Every once in a while, we do something a little different and take our first born to a special park made just for him. Let me introduce you to my first child, Samson, AKA The SamDog, AKA Sammy. He’s cute, no?
Because our three kids, ages 5, 5, and 3 can still be quite a handful, Sammy doesn’t get to go many places with us. Look, I’m lucky to make it home with all three kids most days. Adding a dog to the mix is just one more distraction that I can’t afford to have even on a walk around the neighborhood. So once in a while he gets an outing all his own, to Red Bud Isle dog park.
Red Bud Isle (3401 Redbud Trail), which is run by the Austin Parks & Recreation Department, is 17.5 acres of leash free fun for your furry friend. In Sammy’s opinion, it’s like going to Six Flags and Sea World and the zoo all in one.
The entire park juts out of Lake Austin, just south of the Tom Miller Dam. Dogs can run in the open field right off the parking lot, run through the trails and wooded areas that fill the park, and then hop in the water for a swim to cool off. I’ve often seen dogs just running free, only heading back to check in with their owners once in a while. I think those are the teenagers.
My girls love tossing rocks into the water (when no dogs are present) and exploring the trails through the park, which follow along either side of the isle. Thick trees fill the space in between the trails and along the water’s edge, and there are several areas along the paths to access the lake for optimal canine aquatic activities, i.e. doggie paddling.
What should you bring to Red Bud Isle? Well your dog, of course. Definitely frisbees and balls. You’ll want to have some plastic bags on hand to pick up any, ahem, number twos that your friend may leave behind. There are some courtesy bag stations around the park, but it’s always nice to have a back up if they are empty for some reason. Scoop that poop!
It’s important to note that swimming in the water surrounding Red Bud Isle is only suitable for the four legged set, but owners are welcome to wade in with their pets. I highly recommend water shoes, because water that I can’t see through totally freaks me out.
Now every place has its cons. In the case of Red Bud Isle, the parking lot is extremely small. I’ve seen cars waiting in line for someone to come out so they can park. There are signs along Redbud Trail that say “no parking,” but we were told that as long as you are behind the sign (as in way off the shoulder of the road), you’ll be okay.
Other than playing with dogs, there isn’t a lot for kids to do. There’s no playground, which is understandable, because Red Bud Isle is fully intended to be a dog park, not a kids’ park. Sometimes dogs and kids don’t mix (one of my girls got snapped at once, and I can fully attest that it was unprovoked, and that’s not just the mama bear in me coming out to defend her). So be sure that your kids are comfortable around dogs, and practice proper precautions, like asking the owner before approaching or petting a dog, or no running or chasing the dogs. But I will say that my kids always have fun when we come here.
Other important things to remember about Red Bud Isle: THERE ARE NO BATHROOMS. And if your kids are anything like mine, the minute they set foot in a place with no bathroom? They have to go. There are some very heavily treed areas. I’ll let you do what you will with that information.
Red Bud Isle is a fun little place to hit up when we need something different to do. It’s close to lots of area restaurants, so we can usually make an afternoon of it by grabbing lunch at Thundercloud on Lake Austin Boulevard and then heading over to play. It’s also close to the Hula Hut, Abel’s on the Lake, and Mozart’s (which I know has a dog friendly patio). And when we leave, the dog and the kids are ALL zonked out, which means it’s a winner for sure.
Have you been to Red Bud Isle? Do you have a favorite dog park?
Red Bud Isle
3401 Redbud Trl
Austin, TX 78703
Leigh Ann Torres is a freelance writer and blogger living in Austin with her husband and three girls. She’s a pretty good cook, a mediocre photographer, and a horrible housekeeper. She writes about the good, the bad, and the ridiculous of life with twins plus one at Genie in a Blog.