Today I’m finishing up my segment on my trip to Austin, Texas that I took at the end of July. In my last post I shared with you some of my favorite places to eat while I was there. In this post I’m talking about some places to visit as well as a couple great spots for running or walking.
Let’s start with my two favorite places to run in Austin. Since I was eating all the delicious food, I needed to make sure I was keeping up with my running. Luckily, Austin is a running mecca! I thought Colorado had a lot of runners, but it’s nothing compared to Austin, which is surprising considering how humid their summers are. The first place my sister and I went running during my visit was Brushy Creek Lake Park. Brushy Creek is a great greenbelt type trail with a mix of pavement and dirt to run on. There are both shaded and exposed areas and of course the lake for viewing along the way. This is an out and back route with mileage up to 13 miles, so it’s perfect for any type of run. The run is fairly flat in most places, but there are some gradual hills and unfortunately the uphills will come on your way back. Another great feature is that there are several drinking fountains along the trail in case you are like me and can’t stand carrying things while you are running.
The second place we went running and one that is extremely popular in Austin, was Lady Bird Lake. Not only is Lady Bird Lake a great place to run, but it’s also a great spot for walking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, and SUPing (standup paddleboarding). The lake offers 10 miles of trails with options to make them shorter if you’re not up for a 10 mile run. Because the lake is so popular it can get a little congested in areas, but everyone seemed to be respectful of each other and move to the side when someone moving at a faster pace wanted to get by. The trail is mostly compacted dirt with a few paved areas. There are a few gradual hills in spots, but nothing extreme and again, there are several drinking fountains found along the trail. Because there are so many people out using the trails along the lake it makes you feel more like you are running in a race, which for a lone runner like me was a nice change of pace.
Now that we’ve covered my two favorites spots to run, let’s talk about a few fun things to do while you are in Austin. If you’ve just finished your workout at Lady Bird Lake, a great place to go cool off is Barton Springs Pool. While I didn’t make a stop here on my last trip, I did come take a dip on a previous visit. The pool is fed from underground springs and the water temperature averages around 70 degrees. Being the wimp that I am I thought it was a little cold, but it was perfect for icing sore muscles and cooling off in on a hot humid Austin day.
If you want to get out of the city for an outdoor adventure, head to Longhorn Cavern State Park. If you’ve never been in a cavern, it’s a unique experience. You will be led by a park ranger through the cavern who will not only show you some amazing geological features, but tell you the history and stories of the cavern as well. An added bonus is that the temperature in the cave is 68 degrees which feels so good on a hot day! The walking tour is about 1.25 miles round-trip and is great for people of all ages. If you are looking for something a little more adventurous they offer a Wild Cave Tour in which you’ll be crawling and wiggling your way through tight spaces with only the light from a headlamp.
Once you’ve finished the cave tour, stop at the nearby Inks Lake State Park. Inks Lake for a hike and picnic. The park also offers year-round opportunities for swimming, camping, fishing, and wildlife observation.
Most of the activities that I’ve done in Austin have been outdoor/active based ones. However, the city has plenty of other opportunities. Below are several more attractions that are a must while visiting.
View the bats from the Congress Avenue Bridge– During the summer month the Mexican-Free Tailed bats emerge from under the Congress Avenue Bridge at dusk. I’m not talking about a few hundred bats, I’m talking over a million! The peak season to view the bats is at the end of July or early August. Crowds of people can often show up to view the bats so be sure to get there early.
South Congress Ave.– If you’re looking for a unique “hipster” part of Austin to explore, this is it. This street has is all! Everything from restaurants and food trucks, boutiques, music venues, and antique stores. To say South Congress Avenue is “weird” would be an understatement, but in a fun way!
SFC Farmers’ Market– Austin has multiple farmers’ markets with the downtown location being the biggest. It’s open year round on Saturdays and is a great place to stop and get your hands on local produce and artisanal food.