As the scorching Texan summer makes way for the cool, crisp days of fall, Austin, the vibrant heart of Texas, comes alive with a plethora of outdoor activities that celebrate nature, adventure, and the spirit of community. Let’s explore some of the exciting outdoor activities in Austin, Texas, inviting you to make the most of this beautiful season!
Austin, Texas, is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a variety of hiking trails that cater to different skill levels and preferences. Whether you’re a beginner looking for a leisurely stroll or an experienced hiker seeking a challenging adventure, Austin has something for everyone. Here are some of the best hiking trails in and around the Austin area:
Barton Creek Greenbelt: Located within the city, the Barton Creek Greenbelt offers miles of scenic trails that wind through lush greenery, limestone cliffs, and the refreshing Barton Creek. The greenbelt has trails of varying difficulty levels, making it suitable for both beginners and advanced hikers. Sculpture Falls and Twin Falls are popular spots along the trail for a refreshing dip.
Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail: This 10-mile loop around Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin provides picturesque views of the city skyline and the lake. The trail is paved and relatively flat, making it perfect for walking, jogging, and biking. Numerous access points and scenic spots make it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
Mount Bonnell: For panoramic views of the Colorado River and the city, hike up to Mount Bonnell. While the trail is relatively short, the stairs leading to the summit offer a bit of a workout. Once at the top, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking vistas, especially during sunrise or sunset.
McKinney Falls State Park: Located just outside Austin, McKinney Falls State Park features several hiking trails that take you along Onion Creek and to beautiful waterfalls. The park offers both easy and challenging trails, allowing hikers to explore the diverse natural beauty of the area.
Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve: Nestled in the hills of West Austin, the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve offers a network of trails through woodlands, grasslands, and streams. The preserve is home to diverse flora and fauna, providing an excellent opportunity for nature enthusiasts and birdwatchers.
Picnic in the Parks
Fall is the perfect time for a picnic, and Austin’s parks provide a picturesque backdrop.
Zilker Park: Zilker Park is Austin’s most iconic park, offering vast green spaces along the Colorado River. You can spread out your picnic blanket near Barton Springs Pool, under the shade of large trees, or near the Great Lawn. The park provides a serene environment with beautiful views of the downtown skyline.
Lady Bird Lake Metropolitan Park: Located along the shores of Lady Bird Lake, this park offers scenic spots for picnics. You can find shaded areas near the hike-and-bike trail, making it an ideal spot to relax and enjoy your meal while watching kayakers and paddleboarders on the lake.
Barton Springs Pool and Zilker Botanical Garden: Adjacent to Zilker Park, Barton Springs Pool is a natural spring-fed pool perfect for a refreshing swim and a post-swim picnic. Nearby, the Zilker Botanical Garden offers serene settings amidst themed gardens, providing a tranquil atmosphere for your outdoor meal.
Mayfield Park and Preserve: Mayfield Park features lush gardens, peacocks, and ponds, creating a picturesque backdrop for a picnic. You can explore the gardens and find a quiet spot to enjoy your meal surrounded by nature.
Emma Long Metropolitan Park: Situated along the shores of Lake Austin, Emma Long Park offers several picnic areas with barbecue grills and tables. It’s a great place for lakeside picnics, swimming, and various outdoor activities.
McKinney Falls State Park: A little outside Austin, McKinney Falls State Park offers multiple picnic areas near the park’s waterfalls and historic structures. It’s an excellent location for a picnic combined with hiking and exploring the park’s natural beauty.
Mount Bonnell: While it doesn’t have designated picnic areas, Mount Bonnell offers breathtaking views of the Colorado River and the surrounding landscape. It’s a popular spot for a sunset picnic, though you’ll need to bring your picnic supplies.
Pease District Park: Pease Park, located near the University of Texas campus, provides shaded areas, a playground, and picnic tables. It’s a favorite spot among locals and offers a relaxed atmosphere for picnicking and outdoor activities.
Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park: This park offers beautiful views of Lake Austin and several picnic areas with tables and grills. It’s a peaceful spot to enjoy a picnic while appreciating the scenic surroundings.
In addition to our wonderful parks, Austin is also known for its diverse and delicious food scene. If you’re looking to pick up lunch for your picnic, you’re in for a treat. Some fantastic places in Austin where you can grab a picnic-worthy meal are Central Market, Whole Foods, TacoDeli, Easy Tiger Bakery, Home Slice Pizza, Loro for Asian inspired foods, Elizabeth Street Cafe & the food trucks spread out through the city to name just a few. *Remember to bring your picnic essentials, including a blanket, food, drinks, utensils, and napkins, and dispose of your waste responsibly by using designated trash receptacles. Enjoy your picnic in one of Austin’s scenic outdoor spots!
Kayaking and Paddle Boarding
The cooling weather makes kayaking and paddleboarding on Lady Bird Lake an enjoyable experience. Rent a kayak or a paddleboard and explore the city skyline from the water. You might even encounter some friendly turtles basking in the sun along the way. Austin, Texas, offers several places where you can rent kayaks and paddleboards to enjoy the city’s beautiful waterways.
Zilker Park Boat Rentals: Located in Zilker Park, this rental facility offers kayaks, paddleboards, and canoes for exploring Lady Bird Lake. It’s a central location, providing easy access to the lake and the picturesque views of downtown Austin.
Rowing Dock: Rowing Dock is situated on the south shore of Lady Bird Lake and offers a variety of watercraft rentals, including kayaks, paddleboards, and canoes. They provide both hourly and full-day rental options, making it convenient for different types of outings.
Texas Rowing Center: Texas Rowing Center, located on the north shore of Lady Bird Lake, provides kayak and paddleboard rentals. They offer a range of equipment, including single and tandem kayaks, making it suitable for solo adventurers or groups of friends.
Live Love Paddle: Live Love Paddle offers guided kayak tours as well as kayak rentals for self-guided adventures on Lady Bird Lake. They provide clear kayaks, allowing you to enjoy the underwater scenery as you paddle.
Waller Creek Boathouse: Waller Creek Boathouse offers kayak and paddleboard rentals on Lady Bird Lake, right in the heart of downtown Austin. They provide high-quality equipment and offer both hourly and day-long rental options.
EpicSUP Stand Up Paddle Boarding: EpicSUP specializes in stand-up paddleboard (SUP) rentals and lessons. They operate on Lady Bird Lake, providing paddleboards suitable for all skill levels. They also offer group classes and guided tours if you’re looking for a structured paddling experience.
Austin Kayak Tours and Rentals: This rental service provides kayaks and paddleboards for exploring Lady Bird Lake and other nearby waterways. They offer various rental packages, including multi-day options for those who want to extend their paddling adventures.
Enjoy your kayaking or paddleboarding adventure in Austin!
Austin, Texas is a bike-friendly city with a variety of cycling trails catering to cyclists of all skill levels. Whether you’re a casual rider or an experienced cyclist, there are numerous trails in and around Austin that offer scenic routes and diverse terrain. Here are some popular cycling trails in Austin:
Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake: This 10-mile loop around Lady Bird Lake is one of the most popular cycling routes in Austin. The trail offers beautiful views of the lake, downtown Austin, and lush greenery. It’s a paved, flat trail suitable for riders of all levels.
Veloway: The Veloway is a 3.1-mile, dedicated, paved cycling track located in South Austin. It’s a smooth and wide trail, perfect for cyclists looking to ride without the interruptions of road traffic. The Veloway is particularly popular among road cyclists and inline skaters.
Southern Walnut Creek Trail: This scenic 10-mile trail is located in East Austin and offers a mix of paved and gravel paths. It winds through woodlands, meadows, and creeks, providing a refreshing escape from the city. The trail is relatively flat, making it suitable for cyclists of various skill levels.
Brushy Creek Regional Trail: Located north of Austin in Cedar Park, the Brushy Creek Regional Trail stretches approximately 7.75 miles along Brushy Creek. The trail offers a combination of paved and natural surface paths, scenic views, and parks along the way. It’s a great trail for both cycling and hiking.
Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail: While known primarily as a hiking trail, parts of the Barton Creek Greenbelt also offer challenging terrain for mountain biking enthusiasts. The trail features rugged and rocky paths, providing a thrilling experience for experienced riders.
The Northern Walnut Creek Trail: This 10-mile trail, located in North Austin, offers a mix of paved and soft-surface paths. It passes through parks and woodlands, providing a pleasant ride for cyclists. The trail is relatively flat, making it suitable for riders of different abilities.
Roy Guerrero Colorado River Park Trail: This trail, located along the Colorado River in southeast Austin, offers a mix of paved and natural surface paths. It’s a scenic route with beautiful views of the river, making it a popular choice for cyclists looking for a peaceful ride.
Emma Long Metropolitan Park: Known as one of the best mountain biking spots in Austin, Emma Long Park offers challenging trails with steep climbs and descents. The park features a variety of terrains, including rocky paths and technical sections, providing an exciting experience for advanced mountain bikers.
Before hitting the trails, make sure to wear appropriate safety gear, carry water, and be aware of trail rules and guidelines. Enjoy your cycling adventures in Austin!
Fall in Austin is synonymous with festivals and farmers’ markets. Indulge in local flavors, artisan crafts, and live music at festivals.
Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL Fest): ACL Fest is one of the largest and most well-known music festivals in the United States. It takes place in Zilker Park and features a diverse lineup of artists across various genres. The festival usually occurs over two weekends in October and offers not only music but also local food, art vendors, and other attractions.
Texas Book Festival: The Texas Book Festival is held annually in and around the Texas State Capitol. This literary event features author readings, panel discussions, book signings, and activities for children and families. It celebrates the joy of reading and promotes literacy.
Austin Film Festival: The Austin Film Festival showcases outstanding films, television shows, and screenplays. It attracts filmmakers, screenwriters, and enthusiasts from around the world. Attendees can enjoy film screenings, panel discussions, and Q&A sessions with filmmakers and actors.
Pecan Street Festival: The Pecan Street Festival is one of the largest and longest-running arts and crafts festivals in Central Texas. It takes place on Sixth Street in downtown Austin and features artists, artisans, food vendors, live music, and family-friendly activities.
Viva La Vida Festival & Parade: Organized by the Mexic-Arte Museum, the Viva La Vida Festival is Austin’s largest and longest-running Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) festival. The event includes a grand parade, traditional foods, live music, art installations, and cultural performances.
Oktoberfest in Austin: Several venues and organizations in Austin host Oktoberfest celebrations, embracing the German tradition with beer, food, live music, and cultural activities. These events often feature local and imported beers, delicious German cuisine, and lively entertainment.
Outdoor Yoga and Fitness Classes
Many parks in Austin host outdoor yoga and fitness classes amidst nature’s beauty. The calming environment enhances the experience, making it a wonderful way to stay active and centered during the fall season. Here are some places in Austin where you can find outdoor yoga and fitness classes:
Wanderlust Yoga Austin: Wanderlust Yoga often hosts outdoor yoga events in scenic locations around Austin. They organize classes in parks and other outdoor spaces, allowing participants to connect with nature while practicing yoga.
Outdoor Voices: Outdoor Voices, an activewear brand, occasionally organizes outdoor fitness events in Austin. These events can include yoga, group workouts, and other fitness activities.
Fit Austin: Fit Austin offers a variety of fitness classes, including outdoor boot camps and yoga sessions.
Yoga at Barton Springs : Outdoor Yoga events are conducted throughout the year yoga near Barton Springs Pool, allowing participants to practice yoga in a serene outdoor environment. The classes are usually held early in the morning or during the evenings.
Austin Parks Foundation Fitness in the Park: The Austin Parks Foundation organizes Fitness in the Park programs, including yoga and fitness classes, in various parks throughout the city. These classes are often free or low-cost.
Black Swan Yoga: Black Swan Yoga offers donation-based yoga classes, including outdoor sessions in parks like Republic Square.
Camp Gladiator: Camp Gladiator is a group fitness program that conducts outdoor workouts in parks and other open spaces in Austin. Their certified trainers lead challenging and dynamic workouts suitable for all fitness levels.
Remember to bring your yoga mat, water, and comfortable workout attire when attending outdoor yoga and fitness classes. Enjoy your practice and stay active in the beautiful outdoor spaces that Austin has to offer!
Austin, Texas truly transforms into a playground of outdoor delights in the fall. Whether you prefer the thrill of adventure, the tranquility of nature, or the joy of community celebrations, this city has something for everyone. So, grab your hiking boots, pack a picnic, and immerse yourself in the myriad outdoor activities Austin has to offer this fall. Don’t miss the chance to create unforgettable memories against the backdrop of Austin’s stunning autumnal beauty.