Austin to Hill Country: about 80 miles
Why go: Out-of-this-world barbecue can be found not only from old-guard pit masters in Hill Country, but also from new-guard 'cue talents within Austin's city limits.
Where to stay: The Dillon family has run the intimate 12-room Crystal River Inn in San Marcos for more than 25 years (Double from $105 to $125).
What to eat along the way: In Austin, there's always a line by 11 a.m. for Franklin Barbecue's amazingly smoky brisket with espresso sauce (a sweet-tart-bitter blend of ketchup, cider vinegar and coffee). But it's worth the pilgrimage to Hill Country for the sublime ribs at Salt Lick in Driftwood, and the legendary sausages at more-than-a-century-old Kreuz Market in Lockhart.