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A Visitors Guide to Zilker Metropolitan Park, Austin

Raksha Kulkarni Nov 30, 2019
Zilker Metropolitan Park is a huge recreational area in South Austin, Texas. The land is over 350 acres and lies where the Barton Creek and the Colorado River meet. It includes sport fields, picnic areas, lawns, and many other attractions. Here’s a detailed guide about the Zilker Metropolitan Park.

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Location of Zilker Metropolitan Park near Downtown Austin

Activities in Zilker Park

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1. Swim in the Barton Springs Pool

This three-acre pool is formed by few underground springs around it. The pool is open year-round for swimming and boasts of pleasant temperature of 68-degrees.

The pool is used both by fitness enthusiasts and people who just want to lounge around. It also has a designated area for floats and kids. The pool is deepest at 18 feet.
Do remember that the pool may have algae and plants as it is maintained in its natural form only.

The pool is closed on every Thursday as it is cleaned that day.

The pool is also famous as 'the habitat of the endangered Barton Springs Salamander'.

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2. Kayaking or Canoeing around Lady Bird Lake

The water here is slow-moving hence suitable for kayaking, canoeing, and even standup paddleboards. Even first-time kayakers can also give it a shot here.

Rowing Dock is one of the rental companies which can assist you for this experience. You might see numerous fish, turtles, and birds during the day.

3. Visit the Zilker Botanical Garden

This area covers number of specialized gardens like rose garden, cactus garden, herb garden, butterfly garden, pioneer village, and the Hartman Prehistoric Garden. One of the highlights is the Taniguchi Japanese Garden. This beautiful garden takes your heart away with its cute foot bridges, pretty koi ponds, and its greenery.

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4. Go for Sports like Golf

There is a disc golf course with full 18 targets here. Get your golfing gear ready and enjoy the beautiful course.

Also, there are five sand volleyball courts right where the Great Lawn ends. You can reserve these courts for yourself or simply go to watch people play.

Several open spaces are used to play soccer. You can even join some groups to play.

5. Visit Austin Nature and Science Center

You can see and meet a few rescued animals like owls, bobcats, etc. in the facility here. There is a section called the Dino Pit where kids can dig away to find dinosaur bones. They also have a museum there. The best part is that the center gives you free admission.

6. Hike Through a Beautiful Trail

The hiking trail here is called as the greenbelt. The trail starts near the parking lot of the Barton Springs Pool. It is fairly easy at the beginning, but gets a little tricky as you move ahead. The limestone cliffs ahead is where the rock-climbing workshops are held.
Last but not the least, board the Zilker Zephyr train. It is a miniature train which starts from a depot at Barton Springs pool. It’s a 25-minute ride which takes you around the Lady Bird Lake trail.

Signature Events of Zilker Park

  • Zilker Park Kite Festival
    This is the oldest festival, being held since 1929. It is held on the first Sunday in March. There are various eateries and several contests held.

  • Blues on the Green
    KGSR, a local radio station conducts free concerts every year in summer. Bob Schneider, Los Lonely Boys, Old 97’s are a few of the performers.
  • Austin City Limits Music Festival

    This is a three-day festival which happens over two consecutive weekends in fall. The festival attracts more than 400000 people every year. There are almost 150 acts covering several genres like indie, hp-hop, rock, country, electronic, etc.

Few more attractions...

  • Zilker Hillside Theater – They mostly play family-friendly musical performances. Just spread out your blanket, relax, and enjoy the show!

  • UMLAUF Sculpture Garden & Museum – Visit this garden to witness beautiful art in the form of sculptures.
There are numerous picnic sites which can even be reserved for functions.
During the holidays, a 155-foot holiday tree is made with 3309 25-watt bulbs. Imagine a huge light tree! This tree is named as the Moonlight Tower.

Just a little ahead, a wonderful display of lights named Austin Trail of Lights is exhibited.

Some Pointers...

  • The park opens at 5 a.m. and closes at 10 p.m., unless otherwise posted.
  • Zilker park might charge a $5 parking fee per car. This may only happen on holidays and weekends in March to September.
  • Food and drinks are allowed in the park but you cannot sell them in the premises unless you hold a valid permit.

And since you can take your furry friend along...

keep yourself updated with Zilker Park's Pet Policy. Make sure you follow the park's rules for your and your pet's safety!

Down the History Lane...

The park is named after the owner of the land, Andrew Jackson Zilker, who had his ice-making business there. He sold this land to Austin City after 1917 and donated the proceeds for betterment of Austin’s public schools.

The land was developed into this park in the 1930s during the Great Depression period.

The park got its name in 1934.