Zilker Metropolitan Park

Zilker Park, located in downtown Austin, is Austin's central park.  This is the location of many of Austin's outdoor events.  In the spring it hosts the Zilker Kite Festival, in the fall is ACL Musicfest, in the winter is the Zilker Trail of Lights (returning this year, whoo hoo!), and the summer hosts Blues on the Green and the Zilker Hillside Theater production (this year playing Sound of Music).

However, even with no event going on, this park is a great place to hang out and have fun.  Nestled between Town Lake to the north and Barton Springs to the south, there is a plethora of things to keep a family busy.

The south side of Zilker Park has large flat fields that are perfect for a pick-up game of soccer or ultimate, or to settle down for a nice picnic. 

My kids just wanted to take their shoes off and run on the soft green grass :o) 

There is also "rock island" located smack dab in the middle that is perfect for climbing on and around! 

On the very north side of the park the Town Lake trail runs through the park; a ten mile long trail that loops around Lady Bird Lake (mostly loops, hopefully with some cash, it will soon completely loop). 

Barton Springs Road traverses the middle of the park.  Across the street is a large playground, with an old style fire engine, lots of playscape to appeal to all ages of kids.  

A newer section contains musical instruments that children can pound on. 

Running through the whole park is the Zilker Zephyr, a miniature train that rides arounds the perimeter of the park and under two tunnels, perfect for the younger crowd.

Of course, the entrance to the famous Barton Springs swimming pool is located in the park - a wonderful experience you can read more about here.

Outside of the Pool is the free Splash Exhibit, an interactive display about the Edwards Aquifer.  If you have the time, a quick duck inside this free display will be both informative and fun!

Nestled between the Zliker Zephyr, Barton Springs and the playground is the "Zilker Cafe" a nice little snack stand, perfect for getting a cool treat on a hot day.  There are outside seats available to enjoy your snack while watching the pool.

They also sell duck and pigeon food here.  I'd have to say, the $1.75 we spent on pigeon food was probably the best entertainment dollars we have spent in a long time! 

Sprinkle a small bit of seed for the lone pigeon flying in your area, and you will suddenly be surrounded by hundreds of birds. 

Two bags kept my boys entertained for at least a half hour!

Also located in the park is the less famous "Barking Springs".  Just downstream of Barton Springs, the fence line ends and the waters from Barton Springs pour out from the pool and return to the river. 

This small area is perfect for those four legged creatures uninvited to the main pool.

It is also perfect for kids who love to play in the cascading water, and adults who want a slightly less "formal" experience than Barton Springs.  There is no signed entrance to this area, but it can be found just southeast of the Zilker playground.

Slightly further downstream from Barking Springs is the Zilker Park Boat Rentals, a great place to rent a kayak or canoe and get a whole different perspective of the lake!

Also located in Zilker Park is a 9 hole disc golf course.  Disc golf is a game very similar to golf, only use use frisbees and throw them into wire baskets, instead of a ball and club.  You can use any frisbeen, but for a few dollars you can pick up true "disc golf dics" that are easier to throw and direct.

Finally, in the most southwestern part of the park is the start of the Barton Spring Greenbelt trail, a 8 mile trail that runs into South Austin.

Regardless of your age, ability or even number of legs, Zilker Park will certainly have something for you!


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