Pokémon Go???

This week I am writing about a brilliant marketing tactic done by the San Antonio Botanical gardens.  I happen to be a member.  The membership has its perks including free entrance to the Lady Bird Wildflower Center and many other gardens which are part of the reciprocal admissions program from the American Horticultural Society.  Believe it or not this actually gains you admission to Austin’s own UMLAUF Sculpture Garden.  It is worth the sixty-five dollars a year for the family.


I am sure you are all aware of the Pokémon Go craze that has recently spread across the world.  For the first time in a long time I am witnessing kids voluntarily coming out to explore the outdoors. So when I received the email that they were having a Pokémon Go night at the Botanical Gardens, I count not resist the chance to drag the family out to one of my favorite places without the usual grunts and complaints. Upon arriving we had to drive around for quite some time to find a parking place.  I was impressed by the turnout.  The garden was full with more than just flowers.  The visitors were of all ages.  After the initial surprise of seeing couples in their 60s chasing imaginary characters, I settled into the fact that this was a great opportunity to raise money for the garden and introduce others to the nature areas in our area.   As the kids were debating whether team Instinct, Mystic, or Valor was the best, another patron heard and uttered Instinct Rocks!  Of course my youngest took this as a win on his part since he is team Valor.  The best part was after all the initial rush to catch Pokémon was over, you saw families playing in the giant chess board area, lounging on the extra-large garden chairs and having conversations with each other.


After a little research I began to understand a little more about this exceptional move by the garden employees.  If your place of business happens to host a Pokéstop or Gym, you can attract Pokémon players aka trainers.  Setting out lures will bring even more characters, thereby bringing more people.  When as a garden area you have space you are bound to have a stop or gym on your property.  Why not use it to bring more people to your garden?  In my case, a wonderful way to spend a Friday night with the family in nature!  Maybe now I can get them to visit more areas around the central Texas area!  On  a similar note, my son scored a big Pokémon Go Squirtle at our counselor’s office in Austin the other day. 😉


Let’s Have Some Fun Austin!

I would like to digress from my normal tour of parks, and share some fun events that area regularly held at some of the more popular central Texas areas.  If you are looking for some ways to get the family outdoors, these are definitely for you.

Let’s face it Texas is hot! Those summer months can be brutal.  It is a great thing that there are plenty of pools in the area with natural springs.  One refreshing way to cool off is by enjoying a movies while swimming in the Deep Eddy pool. It is the oldest  man made pool in Texas.  The park host family appropriate movies usually two times a month at dusk during the summer.  Deep Eddie Pool is located at 401 Deep Eddy Avenue.  There is a fee to get in, but it is well worth the few dollars to refresh from the hot summer sun.  Who is ready for some Raiders of the Lost Ark?

Are you a car enthusiast?  Then, travel in style:  click here.  And, if the answer is yes, then this next event may be for you.  Centennial Plaza in Round Rock, Texas hosts a car show every third Saturday from 10am to 1pm.  While you are there stop in and have some of those famous Round Rock donuts in the Downtown shopping area. Talk shop with like minded car buffs, or just shoot the breeze talking about the good ole days with some local residents.  It is sure to be an event to inspire you to finally fix up that old Mustang sitting in the garage.

Now if you are looking to do a little local shopping, you may want to explore the Round Rock Market Days.  This is held the first Saturday of every month.  There is a variety of vendors in attendance each month.  You may find local artisans,  fresh farm goods, and local store set ups in attendance.  The best part is there is free admission!  This one is also held at Centennial Plaza in downtown Round Rock.

Planning a trip to the Austin area in September?  Be sure to travel the charming town of Buda, just south of the city.  This revitalized old town, holds an annual Fajita Cookoff each September.   This year it will be hosted on September 23rd and 24th.   Competing for the title of  best outdoor cook holds a long standing tradition in the Lone Star State!

A special experience, near a park we mentioned earlier, is the weekend canyon tour near Hamilton’s pool. ( Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center- 24814 Hamilton Pool Rd, Round Mountain, TX) I highly recommend this tour.  There is a fee of $5 for children, $10 for adult, or $25 for families.  You will not be disappointed as the tour winds you through a breathtaking canyon to a 40 foot waterfall.  The amazing water and bright green foliage is sure to amaze.  This tour is done weekends only.   Make sure to call ahead to make sure they are open 830-825-3442. If you take any nature tours, this is the one to put on your bucket list!

Southwest Austin

Continuing on the park and nature trails near Austin, exploration begins again in the southwest region of the city.  Another one of my favorite areas is the Wild Basin   Balcones Canyon Lands preserve area.  This area is dedicated to public education and preservation of eight federally protected endangered species in Texas.   While this park again is not available for people wanting to bring their pets, bikes, or to have an afternoon picnic, it is a wonderful place to learn more about this special area of the great state of Texas.  The area contains 227 acres of public land covered with new trails to explore.  There are many trail maps available to explore this wild and preserved area.  Make sure to stop and see the Texas Hill Country from the overlook, and no park visit would be complete without relaxing for a moment by the waterfall that comes from the natural springs in the area.  Make sure to take plenty of water for the hike!  Location: 805 North Capital of Texas Highway Austin, TX 78746.

Thirty miles west of Austin in Spicewood, Texas is one of my favorite summer swimming spots, Krause Springs.  This private park was opened in 1955 and it one of Austin’s most beautiful areas to enjoy the natural springs and beautiful cypress lined natural pool.  They also have a manmade pool which also contains the spring water.  Keep in mind the spring water is about 68 degrees year round, so if you don’t like the cold water, just sit back and enjoy the beautiful scenery. You will not be disappointed.  It is unlike any of the parks in the area.  There is a fee to use the park, since it is private property.  Camping sites are also available should you wish to stay and enjoy the area for another day.  The address of this park is 404 Krause Springs Rd, Spicewood, TX 78669.

Following the mission for conservation and preservation, make sure to stop at the Austin Zoo on your way back from Krause Springs.  The Austin Zoo is located at 10808 Rawhide Trail, Austin, Tx. 78736.  The zoo is actually a rescue and rehabilitation center.  All of the proceeds are to help animals who have been rescued.  They currently have over 300 animals and a train for the little ones.  This is a wonderful small zoo, which benefits a great cause.  They recently added additional habitats for the animals.  

If you are looking for some activities to do at Lake Travis, I recommend Mansfield Dam.  This one holds quite a few memories for me over the years.  As a teen the dam served as the major roadway across the lake. It was a harrowing journey on the two lane road if you happened to pass a semi right where the gate lifts were.  They built a much larger vehicle bridge in the mid 90s, that is far less treacherous.   For security reasons they no longer allow access to the dam, however the views of the lake in this area remain an inspiring place to spend the afternoon.  The actual Mansfield Dam park has boat launch areas, plenty of picnic facilities, and lengthy hiking trails.  Feel free to take your own path around the peninsula, as there is not heavy vegetation at the edge of the lake.  You will find shells and other lucky finds on the water’s edge.  Access will certainly vary depending on the water level, so be sure to prepare before going.  You are sure to enjoy the time near the water; it is what makes Austin such a desirable place to be.  My personal recommendation is to take the low water crossing road.  This goes across the back side of the dam.  Parking in a bit limited, but I have found this to be more relaxing than the more popular areas.  Many people fish in this area. I find this area to have more shade vegetation to sit and enjoy the scenery.   For me this area is a wonderful place to reflect back on the changes and remember the great times growing up in Austin. 

If you have the opportunity to have dinner at the famous “The Oasis” restaurant on the lake, your day will be complete.  There is nothing that can compare to watching the sun set over the lake, while enjoying world class food.  THIS is what makes Austin so great!

The Austin Scene

The Austin scene is one known for the live music and festive party atmosphere.  Its relatively young demographic and active lifestyle make it one of the top places for visitors as well as individuals looking to relocate to a vibrant growing area of the country.

Being known as an active city, outdoor activities are plentiful.  One of the less known areas for exploring the outdoors is Mayfield park.  It is located at 3505 W 35th St, Austin TX 78703, near MoPac and 35th.  The park was originally the homestead of Mary Mayfield Gutsch.  She donated the property to the city as a park in 1971.  The property has the original house and gardens on the location as well as several hiking trails.  The property has numerous lily ponds, beautiful gardens, and over 20 peacocks.  The various hiking trails wind through the wooded property and pass through flowing creeks.  You may even find an occasional fossil in the stream.  The downside is this area does not allow pets, but it is well worth it to visit without Fido.  You wil not be disappointed.

A trip to Austin for the outdoor enthusiest would not be complete without a hike to the top of Mt. Bonnell at 3800 Mt Bonnell Rd Austin, TX 78731.  At 780 feet above sea level, the view is amazing, if you can make it to the top.  It overlooks the scenic Colorado River with an incredible panoramic view of the limestone hills surrounding the area as well as the Austin skyline. Be sure to read up on the history of this place, as the legends of this location help paint the picture of Austin’s historic past. A short drive from Mt. Bonnell, you will find the area around Bull Creek.  Bull Creek District Park and Greenbelt located at 6701 Lakewood Dr. Austin, Texas 78731, is a wonderful place to spend a day.  You will find plenty of outdoor activities to be had.  The area encompasses the 11 miles that surround the creek.  There are swimming areas, waterfalls, and natural springs throughout the park.  Many rock outcrops create shade during the hot summer months for people and animals alike.  You will frequently spot an armadillo or turtle along your hike as well.   Rock climbing is a popular sport in the Live Music Capital, and you will see plenty of that happening along the rock ledges on the trail.  This expansive park will transport you away from the busy traffic of the city to a tranquil and cooling spot to relax in the hot summer sun.  Some of the areas can be quite deep so use caution if you chose to cross the creek in certain sections of the trails.  In the areas where natural springs flow from the rocks, you will see plenty of ferns growing that will remind you that Texas has quite a diverse landscape.

For a little less rustic outdoor experience, make the trip out to Emma Long Metropolitan park.  Located at 1706 City Park Rd, Austin, TX 78730, it is one of Austin’s most popular parks.  It is situated right on the bank of Lady Bird Lake (Lake Austin). This park has areas for both primitive and RV camping, as well as ramps to explore the area by boat.  There are over 12 miles of hiking trails, volleyball courts, as well as a fishing pier.  Being an outdoor city, the area is very crowded, particularly on the weekends.  Make sure to arrive early to stake out your spot.

After you have worked up an appetite from all of the nature experiences head down to The Picnic at 1720 Barton Springs Rd, Austin TX 78704 for some good eats at one of the many food truck parks found in the city. Here you can get anything from burgers, to cupcakes, to the famous Mighty Cone.  You can’t go wrong with any of the small business locations that give Austin the slogan of “Keeping Austin Weird.”








Welcome to Austin’s Best Nature Areas Blog!

Hello everyone and welcome to my website about Austin’s Best Nature Areas.  I just wanted to give you a quick shout out and to let you know to check back later as I will be adding a lot more information on Austin’s Best Nature Hotspots. Thanks and remember, Keep Austin Weird!