There are very few U.S. cities that offer residents a huge green oasis in the middle of the city. Fortunately for us, Austin is one of them.
Town Lake (also known as Lady Bird Lake, or so I am told) and the associated Town Lake Trail offers Austinites and visitors walking and biking trails from just over a mile to almost 7.25 miles. The trails are wide, and most of the route meanders along next to the lake (which looks like a small river to me, but hey, I’m not from around here!) Wildlife is sparse, but there are swans, blackbirds and tons of butterflies.
Most of the path is shaded, which is critical given the summer temps around here. Parking is hit or miss at several locations, but if one area is filled you’ll only have to go a short distance to the next on-street parking or off-street lot. Most of it is free, too…another plus.
If you want to head out onto the water, there’s a boat rental here, offering canoes, kayaks and boards, plus lessons for the uninitiated.
There are lots of restaurants within a few minutes walk of the trail, so many people finish up their taste of nature with a taste of something more er, um cooked?
Pets are welcome and pretty much equal the number of people on the Town Lake Trail, but they must be on leashes and you must pick up their poop to avoid lake contamination. (Yes, there are trash cans, but bring your own bags.) Off-road strollers do well here, although I have seen people with regular ones, too.