Austin is a perennial outdoor city, but even so, there’s something about the upcoming summer months that makes even the most dedicated homebodies want to get out and enjoy the sunshine. Maybe it’s the longer days, the rising temperatures – whatever it is; here are the best ways to enjoy Austin’s great outdoors.
Did we mention Austin is hot? If not, we’ll say it again: Austin is hot. That’s precisely what makes Barton Springs in Zilker Park such a popular destination; no matter how hard the sun may be beating down on the city, the natural limestone pool is always refreshingly cool.
For some though, even cold water isn’t enough to cool down. Enter Hippie Hollow – the only clothing-optional public park in the entire state. Make a trip to the nudist pool when you want to get in touch with your natural side. If you prefer sweating a bit before getting in the water, book a visit to Hamilton Pool. The stunning natural pool can only be accessed through a quarter-mile hike, but that only makes a dip in the water all the more refreshing.
Hiking and Biking
Ok, so wading in the pool isn’t exactly the most strenuous form of exercise. Mount Bonnell is almost universally recognized as Austin’s most beautiful hiking trails, in particular, its views at sunset. Even more challenging though is River Place Nature Trail, whose steep inclines will leave your legs feeling it the next day.
Summer though is also the perfect time for traveling on two wheels. Zilker Park is a great place for cyclists, or bring your bike to the Veloway, a three-mile bikes-only path lined with wildflowers. Or turn your exercise into a social experience with one of Social Cycling Austin many biking-oriented events.
Flora and Fauna
A little less than two hours outside of Austin is Chappell Hill Lavender Farm. The rolling purple hills appear to have been plucked right out of Provence – so much so you could probably get away with tagging your selfies as taking place in France and no one would be the wiser. A more classically Texan plant is the Texas bluebonnet. You can spot the blue flowers in bloom at sights like Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center or the fields around Park Hills Baptist Church.
Flowers are all well and good, but for a quirky dose of nature found only in Austin, head to the South Congress Bridge at dawn or at dusk to see the largest urban bat colony in the world emerge.
After all that hiking and sweating, you deserve a drink. Or even if you didn’t bother with the hiking trails, just surviving a day in Austin’s oppressive sun should earn you a reward. The less athletically inclined can get their outdoors fix at Austin’s many great outdoor drinking spots. For refreshing cocktails, try cooling down at Whisler’s or Weather Up’s perpetually full terraces. Or, get your caffeine and outdoors fix in one at Mozart’s Coffee overlooking Lake Austin.