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Spring time in Austin is a wonderful time of year. The weather is warming up, but you don’t have the sweltering heat of summer just yet. Wildflowers are blooming, and birds are chirping. So what better way to enjoy this splendid time of year than to take your special someone or your family on an Austin picnic?
You can find grassy lawns and shaded picnic tables all around Austin, but here are some of the Austin picnic spots we think are extra special.
The City of Austin has temporarily banned public gatherings. Please stay home. The Free Fun in Austin calendar is only for live digital events at this time.
*Editor’s note: this post was first published in spring of 2019. Please confirm details as COVID-19 precautions may affect hours and policies. If you’d like to learn more about how to stay six feet apart at Austin area parks, we recommend watching this video from the Austin Parks Foundation.
1. Zilker Metropolitan Park
One of Austin’s most famous tourist spots, Zilker Metropolitan Park hosts countless events that draw locals and visitors alike. When Zilker Park isn’t crowded with festival goers, Austinites relax and play all over its 351 acres. You can spread a blanket on the great lawn or near the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail. If you want to sit at a picnic table for your al fresco dining, the Pecan Grove and Rock Garden areas have rows and rows of picnic tables waiting for you to set down your basket.
2. Mount Bonnell
There’s no better way to take in the beauty of Austin than from atop Mount Bonnell. From the highest point in Austin you can see for miles as the Texas Hill Country rises higher and higher at the western horizon. You can also admire the Pennybacker Bridge as it spans the Colorado River. And you can do all this while enjoying a picnic. Trek up the steps to the peak, and set out your food for an authentically Austin picnic.
3. Ricky Guerrero Park and Splash Pad
Stop by Ricky Guerrero Park and Splash Pad most any day when the weather is warm, and you’ll find families playing in the water and relaxing under shade trees. The splash pad has plenty of stations for the kids for jumping and playing. After the kids — and parents, most likely — are soaked to their bones and worn out from excitement, the best thing for a family to do is sit down for a picnic. With tired bodies and full bellies, the kids will sleep all the way home.
4. Circle C Ranch Metropolitan Park
A popular backdrop among Austin portrait photographers, Circle C Ranch Metropolitan Park is a beautiful park with dense trees as well as spots along Slaughter Creek where you can get your feet wet. The park is always busy with activity. Ball fields, disc golf, playgrounds, and trails will help you work up an appetite for a picnic lunch.
5. Texas State Capitol
Though members of the Texas Legislature are only in session for 180 days every two years, the Texas State Capitol bustles with activity most days of the year. The old pink building isn’t packed to the gills to the degree it is when legislators are in town, but it is by no means a ghost town when members are back in their districts. The Capitol’s grassy grounds are dotted with monuments and benches to help visitors remember important people and events that shaped Texas and the world. Spread your picnic blanket to enjoy a picnic experience you can only have in Austin.
6. Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q on Capitol of Texas Highway
Grab your brisket, sausage, ribs, turkey, bread, pickles, onions, and whatever sides you like at Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q at 2451 S. Capital of Texas Highway, and head out the back door. You’ll find plenty of picnic tables for sprawling out your smoky meats and a lush lawn where the kids can run around. Oh, and get the creamed corn. You’ll thank us later.
7. Ramsey Neighborhood Park
You may have to claim your grassy real estate before an exercise group snags it, but Ramsey Neighborhood Park is an awesome place for an Austin picnic. Throw some burgers or hot dogs on the grill, and take advantage of this little city park tucked away among central Austin homes.
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Yesterday we did a 20-mile family bike ride to a picnic in the park. (Side note: at least 15 miles of that was on protected bike lanes!) Things actually felt kind of normal for a change, except for the whole no-using-play-equipment thing. This was probably one of the longest non-electric rides ever for both of my girls, so I was pretty proud. #bikeatx #bikingwithkids #adventurenugget
8. Mueller Lake Park
Mueller Lake Park is an urban oasis. This privately maintained park is easily accessible from the Mueller neighborhood and sits across Simond Avenue from Thinkery. Get some food from one of the nearby food trucks at Mueller Trailer Eats food court, and take it to the Lake Mueller Park picnic area at the eastern edge of the lake.
9. Dick Nichols District Park
Dick Nichols District Park offers an easy walking trail, playground equipment for the kids, a pool, and plenty of grass ready for your picnic. The paved walking trail around the park is easy for even the most novice of hikers. In fact, a kindergartner could bike most of — if not all — the trail loop. This trail connects to other southwest Austin trails for the more experienced nature jogger, but a quick lap around the park is plenty to stoke your appetite for a sack lunch.
Featured photo by Flickr user Ipopov, Creative Commons licensed.