forest. Thousands of pine seedlings have been planted, and new facilities are now being built. What made the fire even more devastating was that this region was home to the Lost Pines, a huge forest of pine trees in a part of the state where pine trees don’t usually grow. Though pine trees are common in east Texas, the Lost Pines had been the only significant pine forest in central Texas since the Ice Age.
The Texas Reptile Zoo is another quirky destination in the area. Founded by biologists, the small zoo is also a research facility. Animals on display include rock monitors, snakes, crocodiles, lizards and tortoises.
Theater buffs will appreciate the Bastrop Opera House, which occasionally hosts touring shows but mostly presents locally produced performances.
If you've worked up an appetite, stop in at the Roadhouse in Bastrop for excellent burgers and hearty salads.
Do be careful when driving through Bastrop on Highway 71. There are some very sneaky automated traffic cameras in the area. One is located at the top of a hill, and when the light turns yellow, it's hard to know if you should speed up or slow down. Slowly stop if you can.