The kind of cities I like, are cities with a good dose of nature mixed in. It just so happens, Austin is that kind of city. The Colorado river and a warm natural spring run through the city. You don’t have to go far to find a place to hike, bike, get on the water or just appreciate the feeling of being surrounded by nature.
The first nature area I explored was the Barton Creek Greenbelt. More specifically, the Barton Creek Wilderness Park. The Greenbelt contains miles and miles of hiking trails and at times, really makes you feel secluded from the city. During the wet seasons, the trails run along the creek and lead to various swimming holes. When I was there, it was close to bone dry. I hiked along the dry creek bed, which was pretty neat, and swung on a rope swing that carried me over just a sliver of water. This article gives you a good run down of the Greenbelt and different entrance points.
Next, I headed to Zilker Park, which is along the banks of the Colorado River. The river is such a beautiful color and remains surprisingly clean for running smack dab through the middle of a city. There are walking/biking trails along both sides of the river and an awesome off leash dog park! Not to mention, plenty of open grassy areas for picnics, yoga, reading a book or just people watching.
There are a lot of places along the Colorado River to rent canoes, kayaks or paddle boards. I was lucky enough to meet an awesome person, Erica, who offered to take me stand up paddle boarding! I had always wanted to try, so I jumped at the opportunity. It was so peaceful and easy. I highly recommend getting out on that gorgeous river!
Oh did I forget to mention? There’s even a state park in Austin! Mckinney Falls State Park is not a particularly large park, but it’s worth a visit! Even during the dry season, both of the waterfalls were spilling over. There are some fun hiking trails and beautiful sights to see. I arrived later in the day and felt I could have spent much longer there.
A place that seems to get overlooked by some, it Mount Bonnell. This is the highest point in Austin and overlooks the city and the Colorado River. This is THE place to go for sunset. Even if you can’t make it for sunset, it’s worth the climb to the top just to take in the view. There is a handicap entrance a short distance after the main parking area if you think the stairs would be too much for you. I liked it so much I went 3 times!
On my last full day in Austin, I went to Barton Springs Pool. I had heard about it, but was under the impression there was an admittance fee year round, so I hadn’t gone. I didn’t find out until a couple days before I was to leave Austin, that during the winter months, it’s free AND there are showers! Needless to say, I hustled my butt right over there (getting free showers is a huge deal for us people living on the road!). Not only are there showers, but they are located in a beautiful open air setting. I felt like I was in a tropical paradise!
Now that I’ve been there, I think it’s worth paying to go. It is truly a unique experience! Nature and city literally meet here. On one side you have the natural bluffs giving way to water and on the opposite side, is a man made pools edge. You can swim in the natural spring fed pool while gazing at the skyscrapers of Downtown Austin. The water hovers between 68 and 74 degrees year round, which is almost a tolerable temperature for this freeze baby.
Even though I didn’t imagine spending so much time in a city while living in Mander, I think you can see now why I wasn’t that anxious to leave. Austin has plenty to offer in the nature department and that kept me nice and balanced.
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Until next time, much love and Mander on!