Ah, Austin! The capital city of Texas, homes warm and friendly people, a blend of eclectic cultures, mouthwatering foods, grassroots politics, quirky characters, infectiously funky vibes, and beautiful destinations. For sure, if you are setting out a foot out to travel someplace beautiful, then the best place to go is Austin!
With so many places to go, how do you decide what and where to go? Well, on any more than 300 days of sunshine in Texas’ state capital, there is no better place than the Lady Bird Lake, one of the most redeeming, natural features of the city. This placid river separates South Austin from the rest of North Austin. You can find an array of activities to hiking & biking trails, to taking a river cruise, or doing stand-up paddleboard yoga, kayaking, canoeing, and even sculling fun is just at the beginning in the heart of the magnificent downtown Austin. No to forget that there are great local restaurants within a short distance of the lake too!
Here’s what you need to know about Lady Bird Lake:
When you reach the Lady Bird Lake, the first thing you’ll notice, for sure, is that it looks like a river. Well… that not entirely untrue. Lady Bird Lake is a part of the Colorado River that flows through downtown Austin. It was created in 1960 by the building of the Longhorn Dam. So, pre-1960s, it was known as the Colorado River. After the building was created, the name became Town Lake across Austinites.
In 2007, the name was officially changed to Lady Bird Lake, after the First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson. She helped in beautifying the shoreline and is responsible for creating the bike trails and hike trails that the people adore so much today. As of today, the lake’s primary purposes are flood control and, of course, recreation.
However, sticking with one name has always been tough on the Austinites, and regardless of what you call it, Town Lake, Lady Bird Lake, or the Colorado River, Austin wouldn’t be Austin without this glorious body of water!
Making a complete circuit around the Lady Bird Lake, the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail run over 10 miles! Also, it is one of the oldest bike and hike trails in Austin! This loop came to a finish in 2014, when one mile stretch of the paved boardwalk was added to it. Composed of crushed granites, this beautiful trail is mostly flat and makes the perfect spot to go jogging with friends or enjoy biking all by yourself!
Here’s a little inside tip: Try going early in the morning, and you can enjoy the beautiful sunrise reflecting on the lake. You will even spot some turtles sitting on the rocks!
Technically, the boardwalk is a part of the hike and bike trail, but the boardwalk has a unique vantage point and a dazzling category of its own. This part of the walk will provide you with panoramic views of the downtown skyline, making it the perfect place to linger for a magnificent sunset or sunrise view.
Here’s a little inside tip: If you feel mellow, you can always walk up and down the boardwalk without having to go through the wide stretch of the hike and bike trail. And don’t forget to bring your sunscreen!
There’s no bummer here! Austin is one of the most dog-friendly cities in the country, and surely, you’ll be glad to know that there are no restrictions to bring your dog to the park. On the waterside of Riverside Drive is the Auditorium Shores Dog Park that is a spacious area for your dogs to roam, and off-leash! But don’t forget that dogs are advised to stay out of Lady Bird Lake. To ensure the safety of your dogs, there is a trail and a fence between the dog park and the lake! No more curious dogs, only lifetime playdates!
Let’s not forget that Austin is also the perfect haven for canoes and kayaks. If you feel like you need a water trip, then there are a number of places to rent kayaks, rowing shells, canoes, and dragon boats on the lake. You can start with Live Love Paddle, Congress Avenue Kayaks, Texas Rowing Center, and the Paddle Shack! There are also a few businesses, offering special events like a sunset or full moon paddles. You will surely enjoy the lake at all hours!
Here’s a little tip: You can even play water polo from your boat!
Feel like getting out of the water, but not really? Ah! No better way than enjoying the sunset over the water and sipping a beer. These cruises also offer dinner and lunch cruises for small as well as large groups. Some local companies also have special sightseeing cruises, which is the perfect way to enjoy a quiet yet friendly evening!
One of the best features of Lady Bird Lake is the Mexican free-tailed bats. They make their home under the Congress Avenue bridge, creating such a mesmerizing sight that you are sure to cherish for the rest of your life. These bats emerge during March and November.
Here’s a little inside tip: You can witness the miracle of the bat swarm, while you sit by the lake at sunset every night! Check out our other blog where we breakdown how to watch Congress Bridge Bats in complete detail.
So, here’s a tiny list of things that you need to know when you visit Lady Bird Lake. There are tons of other things you can do while you visit this gorgeous place too!