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Outdoor Activities in Austin, Texas: Adventure City Guide

Find out what the best Outdoor Activities in Austin, Texas are with our latest Adventure City Guide. Including biking, rowing and swimming in Austin.

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Are you looking for an insider’s adventure travel guide for the best outdoor activities in Austin, Texas?

As part of our Adventure City Guide series, Carri Uranga from CarriUranga.com shares with you her expert insider tips on the top adventure and outdoor activities to do in Austin; including how to get there and costs.

Austin, Texas from Lady Bird Lake

Why visit Austin for adventure?

Often, when people think of Texas images of cowboys, guns and George W. Bush come to mind. They may not realize Austin, considered by many to be an oasis within the vast state offers not only a vibrant music scene as South by Southwest (called simply “South by” by locals) conference has become one of the most important music, film and interactive festivals in the world, but there’s also quite an extensive list of outdoor activities to be had in the Lone Star State.

Outdoor Activities in Austin, Texas

Town Lake Trail

In the heart of the city just South of downtown surrounding Lady Bird Lake.

The Town Lake Trail offers a scenic 10-mile loop for runners, cyclists and walkers of all shapes and sizes – athletes training for triathlons to groups of stroller Mom’s (or Dad’s). There’s plenty of water stops along the way to combat that Texas heat; even a few that are specifically designated for your pooch.  Parts of the trail are shaded and you’re never far from the city should you decide to stop off and have a refreshing beverage of some sort. Part of the trail is paved while some is gravel therefore rollerblading is not recommended.

Bike rentals can be found on the northeast side of the lake at Waller Creek Boat House which is where you can also get info regarding kayak and stand up paddleboard rentals.

If you are interested in rowing lessons contact Austin Rowing Club while Texas Rowing Center is open at 6am daily and also has canoe, kayak and SUP rentals.

Morning Rowing

Insider’s tips:

From March – October about a million bats call downtown Austin home underneath the Congress Street Bridge which connects downtown to the vibrant nightlife of SoCo (short for South Congress). A real treat is to watch the bats emerge at dusk from a kayak on the lake!

Parking for the Town Lake Trail can be found under the MoPac Bridge close to Austin High School.

Parks of Austin

The most popular park in Austin is Kilker Park and for good reason. This 350-acre park is host to Austin City Limits music festival in October as well as a plethora of activities. The Town Lake Trail goes through the park, therefore running and cycling already mentioned are favorite activities, but since the park offers wide-open spaces you’ll also find Frisbee tossing, kite flying and pick-up soccer games. Close by is Barton Springs – a man-made recreational swimming pool fed by the fourth largest spring in Texas. The water is clear and warm with temperatures staying between 68-72 all year.

Bike rentals can also be found on this side of the lake at Barton Springs Bike Rental or better yet, Austin Bike Tours and Rentals will actually deliver a bike right to your door complete with locks, helmets and maps!

Another man-made, but natural spring fed pool is the Deep Eddy Pool also close to Zilker Park.

Insider’s tip: Deep Eddy offers a few lanes if you are looking to actually swim laps.

Less crowded than Town Lake and Zilker, Pease Park just northwest of downtown is popular with University of Texas students as well as disc golf enthusiasts again due to the big open spaces. There’s also a walking path, volleyball and basketball courts and plenty of picnic spots with grills.

Zilker Botanical Gardens in Austin

Mount Bonnell

About a 10 minute drive northwest of downtown and 780 feet above sea level is Mount Bonnell – offering incredible views of the surrounding hills and Lake Austin.

A short, but steep jaunt up limestone stairs make for an excellent place to watch the sunset. While the walk isn’t quite long enough to make for an all out hike, there are plenty of winding roads, hills and beautiful houses to look at if you want to make Mt. Bonnell a beginning and ending point for a longer run or walk. Parking is available at the base of the hill.

Regardless of your opinions of Lance Armstrong, his plush downtown store Mellow Johnny’s is an excellent resource for events, rides and gear. There’s also a coffee shop inside complete with snacks and Wi-Fi.

Boasting 900 miles of bike lanes and paths by 2020 Austin has far surpassed the typical Texas stereotypes. Adventures by day, live music by night and delicious Mexican food in between, it’s no wonder Austin continues to top the “best of” and “most livable cities” lists.  Best time to visit is October through May to avoid the extreme heat.

mtbonnell

Bio:

In 2006 Carri and Chris sold their house in Vermont, most of their possessions, gave away a car and traveled in Central & South America for 1 year, hiking, biking, surfing, eating and drinking their way through this amazing and beautiful land. It was during this journey Carri decided to get certified to teach Yoga.

Her passion for Yoga and travel has led her around the world teaching in Peru, Italy, South Africa and working as a volunteer at Ibiza Yoga. She now leads her own Yoga Teacher Training courses with Drishti Yoga International in Mexico, India, Peru and Italy. Find out where Carri will be next on her blog, CarriUranga.comDrishti Yoga site, and on Twitter.

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Kristy of Family Visa

    August 7, 2013 at 1:47 AM

    I’ve never been to Austin Texas but if ever I will go there I will try rowing because it looks fun to do although I am not good on paddling. Maybe I can do this together with my friends who are more active in doing physical activities such as this one.

    • Carri Uranga

      August 9, 2013 at 1:14 PM

      I’d like to try rowing myself Kristy! It looks so peaceful and serene especially early morning when the lake is quiet. Almost could be like a moving meditation. I’ve rowed a lot in gyms and have done lots of kayaking & canoeing. It’s surprising how much leg power rowing takes. Everyone assumes arms, but remember this formula – legs, body, arms…repeat!

  2. Darla

    August 7, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    Looks like a great place to go for a run! I’ve never been to Austin myself but I’ve had a couple of friends absolutely rave about it. The lakes and parks looks really beautiful and I would love to go for a swim in that spring fed pool!

    • Carri Uranga

      August 9, 2013 at 1:18 PM

      This post doesn’t even reflect all the other great aspects of Austin Darla! In addition to the great running, the parks, lakes and natural pools the music scene is awesome and don’t even get me started on the food…that’s a whole ‘nother story!

  3. Eric

    August 7, 2013 at 5:58 PM

    What Carri says is making me miss the beautiful city of Austin! I spent 2 years living there, and hope to eventually return someday. The Texas hill country in general is fantastic, and Austin is a gem right in the middle.

    • Carri Uranga

      August 9, 2013 at 1:25 PM

      No doubt Eric! I’m so lucky my Mom lives there now so I get to visit twice a year. There’s so many cool things to do just outside of Austin too…Wimberley, Fredericksburg, Frio River, Kerrville…sounds like a great motorcycle road trip to me, but that’s probably too tame for Ride Adventures, eh?!

  4. Jemma

    August 9, 2013 at 3:55 AM

    I often go on vacation in order to relax. Now this inspires me to be more active and adventurous next time. 😉 The Pease Park is my favorite because sometimes we really need time to be away from the city. Thanks for sharing some tips here.

    • Carri Uranga

      August 9, 2013 at 1:33 PM

      I stay pretty active on vacation Jemma, but it’s my hobby so it comes natural for me…plus I eat and drink a lot too! 🙂 Ever heard of that phrase “Guy-et”? That’s me, but even when I go for a quick 25 minute run I feel fantastic! These parks I mention are all like little Oasis within the city…speaking of Oasis…that’s a great place overlooking Lake Travis, but that’s not exactly adventure so it didn’t make the cut. That will have to go on the eating & drinking list 😉

  5. Marian

    August 12, 2013 at 8:34 AM

    Nice post, awesome pictures, Never thought Austin will be this beautiful.. I love Kayaking…

  6. Austin Texas | Kevin

    August 12, 2013 at 11:00 PM

    Glad you enjoyed Austin. Sure, it gets hot during the summer, but it sounds like you beat the heat. There are really some great outdoor activities to do and it sounds like you hit some of the better ones.

  7. flipnomad

    August 14, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    I’ve never been to Austin and this post makes me want to visit. Looks like a nice city.

  8. April

    May 6, 2014 at 11:24 PM

    Wow! I love this plave. I am a fan of outdoor adventure and my husband and I used to travel to different cities and just explore everything especially under the sun but we’ve never been here in Austin, Texas and we can’t wait to check out this place. We can maybe bring our 2 kids here too to enjoy the place and the adventure. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Carri

    March 8, 2015 at 2:00 PM

    @FlipNomad, Marian & April – Hope you get there one day! I’ve been able to get there about twice a year these last couple years…always a fun time!

  10. Tara

    March 9, 2015 at 2:22 PM

    So we are thinking of heading down to Austin from Vermont for the music festival in the fall. Are there campgrounds in and around Austin? Great post. Makes me want to head down there now and get away from the snow and ice…

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Adventure Travel

The Best Destinations For Sun, Splendour, And Sightseeing

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Whilst an explorer should be seeking eye-opening experiences on his or her travels, there’s no denying that a healthy dose of sun helps to make the adventure a little more enjoyable. There are heaps of cold destinations (Greenland, Russia, and even England) that are visually stunning and a lot of fun to explore, but we’re going to talk about some of the hotter places on the planet that have a lot to offer in terms of sightseeing. You might as well have the perk of sunshine and warm weather whilst you’re exploring the world, right? After all, there’s no reason as to why you can’t relax during a big excursion. That being said, you need to find some destinations that meet all the criteria we’ve mentioned. If you’ve no idea where to go on such a travelling experience then you should check out these top destinations for sun, splendour, and sightseeing.

California, United States.

California fits the bill perfectly when it comes to a place that promises endless sunshine and a lot of things to do. There are many beautiful places to visit in the U.S. that promise sunshine and adventure, but this state is a common favourite for both domestic and international travellers. And there’s good reason for that – we’ll prove it to you. First of all, no tour of this gorgeous state is complete without a visit to Los Angeles. The city of L.A. is unlike anywhere else in the world. You should start by exploring Hollywood, as it’s something that everyone should do once. You’ll get an intriguing look into the world’s most famous films and actors behind the veil – and the Hollywood Hills are worth exploring for a look into the natural beauty surrounding this area. But once you’ve seen the intriguing truth of this surreal place, you should head into the heart of L.A. You’ll feel as if you’ve entered a different world. Whether you head to sunny Venice Beach or the busy downtown area, there’s so much to do. Find the Grand Central Market if you want a quirky L.A. dining experience; there’s often live music to go with the food. And this is only one city of many to explore in the sunny state of California. Make sure you had to San Francisco too.

Victoria, Australia.

If you want a real adventure in one of the sunniest places on earth then you need to visit Australia. It’s a huge and incredibly intriguing country with desolate uninhabited areas and dense cities that are heaving with people and things to do. The land down under finds the perfect balance when it comes to a destination that promises both natural beauty and lively culture. Whether you want to explore vast unexplored wilderness or a glitzy modern city, Australia has it all. The state of Victoria in the south-east is definitely the best place to start your journey, though. You should head to the Great Ocean Road for a journey that’s both scenic and historically relevant (the road is the world’s largest war memorial). You’ll get to see the Twelve Apostles along the way (ginormous limestone stacks that have become an iconic landmark in their own right) and the bewilderingly beautiful towns of Port Fairy and Portland. You’ll even have the opportunity to see whales and other fantastic sea life if you pay attention to the ocean at your side.

But the natural side of Victoria is only the very surface of what this state has to offer. You can expect sun and sweltering wherever you go and whatever you do in this massive state, but you probably want a little more than that out of your adventure. After all, you’ve travelled to such an exciting part of the world. This isn’t any ordinary beach holiday. You should head to the city of Melbourne if you want to see the vibrant and lively side of this state. The capital city boasts such a powerful modern-day and historical culture. You should visit The State Library of Victoria and head into the La Trobe Reading Room if you want to see both mesmerising architecture and a fascinating place. The Princess Theatre also boasts sublime architecture and a whole heap of wonderful performances to enjoy once you step inside. Once you’ve had your fill of culture and entertainment in Melbourne, you should definitely try some of the fantastic cuisine that the city has to offer. Check out www.vamos.net.au if you like the idea of eating at a tapas bar in Melbourne’s theatre district. This is just one example of a dining establishment that is influenced by cultures from around the world. The point is that Melbourne is one of the most fascinating places to visit in the state of Victoria. If you want a diverse and extensive experience of Australia with the perk of near-permanent sunshine then this is the place to go.

Barcelona, Spain.

You can’t explore the sunny cities of the world without visiting Barcelona. It’s not only a sunny and vibrant city – it’s a sunny and vibrant Spanish city. The culture that pours out of every building is part of what makes this city such a beautiful place to visit. As explained over at www.traveller.com.au, the work of Gaudi is part of what makes Barcelona so stunning. This famous Spanish architect designed so many of the unique aspects of the city. In fact, La Sagrada Familia is a gargantuan church that he designed and it’s still being built today (nearly a century has passed since his death). As suggested over at www.tripadvisor.com.au, you might want to take a private tour of the city if you want to get a full experience of the place.

The Kruger National Park, South Africa.

Whilst it’s not a continent that tourists explore as extensively as some other regions of the world, Africa boasts a lot of natural beauty along with sweltering heat. And the country of South Africa is definitely a fascinating place to visit if you’re looking for an enriching and educational experience combined with the chance to see some visually awe-inspiring sights. The Kruger National Park, in particular, is one of the most beautiful locations in the country. We’ve discussed it before, but it’s worth discussing again. If you want to see stunning animals in their natural habitat then this is the place to go. There’s something about seeing cheetahs, giraffes, monkeys, elephants, and many other stunning creatures in their natural habitat that fills you with a sense of elation. It’s an incredible experience.

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Adventure Travel

Tips That Will Help You Make More of Your Trip To Thailand

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Are you thinking of taking a big trip to Thailand this year? If so, you need to learn a bit more about what you should do and what you should expect when you eventually get there. There’s something for everyone in Thailand; it’s that kind of country. But making the most of it and knowing the key attractions and ways to spend your time is important, so read on to learn about this and more.

 

Remember, You’ll Get Further When You Smile 

Manners matter a lot in Thailand, and there are certain things you should never do. Pointing at people with your foot is seen as a sign of disrespect, as is touching another person’s head. So make sure you don’t do that. You will probably notice that Thai people smile a lot, so you should do the same. Being positive and smiling when you meet new people will help you go a lot further.

Explore the Markets and Don’t Forget to Haggle

Markets are a big deal in Thailand, and experiencing them for yourself is something you won’t forget. There are the conventional markets that are very loud and busy, and there are also floating markets that are navigated by boat, as you can see below. Whichever type of market you visit, soak in the atmosphere and don’t forget to haggle because it’s expected of you.

Sample the Street Food, But Do So Carefully

Street food is abundant in Thailand, and it can help you to get a taste of the real thailand by eating what the locals eat. As you walk through the streets, the smell of the street food will hit you first, but before you tuck in, make sure you take care and eat safely. Seek out food that has been cooked freshly in front of you and not the food that’s been left sitting around.

Find Time to Relax and Slow Down

Thailand can be a fast-paced and overwhelming place to visit, but you can’t let it get the best of you. If you want to experience the country to the max, you need to find time to relax and slow things down a little. The Shiva Samhita is a classic Thai text on yoga, so maybe you should take some inspiration from it and find time to do some yoga. You’ll find plenty of courses there to help you.

Don’t Miss the Nation’s Many Beautiful Temples

Thailand’s temples are not to be missed. Anyone who’s interested in religion, spiritualism or beautiful architecture can’t help but be astounded by the temples that are found throughout Thailand. No matter what point of the country you find yourself in, you’re sure to find incredibly buildings like the one you can see below. So make time to see as many of them as you can.

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Adventure Travel

Tips for Your First Caravan Adventure

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If you have decided to take your first caravan adventure, you will no doubt be excited about experiencing your first trip. Caravanning is an experience unlike any other. You will get to have a holiday that is filled with fun and freedom. However, to make sure that this is the case you need to plan for your trip effectively. With that in mind, read on for some top tips for your first caravan adventure.

Decide whether to buy or hire a caravan – The first thing you need to do is determine whether you are going to rent a caravan or whether you are going to buy one. Needless to say, there are pros and cons associated with both options. You may be wondering how much do caravans cost to buy? Of course, this all depends on the make and model you go for. Nevertheless, if you do buy a caravan, you will be putting your money into something that you get to keep. With renting, a lot of people feel like they are throwing their money down the drain because they have nothing to show for it in the end. Plus, if you buy a caravan, you will be able to go on a caravan holiday whenever you feel like it. On the flip side, renting a caravan may give you access to a luxury model that you otherwise would not be able to afford. Furthermore, this is a much more affordable route to go down. After all, not everyone may have the funds to buy a caravan outright.

Make a checklist – Once you have chosen the best caravan for your adventure, you then need to make a checklist of all of the things you are going to need for your vacation. Obviously, you are going to need a towing aid. However, you also need to make sure that this is right for your caravan. Other essential items you require for your trip include an insulation tape, a spare fan belt, extra oil and coolant, towing mirrors, a sway control device, caravan jack, wheel chocks, and a fire extinguisher.

Make sure that your caravan is secure and safe – Once you have gotten all of the essentials that you need, you will need to make sure that your caravan is safe and fully prepared for being on the open road. The best thing to do is write a checklist (yes, another one!), which states all of the things you need to do before you depart for your trip. Some of the checks that you need to carry out include checking that you have fitted the towing aid correctly, as well as ensuring that any loose items, including drawers, are secure, as well as the doors and windows being locked. You also need to remove the jockey wheel and wheel chocks, as well as raising the steps to the caravan. Finally, make certain that the tyres are properly inflated and that the lights of both your caravan and vehicle are operational.

Be prepared for confined spaces – One thing that will definitely take a bit of getting used to is confined spaces. There are two types of confined spaces. The first is dealing with parking and getting into confined spaces. This can take a little bit of getting used to, but you will soon be fine. The second is the confined space of the caravan itself. Your first caravanning trip will be very exciting, but it can be a test for you and your partner. After all, you may have never been in such a confined space before! You will need to try and give each other space (yes, easier said than done in a limited space!) whenever it is needed. Regular stops and working as a team can be the key to this.

Have a set-up routine – Another way to make everything run smoothly while caravanning with your partner is by having an established routine. One of the best ways to do this is by having a practice run. No, you don’t need to go across the country in your caravan for a practice run! You can just take a short journey to get a feel for everything. This will give you a good understanding of your vehicle so you can best prepared to navigate it and deal with any issues if something goes wrong.

Take a course – Last but not least, the final tip is to do things properly if you are serious about caravanning. While this can seem like a bit excessive, there are a number of courses out there that offer tips on caravanning for beginners. This may seem unnecessary, but the practical and theoretical advice you will gain can be especially beneficial, and it will boost your confidence. Another option is to get your caravan specialist to check your rig before you set off your journey. However, if you are going to be caravanning a lot, going for the former option is probably better advised.

As you can see, there is a lot to plan and consider when it comes to your first caravan holiday. Nevertheless, if you follow the advice that has ben provided above, you should find the whole process a lot easier and a lot of fun too. From choosing a caravan with care to making sure it is safe and secure, these are all steps that can make a massive difference in terms of the safety of your trip and the enjoyment that you have.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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