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4 Unique Places to Stay in the Texas Hill Country

For me, early July is usually spent island hopping: Croatia, Puerto Rico, Greece, ABC Islands.
July 2 is my birthday, and I like to go big. 
I turned 30 parasailing in the Bahamas, 33 cave tubing in Belize, 38 visiting a water temple in Bali, 40 jet skiing in the Maldives... 
You might wonder-- why care so much about a birthday? I know plenty of people who say they're not "birthday people." I am not one of those people. 
I learned early on that life is a gift -- as is each birthday. So, either we can remain on auto-pilot, complain about getting older and let another year pass uneventfully-- or we can embrace the opportunity to celebrate the gift of more time-- to do what we love, roam the earth and collect experiences. 
As I get older, time becomes more sacred. Essentially I want a reset, renewal, re-birth on every birthday. 
July 2023 was different. 
I found myself mentally and physically stuck. Wedged between a voluntary career shift and starting my own business, mindless spending was not an option. Travel woes across the country created chaos at airports from Memorial Day weekend well into the latter parts of June. My social media feeds were full of friends sleeping at airports, stuck on planes for hours without water, and days late to exotic destinations. That didn't sound fun. Then, there was the weather factor: hazy skies over Canada due to fires and tropical storms in the Caribbean... Plus, timing. Having a birthday over a holiday weekend works out if you plan far in advance -- but most of the time, everything is pricier, sold out, and most friends have prior engagements. 
The day before my birthday in 2023, I woke up in Dallas bummed about having no game plan. I had scoured all of my regular go-tos: Travelzoo, Cheap DFW, talked to my favorite travel adviser, nothing was panning out. I was thirsty for something as creative, meaningful, adventurous, exciting and unique as years past. 
I sat on my couch to meditate. 
When I don't know what to do, I do nothing-- hoping that by some miracle, an answer appears. 
In that 30 minutes of silence, I got it! What if instead of island hopping this year I go cabin-hopping? 24 hours in each place, minimal packing, I could drive in order to save money on flights, pack my own food and snacks, and still quench my thirst for new, exciting, solo reflection and adventure.

I feverishly googled "Best glamping in Texas" and that's where the adventure began! 

1. The Yurtopian Hill Country Resort
I'm not a huge camper-- much more of a glamper. I've car-camped once outside a yoga festival and stayed in camper vans a few times. I'm an intermediate level outdoors-woman at best and that's only because I don't mind getting dirty, dark forests don't intimidate me, I love discovery through hiking, and if I happen to walk into a spider web, I don't scream. 
Still, when it comes to accommodations, I like animal-proof structures, air conditioning in midsummer Texas heat is a bonus, and as a solo female traveler, safety is key. 
The Yurtopian has two locations: one in Wimberley and another in Dripping Springs, two highly popular Texas Hill Country destinations. 
The Chrissie "Ger" unit at the Dripping Springs location was available, so I booked it for one night. 
Ger is the word for a Mongolian yurt. 
Mongolian nomads used yurts made from camel hide, horsehair ropes, sheep wool and Siberian pine wood to help protect themselves from the elements. 
The Yurtopian, like all the places I would stay, is a gated campground for glampers. It's 46-acres where luxury meets nature. 
I felt totally insulated. 
All amenities at The Yurtopian are private, so I never saw anyone else during my stay. 
I drove up to the gate of my compound and opened the fence to total bliss. My authentic yurt was climate-controlled, with an outdoor shower, kitchen, hot tub, fire pit and rooftop deck. 
I snapped some photos, watched the sunset, and melted into my very comfortable king size bed before falling asleep to the pitter patter of raindrops. There are no children or pets allowed here so the only sounds I heard were birds, wind and the gift of rain water. 
I woke up on my birthday to sit for a 42-minute silent meditation before dunking myself in the hot tub and performing a burning ceremony-- where I write and then burn letters of forgiveness to myself and others. 
Each of the 16 brightly colored yurt compounds, named for the owners' loved ones, is perfect for a couple's romantic getaway or introspective alone time. I would highly recommend it to anyone who isn't afraid of daddy longlegs joining you in the shower. 
I was delighted by the peaceful and unique start to my birthday and was ready for the next stop. 

2. Missing Hotel 
I drove 59 miles from Dripping Springs to Marble Falls. I didn't know anything about Missing before arriving other than it looked cool. I'd never stayed in a geodesic dome (the closest I've come is an igloo above the Arctic Circle in Finland) so I rolled the dice-- and boy am I glad I did! This was one of the most heartfelt, intentional, unique and special places I've visited in Texas. The family who owns it bought 100 acres in 2020 and together have co-created an eco-friendly, luxurious but still simple reprieve from everyday life. 
I drove through the entrance and parked outside my unit "Axia" and walked along the short pathway to my dome. My eyes grew wide and my jaw dropped. The inside was spacious, air-conditioned, and thoughtfully decorated. There was indoor plumbing so I didn't have to go outside for a toilet, sink or shower. There was a record player, coffee, snacks, yoga mats, Wi-Fi-- and arguably the best part: a private deck, with bean bags, chairs, a grill, and a hot tub. I found my personal heaven! 
I was so eager to explore! Around the property, there were short hikes marked by small flags. One led to a labyrinth, where I spent some time walking in a silent meditation practice. As I finished the walk, a gentleman came over to me and introduced himself as Tom. His family started Missing Hotel as a place to 'go missing' for a while, and also, as he explained, as a place to discover or rediscover what's been missing from one's life to this point. A sucker for symbolism, I joined Tom for a golf cart tour of the property where he showed off gems like a mystical forest, sunset spot, hidden creeks, miniature cows, yard games area, and high point for a beautiful perspective of the full moon. 
Tom's family has poured a lot of love and sweat equity into creating Missing Hotel. He told me that he and his son bought and learned to use heavy machinery themselves in order to clear most of the brush for trails. From every piece of glassware to a surprise gift inside each of the 11 guest rooms, to double-decker domes and high-end cabins, the entire place is rustic eye candy. I felt so safe and comfortable that I ended up spending more time
wandering under the stars than inside my dome. But after a late-night soak in the hot tub and second trip to the mystical forest, I was ready to pass out. 
I slept so well that it was hard to get out of bed. 
I could easily spend several days cocooned here.
I enjoyed an extended morning meditation, a coffee, a hot shower, and watched a chicken and other birds roam outside of my dome before it was time to check out and head toward my next stop. 

3. Live Oak Lake 
I made my way to Central Texas -- where, about 15 minutes outside of downtown Waco, I discovered Live Oak Lake. This was the bougiest stop of my cabin hopping tour. 
The property is a private cluster of A-Frame cabins. I loved that it was gated. The main road is pretty much one big, paved circle. There are 7 gorgeous modern cabins around a small lake. The contemporary feel, strong Wi-Fi, easy access to town and ability to get Uber Eats delivery made this the perfect work-away-from-home spot. 
I'd virtually met the owner, Isaac French, years ago when I interviewed him on TV. All the cabins here are built from scratch and have either one or two bedrooms. My cabin was a lofted one-bedroom which included a full kitchen, elegant bathroom, living area, private outdoor deck, hammock and hot tub. It was the perfect combination of cozy and luxurious.
Unlike the other places I'd stayed, this stop had a more communal vibe. I could see and hear neighbors outside of their cabins, and walked past people playing with their dogs. Everyone was kind, respectful and doing their own thing. Live Oak Lake has a common area, too, with a pool, outdoor grills, fishing dock, kayaks and swings for people who are seeking interaction rather than total seclusion.  
I woke up so refreshed and didn't want to leave... but it was back to the Hill Country, for a final stop. 

4. Cypress Valley 
This did require some backtracking, but that's what happens when you don't plan ahead. I didn't mind the two hour drive to Spicewood... I had time, the backroads were peaceful and I was excited for my first ever stay in a treehouse! 
Cypress Valley is uniquely positioned. Not far from Bee Cave and Hamilton Pool, Willie Nelson's ranch, and some high end golf courses that draw super-celebrities, there's this hidden gem. They have a variety of accommodations: tents, a variety of treehouses, and a ranch house. They also operate zip lines through the property, but those weren't operational during my stay. 
I booked a basic tree house 50 feet high in a forest canopy. Inside, there was electricity-- but no running water, which means to use a shower, toilet or sink, I had to walk out to the deck, over a suspension bridge and a couple minutes down a gravel road. This is the type of adventure I live for! 
I parked in a designated spot near the office area, where they have Wi-Fi, a small store with snacks, a space for games and grilling, hammocks and a refreshing pool. 
The suspension bridge leading to my treehouse was lined with lights so even in the dark, the string lights guide you to your door. I won't lie, I saw lizards and spiders and a couple of wasps along the way but kept reminding myself-- this is their turf! I unpacked only a few items from my car (because why haul more than necessary to a treehouse!?). The Wi-Fi doesn't reach the Juniper treehouse, (where I was staying) but there are other cabins and "swanky" high-end tree houses that are equipped with Wi-Fi, indoor plumbing, full or mini kitchens for the ... less adventurous. But if you're really hardcore there are also tents: 7 of them, near the bathhouse, for easy access. The tents are really intended for use in spring or fall because they're not climate-controlled. 
I'm not sure what fascinated me about staying in a treehouse-- but I have to think it was nostalgia. As a kid, I always dreamed of crawling into the branches of a tree and nesting like a bird in nature with a book, some snacks and a walkie talkie to send messages to my best friends. This is essentially what I was doing present-day-- it just happened to be taking place on a random Wednesday as a 40-something adult. My cell phone worked enough to call and text, and I was able to read, write and sleep enveloped by the sweet sound of cicadas. 
Again, I slept so well that I wondered whether city life would ever again truly be for me? Bathing in nature feels so good that I didn't even mind the daddy longlegs that would congregate for my communal shower experience. If you've never used a bath house, they range in cleanliness. These are individual shower and bathroom stalls with doors, hooks for towels and a bench for belongings- much like you'd see at a spa. It's simple. But that's the point. 
I've spent years looking so far outside my home state to reach the same euphoric sense I felt through this cabin-hopping experience. Each of these unique stays gave me the sense of feeling far off the grid without actually being far away. It's all a state of mind.
The best part: I came up with the idea myself and executed it alone. 
I'm grateful for the opportunity to explore parts of Texas that were once just a pass through.
I'll never look at a map-- or my birthday-- the same. 
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