Gone with the Grins

The Grins Family Robinson: Our Time in a Texas Tree House

Summers in Central Texas are hot. Like a blast furnace, they are. Hot enough to drive you into the complacency of the cool indoors until October… yes, it doesn’t actually get cool here until then, sometimes later. So began the search for a short, family vacation close to home. One that involved water, because honestly that’s about all you can do around here if you want to be outside in July. We were also looking for something that would entertain a teenage boy. And we were looking for something unique.

Enter Cypress Valley Canopy Tours in Spicewood, Texas. As the name implies, they are known for their ziplining tours, but we really went for the tree houses.

These are not your backyard clubhouse-variety tree houses. There are no “Girls Keep Out” signs posted on rickety ladders. Think sustainable luxury, inasmuch as a tree house can be luxurious. We chose to stay in the Nest, the largest… and in our humble opinion… the best of the four tree houses on the property. For one thing, there was A/C in the bedrooms. That alone was worth it. That, plus the private bathroom. Win win.

The Nest sits high in the air above a beautiful river gorge. Anchored to five massive cypress trees that lost their lives to a wildfire, it features a rustic kitchen appointed with native wood from the property, a crow’s nest, and several lookouts that offer a spectacular breeze and an unbeatable view of the stars at night.

The bedrooms and sitting area are connected to the kitchen by a platform with a vine-covered outdoor shower.

On the subject of vines, they’re everywhere. The entire tree house is enclosed in a semi-circular metal structure that’s not only holding the dead trees in place, but providing a support for the many plantings of trumpet honeysuckle, cross vine, morning glory and passionflower that will one day cover its surface. We marveled at the number of birds, butterflies and other insects who have already found the vines, as well as the flowers over the bedrooms. Give it another few years, and the biodiversity will be astonishing.

But the draw of Cypress Valley doesn’t stop there. Kids love the zipline and rope that allows them to swing over and drop into the lake below. Trust us. Our kid did this for hours and wasn’t ready to quit.

There is also a pretty, round pool fed by an underground well, a small boat, hammocks, picnic tables, and grills. Guests may use any of the amenities if they have booked a zipline tour or a night in a tree house.

Speaking of, the rule is: you can zipline without spending the night, but you can’t spend the night without booking a zipline tour. Didn’t matter to us, though. We knew our son would love the ziplining as much as the tree house, and we were right.

None of the lines are terribly long or super high, but the scenery, while not lush in this part of the States, is starkly beautiful. The Nest even shares its main walkway with a zipline platform. Kind of fun to zip straight into our “home,” even if it was temporary. (Sigh.) Just goes to show that sometimes the best little vacations are, quite literally, right in your backyard.


Website: www.cypressvalleycanopytours.com


Krause Springs

If you’re in Spicewood, head over to Krause Springs for more river fun. Kids will have a blast swinging on the rope into the grotto-like swimming hole or jumping into the cold water of the spring-fed pool. A lovely flower garden greets visitors at the entrance. Camp sites, bathrooms, and picnic tables are also available.


Have you visited a really neat place for a short getaway? Tell us about it by leaving a comment below.