Outdoors in Austin
Follow these 9 Austin trails that go from park to party
Summer means spending time outdoors — especially in the city's parks. Hiking, paddling, swimming, playing games, or just hanging out, after a fun-filled morning or afternoon, why head home?
Austin abounds with restaurants and bars offering comfy outdoor seating and a tolerance for summer casual — even, dare we say, for folks who are a bit sweaty. We’ve paired some of Austin’s favorite parks with nearby places where you can keep the party going with a cold beverage in the shade, live music, tasty snacks, and more.
Barton Creek Greenbelt and Tacodeli
After rock climbing, hiking, taking a swim (or all three!) on the lower Barton Creek greenbelt, head to Tacodeli Spyglass (aka the original). Grab a seat on the side patio and enjoy a build-your-own breakfast taco or snag a popular lunch version. Add a cold house made aguas frescas with local organic fruit, water, and organic evaporated cane juice, or an horchata or cold brew coffee.
Beverly S. Sheffield Northwest District Park and District Kitchen + Cocktails
With basketball and tennis courts, picnic areas, a playground, trails, a pond, and a swimming pool, this park can keep you busy all day — and have you work up a real appetite. Head to the outdoor patio at the newest District Kitchen + Cocktails location nearby at Anderson Lane and Shoal Creek. Enjoy frosé, Dripping Tea, happy hour beer and wine specials, and snacks. The full lunch and dinner menu features ingredients from local farms and businesses, and runs the gamut from scallop ceviche to salads, steaks, and seafood.
Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail and Austin Daily Press (east end)
The four-mile hike-and-bike trail loop from Pleasant Valley to I-35 takes in long stretches of boardwalk, two kayak and SUP rental spots, the Trail of Tejano Music Legends, Festival Beach Park, a boat launch, and plenty of picnic tables and shady lawns. Access it from the parking lot near Longhorn Dam, and top off all that fun at Austin Daily Press on East Cesar Chavez Street, just a few blocks away. Snag a picnic table under the sizable pecan trees, and sip a cold Topo or beer while you decide among tortas, tacos, and tapas as well as the panini that made ADP famous. Enjoy free-beer Fridays all day on Friday, and kids eat free all day on Saturday.
Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail and Cookbook Cafe (west end)
On the west end of the hike-and-bike trail, check out the Stevie Ray Vaughan Statue at Vic Mathias Shores, Deep Eddy Pool, views from the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge, and boat rentals at The Rowing Dock. Then head to Cookbook Cafe in the Central Public Library, where the outdoor seating overlooks native landscaping and Shoal Creek — almost a park itself. The full bar features literary-themed cocktails (Tequila Mockingbird, A Cocktail of Two Cities), local craft beer, and regional wines, and the food menu includes summer-worthy salads, sandwiches, and snacks.
Bull Creek District Park and Waterloo Ice House
Splash in the cool creek and hike or bike more than three miles of greenbelt. Then snag an outdoor picnic table at Waterloo Ice House 360, complete with a sizable playground so the kids can keep on going while adults chill with a Summer Cooler (Tito's, lemonade, fruit puree), a Texas Mule, or other cocktail. On the food menu, indulge in some of Austin’s best queso and find burgers, tacos, and more.
Mayfield Park and Kerbey Lane Cafe
Famous for its resident peacocks, Mayfield Park also has fish ponds and gardens, trails to Lake Austin, and a classic Hill Country landscape. After a stroll around the park, make your next stop Kerbey Lane Cafe Central and its pet-friendly patio. A frosé, Hill Country tea, or frozen ruby red margarita will cool you off while the all-day breakfast refuels your engine after a day in the great outdoors.
Mueller Parks and Paco's Tacos
The Mueller development features several park areas, including hike and bike trails, playgrounds, lawns, a lake, and amphitheater. Just across the way on 51st Street, Paco’s Tacos keeps a cooler of ice stocked with beer and Topo Chico, so feel free to plunge in both hands to grab one. Find a spot on the funky outdoor patio and choose from a wide selection of tacos, including breakfast tacos all day — all served with homemade salsas — or share chips and queso or guacamole.
Pease Park and Shoal Creek Saloon
People come to this park in the heart of the city to hike and bike the trail along Shoal Creek, play sand volleyball, lounge on the lawn, picnic, or hit the playground and splash pad. Since the creek plays a starring role in the park, it seems fitting to make the creekside patio at Shoal Creek Saloon your aprés Pease Park party place. Chow down on Louisiana specialties such as boudin, gumbo, and Étouffée (you’re already sweating anyway), washed down with cocktails like the Shoal Creek Breeze and Swamp Cooler, or a wide selection of local and New Orleans craft beer. Geaux for it!
Zilker Park and Shady Grove
What can’t you do in Zilker Park? Trails, lawns, sports fields, playgrounds, picnic tables, Barton Springs — a perfect recipe for a perfect day in the park. And, just a short stroll away is Shady Grove, where almost everyone sits outside to enjoy the giant shade trees, hearty fare like burgers and chicken fried steak, and cold drinks. Happy hour specials 4-7 pm include watermelon margaritas and live music every Thursday.