Welcome to Smart Austin Realty Group’s Austin Outdoor Bucket List for 2023! If you’re looking for “Stuff to do in Austin” that takes advantage of the city’s beautiful parks and natural areas, this list is for you. Here are our top recommendations for the must-see locations in Austin.
- Take in the Views from Mount Bonnell – This iconic spot in Austin offers one of the city’s best views and is a popular spot for picnics, photo ops, and catching the sunset. It’s also one of the highest points in Austin, reaching 785 feet above sea level. It’s located on the west side of the Colorado River.
- Visit Lady Bird Wildflower Center – This beautiful nature preserve is dedicated to protecting and promoting the native plants of Central Texas. The center features gardens and trails that are perfect for a stroll, and there’s always something in bloom, whether wildflowers in the spring or fall foliage in the autumn.
- Explore Lake Travis – This large reservoir on the Colorado River is a popular spot for boating, fishing, and swimming. It’s also an excellent place for a picnic or a day out on the water, with plenty of marinas and boat rentals available.
- Paddle Board on Lady Bird Lake – Located in the heart of Austin, this man-made lake is a popular spot for kayaking, paddle boarding, and canoeing. Paddleboarding on the lake is a great way to enjoy the excellent views of the downtown Austin skyline, and it’s also a good workout for your core and upper body. It’s suitable for all levels and ages, and there are plenty of rental companies and shops around the lake where you can rent boards and paddles.
- Hike Barton Creek Greenbelt – This popular hiking and cycling spot offers scenic views and a chance to see Austin’s famous limestone cliffs and streams. You can explore the many miles of trails that run along the creek and take in the beauty of the Texas Hill Country.
- Visit Zilker Botanical Gardens – The beautiful Zilker Botanical Garden is a must-see for nature enthusiasts visiting Austin. The garden’s many paths and gardens feature many plants and flowers, sculptures, a Japanese garden, and a koi pond.
- Swim at Barton Springs Pool – This natural pool, fed by underground springs, is a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing. The water is always a cool 68 degrees, making it a great place to cool off on a hot day. The pool is considered an Austin treasure and was built in 1891. It holds a special place in the history and culture of Austin. It is visited by locals and tourists alike and offers a unique swimming experience in the natural spring water. The pool also offers several facilities like changing rooms, restrooms, showers, and picnic areas. The pool is open year-round with free entry for Austin residents and a small fee for non-residents.
- Walk the Roy & Ann Butler Hike and Bike Trail – This 10-mile trail along Lady Bird Lake is popular for jogging, cycling, and rollerblading. You’ll have great views of the city and the lake, and it is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike. Several bridges spanning the lake create endless opportunities for routes and distances you can take.
- Visit Umlauf Sculpture Gardens – This small sculpture garden is a hidden gem in Austin. It features the works of artist Charles Umlauf, many of which are inspired by nature and the human form. It’s an excellent place for a quiet stroll and some reflection.
- Visit Laguna Gloria – This Mediterranean-style villa on the shores of Lake Austin is home to a sculpture garden, art exhibits, and an art school. It also offers excellent views of the lake and the Texas Hill Country.
- Swim at Deep Eddie Pool – This natural pool in Emma Long Park is an excellent spot for a refreshing swim. The pool is surrounded by trees and cliffs and is a popular spot for locals and visitors.
- Hike at Emma Long Park – This large park on the shores of Lake Austin offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, picnicking, and swimming at Deep Eddy Pool. The park also offers excellent views of the lake and the Texas Hill Country.
- Stroll through Mayfield Park – This beautiful park in central Austin features a serene Japanese garden, a pond with koi fish, and an extensive collection of peacocks. It’s an excellent spot for a relaxing walk or a picnic.
- Sunbathe at Commons Ford Ranch – This park on Lake Austin’s shores offers various outdoor activities, including swimming, fishing, and picnicking. The park also offers excellent views of the lake. It’s a perfect spot to spend a relaxing day, soaking up the sun and enjoying the beautiful views. The park’s sunbathing area has wide open spaces, perfect for laying out a towel and enjoying the natural beauty of Austin.
- Kayak to Red Bud Isle Park – This small park located on an island on Lady Bird Lake is a popular spot for kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddleboarding. The park offers a quiet retreat from the city, with plenty of opportunities for bird-watching and fishing.
- Hike Enchanted Rock – This iconic spot in the Texas Hill Country, just outside of Austin is a must-see destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Enchanted Rock is a large, pink granite dome that rises 425 feet above the ground and offers breathtaking views from the summit. The park surrounding the rock provides several miles of trails for hiking and rock climbing, and it’s a popular spot for picnicking and bird-watching. The park is known for its geologic and cultural significance and has been designated a National Natural Landmark. It’s also an essential spot for outdoor rock climbing, and the park offers guided climbs on the rock. The park is open year-round, but visiting on weekdays or non-peak hours is best to avoid crowds. Enchanted rock is a place of natural beauty and history, and it’s a must-see destination for anyone visiting Austin.
- Explore Pace Bend Park – This beautiful park on Lake Travis’s northern shores is a must-see destination for outdoor enthusiasts. It offers an extensive shoreline section that supports various recreational activities, including swimming, fishing, boating, camping, and picnicking. The park also offers hiking and mountain biking trails and scenic overlooks where visitors can take in the beautiful views of the lake and the surrounding hill country.
- Hike the Violet Crown Trail – The Violet Crown Trail is a 31-mile trail that runs through the Texas Hill Country and links the cities of Austin, Westlake Hills, and Sunset Valley. The trail offers scenic views, diverse habitats, and the opportunity to see many different species of plants and animals. The trail passes through a variety of natural areas including parks, preserves, and nature centers.
These are just a few of the many outdoor destinations that Austin has to offer. Whether you’re looking for hiking and cycling, swimming and boating, or simply enjoying the area’s natural beauty, there’s something for everyone on our Austin Outdoor Bucket List for 2023.