Austin Bucket List for 2014: Zilker Botanical Garden + Austin’s “Graffiti Park” Photo Walks

bucketlist1Here at LiveMom, we put out a call to a few of our friends to see if anyone else wanted to join us on our Bucket List Adventure for 2014. The idea was to get out there and do one thing we’ve always wanted to do in Austin…about one per month. It might be with kids, might be without. Either way, we’re going to report back to you on how it went. If you go to the page with all of our lists, you can see which ones we have completed and written about.

We’re thrilled that Skye Kilaen joined us on our quest! Last we heard from her, she and her son headed downtown to check out a few art museums. This time, they headed out for some photo walk fun. Here’s what she shared about that experience:

Several years ago, Boy Detective used to steal my old point and shoot and take it for walks around the neighborhood, or even around the house. We ended up with a lot of pictures of his feet for some reason. However, we also ended up with some very cool “kids’ eye” view pictures. He loves to draw, so I thought returning to photography as part of our 2014 Austin Summer Bucket List might be a good fit.

We actually started small, in our own neighborhood, and along a couple blocks of South First street one morning, but then we were ready for something bigger.

So we headed to one of his favorite places, the Zilker Park Botanical Gardens. He was a little concerned he might drop his camera in one of the ponds, but I reassured him it was very unlikely and off we went.

What I LIKED about our photo walk at the Botanical Gardens:

1) There’s a mix of man-made and natural elements, big and small things, and lots of different colors and textures. Everyone can find something they’re interested in.

2) Even in the summer, it’s mostly shady in the morning, but with decent light for pictures.

What we DISLIKED about our photo walk at the Botanical Gardens:

1) It’s really hard to take good photos of swimming fish.

2) It’s really hard to get close enough to a bunny to take photos of it without a good camera.

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3) The mosquitoes come out at about 9:45 a.m.

At least I remembered water, though, so that was a mom win. Otherwise it would have been a very short walk.

Then I wanted a more urban option, and mused about that for a bit… until I saw a post called 6 Unique Spots for Engagement Photos in Austin on Austinite Tips. I have no plans to get engaged ever again, but I had never heard of Austin’s “Graffiti Park” a.k.a. Hope Outdoor Gallery.

Oh. My. Gosh. Y’all.

I had no idea the scale of this place from reading about it. Three stories worth of walls covered in art.

(That castle-looking thing behind it is the top of a 2-story building up the hill.)

Boy Detective was absolutely blown away by the sheer size of everything. His biggest paintings so far are maybe 1 foot by 2 feet so in comparison these murals are gigantic.

What you need to know:

If you’re going to explore this place, especially with kids, safety first! Long pants, closed toed shoes at minimum. If your younger kiddo is holding a camera while standing on walls, you might want to keep a hold of their shirt. We did not climb up past the ground level because the trails on both sides are very steep and there is broken glass. We’re planning to head back with work gloves in case we accidentally put our hands down as we climb. Or, drive around to the other side and find the street with the castle, because at the end of it, there’s a gate that lets you out at the top of the graffiti walls.

I’d also caution anyone with sensitivity to paint fumes. There are a ton of empty spray cans tossed in a dug-out down near the street. Once I knew where it was, I could keep my distance, but the first whiff was yikes!

One final note, we got there pretty early in the morning on a Sunday, but more and more people were showing up as we looked around, including a tour group on Segways. I imagine parking could get pretty tight, and it was also annoying trying to get shots without people in them. So get there early for best viewing.

And for not having your kid start complaining about getting hot in his long pants and closed toed shoes. Hypothetically.

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