Tag Archives: nature

Texas Road Trips

Texas Beach (Corey Leopold CC 2.0)

Summer is just around the corner for most Austinites.  Many of us can’t wait to put on our swimsuit, take off of work, and get ready for a fabulous vacation.  Well this year some might not be able to afford a trip to a Florida beach or a Caribbean cruise.  Very often Texans overlook the great number of things we have to do in our own lone star state.  After all Texas is huge.  Rhode Island would fit into Texas over 212 times, so we must have something worth seeing here!

I have created a list of some of my favorite sites to see around Texas.  Find a good map and some good company and set out for a road trip across the state.  The drive in itself can be fun.

  • You don’t have to miss out on the beach vacation!  Texas beaches have a great coastal vibe and many places to stay.  Some of the most common destinations for Texas beachgoers are Galveston and Padre Island.  My personal favorite Texas beach is in Port Aransas.  It has a small town feel with a great beach.  My favorite resort in the area is the Port Royal. It has great beach access and three fabulous pools.
  • Big Bend National Park is a historic place to take your family this summer.  With the beautiful views and serene landscapes you can experience nature close to home.  The park borders both the US and Mexico so you can get a taste of both cultures in one trip.  More information on visiting Big Bend can be found here.  The Texas ghost town of Terlingua is a fun stop while you are in the area as well. Continue reading

Disc Golf…more free exercise!

Ok, I know the previous post discusses something similar to disc golf, but the two are different!  And they are both cheap ways to have fun while getting fit.  Therefore, it is important to highlight them both!

So what exactly is disc golf?

“Disc golf is a disc game in which individual players throw a flying disc into a basket or at a target.”

And, according to the Professional Disc Golf Association:

“The object of the game is to traverse a course from beginning to end in the fewest number of throws of the disc.”

The discs are super cheap (about $7) and if you just head over to Pease District Park (24th and Lamar area) you can play for free! That’s right!  I could not believe it either!  You get to play 18 holes of disc golf for absolutely nothing.  What an excellent way to spend these beautiful spring days with friends!

Post by Kristin White

Bat Watching

Photo by pencrush, CC 2.0 Attribution

Photo by pencrush, CC 2.0 Attribution

One great way to spend a free evening in Austin during the summer months is bat watching.  We are lucky to have such a great natural phenomenon right in the middle of our town.  Thousands of bats emerge in the evening to hunt creating a beautiful wave against the sky.

You can pick a variety of ways to watch these bats.  But the best and cheapest is to simply park your car in the downtown area and take a stroll over to the Congress Avenue Bridge. Click here for a map.

On beautiful nights there can be up to 1,000 visitors observing the bats emerge from their home under the bridge.  It is an amazing sight to see that should not be missed by any Austinite.  Take advantage of this great nightly event.

You can catch the bats on any warm night but they are best observed in August and September when the new baby bats begin to fly.  Most emerge from the east side of the bridge so look there for the best view.

Word of warning: Don’t do a flickr or google image search for a bat.  You will be too scared to go see the Congress Avenue bats!

Post by Sarah Lacy

Keeping Kids Occupied

Kids are great fun to hang out with. Till they get bored. Moms, if you have a house full of whiny kids, here are a bunch of cool, cheap, even free things you can do in Austin to keep them entertained and productive!

Photo by foreversouls, Flickr. CC 2.0 Attribution.

Photo by foreversouls, Flickr. CC 2.0 Attribution.

  • As we have mentioned before, parks are great places to keep cool this spring and most of them are free of charge. Austin has no dearth of green havens with playgrounds, nature and hike trails, softball, volleyball and tennis courts, barbecue grills as well as picnic spots. An interesting one for kids is the Austin Nature and Science Center, which could make for a fun educational day trip with rescued animals, an indoor lab and a dinosaur track pit. Click here for more information. A complete list of free/cheap and fun parks for kids is here.
  • Texas Memorial Museum at the Texas Natural Science Center has a host of exhibits around the year. Admission is free. If pterasaur fossils, gem collections and meteorites fascinate your young’uns, this museum is a definitely a good idea. Click here for more info including a map and timings.
  • Boggy Creek Farm features fresh vegetables and fruits, cheese, cream, ice-cream and tofu on market and tour days. This would be a great to explain about food manufacturing, farming and horticulture to kids, not to mention enjoy fresh and delicious food! More info here.
  • Congress Bridge Bats are a major tourist attraction in Austin. The bridge, which spans Town Lake, is home to the largest urban bat colony in North America and is a great end-of-the-day activity with kids. It’s also a great photo opportunity!
Congress Bridge Bats. Photo by barron, Flickr. CC 2.0 Attribution.

Congress Bridge Bats. Photo by barron, Flickr. CC 2.0 Attribution.

The Austin Children’s Museum blog includes many fun ideas for activities with kids, events and games. An interesting event coming up this Saturday, April 4, is the Home Depot kids workshop. Park your kids here for a few hours as they contruct a birdhouse with pre-fabricated kits this month. Find a local store near you here.

Search for more ideas for activities here and here. To meet and communicate with other parents, visit ParentWise, a newsletter for Austin parents and Austin Parent, a blog about raising kids here.

Post by Simrat Sharma.

Experience Austin on a Bike!

Bruce Turner, via Flickr (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license)

Bruce Turner, via Flickr (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license)

Bikers.  Something you instantly notice as you enter the Austin city limits.  And not just a few here and there, but several!

Ever wish you could be one, just for a day?  Maybe you don’t want to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a bike, but would like to get up close and personal with nature or just experience downtown Austin from a new perspective.  Well, here’s your chance!  Release your inner  Armstrong by renting a bike from the Bicycle Sport Shop!  The bikes start at $13 for 2 hours, $18 for 4 hours or $22 for 24 hours.  However, there are several bikes to choose from and prices go up accordingly.

As if this isn’t already sounding awesome enough, the shop lets you borrow helmets for free and customizes your bike’s pedels to your shoes for free!  But, if  you are planning on a weekend ride you better book your reservation in advance because  according to Rental Manager Scott Schroen, slots fill up fast.  “For events, like SXSW this past week, we booked our maximum capacity of 130 bikes and our group rides fill up fast too.”

Be sure to notice the “where to ride” section of the site that offers ideas for road rides, mountain bike trails and hike and bike trails!

With this weekend’s weather looking good so far, you have no excuse not to get out there and go exploring!  I know, I know, you can thank me later.  😉

Post by Kristin White

Cheap date idea

Loop 360 Bridge from Mount Bonnell

View from Mount Bonnell of the 360 bridge.

While the weather may not be at its best, here is a cheap idea for a day trip with friends, or even a date with that special someone.

Mount Bonnell is:

  • One of Austin’s oldest tourist attractions dating back to 1850.
  • The highest point within Austin City Limits at 785 feet,
  • A wonderful place to picnic in the sun.
  • Contains views of Town Lake and the Pennybacker Bridge as well as wonderful vistas of downtown.
  • a short hike from the road and there is no entrance fee.

    Steps leading up to Mount Bonnell. (photo courtesy of DigiDragon, flickr)

    Steps leading back down to the street by Mount Bonnell.

Mount Bonnell is located at:

Mt. Bonnell Austin
3800 Mt. Bonnell Drive
Austin, TX 78731

Did you know?

Hey Real World fans! Remember Real World Austin, when Danny and Melinda first met? Well, the lovebirds met at Mount Bonnell, before moving into the house together and eventually getting married

Free “Fun in the Sun” in Austin Parks

The weather in Austin might be a little nasty right now, but we all know that it is usually bright and beautiful outside. One great and FREE way to take advantage of this is to start using the City of Austin parks that are scattered throughout the city. Whether you live downtown, in Westlake, West Campus, or South Congress, there is a park near you. It is just a matter of finding them.

Unknown to many, the City of Austin Parks & Recreation Department has an extensive guide to every Austin park on their website.

Some useful features found here include:

• A park directory
• The parks viewer to find the parks closest to you
• A list of disk golf locations
• An interesting history of Austin’s first parks, some more than you ever needed

Here are some of my favorite parks that I highly recommend you check out:

A view of downtown Austin from a park near Lady Bird Lake (photo by Sarah Lacy)

A view of downtown Austin from a park near Lady Bird Lake (photo by Sarah Lacy)

Zilker Park
Pease Park
Republic Square
Barton Creek Greenbelt
Bull Creek Greenbelt
Butler Park
Mount Bonnell
Red Bud Isle (*my fav)










You are crazy not to take advantage of all that the City of Austin Parks & Recreation Department has to offer us:

Today, the Parks and Recreation Department oversees more than 16,682 acres of land containing 206 parks, 12 preserves. The department currently maintains more than 74 miles of hike-and-bike trails; 117 miles of lake patrol; 172 athletic fields; and 90 playscapes. Other facilities include 17 recreation centers; 3 senior activity centers; 1 garden center; 1 nature and science. ; 1 art center; 2 party houses; 4 museums, 6 amphitheaters; 6 golf courses; 108 tennis courts; 47 swimming pools and 2 beach-front facilities.

Post by Sarah Lacy