For me, summer was always the time to be out and about…until I moved to Texas. I don’t know about you guys, but when temperatures hit the high 90’s, I want to hide in the comfort of my air conditioned apartment and never leave. But with fall finally here and the air cooling down, I couldn’t be more excited about spending time outside, walking the streets of the city, and–my favorite–planning picnics! Thankfully, Austin has quite a few spots that are perfect for dining outdoors. In my experience, these are the 11 best picnic spots in Austin.
1/ Texas State Capitol
Conveniently located in the heart of the city, the Texas State Capitol provides plenty of lawn space for a picnic. You can always find a shady spot under one of the many trees surrounding the building. I personally prefer my picnic with a view, and this architectural gem is one of the best you’ll find in Austin. The northern side of the Capitol (the side facing 15th Street) is usually less crowded if you want to have some quiet time. Afterwards, you can play tourist and take a guided tour of the building.
1100 Congress Ave.
2/ Zilker Park
Zilker Park is another great spot if you want an interesting view. You can see downtown Austin’s skyline across Lady Bird Lake. If you plan your picnic on a weekday, you’ll have pretty much the whole park to yourself. On weekends it gets busy, so arrive early to find a shady spot under a tree.
Another thing to note: on weekends, many people bring their dogs to Zilker Park, and the dogs are inevitably attracted to picnics full of delicious food. It can be fun if you love dogs, or not so much if you don’t.
2100 Barton Springs Road
3/ Auditorium Shores
The amount of urban parks in Austin is truly impressive. Auditorium Shores, on the south bank of Lady Bird Lake, is yet another example. Combine your picnic with physical activity, like jogging or kayaking on the lake. Auditorium Shores is a popular venue for musical events, many of which are free. Check the event schedule and plan your picnic accordingly.
900 W. Riverside Dr.
4/ Barton Creek Greenbelt
If your idea of a pleasant picnic includes escaping hectic city life and getting lost in greenery, then the Barton Creek Greenbelt should be your choice. While there are severals greenbelts in Austin, this is the one people are referring to when they say, “the Greenbelt.” Plan to spend at least half a day dipping in swimming holes, hiking, and enjoying your picnic in the great outdoors. Two of my favorite watering holes are Sculpture Falls and Twin Falls.
Check out our complete guide to Greenbelt access points for location info
5/ Mount Bonnell
Considered the highest point in the city, Mount Bonnell is famous for its gorgeous view of Lake Austin. One has to walk up 106 steps to reach the peak, but the vista is so worth it. There are several picnic tables at the top you can take advantage of. Have your sandwich and a cup of coffee with a view of the beautiful houses along the shores of Lake Austin. I always get dreamy and try to imagine what it feels like to have a few million dollars to buy a house there.
3800 Mount Bonnell Dr.
6/ Mayfield Park
The first time I visited Mayfield Park and saw peacocks roaming around, I remember thinking to myself: is there anything Austin doesn’t have? The last time I checked, peacocks are common in places like India, Sri Lanka, and Burma, not Central Texas. Nevertheless, here they are in Mayfield Park, walking around the cottage freely and perching on tree branches.
The cottage was purchased by Allison Mayfield at the beginning of the 20th century. His daughter, Mary Mayfield Gutsch, and her husband designed the gardens and ponds surrounding the cottage. The peacocks were gifted to them in 1935, and the birds you see today are descendants of those original birds. Mayfield Park has scenic trails, tranquil ponds, and several picnic tables.
3505 W. 35th St.
7/ Laguna Gloria
Less than a five-minute-walk from Mayfield Park is another Austin gem, Laguna Gloria. The beautiful Italianesque mansion was built by Clara Driskoll, a world traveler. Her love for Italy inspired the design of her home.
Today, the property belongs to The Contemporary Austin and contains unique artwork inside and on the grounds. With a lagoon on one side and Lake Austin on the other, gorgeous views are guaranteed for your picnic. You can enjoy the grounds for free, but if you decide to see the villa and artwork afterwards, a small admissions fee is required.
3809 W. 35th St.
8/ Pease Park
One of the oldest parks in Texas, Pease Park is another getaway within city limits. The park stretches from West 15th Street to West 31st Street along North Lamar Boulevard.
Pease Park is a part of the Shoal Creek Greenbelt, which means you have plenty of trails to hike. On top of that, you’ll find recreational areas and picnic tables, which make the park perfect for family gatherings. If you have kids, they will enjoy the playground and splash pad.
1100 Kingsbury St.
9/ St. Edwards Park
Located in northwest Austin, twenty minutes from downtown, St. Edwards Park boasts several trails with varying terrain. You can choose between an easier hike along Bull Creek with swimming holes on the way, or a more difficult hike uphill that provides beautiful views of the creek. In spring, the meadows are full of wildflowers. After a hike, stop for a picnic near one of the watering holes.
7301 Spicewood Springs Road
10/ 360 Bridge Overlook
One of my most beloved places, which provides a bird’s eye view of Austin, the 360 Bridge overlook will take your breath away. The short hike up takes no more than 10 minutes. Most people arrive in the evening to watch the sunset. So if you want to enjoy your picnic without crowds, visit in the morning or during the day.
5300 N. Capital of Texas Highway
11/ Duchman Family Winery
This last picnic spot is actually located outside Austin, in Driftwood, TX, but the atmosphere of this secluded winery is well worth the 30-minute drive from downtown.
Not only does the Duchman Family Winery property look like an old-world Italian villa, but the grapes cultivated in the vineyards are also some of the best Italian varieties like montepulciano, sangiovese and anglianico. You can do a tasting of six different wines for $12. Outside, you’ll find picnic tables in the shade of oak trees and gorgeous views of the vineyards.
13308 Ranch to Market Road 150, Driftwood, TX
So what are you waiting for? Pack you picnic blanket, baguette, jam, and thermos with coffee, and off you go to enjoy your picnic in Austin!
@theAustinot wants to know:
What do you think are the best picnic spots in Austin?
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