A Little Country in Downtown Austin

By: Joe Cline

Whether you are a newcomer to Austin or a long time resident, you owe it to yourself to spend some time at the Town Lake Metropolitan Park. This hidden gem is located just outside of downtown Austin, where it hugs the banks of the Colorado River from Tom Miller Dam on the west to Colorado River Park on the east. It provides a wonderful contrast to the hustle and bustle of the city life; sort of an oasis in a busy world that's only minutes away from the downtown core.

No matter what your recreational interests are, Town Lake has something for everyone.

Organized Sports & Recreation

Town Lake Park has 17 ball fields for baseball, football, soccer, rugby and volleyball. If you like water sports, the Rowing Dock provides rentals for various types of water crafts as well as promoting the rowing club. The north side of the park features the Austin tennis courts. Also on this side of the park is the Deep Eddy Pool at Eilers Park.

Within Zilker Park, the favorite swimming hole is Barton Creek Swimming Pool; a spring fed pool over 1,000 feet long.

Trails

This park contains 10.1 miles of hiking and biking trails that either wind around the lake, or branch off to other Austin trails. One of the favorites is the 8.5 mile Tow Lake Hike & Bike Trail, complete with shaded, wide paths, washroom facilities, benches and plenty of water fountains. There are three pedestrian bridges that can be used to cross the lake on foot as well.

Entertainment & Events

The south side of Town Lake is known as Auditorium Shores, home to many concerts and large events. Many of the trails around the lake lead to lively restaurants with great food, outdoor patios and music. Also on this side are the UMLAUF Sculpture Gardens, named after famed artist Charles Umlauf; the Botanical Gardens and the Zilker Hillside Theater. The oldest professional theatre in Central Texas, the Zachary Scott Theatre, provides a wide range of productions from Dream girls to Stephen King's, Misery.

East of 1H 35 you'll find areas such as Fiesta Gardens and Festival Beach, perfect spots for large events.

Other Features

The area around Deep Eddy Pool includes rental cottages, concession stands and a ferris wheel. Town Lake is also a great place for wildlife viewing. There are resident swans, ducks and turtles. Make certain the kids go for a ride on the miniature train.

Whether you're biking, jogging, rowing, or just sitting back and soaking up the scenery, Town Lake Park is a must see.

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