Perfect Austin weather calls for a good old-fashioned family picnic! With such a bounty of grassy parks and picturesque spots in this city, Austin is practically begging us to get outside and enjoy the fresh air (especially before the hot summer season arrives). So make a plan to pack up some food, grab your favorite picnic blanket, and head out for some sunshine and fun times with the kids.
Here’s some of our picks for Best Picnic Places in Austin:
–> Zilker Park
Austinites adore Zilker Metropolitan Park! Whether your’re out climbing on the rocks, heading to Barton Springs Pool, or running around the playground, Zilker has so many great spots to choose from. Sit down and spread out your picnic with sweeping city views in the background. Zilker is a classic choice for a great day out with the kids. Park grounds are open from 5 a.m. – 10 p.m. Beyond picnics, there’s plenty to do in Zilker. Read our list of 100 Things To Do in Zilker Park.
–> Laguna Gloria
The lush grounds of Laguna Gloria will make you feel like you’ve been whisked away to Tuscany. Here you’ll enjoy the views of Lake Austin, the Italian-style Driscoll Villa, and really cool sculptures and gardens at this home to the Contemporary Austin museum and art school. The grounds are free to visit and open on Monday-Saturdays from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and on Sundays from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. If you wish to enter the Villa, admission is $5, free for those under age 18 and free for all every Tuesday (note that the Villa is closed on Mondays).
–> Mayfield Park & Preserve
Just next to Laguna Gloria, you’ll find Mayfield Park and Preserve. This often tops the lists of best parks in Austin with its picturesque gardens, cottage, ponds and exotic peacocks. But behind the gardens are short hiking trails perfect for exploring with small children. And you’ll find picnic tables located near the garden area. Park hours are 5 a.m. – 10 p.m.
-–> Mueller Lake Park
This East Austin neighborhood park across from the Thinkery includes really unique play structures with a very modern-design. Kids love to climb and slide in this fenced-in park. It’s also adjacent to a little lake where you can feed the ducks, take a stroll and spread out a picnic blanket. Park hours are 5 a.m. – 10 p.m.
–> The Texas State Capitol
The grounds of the Texas State Capitol provide a gorgeous spot for a picnic. The pretty, green, manicured lawn with lots of shady trees provides a great spot to relax and enjoy time outdoors. Kids love running up and down the hills there, too. And as a bonus, you could take a free tour of the Capitol building before or after your picnic and soak up some knowledge about Texas history and government.
–> Open Room Austin at Sand Beach Park
Near the Seaholm Power Plant is an area called Sand Beach Park, where you’ll find a long table that is part of the Art in Public Places program and was commissioned by Rosario Marquardt and Roberto Behar. Named “Open Room Austin”, it was conceived as a social sculpture and features a 24-foot-long table with a “delicate” lace tablecloth, benches, and lighting structures, all made of powder-coated aluminum. The piece has hosted various activities, such as wedding photos, parties and is a fun place for a truly “Austin-y” picnic.
–> Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
How does a picnic surrounded by the beauty of wildflowers sound? Pretty terrific, right? The Family Garden at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center also includes many opportunities for creative play with natural materials including giant birds’ nests made of grape vines for kids to climb in, a grotto with caves and a waterfall, a maze made of native shrubs, giant tree stumps and limbs for kids to climb on and more. And of course, you can take a great nature walk while you’re there. You can even stop into the Wildflower Cafe to purchase your food. The Wildflower Center is open on Mon – Sun, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Tuesdays this spring, they have extended hours ’til 8 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults and $6 for children ages 5-17.
–> Emma Long Metropolitan Park
Here you’ll find 151 picnic tables to choose from. It’s one of the larges parks in Austin with swimming spots and 68 barbecue pits. Being on the water’s edge will make your picnic even more picturesque. This local favorite does have an $5 admission charge, Monday through Thursday, and $10 per day Friday through Sunday, and Holidays. Take note that only credit cards and coins are accepted, no cash. Click here to read about out experience at Emma Long.
–> McKinney Falls State Park
If you want to head just outside the outskirts of town, you can head over to McKinney Falls State Parks, It’s a great place for hiking, camping and simply catching a break from the city. The entrance fee is $6 for adults, and children under 12 get in free. The park is open from 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.
–> Pease Park
Pease Park is home to 84 acres of green space, so there isn’t a shortage of places to sprawl out a blanket or sit down at a table with your best snacks. Here are two best spots in Pease Park: Live Oak Meadow (previously Custer’s Meadow), which is home to the cool ‘Yippee Ki Yay” Stickwork sculpture. The area is covered with tall oak trees that provide wonderful shade and gorgeous views of Shoal Creek. Park-goers can also visit Kingsbury Commons which is home to historic stone picnic tables that are perfect for a larger gathering and are within walking distance from the park’s playscape and restrooms.
Of course there are SO MANY more great picnic spots around Austin. These are just a few of our favorites!