• August 29, 2023
  • Lauren Critzer
  • 0

Unveiling Austin’s Secret Spots: Top 7 Natural Wonders to Explore

Fall in love with the Lone Star State as we take you off the beaten path to unveil Austin’s Secret Spots — the top seven natural wonders worth exploring in Austin, Texas.

1. Our Magical Oasis: Hamilton Pool Preserve

No trip to Texas is complete without a visit to the enchanting Hamilton Pool Preserve. This idyllic natural grotto owes its formation to mother nature herself. Thousands of years ago, the roof of an underground river collapsed due to massive erosion, paving the way for this magical oasis.

  • This haven is not all about swimming. Immerse yourself in the jade-colored waters under the 50-foot waterfall, letting the soothing sounds of cascading water take you on a natural tranquil journey.

  • Beyond the waters, Hamilton Pool is a sight to behold. The collapsed grotto forms an overhanging crescent, home to diverse flora and fauna. Let the magnificent rock formations and swaying large stalactites that date back thousands of years captivate your senses.

  • Hamilton Pool Preserve is a remarkable hub of wildlife creatures. Bird-watchers would be thrilled to spot the endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler among other bird species. Occasionally, you might even see a deer passing by!

Remember to assist preservation efforts. During peak times a reservation is required, so plan ahead. This way, Austin’s secret spot retains its enchanting presence for the future generations.

2. Adventure Calling: Barton Creek Greenbelt

Unleash your wild side at the verdant paradise — Barton Creek Greenbelt. This cherished public park is Austin’s breathing lung, offering a serene escape midst the bustling city life.

  • Fitness enthusiasts are in for a treat. The Greenbelt boasts 12 miles of well-maintained trails. Whether you’re a hiking or cycling aficionado, or passionate about rock climbing, the intricate trail system challenges and fulfills your wild adventures.

  • As temperatures soar in the summer, the creek morphs into Austin’s favorite swimming spot. Traverse through the trails, stumble upon hidden swimming holes, and take a cooling dip under the shade of towering trees that line Barton Creek.

  • The Greenbelt is also a picnic paradise. With the dense woods providing natural shade and limestone cliffs as your backdrop, you’ve got yourself an Instagram-worthy setting.

Revel in the tranquility at Barton Creek Greenbelt, Austin’s green jewel embodying Mother Nature’s beauty at its best. Austin’s secret spots truly don’t disappoint!

3. Urban Serenity: Lady Bird Lake

In the heart of downtown Austin, you’ll find the tranquil oasis — Lady Bird Lake. What was once an ugly stretch of Colorado River turned into a fabulous urban escape, thanks to the visionary former first lady, Lady Bird Johnson.

  • The lake is remarkably calm as motorized boats are a no-go — making it an excellent spot for peaceful canoeing, kayaking, or stand-up paddle boarding. So rent a paddleboard, kayak, or canoe and glide across the shimmering lake, enjoying a novel perspective of the cityscape.

  • The lake also boasts the beautiful Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike trail. At 10-miles long, it’s a heaven-sent opportunity to stretch your legs and capture unmissable waterfront views. Along the trail, you may catch glimpses of various native bird species and turtles basking in the sun.

  • Love fishing? Well, at Lady Bird Lake, you’re in good company. So bring along your fishing gear and engage in some catch-and-release fishing.

Embrace the peaceful setting amidst the urban hustle at Lady Bird Lake, and be mesmerized by this oasis. If you’re unveiling Austin’s secret spots, this one indeed tops the charts!

4. Find Your Zen at Zilker Park

Spanning over 350 acres, the hub of outdoor activities, music festivals, and natural beauty — Zilker Park stands as a testament to Austin’s love for the outdoors.

  • For botany lovers, the Zilker Botanical Garden is an absolute haven. Emblematic of Austin’s cultural history, the garden features diverse plant species from around the world. You’ll roam through the butterfly garden, prehistoric garden replete with dinosaur footprints, oriental-inspired tea gardens, and clean-minimalist rose gardens.

  • Need more adventure? Canoe down Barton Creek, take a plunge into Barton Springs Pool — a natural spring-fed pool maintaining a challenging yet refreshing 68°F temperature year-round. It’s a perfect antidote to Austin’s hot summer days.

  • Zilker Park caters to all. It meets the needs of kids with a miniature train ride, a playground, and a dedicated area for kite flying. Adventure-loving pups aren’t left out, either — they can enjoy off-leash areas designated just for them.

Zilker Park is an epitome of Austin’s vibrant lifestyle, an emblem of unique culture, and an undeniably magnificent part of Austin’s secret spots!

5. A Stargazer’s Paradise: Mount Bonnell

Mount Bonnell is Austin’s highest point, a classic attraction offering panoramic views of the city and the winding Colorado River.

  • Prepare for a short, steep climb up a well-maintained staircase of about 106 steps. While this might sound daunting, the promise of what lies atop is absolutely worth it.

  • Make sure to carry your cameras or have your phone fully charged. Time your visit to coincide with sunset. Perched a whopping 775 feet above sea level, the peak offers spectacular views, showing Austin under a breathtaking sunset palette.

  • This iconic spot is an ideal setting for a romantic picnic or even an impromptu proposal. The lush trees, the serene atmosphere, and panoramic views are robust ingredients for brewing love.

Despite not being a mountain, Mount Bonnell’s summit coupled with its inherent peaceful vibe offers an unforgettable experience.

6. Underground Wonderment: Inner Space Cavern

Embark on an adventure to Inner Space Cavern — a fascinating prehistoric underground cavern discovered accidentally more than 50 years ago during a Texas highway construction project. It’s among those you simply can’t miss while unveiling Austin’s secret spots.

  • Choose from three different intriguing tours to explore the cavern, each offering a unique experience. Traverse through well-lit passages, view ancient remains of Mammoth and Saber-tooth Cats, or embark on an adventurous passage taking you through unlit sections of the cavern.

  • Stand in awe of mighty stalactites and stalagmites, some even resembling familiar shapes like “The Flowing Stone of Time”, the mysterious “Lake of the Moon” and the surprising “Ice Cream Cone”.

  • The cavern is a living testament to the constant evolution of our landscape, something you’ll get to witness in real-time as new features form over time.

The Inner Space Cavern, saturated in mystery and adventure, brings you face-to-face with the forces that have shaped our planet over millennia.

7. An Emerging Hotspot: McKinney Falls State Park

Last on our list, but by no means least, this scenic and diverse beauty — McKinney Falls State Park awaits to amaze you.

  • McKinney Falls caters to different types of adventurers. There are miles of trails for hiking and biking enthusiasts. Wildlife watchers may spot white-tailed deer, rabbits, armadillos, and countless bird species. Those interested in fishing can catch largemouth bass, catfish, and sunfish.

  • Spend the night under the stars by camping in one of the many campgrounds within the park or by renting a cozy cabin.

  • Experience the soothing waterfalls that give the park its name and take a dip in Onion Creek. The falls vary throughout the year, and there is always an air of anticipation as to how they will look during your visit.

With a range of activities and beautiful natural scenes, McKinney Falls State Park promises an unforgettable Texas adventure.

Austin’s secret spots are a treasure trove of natural wonders, offering a host of activities suitable for everyone. So why wait? Pack your bags and embark on a fascinating journey unveiling Austin’s secret spots. Remember, every corner of Austin holds a new discovery, so make every moment count. The wonders of Austin await you!

Lauren Critzer

I was born in Charlottesville, Virginia and after college, I moved to San Francisco to explore new opportunities and broaden my horizons. I fell in love with the city's vibrant culture and unique atmosphere, but eventually, I moved again, this time to Austin, Texas.

As much as I loved living in different parts of the country, having a baby boy brought me back to my hometown in Charlottesville, where I now live with my husband, our little one, and two furry friends. I enjoy going to wineries, taking my pups everywhere, and spending quality time with my family.

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