Parks and Open Spaces to Visit in Austin
It’s no secret that Austin has tons of restaurants, bars, music venues, and other places to visit and spend time indoors. From local mainstays and culinary institutions to trendy new eateries with young and exciting chefs, we all have our favorite recommendations when it comes to eating and drinking indoors in the comfort of air conditioning. But that’s only half of Austin’s magic, and to discover the whole story, you have to leave the confines of walls and roofs and head outdoors.
With an average of 228 sunny days in Austin every year, you’d be hard-pressed to find an Austinite who doesn’t take advantage of the beautiful weather by spending as much time as possible outdoors. And whether you’re picnicking under a shady oak tree at Zilker Park, hiking or biking at the Greenbelt, or going for a stroll with your significant other and canine friend, Austin’s parks and outdoor areas have something for everyone.
So where do you start? If you’re new to town or don’t think of yourself as the outdoor type, finding out where local parks and outdoor areas are, as well as what they have to offer is the first step. There are a lot of options and hearing various recommendations from friends or co-workers could leave you feeling a bit overwhelmed. And with outdoor activity offerings for people of all athletic ability and levels of fearlessness, you don’t have to be an expert rock climber or REI-sponsored outdoorsmen to revel in the outdoor beauty of Austin, Texas. With that in mind, here are a few of our favorite spots in the city but don’t be afraid to find some of your own. Most neighborhoods have a local park or beautiful open field within walking distance.
Zilker Metropolitan Park
Arguably the most famous park in the city, Zilker Park isn’t just the location of the two-weekend Austin City Limits music festival. It’s also the perfect spot to soak up the sun and spend a lazy Sunday afternoon with your friends, family, and dogs. Sprawling across 351 acres just southwest of downtown, you’ll find locals and tourists participating in every type of activity imaginable from sand volleyball and soccer to yoga and slacklining under the canopy of the Austin skyline. Bring a frisbee, picnic basket, and your dogs and see how the locals spend a weekend afternoon.
Barton Springs Pool
Right across the street from Zilker Park is one of Austin’s most famous attractions and arguably the heart of the city—Barton Springs Pool. Naturally fed from underground springs, this three-acre pool maintains an average temperature of 68-70 degrees making it the perfect place to soak up some sun laying on the hill and then cooling off during the hot spring and summer months. With over 800,000 annual visitors, the pool attracts people of all ages and all walks of life from families teaching their children to swimmers, snorkelers, and free-spirits keeping weird Austin alive and weird.
If Barton Springs Pool is Austin’s most well-known and iconic watering hole the Barton Springs Greenbelt is the oasis for locals. Not only as an escape from the blistering heat but also as an official meeting place for Austinites of all ages. That’s because there’s not an official entrance or parking lot. Instead, it’s a 12-mile stretch of hike and bike trails and swimming spots with random entrances, and everyone seems to have their favorite. From the Spyglass entrance adjacent to the local favorite Tacodeli to the Lost Creek trail that leads to the sound of waterfalls, music, dogs barking, and dozens of people enjoying life, the Greenbelt may not be the city’s best-kept secret any longer. However, it is still the perfect outdoor space.
Auditorium Shores at Lady Bird Lake
If you want an outdoor space in the heart of downtown with the ever-growing and picture-perfect city skyline all around you, look no further than Auditorium Shores. At all hours, you’ll find people jogging along the winding trail on the banks of Lady Bird Lake, playing a game of frisbee, flying a kite, or spending time on the water in a kayak or paddleboard. There’s also a great open area for your dogs to roam freely. Often the site of a multitude concerts all year long, visitors can also pay their respects to one of the city’s most iconic musicians by visiting the Stevie Ray Vaughan Memorial statue located on the hike and bike trail along the south bank of the lake. We aren’t promising anything, but there’s always a chance you may stumble upon a local celebrity like Matthew McConaughey or Lance Armstrong.
Mueller Lake Park
There’s no shortage of great outdoor spaces around downtown and along Loop-360 but there are also beautiful and relaxing parks all over the city, including one of the coolest areas in town, Mueller. Near the newest Alamo Drafthouse and popular Austin Children’s Museum (The Thinkery), the 30-acre Mueller Lake Park has a 6.5-acre lake, loop trail, open-air amphitheater and stage, interactive playscape, and public art space. This park is perfect for a quiet sunset walk with your dogs or to join dozens of workout enthusiasts for a variety of bootcamps or yoga classes on the banks of the lake. Along with a variety of monthly events for the entire community like outdoor concerts with visiting food trucks, there’s also a local farmer’s market every Sunday from 10 am to 2 pm.
With so many outdoor areas to enjoy throughout the city it’s impossible to not fall in love with Austin. And whether you’re into biking, hiking, or lazy strolls with your dog and loved one, there are dozens of local parks in every neighborhood in town. At Domain Realty, we love this city and we know where to find you a home close to any of these beautiful outdoor spaces. To get started with your home buying or selling process, contact us today at (512) 872-4211.