Austin is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, drawing in thousands of new residents each year. You will often hear about the great weather, vibrant art scene, and diverse culture, but something else the residents of Austin pride themselves on are their beautiful natural landmarks. Here are just a few of the outdoor spaces and natural areas around Austin that we should strive to preserve.
Located near downtown Austin on the shores of Lady Bird Lake, this 350-acre park is a local favorite for so many reasons. Donated to the city in 1917 and turned into a park in 1930, Zilker Park is truly the heart of Austin. You can rent bicycles to peddle around the lake or canoes to spend an afternoon on the lake. There is also a disk-golf course, a children’s playground and several pavilions for picnicking. Zilker Park is also the location of many community gatherings and festivals such as the ABC Kite Festival and the Trail of Lights. Not only is the park itself a popular spot, but it is also home to other attractions which are worth a visit all on their own.
Located in Zilker Park, this popular outdoor swimming area is in a channel of Barton Creek and is filled naturally with water from the spring. The spring pumps out roughly 31 million gallons of warm water each day, and with an average water temperature of 70 degrees, this swimming hole is usable year-round.
Zilker Botanical Garden
Established as a non-profit in 1955, this gem is located inside Zilker Park on the south banks of the Colorado River. The Botanical Garden features themed areas such as a prehistoric section and a rose garden that are connected by walking paths. Be sure to check out their website, as they often have special events and features.
McKinney Falls State Park
At the south edge of the Austin City limits is McKinney Falls, an over 600-acre park that will make you feel like you are hours from the bustle of the city. Located at the confluence of Onion and Williamson Creeks, this park has everything from waterfalls to fishing holes. A great place to go hiking or geocaching, there are also the remains of an early Texas Homestead that are open for exploration. There is too much to see in just one day, so you can rent one of the 80 campsites or 6 furnished cabins and make a weekend of it.
Walnut Creek Metro Park
Nestled in the northeast corner of Austin, Walnut Creek Park is hilly and heavily wooded, with access to the local limestone bluff. This park’s 15 miles of trails make it especially popular with hikers and bicyclists. However, there are also playgrounds, pool, and softball fields, making it a great spot for the entire family. Even the four-legged family members will enjoy Walnut Creek and its large off-leash area for dogs.
These natural areas and parks are just as much a part of Austin’s identity as the city itself, so it’s important that we work to preserve their natural beauty as the city continues to develop. They’re vital not just for the local economy and tourists, but also for the countless wildlife species that call them home.