The Best Outdoor Activities in and Around Austin

The Zilker Park is perfect for outdoor actives in Austin
The Zilker Park is perfect for outdoor actives in Austin | © Peter Tsai Photography / Alamy Stock Photo
From paddleboarding on quiet reservoirs to hiking through tropical vegetation and watching the Milky Way at night, Austin ticks all the boxes for outdoor lovers. Here are some of the best things to do in and around the city, including places like Lady Bird Lake, Lower Colorado and Pedernales Falls State Park .

Stand-Up Paddleboard at Lady Bird Lake

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Beautiful day in Austin, Texas with Paddle Boarders enjoying Lady Bird Lake
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Stand-up paddleboarding is great fun and even better exercise. And don’t worry, it’s much easier than it looks. In Austin, Lady Bird Lake is a popular place to give it a go as it is known for its calm waters. You won’t find any motorized boats here. There are multiple places to rent a board and lifejacket from this reservoir on the Colorado River, so you don’t need to bring anything but yourself.
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Hike through Palmetto State Park

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Lake Trail, Palmetto State Park, Texas.
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Palmetto State Park is one hour southeast of Austin and is the only destination that boasts tropical vegetation in the state. A great example of Texas’s natural beauty. The best way to take it all in is by making it a weekend of hiking and camping. There are loads of different trails you can take including the Palmetto Interpretive Trail, which lasts 30 minutes and introduces you to the various plants and animals in the park. As for camping at the park, check campsite availability and make reservations online.

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Canoe the Lower Colorado

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Family has rented canoe on the Colorado River in Austin, Zilkar Park Texas, USA
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With seven Central Texas reservoirs and many man-made lakes in Austin, water-based activities are big business. Alongside paddleboarding, canoeing is a favorite activity among locals and tourists alike. Just outside of the city in downtown Webberville, you can rent your canoe from Cook’s Canoes and head out on Lower Colorado for the day. Trips vary in length, with the most popular route being five miles (8km) between Little Webberville Park and Big Webberville Park.

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Stargaze at Pedernales Falls State Park

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Pedernales Falls State Park, Texas
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Catching a glimpse of the stars isn’t easy with the light pollution from the city, so going out to a park is the way to go. Although it’s not listed as one of Texas’s International Dark Sky Parks, Pedernales Falls State Park still promises sights of constellations and distant galaxies. It’s only about an hour away from Austin by car but you can choose to make a night of it by staying overnight at Pedernales Falls Campground.
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These recommendations were updated on July 15, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.