The unseasonably warm spring weather and ample rainfall has yielded an early bumper crop of beautiful wildflowers — bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, coreopsis, and many more are popping up all around town.
Grab your camera and head out for the best bluebonnet photos in recent memory. There are many viewing opportunities in and around Austin, however the most spectacular stretches of roadway and open fields can be found in nearby Hill Country counties within a one-and-a-half hour drive.
Perfect for a day trip, you can check out the spectacular bluebonnet vistas at the 400-acre Turkey Bend Recreation area. One of last year’s wildflower hot spots, Muleshoe Bend, is partially underwater, however the areas that are above ground are beautiful. If you want to cruise a stretch of bluebonnet-adorned country road, drive Highway 281 through Burnet all the way to Lampasas.
On April 7-9 Burnet hosts the 34th Annual Bluebonnet festival, which draws more than 30,000 visitors each year. With the bluebonnets carpeting the hillsides, roads leading to Burnet in all directions are perfect close-in spots for wildflower viewing. The festival is family-friendly, and a visit to Burnet’s historic downtown square is an added bonus.
Fredericksburg, Johnson City, and Llano
In Fredericksburg, do not miss Wildseed Farms, a family owned wildflower farm. There, you will find beautiful fields of blooms and lots of family-friendly activities, as well as the option to buy bluebonnets and wildflower seeds.
Leave Fredericksburg and drive north on Highway 16 toward Llano to see long stretches of wildflowers along a very pleasant and picturesque 40-minute drive. Or take 290 to Johnson City and Fredericksburg with a detour to enjoy the Willow City Loop, which is a favorite for motorcyclists.
Twenty miles north of downtown, Brushy Creek Lake Park is a perfect spot for family picnics. The park includes a lake, nature trails, picnic areas, and, yes, plenty of wildflowers.
McKinney Falls State Park
If sleeping among the wildflowers appeals to you, this spot is just 13 miles south of downtown. The park is a 726-acre preserve with cascading waterfalls, hiking and cycling trails, picnic areas, playgrounds, limestone swimming holes, and fishing in Onion Creek and a campground.
At 645 acres, Old Settlers Park is huge. Referred to as the crown jewel of the Round Rock park system, there are dozens of spots to barbecue, picnic, and grab a photo among the wildflowers. The bonus to visiting Old Settlers is the spectacular new Joanne Land Playground. Inspired by the excitement of zip lines and roller coasters, the new playground includes a gravity rail. The park also features huge climbing towers that include obstacles, slides, and tunnels.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
The wildflowers are in full bloom at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. With 650 native Texas plant species in the gardens, the center includes gardens, nature trails, a family garden, and a cafe. Take a picnic, spend the day, and call ahead to check out activities and events.
Capital of Texas Highway (Loop 360) and Bee Caves Road from 360 to Highway 71
Plenty of beautiful bluebonnets and spots for grabbing a great family photo along the roadside on Bee Caves Road.
St. Edward’s University
Located just south of downtown on South Congress Avenue, the campus boasts several lovely fields of bluebonnets. Look no further than the corner of St. Edward's Drive and University Loop Drive for one of the best spots to snap a selfie.
Other Austin spots:
45th and Bull Creek
Quinlan Park Road in Steiner Ranch
Hike and Bike Trail at Zilker Park
For more information, photos, and reports, check out Texas Wildflower Sightings. The Texas Department of Transportation also operates a Wildflower Hotline (800-452-9292) for updated information on all locations.