Butler Park is one of my family’s go-to spots for summer fun. There are docks to explore, turtles to watch, views of the city to enjoy, trees for picnic shade, and the signature attraction: a large interactive fountain. Sandwiched between the Palmer Events Center and Dougherty Arts Center, across the street from Auditorium Shores, the park is centrally located, which makes a visit there an easy add-on to just about any downtown outing.
If you know in advance you’ll be hitting the park, pack a bike, trike, or scooter to use on the circular path leading up to the summit of Doug Sahm Hill. Atop the hill, kids will enjoy walking/skipping/hopping across a large map of Texas, while taking in the picturesque Austin skyline. Then comes the fun part – the ride, run, or roll back down the 35-foot hill!
After working up a sweat “mountain” climbing, cool off with a splash in the Liz Carpenter Fountain. Open daily, year-round, the fountain is entertaining both day and night. If you want to beat the heat, visit after the sun sets to see the fountain’s colorful light show, which runs from dusk to 9:45 p.m.
Liz Carpenter Fountain Hours of Operation:
- Monday 12:00–9:45 p.m. (closed for maintenance from 8 a.m. to noon)
- Tuesday 8:00 a.m. – 9:45 p.m.
- Wednesday 8:00 a.m. – 9:45 p.m.
- Thursday 8:00 a.m. – 9:45 p.m.
- Friday 8:00 a.m. – 9:45 p.m.
- Saturday 8:00 a.m. – 9:45 p.m.
- Sunday 8:00 a.m. – 9:45 p.m.
What to bring:
- Water shoes – the pavement surrounding the fountain gets scorching hot in the summer.
- Patience when looking for parking. I always try the Dougherty Arts Center parking lot first, then look for street parking along Riverside. I sometimes cave and pay $8 to park in the Long Center lot.
- Sunscreen and hats – there is shade in the park, but none over the fountain or on Doug Sahm Hill.
One last tip:
The bathrooms can be tricky to find. They are located near the Dougherty Arts Center parking lot. When standing in the fountain, with your back to Riverside, the bathrooms are ahead and to your right.
For more information, visit the City of Austin website or call (512) 495-9163. You may also want to call Austin 3-1-1 before heading out to make sure the fountain is operational, as it sometimes closes for additional maintenance.
1000 Barton Springs Rd.
(just south of Auditorium Shores)