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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

Your Top Destinations For No-Contact Water Sports

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While it can be hard to stay cooped up inside throughout a beautiful summer, there are plenty of other places you head to for some fun in the sun before colder temperatures set in. The best news? If you’re an American, you don’t have to leave the continental US or mess with self-quarantining.

Lake Tahoe, California

A classic vacation spot, Lake Tahoe has it all for visitors. Great climate, little rain, a background of mountains, and one of the largest, most serene lakes in the US. This makes Tahoe not just a great place for spring break partying, but also for some amount of isolation, or at least a bit of peace and quiet. You can find yourself reflected on the water and reflect upon the world around you while out on the lake. Because of the still waters there, it is also a wonderful place for paddle boarding. In case you are looking for quality gear for water sports, you can look into Gili Sports.

Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

The Outer Banks of North Carolina are another classic vacation destination, especially for anyone who loves water sports. The weather remains mild in North Carolina all year round (with the notable exception of hurricane season), so it makes for an outstanding destination through any season. Kitty Hawk, famous for the Wright Brothers first flight, is an outstanding destination, as well as smaller towns like Currituck. You will find slightly rougher currents out in the Atlantic Ocean. However, paddle boarding is also popular here, as is windsurfing.

New Braunfels, Texas

The city of New Braunfels has a river entirely within its limits, the Comal River. This allows for many water sports activities, with tubing as one of the most popular choices. In these times, tubing is a popular choice, as it is a great activity for families that doesn’t involve a lot of contact with strangers. New Braunfels has a huge German influence, with its largest water park named the Schlitterbahn.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Although there is a city in Florida named Venice, the city of Fort Lauderdale is often referred to confusingly as the “Venice of Florida.” This nickname was won because Fort Lauderdale has nearly as many canals as its famous Italian counterpart. Fort Lauderdale boasts 23 miles of beach coastline, but if you add in all the city’s canals and lakes, that puts it at 300 miles of coastline. Fort Lauderdale is also a magnet for yachts, so you can paddle board or kayak past boats in the harbor you’ve only dreamed of. Summers in South Florida can swelter, but there’s also a reason that old folks go down in the winter.

Seattle, Washington

Although it is a huge metropolis, Seattle also offers some of the most pristine coastline in the country. Although it gets colder in the PNW than it might get anywhere in the southeast, the climate in Seattle stays relatively mild. One advantage of Seattle over more southern spots is its glacial lakes, which offer a beauty that few islands can replicate.

Even as the summer wanes, there are so many places in the continental US that you can get out and enjoy the water.

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Adventure Travel

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

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Trekking through the valleys of Cappadocia’s fairy chimneys with Middle Earth Travel feels more like the set of a Star Wars movie than a historical region once carved out and lived in by humans. Churches, homes and pigeon houses are scattered throughout the valleys, all waiting to be explored. The best part is, Middle Earth Travel know all the hidden secrets.

Standing at the top of Cappadocia

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

On the 26th of July (which just so happens to be my birthday!) Middle Earth Travel took us on their private and guided Top of Cappadocia day trek. From Pasabag, along the top of Cappadocia and down through the Gulludere Rose Valley to Goreme, we trekked 15kms in one day! (We recommend getting your bearings with this map)

Upon arrival to the Middle Earth Offices, we were warmly greeted by our new friend Atil whom we had met a few days earlier while mountain biking through the Kizilcukur Red Valley. We were then introduced to our guide and given a briefing regarding the day. Normally, the Top of Cappadocia tour would start from Çavuşin, however, since we had already explored Çavuşin Castle, they adapted our tour to compensate ensuring we would explore new terrain!

With charged cameras, plenty of water and our running shoes on, we were driven to our starting point of Pasabag. We wandered through the fairy chimneys, coming across camels and markets – then the true hike began.

Pasabag in Cappadocia

The police station in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

It was a slow and gentle incline. With no trees to provide shade, I quickly realised why our tour guide had chosen to wear fully covered clothing! As the sweat quickly set in (a waterfall in Moss’s case) we snapped away with our cameras and enjoyed the entertaining shapes of Imagine Valley and the amazing view. We also passed a lot of rock piles, which according to our guide mean ‘father’ and are built to help lead the way.

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Middle Earth Travel, Cappadocia

Making our way to the top of Cappadocia

Father leading the way (rock pile)

Father leading the way (rock pile)

The higher we trekked, the more breath taking the views became! As we walked along the summit of Bozdag mountain (the Top of Cappadocia) we could see EVERTHING – Pasabag, Çavuşin Castle, Kizilcukur Red Valley, Gulludere Rose Valley and Goreme. We were on the Father of Valleys! After a quick nod of agreement to the guide, we pushed ourselves the extra distance and made our way to the flag, as this HAD to be the highest point and was definitely worth a photo and a selfie or two!

View from the top of Cappadocia

View from the top of Cappadocia

Flag at top of Cappadocia

From the flag we looked down upon Aktepe Hill which is known as a popular destination for watching the sun set and could spot Kizilvadi Restaurant, our destination for lunch! Kizilvadi Restaurant is an attraction of its own. With its own historic winery and Grape church, plus some Middle Earth Travel treks even stay there for the night! After having a massive feed of soup, salad and pasta plus a surprise birthday cake, we made our way down into Gulludere Rose Valley.

Kizilvadi Restaurant

Kizilvadi Restaurant

The scenery is amazing, with strong colours visible in perfect layers on the chimneys, you would wonder what an artist was thinking, had it been a painting. Also, hidden to the side of the track we walked across a little bridge and not expecting anything to be there we were wowed by the massive church carved. It was absolutely huge and hard to believe that its most recent use has been as a pigeon house!

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Church in Gulludere Rose Valley

Hard to believe this Church is carved inside a fairy chimney!

Middle Earth Travel Review

  • The team at Middle Earth Travel were extremely knowledgeable and certainly know Cappadocia’s hidden secrets. They have friendships with local tea garden owners which is also of benefit as it gained us entry to locked churches and hidden rooms that we would not have otherwise seen.
  • We covered a lot of ground, however we did not feel rushed. The whole day focused on showing us the region, therefore we had as much time as we needed to explore each church and to take ‘just one more photo’.
  • It wasn’t all about trekking. With a whole day and 15kms to cover, there were a few silly poses (especially in Imagine Valley), and we learnt a lot about the myths, legends and way of life in Cappadocia.
  • In conclusion I highly recommend Middle Earth Travel if you wish to go trekking or mountain biking in Cappadocia.
  • Cost: Day treks with Middle Earth Travel range from 50-90 euro, depending on the number of people taking part. This includes lunch, guide, vehicle transfers and entrance fees to historical sites, but excludes alcoholic and soft drinks.
  • Middle Earth Travel are outdoor enthusiasts and offer multi-day over night treks, mountain biking, abseiling, or custom made itineraries, in multiple regions throughout Turkey.
  • www.middleearthtravel.com

Disclaimer: We were provided with a discount for the trek with Middle Earth Travel, however, as always our thoughts on our adventure travel blog our own.

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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 and they are cities on our list to visit again once the Coronavirus allows. The fact that so many beautiful countries go unexplored by travelers is a tragedy and we want to change that after Coronavirus. 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. 

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 to learn about while stuck at home due to Coronavirus:

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.

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. 

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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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