Best Ways to Get Outdoors In Austin

Walk Around Town Lake

apartment buildings downtown Austin
Town and Lady Bird Lake in Austin

Town Lake is part of what makes Austin, Austin. Ten miles of hike-and-bike trail set between  Downtown and South Austin that is dog-friendly, what more could you ask for? Attracting more than 2.6 million visitors per year, the Town Lake trail is fun for anyone and free (not to mention, with restaurants, grocers, and the occasional farmers’ market along the way, you’re bound not to be going hungry).

Visit Barton Springs

barton springs austin tx
Barton Spring Fresh Water

According to the Austin History Center, “Uncle Billy” Barton bought the springs in 1837 (just before Austin was named the capital of The Republic of Texas). It was under private ownership until 1918 when Andrew Zilker donated the land, becoming today’s Zilker Park; a park near downtown. The current entrance building was even built back in 1946 after a flood in 1935. All this is to say that Barton Springs is an integral part of Austin’s history. The spring-fed pool has been attracting swimmers from all over for a very long time. If you ask me: nothing beats jumping into that cold water on a 100+ degree day.

P.S. If you’re looking for something dog-friendly, there’s a free-of-charge side to Barton Springs that allows dogs (a lot of locals, call it “Barkin’ Springs”).


Go Kayaking/SUPing/Canoeing on Town Lake

Town Lake Kayaking and Canoeing
Zilker Park

One of the favorite outdoor activities for residents, visitors, and students living in the nearby colleges in Austin. All three are for great exercise, loads of fun for every one of (almost) all ages, pet-friendly, and significant exposure to the beauty of Austin (both nature and the skyline). There are plenty of Kayak and Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP) rentals along the Town Lake Trail, and if you don’t see one, a quick Google search will yield many results quickly.

Visit Zilker Park

zilker park austin outdoors
Zilker Park Outdoor Running Trail

What’s better than a picnic at a park? A picnic at a giant park in the heart of Austin, that’s what! Zilker Park (the home of Barton Springs) is another iconic location of the city.   With concerts throughout the year, free (or donation-based) yoga sessions, places to swim, restaurants nearby, and beautiful shade trees, Zilker Park is a park-lover mecca. It’s free and has typically great parking.  How better can you relax on a budget? Grab a picnic, grab some friends, grab your dog (or your friend’s dog), and have a great time.


Visit A Famous Overlook

Pennybacker Bridge 360

This list could continue on and on with all the things to do in Austin, especially outdoors, but I end this list with those sometimes-overlooked gems: the overlooks.  The two that I tend to visit and bring my guests to are the 360 Bridge Overlook and Mt. Bonnell, both fantastic options with a short hike and a breathtaking view (if you know of more, please leave a comment for others to see).  These places are outdoors, beautiful, fun, and have a great view of the city. Catch one of these at sunrise, and you’re in for a real treat.

Happy Trails!