A reservoir in the Colorado River, Lake Austin is an ideal recreation spot. When the Tom Miller Dam was constructed in 1939, this reservoir was created. Though it serves a practical purpose like generation of electricity and flood control, it is also a popular attraction in the city. You will find many restaurants nearby, and the park along its banks offers fun activities such as canoeing. Lake Austin works for those who just feel like taking a walk, those who are looking to get their exercise for the day, those who feel like chatting with others, or just those who want a bit of peace.
Set along the eastern banks of the restful Colorado River, Mount Bonnell's verdant headlands dominate Austin's western topography from an elevation of approximately 775 feet (236 meters) above sea level. Also known as Covert Park, the location is a stunning progression of luxuriant grasslands, scenic waterfronts, peaceful picnic spots and breathtaking vista points. Inducted into the National Register of Historic Places in the year 2015, the forelands are home to Mount Bonnell's Indian Trail, one of the cornerstones of the American War of Independence. Legend has it that the final 99 steps to the mount's top hold enchanting qualities; if a couple climbs the mount once, they fall in love, twice, they become engaged, and three times, they are destined to be married.
Mayfield Park Cottage and Gardens is open to the public but is a favorite among the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department facilities rental division. The historic 1870s cottage is perfect for a small group. The cottage holds 65 people, while the grounds hold up to 200. Enjoy the landscaped gardens, lily ponds, peacocks and palms in this picturesque environment. Pack up the family or reserve it for your event and enjoy this sprawling estate in central Austin.
The amazing Zilker Botanical Garden overlooks the Zilker Park fields bordering Barton Springs Road. The garden is actually comprised of several different gardens, including the Cactus and Succulent, Xeriscape, Herb and Fragrance, Rose, Azalea, Butterfly and Taniguchi Gardens. Taniguchi is a beautiful Japanese landscape with a waterfall, running stream, lily ponds and wooden bridges. The lush, peaceful grounds are commonly perused by artists and writers searching for inspiration, and by others just looking for solitude amid the city.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Research Center was established by Lady Bird Johnson, First Lady of the United States from 1963-1969. This fabulous garden bearing her name brims with native Texas plants in courtyards, terraces, arbors and meadows. Along with a fantastic children's center, visitors can explore a visitor's gallery, observation tower, cafe, gift store and nature trails. Enjoy award-winning architecture and fabulous scenery in this wonderful garden spot.
Charles Umlauf (1911-1994), one of the more famous Austin artists, was a prolific sculptor. This museum displays many of his works in a fantastic garden spot located close to Zilker Park and just minutes from downtown. His sculptures range from realism to abstraction and include families, religious figures, animals and mythological characters.
Take a tour with Lone Star Riverboat down the Colorado River (known as Town Lake in the Austin city limits) on a paddle wheel boat. This Southern style of transportation is a perfect way to take in the city's skyline. Trips are 90 minutes long and do not require reservations. Call ahead to determine the seasonal schedule. During the summer moonlight cruises are offered, as well as close-up cruises of the bats underneath Congress bridge. Prices vary by excursion, so check their website for further information.
For cruising around on Town Lake, the best way to go is on a Capital Cruise. Have dinner with friends or just your date, while watching the beauty of Austin's downtown from the peaceful water. Sightseeing tours are available along with canoes and kayaks; or you can take out paddle boats for an outdoor activity with the family. So whether it is a romantic evening for two or a day on the lake with kids, this service can meet your needs. Furthermore, the Hyatt caters for these cruises and serves wonders like shrimp pasta, beef or chicken fajitas, to name a few. They will work with your company or group to customize a menu if you desire.
The Zilker Zephyr is a mini-train that takes visitors around the scenic and beautiful Lady Bird Lake and Barton Creek area of Austin. Suitable for people of all ages, this train is equally popular among kids and full-grown adults too! After all, who wouldn't like to get onto a green toy train and admire the wonders of the Zilker Metropolitan Park at a leisurely pace, along with some fun tunnels along the way? The ride lasts for approximately half an hour; call ahead for details.