Spring has sprung! And during these magnificent days, where shall we take the kiddo(s)? With all the amazing green space and proper park planning that Austin has done, this decision can actually be quite tricky. But no worries, I’ve gone ahead and narrowed it down to a few parks worth checking out, based on very specific criteria, obviously.
Favorite Austin Parks:
GREAT SPOT FOR SWINGERS:
- NORTH: Champion Park @ Brushy Creek — those puppies have long chains, and you can really perform a great underdog.
- SOUTH: Garrison Park has stellar swingage happenin’. Lots of open space to run and frolic about too.
- CENTRAL: Pease Park has too many swings to count. Some are here, some are there. And this beauteous park is getting a facelift, too, so more swings are sure to come.
- SURROUND: (Round Rock) Joanne Land Playground can be described in one word: ‘YAHOO!’ This place is fairly new, awesomely designed and it has crazy amounts of swings + a zip line!
- Runner-Up: (Georgetown) Creative Play has bucket swings, cradled swings, big-kid swings. They’ve got you and your minion covered in the swinging department. Added bonus, I brand new playground is being installed just down the trail toward San Gabriel, and it looks like they’re going to have some dazzling swings too.
SHADY IN A GOOD WAY:
- NORTH: Katherine Fleischer is a great shaded park for kids of all ages. Just don’t forget your bug spray, the mosquitoes like this park too!
- Runner-up: Springwoods Park has 3 separate play areas, loads of shade and even a .7 mile long trail if you feel like running away for a brief moment (just kidding?).
- SOUTH: Circle C easily takes the cake. And an added bonus? There is a Starbucks nearby!
- CENTRAL: Ricky Guerrero. Parking can be tricky, but this splash pad (turned on in May) and the fields are a great place to stay cool.
- SURROUND: (Cedar Park) Olsen Meadows is very shady, which is good when you’ll need coverage for squatting to pee (public bathrooms are located .2 miles away)
BATHROOMS THAT WOULD MAKE A GERMAPHOBE SMILE:
- NORTH: Rattan Creek Park + Robinson Park are both in Rattan Creek subdivision, and whomever is responsible for their cleanliness needs a medal and a cookie.
- SOUTH: Wildflower Center is a sure winner. Go with a member and get in for free! All the other South Austin playgrounds are questionable when it comes to flushage, TP situations and odor.
- Runner up potties: Circle C Metropolitan Park and Mary Moore Searight have their ‘S’ together (pun intended) 75% of the time.
- CENTRAL: West Enfield Park has only 2 stalls, but they are well maintained.
- SURROUND: (Pflugerville) Northeast Metro Park has pristine potties—perhaps this is because very few people know about this amazing wonderland.
BEST PLACE TO CRUISE:
- NORTH: Sports Park @ Brushy Creek has multiple skating ramps with one being super low grade for the littlest of riders.
- SOUTH: Dick Nichols has a .7 mile loop that is completely paved. This means your minion can’t get too far ahead without having to pass you again.
- CENTRAL: Eastwoods Park has some newly paved walkways and they cover a lot of ground.
- Runner-up: Pease Park has a couple slabs of concrete that are nice and smooth. However, they’re often covered with fitness peeps doing burpees, so you may want to avoid all that nonsense just to be certain you’re not put to work.
- SURROUND: (Round Rock) Play For All Abilities Park is ahhhhmazing for biking and scootering (or for any wheeled mode of transportation really). There is a decently sized, paved track for toddlers to mosey along or race if they’re feeling froggy.
CAGED-IN (AKA ENCLOSED):
- NORTH: Springwoods Park isn’t completed enclosed, but 3 of the 4 sides of the park are surrounded by housing and apartment complexes, so the only open space to wander would be off onto Anderson Mill. NBD.
- CENTRAL: Clarksville Park is relatively enclosed, and it offers plenty of room to roam at the same time. We really love the sunken splash pad, which makes it trickier for new-crawlers to escape the water fun in the summer months!
- SURROUND: (Round Rock) Play For All Abilities is completely enclosed, and it even has escapee-proof gates! However, the park is so large that you may feel overwhelmed and lost yourself. Take your xanax (if that’s your gig).
- NORTH: The Domain playscape near Maggiano’s allows for window-shopping and people watching galore. We rather enjoy the very squishy and bumpy surface of the froggy play area too. #TactualLearning
- SOUTH: Dittmar Park has an amazingly high tower on its playscape allowing for some major sightseeing to be done all from one spot.
- CENTRAL: Central Market near Lamar & 45th always makes for an eclectic crowd. That, and it’s fun to see all the fun things people buy at the grocery store.
- SURROUND: Lake Park @ Brushy Creek has a very active nearby trail. It’s fun to ‘shop’ athletic attire without spending a cent.
FOR RIDDING YOURSELF OF STALE BREAD:
- NORTH: Mills Pond — seems as though the duckies expect to be fed. That, or they’ll goose you.
- SUPER SOUTH: Stagecoach Park in Buda is worth the drive if you want to see all kinds of wildlife. Across the street is a very large pond and a super fun playscape, too, if you get tired of Stagecoach (not likely).
- CENTRAL: A short cruise from Zilker Park and you’ll score some close encounters with swans and ducks of all kinds. (Woode Wood’s free cliffside music is quite nice too)
- Runner-up: Mueller’s Lake Park has a plethora of ultra-friendly geese that are willing to take anything (and EVERYTHING) off you.
- SURROUND: (Pflugerville) Lake Pflugerville is full of ducks, various other birds and fish. It’s also a really great spot to satiate a need for the beach when you can’t get away.