6 Best Parks and Gardens for a Lazy Day Picnic in Austin, TX

Austin is a city known for its beautiful outdoor spaces, with a plethora of parks and gardens to choose from. Whether you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, or just want to bask in the natural beauty that Austin has to offer, there’s something for everyone. Below we’ll explore the best parks and gardens in Austin, each with their own unique features and attractions. So pack a picnic, grab your sunscreen, and let’s explore the great outdoors in Austin.

Mount Bonnell

3800 Mount Bonnell Rd, Austin, Texas 78731

Mount Bonnell, also known as Covert Park, has been drawing in tourists since the 1830s. This spot is the highest point in Austin, standing tall at 785 feet above sea level, and is a public park that was listed on the National Historic Register in 2015. The picturesque location provides visitors with stunning views of Lake Austin and the city. Watching the sunset from Mount Bonnell is a popular activity, and you may even witness a proposal or two. However, be warned that a very long and steep staircase must be climbed to reach the top. Despite this, the magnificent vista at the top makes it all worthwhile.

McKinney Falls State Park

5808 McKinney Falls Pkwy, Austin, TX 78744

McKinney Falls State Park is home to Onion Creek, which offers visitors the chance to fish and swim in natural waterfalls and limestone pools. The park has a variety of activities available, including hiking, mountain biking, road biking, bouldering, and yoga. With 81 campsites and six cabins, as well as a group recreation hall for larger gatherings, the park is a great destination for families or groups. Families can also participate in a range of programs and events, including geocaching, bird watching, and junior ranger certification. Admission fees are $6 for adults, while children 12 and under can enter for free.

Balcones Canyonlands Preserve

24518 Ranch Rd 1431, Marble Falls, TX 78654

Located off Highway 71, 25 miles from downtown, Balcones Canyonlands Preserve is a nature lover’s paradise with its popular attraction, Hamilton Pool. The collapsed underground river created a stunning natural pool surrounded by limestone outcroppings, ferns, and stalactites. The 50-foot waterfall cascades into the grotto, and the water flows into the Pedernales River. Entrance fees apply, and summer reservations required.

Bull Creek District Park

6701 Lakewood Dr, Austin, TX 78731

Bull Creek District Park is a vast 32-square mile area managed by the Bull Creek Foundation. The park is home to various archaeological sites, including limestone seeps, waterfalls, springs, and scenic cliffs. Dog owners enjoy the shallow waters off Capital of Texas Highway, while visitors can make use of facilities like barbeque pits, basketball courts, a fishing pier, volleyball courts, picnic areas, and an off-leash dog area. And rock climbers flock to the park for its limestone cliffs.

Pease Park

1100 Kingsbury St, Austin, TX 78703

Pease District Park is a true haven for recreation enthusiasts of all ages, providing an array of fun activities such as basketball and volleyball courts, a playground, and a state-of-the-art splash pad to cool off on those hot summer days. Not to mention, visitors can now bask in the serene atmosphere of the park’s newly-constructed treehouse hammock, nestled amongst the lush greenery. If you’re looking to explore beyond the park’s borders, nearby trails lead to the picturesque Shoal Creek. Plus, cement picnic tables are also available, perfect for enjoying a family picnic or a relaxing afternoon with friends.

Sculpture Falls

Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail, Austin, TX 78746

Of the best parks and gardens in Austin, Sculpture Falls is a serene swimming spot nestled in the Greenbelt. With its refreshing year-round creek water, you can relax, swim, and even bring your furry friend along for some fun in the sun. Although it’s a 1.5 mile hike from the Greenbelt entrance, the trip is so worth it. Just be prepared for a workout as you hike up the Hill of Life on your way out.


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