Oh, Austin. From your people to your outdoor spaces to your laid-back vibe, it’s no wonder people are flocking to our town in droves. For parents, a great way to get out of the house is by exploring parks with our kids. That said, it can be easy to go to the same parks over and over again. Why not try to mix it up and try out a new park? We’re going to highlight our favorite parks in different parts of the city. Here are our top 5 parks in central Austin:
Eastwoods Park – 3001 Harris Park Ave.
Eastwoods is tucked into a Hyde Park neighborhood and has lots of shade and lots of space to roam. There are a few shaded play areas, a trail, a creek, a place for basketball and tennis and a splash pad. The space is a real oasis you wouldn’t know about unless you sought it out. It does have parties and gatherings from time to time, but it’s never super crowded. In addition, there is a statue of one of the beloved characters from Winnie the Pooh: Eeyore. Why, you ask? This was the original site of Eeyore’s birthday party. If you visit, you should know that available parking is street parking and that it is metered.
Mayfield Park & Preserve – 3505 West 35th St.
Mayfield Park & Preserve is another urban oasis. Located right next to Laguna Gloria and close to Mount Bonnell, it’s a perfect place for a “nature break” or can be visited in conjunction with the other two. The Park’s most famous visitors are the peacocks, but there are also koi fish in the ponds, turtles and other critters you may come across on the trails that wind around the preserve. The gardens are another tranquil spot to explore. Parents of smaller children may want to take care, as there are no railings by the ponds and the footing is not totally flat along the limestone pavers around the water. Although many visitors choose to feed the peacocks, the caretakers urge you to resist doing so, in order to keep the animals healthy (they are fed). This is a great spot to snap gorgeous photos of children and a nice place to take a short, shady hike.
Northwest District Park – 7000 Ardath St.
The entrance to Northwest Park is on a small, residential street, although you can see the park’s amenities from Shoal Creek. The Park has a municipal pool that is a favorite for Austinites, with a diving board and a separate, shallow pool that is partially shaded. There are two playgrounds, one of which is almost completely in the shade. There is a pond and several fields nearby, as well as a tennis court. This is a popular spot for birthday parties, so don’t be surprised if it’s packed on weekends.
Pease District Park – 1100 Kingsbury St.
Pease is a favorite for Austinites young and old, with one of Austin’s most popular disc golf courses, part of the Shoal Creek Hike & Bike Trail, a splash pad, a huge playground, dozens of concrete picnic tables and Shoal Creek to explore. Many school field trips stop at Pease for lunch, so plan for a backup if you want a quiet picnic during the week. Parking can be tricky at times, since Pease is located in a residential area, but it couldn’t be more convenient if you need a half hour to get some outside time while you are downtown or in the area.
Ramsey Park – 4301 North Rosedale Ave.
Ramsey Park is another great centrally-located option in the Rosedale neighborhood. There is a free, neighborhood pool that’s a great way to cool off during the summer, and a tennis court to teach your littles how to swing a racket. The playground equipment was updated in 2015, complete with a irresistible-to-climb geodesic dome, and part of the playgrounds are shaded. There is a huge field that’s great for a kickball game and a few picnic tables scattered throughout the park. There is a real community vibe, so if you tend to visit weekday mornings, you may run into the same families and make a friend or two.
What’s your favorite park in central Austin?