Feeling cooped out? Parks are a great way to get outside while still socially distancing.
These gems of greenery are versatile spaces that make Austin a great place to live, especially at this time of year.
Whether you're craving a picnic with your family, a long walk with your dog, or a sunny spot to doze off for the afternoon, we've got your back with this guide to the prettiest parks around - best enjoyed with a smooth Karbach Southern Wheat, where permitted.
Disclaimer: Make sure you double-check with the City of Austin's guidelines on alcohol allowance at parks before you load up the cooler. Click here for a full list of parks!
By: Mary Bryce
Photos by: Roger Ho
1000 Barton Springs Rd
One of Austin’s most cinematic parks, Butler Park is located next to Vic Mathias Shores (fka Auditorium Shores), where the parking is plentiful and the people-watching is excellent. Arguably, this is the sexiest park for a date. With a beautiful granite dock for viewing the lake and a romantic view of Austin’s ever-changing skyline, this peaceful urban park is not to be missed. Drinks are allowed at this park, making it a sweet spot for a romantic picnic.
This park is great for: A relaxing, low-key date.
2100 Barton Springs Rd
Probably Austin’s most beloved park, Zilker Park is famous for the huge "Rock Island" and “Great Lawn” that hosts everything from the Kite Festival to ACL Music Festival. With room for literally hundreds of pick-up soccer games, off-leash dogs and people lounging on blankets, Zilker is the heart of Austin.
This park is great for: Straight-up relaxing or participating in outdoor activities.
photo by kelly mccomas
Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail
This natural swimming hole is an oasis within Austin's Greenbelt. At Sculpture Falls, you can swim, bask in the sun, and play with dogs while enjoying the year-round cool of the creek's water. The hike to the falls is roughly half an hour, as it's 1.5 miles from the Greenbelt entrance. It's easy enough to get to, but you'll definitely break a sweat hiking back up the Hill of Life on your way out.
This park is great for: Taking a hike and doing some sunbathing.
8652 Nuckols Crossing Rd
One of the best parks in town to bring your dog, Onion Creek Metropolitan Park has plenty of room for people and dogs to hike. There’s also a creek that occasionally fills up with water if you and your pooch want to go for a swim. Best of all, this park is still very much under-the-radar, so it’s likely you’ll find a secluded spot all to yourself. IPAs and other beverages are welcome sans permit at this park!
This park is great for: Hiking and swimming with your dog.
photo via yelp
1100 Kingsburry St.
Complete with volleyball courts, basketball courts, a playground, AND a splash pad, this park is every kid's (and most adults') dream. There are trails nearby that lead to Shoal Creek, and the park has also included cement picnic tables! We checked for ya - you're all clear to bring the beer to Pease District Park.
This park is great for: Hanging with small children and group activities - or going jogging along the trails in Shoal Creek.
3505 W 35th St
Right next door to Laguna Gloria, Mayfield Park is a small and magical park that’s ideal for picnicking. However, Mayfield’s biggest attraction is the flock of gorgeous peacocks that roam freely. Best of all, this unusual park has no admission fee. Leave the brews at home for this one, though.
This park is great for: Looking at peacocks!
Mueller Lake Park
4550 Mueller Blvd
Located in the Mueller development, near the Dell Children’s Hospital, Mueller Lake Park has over 140 acres of parks, trails and open space. Enjoy the five miles of gorgeous hike and bike paths that are brand-spanking-new. Stop by the nearby food trailer lot for a bite to eat after parkin' it up.
This park is great for: Going on a stroll around the water and feeding the ducks.
3811 E 12th St
One of Austin’s oldest public parks, Givens Park takes the cake with a remarkable array of available facilities including T-ball/baseball fields, and basketball courts. Additionally, the wonderful Givens Recreation center offers fitness classes and a great swimming pool that’s available to the community. Unless you obtain a permit, alcohol isn't allowed at this active and fam-friendly park, so save the brewski for your post-workout chillin' at home.
This park is great for: Recreation such as fitness classes and swimming.
Park 1600 City Park Rd
Located in West Austin, there’s a five-dollar entry fee per person to enter Emma Long Park. However, the price of admission is worth it. In addition to volleyball courts, basketball courts, and a huge array of picnic tables, Emma Long Park is unique in that it also offers primitive camping while still inside Austin city limits.
This park is great for: Camping overnight or a picnic by the water.
What's your favorite park to hang out in?
Let us know!