Austin Picnic Spots

Guide to Austin's Best Picnic Spots

With some 16,000 acres of parks, trails and greenbelts, Austin is practically the poster child for outdoor adventures. Pack a basket and spread a blanket throughout July – which happens to be National Picnic Month – with this handy guide to Austin’s best picnic spots, compiled by the concierges at Four Seasons Hotel Austin:

A landscape artist in her free time, Concierge Daisy has high standards for what makes a picture-perfect picnic spot. But Mayfield Park, located off 35th Street in Austin’s Tarrytown neighborhood, easily measures up with two acres of colorful gardens, a historic cottage, brilliant peacocks and delicate water lilies. “A lazy lunch surrounded by such natural beauty is like stepping into an impressionist painting,” says Daisy. “You’ll wish you brought your own paint brush and canvas to capture the scene.”

If you go: Picnic tables are located near the garden area. To really indulge your inner artist, walk over to the adjacent grounds of the Austin Museum of Art’s Laguna Gloria annex, which boasts a lovely sculpture garden.

For a picturesque picnic, Concierge Steven recommends trading Austin’s urban landscape for the serene setting at Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center. Located approximately 25 minutes south of downtown, the center has two picnic areas available to visitors on a first come, first serve basis. After picnicking, walk off your meal exploring the expansive trails followed by a visit to the observation tower for a panoramic view of the grounds.

If you go: No alcoholic beverages are permitted. Closed-toe walking shoes are recommended for trails and paths. Don’t forget your outdoor protection including sunscreen, hats, non-glass water bottles and insect repellant.

If picnicking sounds about as fun as watching paint dry, up the thrill factor by bringing your basket out to Lake Travis, home to Lake Travis Zipline Adventures. Concierge Amber suggests working up an appetite hiking, climbing and zip lining from heights of 250 to 2,000 feet – all the while enjoying beautiful views of Lake Travis and the Texas Hill Country. After you get your fill of adrenaline, relax on the shores of the lake and enjoy your picnic as you soak up a little sun.

If you go: Two private beaches offer picnic facilities; one area is shaded but requires a descent down to the water, the other has full sun but is directly on the beach. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen, good walking/hiking shoes, a camera, and of course, your sense of adventure!

Sand Beach Park, located in downtown Austin, doubles as an art installation.

Sand Beach Park in Downtown Austin (Photo by Oscar Amos)

With Austin’s daylight stretching into the 8 o’clock hour during the summer, Concierge Ryan is a big proponent of turning a midday picnic into dinner outdoors. To ensure your dining time isn’t cut short, head to the table at Sand Beach Park (just west of Seaholm Power Plant), the only permanent picnic table in town with street lamp lighting.

Fun fact: the picnic table, benches and lights are actually an art installation called Open Room Austin that was commissioned through the Art in Public Places program.

If you go: For an effortless evening, pick up all your picnic fixings at Whole Foods’ flagship store at 5th Street and Lamar, an easy two-block walk away.

Sure it’s situated smack dab in the heart of Austin, but for Concierge Tommy the Texas Capitol complex offers an oasis from the hustle-and-bustle of downtown. Spread a blanket on the manicured green lawn and enjoy a leisurely picnic (and the irony that legislators are laboring away on your behalf just yards away!).

“The grounds are beautiful, almost like being in Central Park,” says Tommy. “It’s really the perfect place to lay back, have a little snack, look up at the clouds and relax as the world spins all around you.”

If you go: After you get your fill of food, fill your brain with fun facts during a guided tour of the Capitol. Free tours are conducted seven days a week (excluding some holidays) beginning in the Capitol South Foyer and concluding in the Capitol Extension.

An hour-long picnic is enough fun for some, but those looking for an all-day excursion should make a break for the Texas Hill Country. Krause Springs, about 30 miles away in Spicewood, offers 115 acres of camping sites and swimming holes, including 32 springs that feed into both natural and man-made pools. According to Concierge Liz, several idyllic spots make this locale a great place for a picnic, from the beautiful Butterfly Garden to a fern grotto with melodious six-foot wind chimes. “The sound of the breeze going through the wind chimes can easily coax anyone with a full belly into an afternoon cat nap,” says Liz.

If you go: Krause Springs has many picnic spots, including shaded or covered tables with built-in barbecue grills. If you’re looking for more than just a spot to spread your blanket, bring a tent (or rev up your RV!) since you can also camp here overnight.

Wherever you embark on a picnic adventure this summer, Four Seasons Hotel Austin can help ensure a meal to remember with a picnic basket stuffed full of sustenance. For more details and to hear the menu options, please call (512) 685-8310.

More posts from June 2013