Outdoor activities in Austin, Texas are found everywhere. We are a very active city and love running, boating on our lakes and biking!
Known as one of the fittest cities in the US, it’s no wonder Austin has breathtaking trails to run and quirky streets to explore. We have trails and running routes easily accessible from downtown, luscious greenery, and even views of the Texas Capitol. You name it, and we’ve got it.
Here’s a list of some of my favorite places to run and experience the wonderful city we live in – Austin, Texas!
5. For the city slicker seeking solitude: Shoal Creek Trail
Start your playlist with: Days Like This – Van Morrison
Although parts of the trail are currently under construction, this is a great trail to get away without stepping outside of Austin. You’ll find Shoal Creek less crowded than other nearby trails, yet it still provides beautiful creek views surrounded by massive trees. If you start at the northern most end of the trail, you will have to cross a few roads including North Lamar; but, this short intermission doesn’t take away from the serenity to be experienced on the trail.
Distance: 4 mile stretch
Terrain: Compacted dirt, loose rocks, limestone, pavement
Pro tip: Park at Randall’s (W. 35th) for easy access to Shoal Creek Blvd. There is also parking available off of North Lamar.
4. For the ultimate sight-seer: Texas State Capitol to South Congress Loop
Start your playlist with: Fader – The Temper Trap
This is the perfect running route if you’re visiting Austin for a few days or if you’re a resident looking to escape the office for a lunch time run. Start at the Capitol and run through downtown; you’ll soar across the Congress bridge and witness breathtaking views of Lady Bird Lake. From there, you’ll run at an incline up South Congress (one of Austin’s most memorable and well loved streets in Austin). On the way back, be sure to take a pit stop at Amy’s Ice cream for an afternoon snack!
Distance: 6 mile round trip
Terrain: Paved road
Pro tip: This is the beginning of the Austin marathon/ half marathon course and is a great way to train for some of the hills on the course. However, they only get bigger from here!
3. For the hill climber: Mount Bonnell
Start your playlist with: Livin’ On a Prayer – Bon Jovi
When I first visited Mount Bonnell, I’ll admit I walked up the stairs within a few minutes and was slightly underwhelmed. Maybe I was expected something a bit more rugged or a longer climb. However, if you want to reach one of the highest points in Austin, try running up it. Mount Bonnell stands at 785 feet and remains one of Austin’s most popular tourist attractions. If you’re fit for the challenge, start at the top of Mount Bonnell, run until you get to the beginning of Mount Bonnell Road (Mayfield Park) and climb back up to the summit. If you make it to the stairs running, you’ll be no doubt be out of breath but have earned the beautiful view of the Colorado river and Austin skyline.
Distance: (Covert Park at Mount Bonnell – Mayfield Park) .7 miles each way; 1.5 miles total
Terrain: Paved road
Pro tip: Mayfield Park, right off of Mount Bonnell Road is one of Austin’s lesser known gems. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can run through it before heading back up to Mount Bonnell. Here’s a sneak peek of what you’ll find –
2. For the trail runner not afraid of a rocky ride: The Barton Creek Greenbelt
Start your playlist with: The ‘59 Sound – The Gaslight Anthem
Located off of Highway 360, The Greenbelt serves as a popular attraction for both visitors and Austin locals. It has explorative trails and numerous swimming holes for the warmer months. With multiple different routes and trailhead access points, the Greenbelt is a trail runner’s dream. For running, one of my favorite trailheads is The Scottish Woods trail, a less crowded access point. The trailhead starts off rocky with a decent decline known as “The Hill of Life”. From there, it’s a smoother ride and offers many different trails comprised of several obstacles. The main access is off of 3755 B Capital Highway 360 and another popular one is Spyglass (West). Hit up this spot for the perfect combination of hiking and breakfast tacos from the nearby Taco Deli. For runners, with varied terrain and multiple trails, this is a great place to challenge yourself while still enjoying Austin’s serenity.
Distance: 7.9 mile stretch (main trail)
Terrain: Loose rock, dirt, gravel, limestone
Pro tip: Stop at the iconic Sculpture Falls on the way back to cool off (only about 1 mile from The Scottish Woods Trailhead).
1. For the long distance runner who takes the scenic route: Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail (Ann and Butler/Town Lake)
Start your playlist with: Do You – Spoon
*Ahh* the lake. Like most, this was the first trail I ran in Austin. Its prime location, and beautiful sunrises/sunsets that reflect off the water make it a popular spot for Austinites. The majority of the trail is flat with some small inclines, which makes it fairly easy to maintain your pace. In its entirety, the trail covers over 10 miles and is extremely suitable for half marathon/marathon training. But, don’t be overwhelmed by the distance. The trail also offers many shorter and equally as scenic loops. If you’re seeking a shorter run, take the MOPAC loop or start downtown and cross I-35 to get to the boardwalk. There’s lots to explore here and the view simply never gets old.
Distance: 10.1 mile loop
Terrain: Compact dirt, crushed granite, concrete
Pro tip: Wake up early to beat the rush and witness the sunrise. For skyline views, check out the boardwalk; for rugged trails, enter the trail from downtown (Congress), and once you’ve reached the trail, turn left.
If you enjoyed this post, check out our guide to Hiking Trail in Austin.
If you’ve been by the Long Center recently, you may have noticed the huge silver objects on the lawn. Those are luminariums. While they look cool from the outside, the real magic is inside.
It’s a treasure trove of lights and colors and each luminarium has its own set of paths and domes for a unique experience. The colors are so vivid and brilliant and look amazing. I imagine the experience to be something out of Honey I Shrunk the Kids, where boom, the next thing you know you are walking through a kaleidoscope.
People love it. This exhibit has had over 2 million viewers across 37 countries.
Admission: $12 over 18, $8 ages 3-17 , children 2 and under free
When: today – November 29th
Time: Weekdays 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Weekends 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
The Long Center
701 W. Riverside Drive
Austin, Texas 78704
The Austin Events Calendar highlights over 250 events and activities around the city, and has become the go-to authority for everything Austin. From Eeyore’s Birthday to the Zilker Kite Festival, this wall calendar keeps Austinites in the loop year round.
To Celebrate its 10-Year Anniversary and the launch of the 2016 Calendar, they’re hosting a walkable, photo scavenger hunt that will take participants to to several iconic Austin locations! The after party will feature fun prizes and local entertainment.
Who: Teams of two to four; participants must be 21+ to purchase tickets
Where: The scavenger hunt starts and ends at Zilker Park, and all stops will be within walking distance
When: 10am Saturday, November 21st
Cost: $10 per person- includes wall calendar, afterparty and a chance at awesome prizes
It’s no secret that Lake Travis Zipline Adventures is one of my favorite things to do in Austin. Now that the seasons are changing this is the BEST time of year to check it out!
It’s an adventure from the beginning, as there are five ziplines for you to tackle. The lake levels are up for the first time in years so the views are absolutely incredible. One of the cables is the longest zipline in Texas, and you reach speeds of up to 60 miles an hour. It’s such a rush!
The guides are also friendly, knowledgeable and fun. They make the whole experience even better.
Through November 29th they’re offering a Buy 2 , Get 1 FREE deal Monday – Friday. If you haven’t tried it, this is a great opportunity to give it a shot. I always have an absolute blast!
Lake Travis Zipline Adventures
14529 Pocohontas Trail
I’m having a serious case of post ACL blues. My body is tired beyond words. About the only thing that I think I’m up for is some yoga.
Whole Foods is offering it for free this month and next courtesy of Black Swan Yoga.
All you need to bring is water and a mat. The class will probably get full, so I suggest getting there a little early to set up a spot.
Time: Mondays/Wednesday: 7pm – 8 pm
Whole Foods Downtown
524 North Lamar Blvd.
Austin, Texas 78701
Photo Credit: Whole Foods Austin Facebook
One of Austin’s oldest and longest running festivals is back! The Pecan Street Festival is one of those classic Austin festivals.
If you’ve never been, it’s a gigantic street fair with music, art, kids activities, jewelry, giant turkey legs, and all kinds of other cool stuff. It’s actually the largest art festival in Central Texas, attracting over 300,000 people!
They have tons of distinctively Austin attractions, including a facial hair groomer. It’s just a good time and a perfect activity for the kiddos.
Be sure to bring your appetite. They’ll have food vendors all over the place for you to grab a bite.
For other fun happening around town, here is a list of our Weekend Top Picks!
When: today, September 26th & tomorrow, September 27th
Time: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Austin, Texas 78701
For a map visit, http://pecanstreetfestival.org/contact-page/festival-map/
Both visitors and long-time residents of Texas are often astounded to learn that there are over 100 amazing State and National Parks in the Lone Star State. Texas parks aren’t just bigger than in other states, but there are simply just more of ’em.
Although Yellowstone National Park was America’s first national park, protected by an act Congress in 1872, Texas is now the proud home to a whopping 13 parks and areas managed by the National Park Service. Lone Star national park areas annually welcome over 4.6 million visitors to enjoy the amazing diversity and nature in Texas.
Below are the five biggest areas managed by the National Park Service in the Lone Star State:
BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK
Named for the bend in the Rio Grande River, Big Bend National Park is one of the most remote and spectacularly unspoiled national parks in the United States.
Established in June 12, 1944, Big Bend measures a huge 801,000 acres, almost as big as the entire state of Rhode Island. Yeehaw, pardner, you can explore this beautiful pristine wilderness on the Mexico border for weeks and still never see it all. Make sure you wear your boots though, as Big Bend is crawling with all kinds of critters, including Cougar, black-tailed jackrabbit, kangaroo rat, golden eagle, collared peccary, Mexican black bear, coyote, and javelina.
Keep your eye out for bones poking out of the soil, as you might be looking at a dinosaur fossil from the Cretaceous or Tertiary era! Big Bend is home to spectacular vistas, gorgeous desert plateaus, and jaw-droppingly beautiful canyon.
Big Bend is almost famous for being home to over 60 different cactus species, many of them unique to the area, and a whopping 1,200 other species of plants. Not bad for a mostly desert area, eh?
GUADALUPE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
Lift your eyes to the sky, pardner, because Guadelupe Peak is the highest point in the Lone Star State. Another famous peak is El Capitan, which is Spanish for “The Captain”, a unique landmark that brave pioneering settlers once used to tame the Texas wildlands.
Guadalupe Mountains is chock full of amazing horseback trails, and hiking paths that will take you over 3,000 feet up through beautiful stands of pine and fir trees. Visitors also love McKittrick Canyon, home to thousands of Texas-native Bigtooth Maple trees, that blaze with fiery color during the autumn.
First established on October 15, 1966, Guadalupe Mountains has something for everyone, including amazing caves and canyons to explore. And if that’s not enough, you can clamber around on a fossilized coral reef that is millions of years old.
Guadalupe Mountains is bursting with Texas wildlife, including western diamondback rattlesnakes, prairie lizard, Chihuahuan spotted whiptail, tarantulas, mule dear, long-ear sunfish, Rio Grande leopard frog, rock squirrels, elk, black bear, gray foxes, and mountain lions.
LAKE MEREDITH NATIONAL RECREATION AREA
Located north of Amarillo, Lake Meredith National Recreation Area encompasses Lake Meredith, which is a huge artificial reservoir formed after the construction of the Sanford Dam. Lake Meredith National Recreation Area is particularly famous for its boating, fishing, and other aquatic activities, and contains five boat launches and a full-service marina.
Fishing enthusiasts love Lake Meredith because of the huge abundance of different edible species found there. Cast your line and see if you can hook a walleye, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, white bass, white crappie, or one of Lake Meredith’s Texas-size catfish. If hunting is more your thing, load up for white-tailed deer, mule deer, dove, teal, turkey, quail, and pheasant.
Another special part of the park is the the Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument, a series of special mountains where people have been coming for thousands of years to mine the unique rainbow-hued flint rocks that exist in this Texas paradise.
BIG THICKET NATIONAL PRESERVE
Once far larger, but drastically reduced due to extensive logging operations, Big Thicket National is still home to hundreds of thousands of trees. Big Thicket is the most biodiverse areas in the world not located in a tropical region. It is so amazing that it was been officially designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1981.
Big Thicket is so big that it its boundaries extend over seven different counties in Texas. Big Thicket isn’t just home to hundreds of thousands of trees, but also countless bogs, swamps, and wetlands, so be sure to strap on your waders before heading in. Indeed, because the preserve is largely wetlands and thick forest, the National Park Service’s maintains the park from its office in Kountze, just north of Beaumont.
While nature lovers come to see the abundant flora, such as rare orchids and insect-eating plants, be on the lookout for alligators, water moccasins, and other venomous snakes.
PADRE ISLAND NATIONAL SEASHORE
Not to be confused with South Padre Island, home to vacationers and university students on spring break, Padre Island National Seashore is located on South Padre Island, an almost entirely undeveloped and wild area. To preserve the pristine nature of the national seashore, vehicles are largely prohibited from the area. Laguna Madre, located on the west coast of South Padre Island, is internationally famous for its unique windsurfing opportunities.
Established in September 28, 1962, Padre Island National Seashore covers a huge 130 thousand acres, and is longest undeveloped barrier island in the entire world!
The most famous natural attraction is Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, which clambers ashore every year to lay its eggs. Keep your eyes peeled for other critters, including coyote, deer, jellyfish, and ghost crabs.
Padre Island Nationalal Seasure is a birdwatcher’s paradise, as it plays home to over 380 different species of birds, including Brown Pelicans, Redheads, Least Terns, Peregrine Falcons, Reddish Egrets, Piping Plovers, Laughing Gulls, Double-Crested Cormorants, Great Blue Herons, Black Skimmers, and Sandwich Terns.s
Written By: Vincent Stokes
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Do you want to have an acca-awesome night? Check out Pitch Perfect in the Park.
Photo Credit: AustinParks.org
Dogs, picnics, and lawn chairs are welcome. Alcoholic beverages, glass and styrofoam are not permitted in the park.
Here is the Fall Movie in the Park Schedule:
9/17 at Beverly Sheffield NW District Park | 8:15pm – Pitch Perfect
10/22 at Dick Nichols District Park | 7:30pm -Casper
10/29 at Republic Square Park* | 7:30pm – Beetlejuice
11/5 at Palm Park | 6:30pm -The Dark Knight
Beverly Sheffield NW District Park
7000 Ardath Street
Austin, Texas 78757
Calling all car aficionados! How about kicking tires out at the Oasis.
The second Sunday of each month the Oasis hosts ‘coffee and cars” a come-and-go car show that features classic, vintage, antique and exotic autos!
When: today, September 13th
Time: 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
6550 Comanche Trail
Austin, Texas 78732
The day has officially arrived, it is UT Tailgate Season and Texas Football time. I know it is going to be a warm one but there is nothing like the excitement of the first game of the year to get you excited for a season of football.
I have been waiting for this day basically since the end of last season. There are so many great places to start your day of day drinking and football watching.
I suggest making it out to one of the tailgate but if you just want to find a place to watch the game here are some of my favorites; my first pick is obviously DKR Stadium. If you do not have tickets I would recommend, Scholz’s, The Goodnight, Abel’s on the Lake, Crown and Anchor Pub as some of my favorite spots to watch football!
Let’s great ready for a great season of football and fun!
As always, Hook ‘Em Horns!
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