The capital city of Austin, Texas, is a hotbed of water-based recreational activities. Thanks to the Colorado River and several lakes in and around the city, residents of Austin can partake in swimming, fishing, kayaking, and tubing, which are all perfect activities during the sunny summer months.
Those who prefer to exercise on land also have options like biking and hiking trails and green spaces with fields for team sports.
Texas temperatures can exceed 100 degrees in summer, so be sure to check the forecast and bring plenty of water, wherever you decide to go!
Check out some of the best spots to find outdoor activities in Austin, and feel free to add your own suggestions!
Lady Bird Lake
Named after Lady Bird Johnson, the former First Lady of the United States, Lady Bird Lake encompasses 416 acres along the Colorado River in the heart of Austin. While city ordinances prohibit swimming in the lake, visitors can engage in many other forms of recreation here, including rowing, canoeing, fishing, and stand-up paddleboarding.
In addition, the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail surrounds the lake, offering up 10 miles of paths that snake past downtown, Zilker Park, and various neighborhoods.
Zilker Park provides one of the widest ranges of outdoor activities in the city. The park’s 351 acres feature volleyball courts, wide-open fields perfect for sports like soccer, and an 18-hole disc golf course.
Zilker Park also houses Barton Springs, a 3-acre reservoir that’s the most popular place to swim in Austin, especially during the sweltering summer months.
The park also hosts the annual Austin City Limits music festival, the Zilker Kite Festival, and Blues on the Green.
Serious cyclists who prefer to avoid sharing trails with pedestrians should check out the Veloway, an asphalt loop in Circle C Ranch Metropolitan Park created exclusively for bikers and rollerbladers. Its 23-foot width ensures that riders won’t have to deal with the overcrowding that sometimes occurs on smaller trails.
Though it’s only 3 miles long, the Veloway includes enough twists and turns to keep riders engaged. Enjoy the trees and green landscape and keep an eye out for the occasional deer or fox.
Red Bud Isle
Red Bud Isle is the home of Austin’s most popular leash-free dog trail, a half-mile path suitable for hiking by pets and their owners. The island boasts a number of other outdoor opportunities, too.
Expect to see people kayaking, swimming and fly fishing in the water around the island. The small parking lot fills up quickly, so get there early!
Barton Creek Greenbelt
If hiking and biking don’t supply enough of an adrenaline rush for you, head to Barton Creek Greenbelt for more strenuous activities like rock climbing and tubing. The area features a several walls that make for great climbing.
The tubing here is generally tame, though heavy rains can occasionally create swift currents. Either way, it’s cool to be able to float down the river.
McKinney Falls State Park
Those seeking camping in Austin without having to drive too far should consider McKinney Falls State Park. You can do everything here – camp, fish, hike, mountain bike, or just view the falls.
There are more than 80 campsites and 640 acres to explore here. McKinney Falls could be one-stop shopping for folks who want to do all their outdoor adventures in one location!
Finding Austin Lodging
Visitors to Austin can find a number of affordable hotels in various parts of the city. Many are located near the top recreational hotspots, making a visit to Austin fun and convenient.
No matter which physical activity you choose, remember to exercise caution, particularly when entering rivers or lakes.
Planning a road trip? See our Austin to Los Angeles driving guide, with activity and route suggestions for the road trip.
Do you have any suggestions for additional outdoor activities in Austin to add to our list?