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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

Tips for Planning Your Uluru Tour

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Located in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the magnificent sandstone of Ayers Rock or Uluru stands tall at 1,142 feet above ground. The natural formation is widely known for being one of the most sacred places to the indigineous peoples in Australia. At the same time, it is also popular for attracting tourists from all over the world to the land down under.

If you want to visit Uluru in order to pay tribute to this wonder of nature, then doing so through the right tour is in your best interest. It’s not only because Uluru is located at least a few hours from civilization, but it also because such a tour allows you to enjoy the picturesque sights that come along the way within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

So what sights are there to see along the way and what other general tours suggestions you should keep in mind while visiting Uluru? To help you answer these and some other important questions, here are 5 top tips to keep in mind while visiting Uluru.

Don’t Climb the Monolith

First things first, while it is legal to climb atop Uluru, it is recommended that you do not attempt such an action in order to show your respect to the indigenous peoples.

It is a pretty easy rule to follow when you pay attention to the emotions of the indigenous tribes who have recommended time and again for people to not climb Uluru.

But that doesn’t mean that you cannot enjoy the natural beauty that Uluru has to offer. In fact, you are encouraged to visit the sandstone and take in its natural glory by standing right beside the formation. That’s why 4WD tour is highly recommended. The tour guides would be able to tell you what you can and can not do.

Visit During Sunset

Ask anyone who has visited Uluru about the best time to see the formation, and you will instantly get the answer as “sunset.”

It’s because Uluru is not an ordinary monolith, but one that is formed through arkosic sandstone. This allows the rock to actually change its color according to the position of the sun. As a result, you can expect the formation to sport a different color depending upon what time of day you reach it.

At sunset, Uluru projects an amber glow that is surreal to take in, especially when you are seeing the formation in person for the very first time. That’s why, it is recommended that you time your trip in a way that allows you to experience this magnificent sight.

3. Take Your Time to Plan the Trip

Perhaps the best way to visit Uluru is through the nearby town of Alice Springs, which has various amenities and accommodation options for tourists who are making their way to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

The drive from Alice Springs to Uluru can take around 5 hours, which is why it is recommended that you arrive at least a day before you are planning to tour Uluru.

This way, you can reach the national park while feeling fresh and rested. This also gives you time to plan longer trips to the park in order to enjoy all that it has to offer.

4. Take in the Sight of the Rock Art

Uluru is not just a wonder to look at by itself, but it also holds several little pieces of wonderful art within it.

The caves at the bottom of the formation hold several pieces of rock art that can only be found at Uluru. If you love learning about other cultures through their art, then this will be a must visit.

Just make sure that you take the time to learn about this art through a local tour guide or via the information provided within these exhibits. This ensures that you have an immersive and informative experience which you can remember for a long time.

5. Don’t Forget the Natural Attractions Around the Rock

Enjoying the breathtaking sight of Uluru sounds rewarding enough for a trip to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. But it’s not all that you can do during a tour of Uluru.

From seeing the red kangaroos and other marsupials to spending some time with the camels, and from seeing the one of a kind formations of Kata Tjuta to taking a walk by the Valley of the Winds, there’s so much to see and do around Uluru.

That is why, it is recommended that you take your time at the park and put aside at least two days to enjoy all of the unique activities that the area has to offer. It would give you a well-deserved break from the hustle and bustle of daily life while also allowing you to make the most out of your long journey to the sandstone.

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Adventure Travel

Best Time to Visit Panama and Costa Rica

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The fact that Costa Rica and Panama are close makes both countries perfect for visiting. During your holiday there, it’s easy to travel back and forth between the two countries and enjoy all the wonders they have to offer. Keep in mind that the timing of your holiday will influence what sorts of sites you can visit and what activities you can make part of your plans. By understanding a little about what to expect, it’s easy to determine the best time of year to visit both countries, based on what you would like to do.

Learning More About the Dry and Rainy Seasons

If you’re the type who prefers the hustle and bustle that comes with holidays during the tourist season, plan on being in Costa Rica and Panama during what’s known as the dry season. Expect plenty of sunshine and warm weather during this part of the year. Many of your activities will be outdoors, although you will find a number of indoor sites that you will want to include in your plans.

The dry seasons in both countries overlap. The dry weather for both typically arrives during the first to the middle part of December. In Costa Rica, the dry season usually lingers until sometime in April. Panama enjoys a slightly shorter dry season, with it usually ending sometime in March.

Keep in mind that since this dry period is the height of the tourist season, the cost of visiting from December to April will be higher than at other times of the year. Even so, if your plans include spending a lot of time exploring the rain forests or soaking in the rays on one or more of the beautiful beaches, the dry season is the only time to consider.

Making the Most of the Dry Seasons

During the dry season in both nations, do expect the weather to be more humid and the day temperatures to be a little higher. There is some variance depending on which regions you plan on visiting. As a general rule, locations nearer the coast will include warmer weather and higher levels of humidity. By contrast, the more mountainous areas will offer slightly cooler temperatures and lower humidity levels.

During this time, do plan on enjoying the lush greenery found in the rain forests. During much of the dry season, the abundance of rain from what’s known as the rainy or green season ensures that the forests are at their best. Consider adding some variety to your holiday by spending time at the beach, soaking in the nightlife along the coast, and doing some shopping at many of the open air districts. This is also the perfect timing to enjoy some of the local cuisine while dining outside.

There are special events to celebrate during the dry season. President’s Day in Costa Rica occurs during this period. Along with locals, you can enjoy a number of celebrations, open-air festivals, and just about any type of entertainment that one can imagine.

Since the dry season does attract more tourists, it pays to book your lodgings in advance. Along with President’s Day, there’s also spring break and the Easter Season to consider. While you could look at different hotels and other properties near beaches, there are also hostels that make perfect places to sleep. After all, how much time do you plan on spending indoors when there’s so much to do?

Things to Do During the Rainy Seasons

In spite of the name, it isn’t always raining during the rainy or green season. Most days, there will be brief periods of sunshine that do allow you to spend some time at the beach and other outdoor venues. Do expect the evenings to be cooler. At times, the temperature may make wearing long sleeves or possibly a sweater a good idea.

Even if you’re out and about while it’s raining, there are plenty of things to see. Towns and cities in both nations offer indoor concerts, a number of restaurants catering to all sorts of tastes, and clubs and other settings for entertainment. You will find museums that will tell you more about the history of indigenous peoples and the complexity of their cultures.

What are some of the activities you can enjoy during this time of year? Both Costa Rica and Panama offer options to go horseback riding. Generally, this will happen during the morning when the sun is most likely to be out. Walking tours are also a great way to learn more about the culture and possibly find some interesting places that you will want to return to a little later. Don’t overlook the opportunity to get in some fishing when there’s a sunny morning coming your way. There are changes to engage in freshwater fishing as well as charter boats that will take you to some of the better places to enjoy salt-water fishing.

Coffee and rum tours are also something to consider during the rainy season. These tours allow you the opportunity to see different facilities and how they produce their products. As a bonus, you get to enjoy some taste-testing at many of the places that you visit along the tour. Some of the sites will also have bistros or restaurants included, allowing you to enjoy a nice meal or snack with your coffee or rum.

In terms of museums to visit, San Jose offers some of the most interesting museums in Costa Rica. Many of them are located in or adjacent to what’s known as the Central Market. It’s a great way to enjoy time indoors during the rainy afternoons and early evenings.

In Panama, check out the Panama Canal Museum in Casco Viejo. You can make use of headphones that offer the guided tour in multiple languages. If you happen to be proficient in Spanish, feel free to check out each exhibit on your own. You can also check out the Biodiversity Museum, which features exhibits on the over 1,000 species of animals and plants that are found in the country. Make the most of the discounts offered on Sundays. Retirees also get to enjoy discounts when visiting these museums.

Which season is the best time to visit Costa Rica and Panama? It’s really up to you. For those who prefer a slower pace and don’t mind rain during the afternoons and evenings, the raining season is ideal. Those who thrive on activity, sunshine, and plenty of tourist activities will enjoy going during the dry season. Whatever your choice, plan on coming back a second time. It’s rare for anyone to see everything they want to see during a single holiday.

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Adventure Travel

Most Underrated Travel Destinations

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Everyone knows about Paris and Rome and London but there are so many other beautiful travel destinations that are amazingly underrated. The fact that so many beautiful countries go unexplored by travelers is a tragedy. Not only because so many people are missing out on rich cultures and picturesque views, but also because a lot of these destinations tend to be a lot cheaper to travel to than popular cities. 

A majority of Americans, when asked about traveling abroad, will likely shake their head and say they can’t afford such trips. Many people deal with multiple monthly bills, such as mortgage or rent, student loans, and title loans, which are all stress inducing. 

But what a lot of people don’t know is that there are gorgeous, underrated foreign cities one can visit for a fraction of the price of touristy European cities. Forbes recently published a collection of the ten most underrated destinations you should consider visiting. 

Here are a few of them:

Yerevan, Armenia

Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, is known for its magnificent sights of Mount Ararat, historical monasteries, and its many striking temple ruins. Armenian cuisine is other worldly with classic dishes like rabbit stew, sautéed eggplant rolls, and lamb tartare. 

Telč, Czechia

Telč is a colorful town with Italian influences in Czechia. It boasts of Baroque-Renaissance architecture and has a castle of its own with exciting tunnels and passageways that you can explore underneath the town.

Santiago, Chile

Santiago is the capital of Chile and features gorgeous architecture from the neoclassical era. There are towering cathedrals and, of course, plenty of quality Chilean wine. Plus, the city of Santiago is a great place to kick off your exploration of Chile’s wine country. 

Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Rotterdam is often ignored due to the popular neighboring city of Amsterdam, but it is a bastion of underground music and street art. The architecture is strikingly modern since the city was heavily bombed during World War II and thus had to be rebuilt from the ground up. The city is filled to the brim with amazing cuisine and museums.

Lagos, Nigeria

If you are looking for a big city destination, Lagos is a metropolis that has plenty to see and do so that you’ll never be bored. And whenever you need a break from the urban marketplaces, private beaches are just a short drive away.

Con Dao, Vietnam

Con Dao is a Southeast Asian island that makes an excellent beach destination with two resorts and tons of fascinating history. Once host to a brutal French prison, the island is also home to the tomb of the Vietnamese martyr Vo Thi Sau. 

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

This is one of the oldest cities in Uruguay dating back to the 17th century. The city has a vibrantly decorated historic quarter and a three-century-old convent. It’s also only a short trip away from the bigger city of Montevideo.

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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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