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The capital city of Texas, Austin, is the haven to a fascinating blend of warm and friendly people, eclectic cultures, delightful foods, grassroots politics, quirky characters, infectiously funky vibes, and beautiful destinations. Austin is undoubtedly a bucket list destination.
Nestled in the heart of downtown Austin, lies Austin’s most loved park, Zilker Metropolitan Park. This 361- acred park is known as the “Jewel in the heart of Austin,” and it is not difficult to figure out why. Home to several facilities, a variety of recreation opportunities, and special events for everyone, Zilker Metropolitan Park is a developed land crisscrossed by hike-and-bike trails.
Zilker Metropolitan Park features a stand-up paddleboarding, natural spring-fed swimming pool, beautiful sculpture garden, and magnificent views of the Austin skyline. Not to forget, you can also see the dinosaurs at the prehistoric gardens in the botanical garden! Isn’t that all your vacation needs?
But that’s not all there is to Zilker Metropolitan Park. Along with the mesmerizing view, the park has a whole lot of history attached to it. Fascinated yet? Let’s delve in!
HISTORY OF ZILKER PARK
Every Austinite has witnessed the stunning Austin skyline from Zilker Park and to many people across the globe, Zilker Park is the home to special events and fun activities. But there is more to Zilker Park than meets the eye. This recreational park is not just 361 acres of land; it is centuries of history and culture. From the lamps to picnic tables and everything in between, every element of Zilker Park has a rich history.
Zilker Park has been inhabited for at least 9,000 years. However, not much was known about the inhabitants before the 18th century when the Spanish people moved in and settled along the banks of Barton Spring’s lake. With Austin’s expansion, Zilker Park became a place where the locals would come to cool off in the cold spring waters.
Andrew Jack Zilker, a businessman in the early 20th century, bought more than 350 acres of land, which is roughly the same area as the modern-day Zilker Park. In 1917, Andrew Zilker sold the land to the City of Austin on the condition that the money earned from the sale would go to the Austin school district. Zilker gave 300 more acres of land in 1931 to the city. These lands formed an irregular- parcel shaped southwest of the city center, cradling between the Colorado River’s southern bank and Barton Creek.
Later after the Great Depression hit the United States of America, federally-funded projects helped in enhancing the park’s natural beauty, making the park a major attraction for people all around the world today.
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT ZILKER PARK
Here are some things that you need to keep in mind when you visit the Zilker Park:
Accessing The Park
The first thing that you get to see when you enter the Zilker Park is the Great Lawn, which is a huge, open field around Rock Island. Most of Zilker’s special events are held in the Great Lawn. The ABC Kite Fest, Austin Trail of Lights, free Blues On The Green Concerts, Austin City Limits, and so much more are held within the Great Lawn.
On non-festival days, people are usually enjoying the day, kids are running free, and pets are enjoying playing with frisbees. But that is just the start of it!
Zilker Park Map
To make things easier for you, here is a map of Zilker Park. Get a clear and comprehensive guide about park locations from here.
Generally, all parks are open for the public from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm every day. If the timings are changed or if the park is closed due to some maintenance, it is always posted on their website. So staying updated with every day’s news is a good idea.
Zilker Park has several parking lots. You can easily look for the locations on the map above. The fee for parking each car is $5 on weekends and holidays, from March to September.
One of the parking lots is near the Barton Springs Pool, while the other leads to the playground. Since the parking lots are small, the best idea is to arrive early so that you can secure a spot for your car. If you need to find more parking check out Austin parkopedia.
Contact The Park
If you have decided that you want to visit the park and for every kind of information, give them a call at (+1 512-974-6700). If you need to report any maintenance issue, give the park a call at 3-1-1. You can also submit your concerns online. For park emergencies, call 9-1-1.
ZILKER PARK PLAYGROUND
Zilker park’s playground is the perfect location for kids. Whether they want to slide, climb, or make music, Zilker Park is loads of fun for kids of all ages. The giant fire truck in the park is perfect for the little one to climb or click adorable photo ops.
When you turn right after reaching the playground, you can have a clear view of the Zilker Zephyr, which is just a further down. Past that is the public restroom, Barton Springs Pool, The Splash! Exhibit and the Zilker Hillside Theater.
Now turn left. You’ll see another restroom, further from which lie the stairs that lead down to the Barton Creek. You can rent canoes or kayaks from Zilker Park Boat Rentals. Canoeing a great family activity, the kids get engaged in looking for fish, ducks and sunbathing turtles. Don’t forget to click some cool photos!
There are lots of events taking place at Zilker Park at any given time!
OTHER ATTRACTIONS IN THE ZILKER PARK
Here are a few other attractions in the Zilker Park that are a must-visit!
Nestled in the midst of Zilker Park, the Barton Springs Pool is one of the major attractions. The Barton Springs Pool has been keeping the Austinites from overheating since forever! The pool stands today as the Soul of Austin.
Zilker Botanical Gardens
Promoting the love of gardening since 1955, Zilker Botanical Garden features different plants and styles, including cactus and succulent garden, a Japenese garden, a herb garden, and the most famous prehistoric garden that consists of fossilized dinosaurs!
Austin Nature & Science Center
Located in the Western side of Zilker Park, Austin Nature and Science Center has opened doors for providing hands-on exhibits for visitors of all ages! Those who are nature enthusiasts, Austin Nature and Science Center is the perfect place for appreciating the natural environment.
UMLAUF Sculpture Garden
Home to the largest collection of American sculptor, Charles Umlauf’s work, the UMLAUF Sculpture Garden is located adjacent to Zilker Park. The museum is a gorgeous outdoor display of sculptures and is a definite place to visit when in Zilker Park!
Zilker Park’s staple, the Zephyr Minature Train, is a treat for everyone! It allows adults as well as children to take a ride around the park while enjoying the stunning view. The route begins as the playground near to the Barton Pool and is a slow ride till you reach the beginning again. The breeze and atmosphere is something you don’t want to miss!
Zilker Park is one of the most loved places in Austin! Pack your bags and get ready for an undeniably good time!