Outdoor enthusiasts are pretty lucky here in Austin. We’re graced with scenic trails and beautiful views right in our own backyard (see: Town Lake (Lady Bird) and the Barton Creek Greenbelt).
For those who have ran the trail and hiked The Greenbelt countless times, we’ve put together a list of our favorite hidden gems in Austin that may not be on your radar. All the trails are free and are within a 30 minute drive from downtown. Check ’em out!
Surrounded by greenery and tall trees, this trail will take you to a different world; a world that is shaded and cooler (great for the hot, summer months). After climbing many stairs, your heart rate will soar and you’ll reach high levels of elevation that you wouldn’t find anywhere else in Austin. The trail is extremely clear and is impossible to get lost on. Make sure you stop at the creeks and waterfall to cool off. If you’re looking for a challenging hike, this ones got your name all over it!
Pro tip: If you’re a moderately-experienced runner, run the trail. It’s worth it!
Distance: 5.5-6 miles (round trip; no loop) Dog friendly: Yes Terrain: Mostly dirt, stairs, some water crossings
This neck of the woods is a popular spot for both hikers and mountain bikers. Comprised of a huge, 15-mile mass of land, Walnut Creek is an explorer’s dream. There are tons of unmarked paths, so you may get a little lost; but that’s more fun, right? With multiple winding paths and few obstacles, undertaking part of the trail is perfect for beginners. The hike offers plenty of overlooks, so don’t forget to stop and smell the roses on the way up. And of course, cool down in the beautiful creek on the way down.
Pro tip: Wear good shoes. The rocks can be pesky!
Distance: 15 mile loop Terrain: dirt, loose gravel, small and large rocks, tree roots Dog friendly: Yes; dogs must be on a leash
Located near The Emma Metropolitan Park, you may be lucky enough to see some wildlife on the drive up! This trail is a very cool, secluded spot where you’ll find a creek that runs along the trail. Although primarily flat, you will find parts of the trail that have moderate elevation changes as well as water crossings. This is the place to be one with nature; but, don’t forget that bug spray!
Pro tip: No, really, lather yourself in bug spray. Horse flies are not your friend.
Distance: 2.8 mile loop Terrain: Loose rocks, dirt, tree roots Dog Friendly: Yes
Referred to as the “country within the city,” St. Edwards Park is a perfect balance between finding peace and chasing adventure. Surrounded by forest-like areas, there are lots of hidden trails, great elevation, phenomenal views, a waterfall, and a creek. This trail has everything you need for a peaceful getaway and truly is the best of both worlds.
Pro tip: If you’re looking for a more challenging trail with elevation, take the hill trail. Keep your eyes peeled on the way down and you will find a rope swing and swimming hole for all your adventure needs!
Distance: 2-4 mile loop (depending on the trail – hill or creek) Terrain: mostly dirt, rocks, gravel, and some tree roots Dog Friendly: Yes; dogs must be on a leash
Located off of Loop 360, you can access the preserve easily, making it a great spot for families and visitors to Austin. It’s a short trail comprised of multiple paths and terrain (dirt, large rocks, loose gravel, tree roots). There are some hills with relatively high elevation, and multiple overlooks that show off a great view of Austin. With a perfect, easy-to-get-to location, be sure to check out this trail for a weekend adventure.
Pro tip: Trails are marked very clearly, but here’s a trail map to help out since there are multiple networks of trails.
Distance: 2.5 mile round trip Terrain: Dirt, loose gravel, rocks, tree roots Dog Friendly: No
The Texas Rollergirls bouts are one of the most raved about “things to do” in Austin, and for good reason. This Sunday will be the first match up of their 2014 season!
Saturday is your chance to come out and see what all the fun is about. This is a very family friendly event, and fans are encouraged to come early and take pictures with the girls. Don’t miss out on the excitement!
Here is a fun video they made to get you in the rollergirl spirit!
To win a pair of tickets to Saturday’s games: share, comment or like this post & tell us who you would take. Winner will be chosen using random.org on Thursday.
A dinner cruise under the stars on Lady Bird Lake is a pretty romantic option for Valentine’s Day. Add the Downtown skyline as a backdrop and you have the ultimate dinner setting.
Capital Cruises is offering two options for those who want to take to water this Valentine’s Day.
Option 1) Valentine’s Public Cruise
This cruise includes a menu of Whole Wheat Linguine Pasta (Chicken or Shrimp) from the Hyatt Regency Austin and complimentary wine and dessert.
Cruise Times: 6:00-7:30pm or 8:30- 10:00pm
$133.26 per couple
Option 2) Private Cruise on a Duffy Boat
I’ve personally rented their Duffy Boats before, and absolutely loved them. Romantic is an understatement. They have such a cozy feel to them. If the weather proves chilly on your special day, they can enclose the boat and put a small heater on board to keep you toasty. You can choose to bring your own food and drinks or enjoy one of their private dinners.
I have to say that Top Golf has been one of my favorite new ‘things to do in Austin’ this year, and from what I’ve seen on Instagram, a lot of Austinites are loving it just as much as I am.
This weekend is the PGA Championship (The last major golf tournament of the year). To celebrate, Top Golf Austin is hosting a ‘Last Call Legends’ knockout-style tournament. You can check out all the details here: http://topgolf.com/austin/play/the-classics/
Bragging rights are up for grabs along with cool prizes and sweet swag for participating.
ProTip: since you’ll be there nice and early, try out the chicken and waffles, they’re the Wheaties of Top Golf. They’ll also have a Bloody Mary bar setup to help calm those pre-tournament jitters.
If you’d rather just compete against your family and friends, they’ll have regular tee rentals available as well. This place is seriously one of my favorites!
Admission: $28 single entry
$56 double entry
When: Sunday, August 11th
Time: 8:00 a.m.
2700 Esperanza Crossing
Austin, Texas 78758
August is officially upon us, which means school starts in about three short weeks. We decided to make a Back To School Bucket list of summer-y things you should do before school gets back in session. This list has a little something for everyone from school aged kids (and their families) to college ‘kids’ and people who just like to act like kids. Hopefully you’ve had the chance to check some of these off already, but if not, you’d better get on it, the fall will be here before you know it!
Giveaway Alert: Share this post for a chance to win a Family Annual Pass to the Austin Aquarium. Winner will be chosen Friday August 16th.
1. Capital Cruises Bat Watching Tour – Summer is prime bat watching season and there is no better place to take in the bats than from on the lake itself. Capital Cruises offers great sunset/bat watching tours that are fun for both locals and Austin visitors. Not to mention that the entire tour makes for some pretty stellar photo opportunities.
2. Benji’s Cantina – Benji’s was new to the downtown scene this summer and their outdoor patio overlooking 6th Street is a must do for a cocktail to cool down. Their cocktail menu is extensive and their food is an all around home run. Pro Tip, go before sundown because the sunset makes the downtown buildings glow, making for the perfect atmosphere.
3. AquaFly Austin – This could be you! Talk about an adrenaline rush like you have never experienced! Flyboarding is exhilarating and is something anyone can do. Go back to school with total bragging rights!
4. Brew Exchange– This spot on West Sixth Street treats beer like a commodity on the stock exchange. Prices for their HUGE ever-changing beer list go up and down by the minute on a huge NYSE style ticker that runs across the ceiling of the bar. Every sunday this month they have their ‘Party on the Patio‘ which includes all day drink specials and a DJ. This place is definitely worth checking out if you haven’t been.
5. Texas Rollergirls – This Saturday is the LAST BOUT OF THE SEASON, so it’s really now or never for you to experience flat track roller derby in 2013. This is a fun for the entire family event as the teams come out to sign autographs and take pictures with fans. And the actual bouts, well you just have to be there to appreciate the excitement! Remember, kids 12 & under are always free!
6. Austin Craft Riot – August 17th & 18th The Austin Craft Riot is filling Austin Music Hall with some of the most talented local artists and vintage vendors. They will have tons of cool local art and a DYI area for you to have your own fun! This is a great one stop shop (in air conditioning) to appreciate local talent, and a great opportunity to start a little Christmas shopping for those hard to buy for people on your lists!
7. Garridos– Are you a student on a back to school budget? Spice it up with Garrido’s $2 Taco Tuesdays and cool down with their daily $4 margaritas, mojitos, and sangria. They have a great covered outdoor patio that backs up to a jungle like landscape. I definitely recommend sitting out back! They also have free valet parking.
8. Lake Travis Zipline Adventures– The name says it all, this is certainly a one of a kind adventure. Lake Travis Zipline Adventures features the 9th largest zipline in the WORLD, reaching speeds of up to 60 miles an hour. The entire experience is just awesome, I can’t recommend it enough.
9. Volente Beach – Nothing says summer like a trip to the water park. Volente Beach is your destination on Lake Travis for water park fun. They have pools, slides, a swim up tiki bar, volleyball, and a whole lot more. It’s a summer stop that is fun for all ages.
10. Kung Fu – The only thing better than treating yourself to an after work cocktail is when the proceeds from that after work cocktail go to a good cause. On Thursday, August 22nd 15% of all sales will be donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Kung Fu is always a good time with their games and drink specials so mark your calendar for the 22nd to put your drinking to good use.
11. iFly Austin – (Indoor skydiving) Every Monday and Wednesday from 5:30-7:30pm at iFly is Kids Club Night. Kids get flying-time in the air tunnel, hands-on coaching from the pros, and a DVD of the experience to take with them!
12. Banger’s– You know Austin loves a good Sunday Brunch, and Banger’s Big Band Brunch is one of our favorites. They have live music from 12pm to 3pm and a special brunch menu with items like the Kitchen Sink (every breakfast item you could want on one tray) and the House Cured Salmon Plate (pictured below). They also feature some special drinks like the ‘ManMosa’ – a liter mug filled with a bottle of champagne with a splash of OJ or cranberry juice, and a Build Your Own Michelada bar.
13. Hyatt Lost Pines – It’s only a 25 minute drive from Downtown Austin, but it feels like a different world when you’re here. They have all kinds of ways to get your Texas on, with activities like skeet shooting and horseback riding. If your idea of a good time involves less gunfire and wild animals, they also have an amazing spa and pool area complete with a lazy river. This should be on every Austinites lifetime bucket-list.
14. UT Informal Classes – Why not learn something for yourself? They offer a wide range of affordable classes and they’re open to everyone! They’re also having a ‘back to school’ event on August 17th at Kick Butt Coffee that will have all kinds of activities and close to 40 instructors on hand to help guide you on your journey to self-improvement. Photo credit: Lacey Lynn Seymour
15. 360 Amphitheater – Have you checked out the new 360 Amphitheater at the Circuit of the Americas yet? We’re still buzzing over Austin winning the X-Games bid, thanks in large part to the folks out at COTA! This month the amphitheater is hosting shows from Keith Urban, Lil Wayne, and a comedy festival with Dave Chappelle. Something for everybody.
16. Austin Aquarium – Okay, okay, it’s not actually open yet, but it has certainly been one of the most talked about activities this summer. And right now you can get 50% Off Annual Passes. For those who plan on frequenting the Aquarium, this is a deal that is too good to pass up, but it’s as fleeting as the summer, so don’t snooze!
The Texas Rollergirls are one of the most raved about things to do in Austin as it is a one of kind experience. This is the LAST BOUT OF THE SEASON, so get your tickets early!
Saturday is your chance to come out and see what all the fun is about. This is a very family friendly event, fans are encouraged to come early and take pictures with the girls! Don’t miss out on the excitement!
As always, kids 12 and under are free!
To win a set of 2 tickets to Saturday’s ‘bout share this post & tell us who your would bring with you for the excitement. Winner will be chosen using random.org on Thursday.
Do you want to up your chances? We are also giving away some sets on our instagram page so enter there to up your odds!
This video is sure to help get you excited!
When: Saturday, August 10th
Doors: 5:00 p.m.
Opening Ceremonies: 5:45
1st Game Time: 6:00 p.m.
2nd Game Time: 7:45 p.m.
Austin Convention Center
500 E. Cesar Chavez
Austin, Texas 78701