One of the things that makes Austin so great is its abundance of parks. From small urban parks with a playground and maybe a basketball court to big state parks with trails and waterfalls, Austin has lots of nature easily within reach. There are community gardens, historic estates, outdoor music venues, and even peacocks among the green spaces of Austin.
Auditorium Shores gets it name from the Palmer Auditorium as well as from lady Bird Lake, both of which are on either side of it, but it also could loosely refer to the festivals, events, and concerts that are often hosted there. Auditorium Shores is conveniently located right in Austin’s downtown area, and its green lawns are a great place for a game of frisbee, playing fetch with your dog off leash, or relaxing on a blanket with a good book. There is a wide network of lovely paths for walkers, joggers, dog walkers, and bicyclists that weaves and whirls through Auditorium Park. For a full schedule of events that occur there, check out the website listed below.
900 W Riverside Dr, Austin, TX 78704, Phone: 512-974-6700
2.Barton Creek Greenbelt
Just a short distance west of Downtown Austin is Barton Creek Greenbelt, a peaceful natural area that provides a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. Barton Creek Greenbelt is dog friendly, and the creek that runs through it—Barton Creek, of course—is a great place for both humans and pups to cool off and get their paws wet during the hot summer days. There are tons of access points to the Lower Greenbelt, Upper Greenbelt, and Barton Creek Wilderness Park, which are all part of the same greater park. Rock climbers will find some exciting and challenging routes among the park’s rock formations, and hikers will enjoy the beautiful nature along one of the best trails in Texas.
3755 S Capital of Texas Hwy B, Austin, TX 78704, Phone: 512-974-6700
3.Bull Creek District Park
With nearly fifty acres of green space and a flowing creek running through it, Bull Creek District Park is a great spot for swimming during the warmer months, hiking on beautiful Texas days, and fishing in Bull Creek. It’s a popular destination for locals, and its amenities also include several sports facilities, like a basketball court, a field that is used for soccer, kickball, and other purposes, and a volleyball court. It’s also a popular place for rock climbers, who enjoy the large ridges and formations of limestone that provide a welcome challenge. Dogs are welcome in Bull Creek Distract Park as long as they remain on leash and their owners clean up any messes they leave.
6701 Lakewood Dr, Austin, TX 78731, Phone: 512-974-6700
4.Butler Metro Park
Butler Metro Park is right across the street from Auditorium Shores park, so visitors kind of get a two for one deal on an excellent urban recreation space. Butler Metro Park is sometimes known by its old name, Town Lake Metro Park, and within its grounds are the Dougherty Art Center, and the Palmer Events Center, though the latter is not part of the park. At Butler Metro Park, visitors will find trails for running, walking, and biking, as well as green space perfect for picnics and pick up games of frisbee, There’s a splash pad fountain that is generally swarming with locals and kids trying to cool off on hots days, and even a putt putt mini golf course.
1000 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704, Phone: 512-974-6700
5.Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park
Picnics and barbecues are a common sight (and smell!) at Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan park, which borders Lake Austin and the Colorado River. It’s home to a beautiful trail—the Waterfall Trail—which is short and easy but leads along a lovely stream with several featured waterfalls. The waterfront is a good launch point for boating and kayaking, and also provides a nice place to go fishing. Wildlife such as birds and wildflowers tend to be abundant inside Commons Ford Ranch, and the facilities include a boat house and a volleyball net.
614 N Commons Ford Rd, Austin, TX 78733, Phone: 512-974-6700
6.Emma Long Metropolitan Park
Located in the northwest region of Austin’s city limits, Emma Long Metropolitan Park was originally called City Park, and is still called that by some locals. The large park borders Lake Austin and is named for Emma Long, a woman who served in Austin’s city council during the 1940s, became the first female Mayor Pro Tem in Austin, and vehemently supported the parks system throughout her career and her life. The sunny green space, dotted by trees and picnic tables, is a fitting tribute to her legacy. A nominal park entrance fee is charged for visitors on foot or by vehicle, and a camping fee also applies.
1600 City Park Rd, Austin, TX 78730
7.Festival Beach Park
Festival Beach Park is the common name for Edward Rendon Senior Metro Park at Festival Beach, which is admittedly a mouthful. This beautiful public park is located along the river, and it has a dock where people launch kayaks and long rowing team boats, and some lovely trails for hiking and biking. There is a boat ramp for launching boats in the Colorado River, and a small and pretty inlet of water that ventures into the park. A community swimming pool is open during the warmer months of the year, and provides a safe and fun place for community members of all ages to swim, splash, and cool off. In the northwest edge of the park is the Festival Beach Food Forest and Festival Beach Community Garden, an edible part of the park run by volunteers.
2101 Jesse E Segovia St. Austin TX 78702, Phone: 512-974-6700
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8.Guerrero Colorado River Park
© Monkey Business/stock.adobe.com
The playground at Guerrero Colorado River Park is a kid’s paradise. There are multiple slides, swings, a huge play castle area, and even an exciting feature that mimics rock formations and lets kids test their balance on a guided tightrope walk. But the fun at GUerrero Colorado River Park isn’t just for the little ones. There’s also a lot of sports facilities there as well, including a baseball diamond, space for volleyball or other field sports, and an entire disc golf course. It’s common to spot deer in Guerrero Colorado River Park, and hikers and bikers will be pleased to find some varied urban trails for their use.
400 Grove Blvd, Austin, TX 78741, Phone: 512-974-6700
© Faina Gurevich/stock.adobe.com
Mayfield Park started life as the Mayfield Gutsch Estate, a lovely historic cottage that was built in the 19th century on 21 acres of natural land, including a beautiful 2 acre garden. Mayfield Park is quiet, peaceful, and beautiful, with walking trails and community garden space often filled with flowers and veggies, depending on the deason. The trails are short, perfect for families or people looking for a quick stroll. One of the most unique draws of Mayfield Park that sets it apart from others in the area are the resident peacocks and peahens, who roam freely around the grounds. Visitors can spot their colorful plumage all over the park, and if you’re patient enough, you might even get a full display of their spread feathers.
3505 W 35th St, Austin, TX 78703
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10.McKinney Falls State Park
McKinney Falls State park is located in Austin where Onion Creek and Williamson Creek meet, and it’s named for McKinney Falls, a broad waterfall that rushes over the stones of Onion Creek and splashes merrily into pools below. The park is practically in Austin’s back yard, and is in fact still within city limits, so it’s very accessible for Austinites and visitors. There are over eighty campsites at McKinney Falls State Park which can be reserved for as little as $20 per night, and during the day there is a system of trails that vary from the bike and stroller friendly Onion Creek Trail to the more rugged Rock Shelter Trail, which leads to a neat old camping shelter. There is an old homestead on the property, and the creeks are suitable for fishing and swimming, though the park has strict rules about what is allowed in the falls areas in order to keep the park clean.
5808 McKinney Falls Pkwy, Austin, TX 78744
11.Mueller Lake Park
Mueller Lake Park is centered around, as the name implies, Mueller Lake, a large body of water that is surrounded by 30 acres of green space, trails, and other amenities. The park is centrally located within the Mueller neighborhood, and is part of a green space park system that aims to make sure no one in the neighborhood is ever more than 600 feet from a park. Mueller Lake Park has a fun playground for kids, and directly adjacent to the play area is a huge sculpture of a big blue sea serpent called Nessy. The park also contains an outdoor amphitheatre and stage which are used for performances throughout the year, and a loop trail for joggers, hikers, and casual walkers.
4550 Mueller Blvd, Austin, TX 78723, Phone: 512-703-9202
12.Old Settlers Park
Old Settlers Park is one of the best known parks in the Austin area, and with 640 acres of trails, sports facilities, and picnic pavilions, it’s easy to see why. Picnickers can gather for family reunions or birthday parties to barbecue, play horseshoes, and enjoy each other’s company under one of the two pavilions, and sports enthusiasts can make full use of the facilities which include an 18 hole disc golf course, soccer fields and facilities, and 20 fields for baseball and softball. There is also a cricket field that includes batting cages for practice, Bright Lake, which comes stocked with fish like bass, perch, and catfish for anyone looking to try their luck with a fishing pole, and seven playgrounds for kids. Also in the listed facilities are two volleyball courts and a dozen tennis courts, as well as several miles of trails which wind through the park.
3300 E Palm Valley Blvd, Round Rock, TX 78665, Phone: 512-218-5540
13.Onion Creek Metropolitan Park
This regional park has over 550 acres of land for visitors to enjoy. Onion Creek Metropolitan Park is mostly flat, with lots of thick woods and several small ponds, and is named for Onion Creek, which runs through it. As of right now, the park is largely undeveloped, and doesn’t contain the playgrounds, sports facilities, or performance spaces of other parks on this list. But what Onion Creek Metropolitan Park does have to offer is a beautiful up close look at nature. Dogs are more than welcome in Onion Creek (though owners should always remember to use their best judgment when letting dogs off leash and always clean up after their four-legged friends), and many visitors enjoy mountain biking and hiking on some of the rough trails that make their way through the woods.
8652 Nuckols Crossing Rd, Austin, TX 78744, Phone: 512-974-2000
A favorite location that is popular with lovers of disc golf and students from the University at Texas Austin, Pease Park is centrally located in the city of Austin. Since the 1970s, Pease Park has been the home of Eeyore’s Birthday Party, an annual event that includes plenty of music, dancing, costumes, and games. There’s also an annual drum circle that takes place at the party, which generally attracts thousands of attendees every year. Pease Park contains a small network of trails for hikers and bikers which connects to the larger city trail system, and the park is full of open green space that is great for picnicking, relaxing, playing frisbee or catch, and enjoying a lovely day.
1100 Kingsbury St, Austin, TX 78705
15.Red Bud Isle
Sometimes it can be hard to find a good place to let your canine best friend run free and let loose some energy, especially if you live in a city. But at Red Bud Isle, dogs can run free on their own island. This 13 acre recreational space has a walking loop for humans and a whole island of forest, lakeshore, and land for dogs to enjoy. There is no fence, as the lake tends to serve as a natural barrier, but dogs who love to swim can enjoy a splash in some of the shallow inlets around the island. There are plenty of sticks for throwing and lots of other dogs to play with at Red Bud Isle, and bags are available around the island for cleaning up after your pet. This public park is absolutely free for visitors, though finding parking can sometimes be a challenge.
3401 Redbud Trail, Austin, TX 78746, Phone: 512-974-6700
16.The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
First Lady of the United States Lady Bird Johnson was an avid supporter of wildlife and public green spaces, and her name graces many botanic gardens and parks around the country. The Lady bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin serves as the official Arboretum of Texas, as well as the official Botanic Garden of the state. Visitors can enjoy more than eight hundred species of plants, wildflowers, and trees within the Center, most of which are native to Texas. It’s a beautiful place with trails, guided tours, and even a cafe, where visitors of all ages can enjoy the opportunity to learn about Texas’ native plants and wildlife.
4801 La Crosse Ave, Austin, TX 78739, Phone: 512-232-0100
17.Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park
Located in northeast Austin, Walnut Creek Metropolitan park contains over fifteen miles of trails for hiking, which weave through woods, creeks, and rocky ravines that are all beautiful and perfect for wandering. The trails are rough and natural, with uneven terrain and roots, so while they are great for hiking, they are not appropriate for strollers. The park also is home to a playground that is suitable for kids of all ages, a swimming pool, and sports facilities like a volleyball court, baseball/softball diamonds, and basketball courts. Visitors can reserve a picnic shelter for gatherings, or enjoy a meal at one of the picnic tables and barbecue grills around the park for more impromptu events. All throughout the park, Walnut Creek provides a perfect place for swimming and exploring nature, right in Austin’s backyard.
12138 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78753, Phone: 512-974-6700
18.Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park
Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park is named for Lake Walter E. Long, a spacious lake where visitors can go swimming, paddle in a kayak, or try their luck at fishing. The lake is full of largemouth bass as well as hybrid striped bass, and is one of the best fishing destinations in the area, as well as the home of lots of fishing tournaments and competitions throughout the year. There are also channel and flathead catfish, as well as bluegill and redbreast sunfish. The park itself has lots of green space as well as water, with picnic areas, sand courts for volleyball, barbecue grills, and trails for walking, running, and bicycling.
6620 Blue Bluff Rd, Austin, TX 78724, Phone: 512-974-6700
Wooldridge Park is located in downtown Austin, and it is sometimes referred to as Wooldridge Square. At Wooldridge Park, there is a central gazebo and bandstand which is often the home of many types of events, including wedding ceremonies, community performances, and outdoor concerts. The steep hill facing the bandstand provides comfortable natural amphitheatre seating where visitors and attendees spread out blankets so they can sit back and enjoy the show. Wooldridge Park is one of the oldest parks in Austin, and when city planners were drawing out their plan for the city in the 19th century, it was one of the four original public squares that was designed. Today, Wooldridge Park is not only an active part of the community but also boasts a place on the National Register of Historic Places.
900 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78701
In 1917, Andrew Jackson Zilker donated 350 acres of land to the city of Austin, and that parcel of land is now known ad Zilker Park today. At Zilker Park, which is also on the National Register of Historic Places, visitors can enjoy green spaces and facilities for plating sports. It’s also home to the Zilker Botanical Gardens, which is located at the park’s center and contains lots of beautiful flowers and plants. The park has lots of trails and hiking areas, and the Austin nature and Science Center offers educational seminars and guided nature hikes in the park. Throughout the year, Zilker Park is home to many events such as Shakespeare in the Park performances and an annual musical theater production, which are held at the Zilker Hillside Theater.
2100 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704
20 Best Austin Parks
- Auditorium Shores, Photo: f11photo/stock.adobe.com
- Barton Creek Greenbelt, Photo: trongnguyen/stock.adobe.com
- Bull Creek District Park, Photo: Melanie/stock.adobe.com
- Butler Metro Park, Photo: Reagan/stock.adobe.com
- Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park, Photo: linjerry/stock.adobe.com
- Emma Long Metropolitan Park, Photo: Andrei/stock.adobe.com
- Festival Beach Park, Photo: Kassandra/stock.adobe.com
- Guerrero Colorado River Park, Photo: Monkey Business/stock.adobe.com
- Mayfield Park, Photo: Faina Gurevich/stock.adobe.com
- McKinney Falls State Park, Photo: Bob/stock.adobe.com
- Mueller Lake Park, Photo: coffmancmu/stock.adobe.com
- Old Settlers Park, Photo: bouybin/stock.adobe.com
- Onion Creek Metropolitan Park, Photo: Philip/stock.adobe.com
- Pease Park, Photo: IKA/stock.adobe.com
- Red Bud Isle, Photo: Chee/stock.adobe.com
- The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Photo: Jason/stock.adobe.com
- Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park, Photo: olelia/stock.adobe.com
- Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park, Photo: lpictures/stock.adobe.com
- Wooldridge Park, Photo: Archmotion.net/stock.adobe.com
- Zilker Park, Photo: stolkl/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: zakzeinert/stock.adobe.com