Finding a place to step outside and enjoy some fresh air is no difficult task in Central Texas. There are numerous parks with alluring, scenic views and a plethora of amenities for the whole family. We have compiled a list of eight must-see locations that will lead to days full of remarkable adventure and exploration.
Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center | 24814 Hamilton Pool Road, Round Mountain, TX (pictured above)
Westcave Preserve is a 76-acre, picturesque wonder. There are many hands-on educational programs offered at the discovery center, especially for children. In addition, tours of the cave, grotto, canyon and breathtaking waterfall can be reserved. The uplands area also offers scenic hiking trails and a cabin built in the 1900s. Soon, the uplands area of the preserve will add a new bird blind, a trail with a stunning overlook of the Pedernales River and more butterfly gardens.
Longhorn Cavern State Park | 6211 Park Road 4 S., Burnet, TX
While this park goes down underground, it will top the list for uniqueness in the area. The cave was cleared by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, and an exhibit of their work can be seen at the park. The cave resides 130 feet underground, making it quite chilly. It also presents a vast assortment of beautiful, natural features. The park offers a 90-minute walking tour, just over a mile long. However, for a more adventurous experience, there is a two- to three-hour Wild Cave Tour of the lower, undeveloped level. Both tours can be booked for private groups.
Tom Hughes Park | 12714 Hughes Park Road, Austin, TX
Located in the main basin of Lake Travis, Tom Hughes Park has a great view, especially at sunset, and is often not too busy. Even though the trails leading down to the shore can be very rocky and steep, the water at the shoreline is crystal clear and a fantastic swimming spot. A barbeque pit and picnic area are available at the park.
Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve | 805 N. Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin, TX
This 227-acre nature preserve is extremely scenic. At the preserve, there is a Creative Research Center which helps visitors learn about nature, in addition to the many educational activities offered for children, such as a microscope station, a bird-watching station and an interpretive trail map. Many more exhibits for kids are available along with educational events. The preserve also offers 2.5 miles of hiking trails with optional guided hikes. Step out of your home and step into the spectacular nature Texas has to offer.
Butler Metro Park | 1000 Barton Springs Road, Austin, TX
If you’re looking for a destination that is fun for the whole family, look no further than Butler Metro Park. It is a “green” park, meaning all of the maintenance on the park is done with propane- or electricity-powered equipment and is irrigated by Lady Bird Lake. The park also offers several pathways for running, biking and walking. A recent addition to the park is a children’s garden, featuring unique play equipment overlooking the cityscape. The park even boasts a colorful fountain, a splash pad and the Pitch & Putt nine-hole golf course.
Mayfield Park | 3505 W 35th St., Austin, TX
After the 23-acre property was purchased in 1909 by the Mayfield family, their daughter, Mary, and her husband, Milton, spent the years following the purchase making it beautiful until it was given to them in 1935. When Mary passed, she gave the land and cottage to the city to become a park. Now, Mayfield Park displays beautiful gardens and wildlife that can be seen throughout the location. There are six ponds, which house lilies, frogs, fish, turtles and snakes, and, every so often, herons can be found near the ponds. In addition, the park’s peacocks can even be seen roaming the charming hiking trails.
Roy G. Guerrero Park | 400 Grove Blvd, Austin, TX
Located on the Colorado River, the Roy G. Guerrero Park is all-encompassing with plenty of amenities for an entire day spent in nature. There is a large playground, disc golf course, volleyball court, a space to play soccer as well as softball and baseball fields. Bluebonnets can be spotted along the hiking trails during the spring months, and the park even has access to a sandy beach area with a swimming spot along the river.
Pedernales Falls State Park | 2585 Park Road 6026, Johnson City, TX
Pedernales Falls State Park is an oasis just outside of Austin that is great for a camping or day trip. There are trails of various intensities suitable for hiking, walking or biking. In addition, tubing, kayaking, canoeing, fishing and swimming are allowed in the river. The park is also a prime spot for geocaching, which is a unique adventure for the whole family. While you’re there, take a detailed look at the local critters with the butterfly garden and bird blind.