Austin gets a little hectic during spring break, which makes it the perfect time to visit parks! We want to help you avoid I-35 and MoPac traffic (not to mention road rage) by getting out and into nature for some much-needed peace and quiet.
Whether you want to hit a trail or find a nice spot for lunch that won’t be too crowded - the passionate park people at Austin Park Foundation made this list of park escapes for you to unwind. Scroll through, pick your park, pack up your car or bike and get some time with nature in your life!
1. Commons Ford Ranch Metro Park
Sprinkle some zen into your week with a beautiful lakefront park like Commons Ford! Did you know that nature sounds, like water, alter the connections in our brains, reducing the body’s natural fight-or-flight instinct? Step away from the craziness and into the calm. Commons Ford is also one of the best spots to snap a photo of local wildflowers!
In 2017, Commons Ford underwent a major prairie restoration, where the Commons Ford Prairie Restoration Organization, now a part of Travis Audubon, received a grant of $17,000 from APF. And as a result of combined efforts and hard work, the restored prairie is now a great spot to go bird watching again!
2. St. Edwards Park
St. Edwards Park in Northwest Austin is a scenic, 80-acre Texas Hill Country escape. There are trails that both humans and pups will love, so bring your furry friends along with you! Whether you want a casual walk or a semi-challenging climb, you'll find both.
The waterfalls don't disappoint, and if the weather is warm enough you can hop in for a swim. Quick, easy and an Austinite favorite. Be sure to keep an eye out for wildflowers!
3. Onion Creek Park + Greenbelt
Live near Southeast Austin? Head over to Onion Creek Park + Greenbelt for 555-acres of family-friendly fun! Your pups will love the off-leash dog policy or a walk along the trails. Something unique about Onion Creek is the equestrian trails, so bring your horse and saddle up if that's your thing!
A year after the Halloween Floods of 2013, Onion Creek Metro Park was in some serious need of general repairs and improvements. With a $50,000 ACL Community Grant, the Onion Creek Park and Greenbelt was safe and healthy for neighbors, trees and wildlife alike!
4. Dick Nichols District Park
The perfect spot for some friendly competition! Dick Nichols Park has all the room you’ll need for a scrimmage, be it basketball, volleyball, ultimate frisbee and more. If you’ve got a group of friends that all need some time outside, this is the perfect spot.
Back in 2017, APF awarded the Friends of Dick Nichols a Community Grant of $50,000 to build a shade structure over this popular play area, so come rain or shine, the smallest and youngest of your groups are to have a blast here too!
5. Walnut Creek Park + Greenbelt
Want to pretend you’re in a big forest and not in the middle of a big city? Walnut Creek Metro Park + Greenbelt is the spot for you! The Walnut Creek Trail System is composed of 19-miles of trails from East Austin all the way Northwest Austin - so take you as little or as long as you want to walk, hike or bike.
Since 2006, APF has been contributing to Walnut Creek Metro Park, Pool and Greenbelt. We helped provide new entryways and signage for trails, added bicycle repair stations, water fountains, picnic tables, gardens, shade structures and even rerouted some trails - all amounting to almost $90,000!
6. Bull Creek Park + Greenbelt
The Bull Creek Park + Greenbelt is a tranquil journey along the water with lots of dog-friendly hiking trails and picnic areas! APF has contributed almost $16,000 to add park benches, protect trees and add some bordering fences to make the park more people friendly. Famous for being a place you can both workout and relax, Bull Creek is one of our all-around favorites.
With many sightings of turtles, fish and waterfalls - make sure to pick up some grub and bring it on over to Bull Creek for a picnic and take in the beautiful sights and sounds. Don’t forget to keep our parks clean and leave no trace!
Tell Us Your Favorite Park Escape!
What's your favorite park to explore in Austin? Connect with us on social media. We love to see your adventures, so tag us in your park photos. Want to get your hands dirty and help Austin's parks? We have many volunteer opportunites for you!