This is my review of Zilker Park and�its affiliated surroundings.They did not ask me to write this and I am basing these opinions on my
experience with the area. Your opinion may differ from mine.
There is a ton of stuff to do here, especially if you have children. Start at Zilker Park (entry to the park is free). Take your children
inside Splash to learn about the Edwards Aquifer and�Barton Springs. This is a great way for children to have fun while being educated and its free. It has a hands on exhibits and child friendly
computers for them to learn from. The short movie will keep your children engaged with its sound system and presentation. After that take your children to the playscape. It is awesome, with soft
flooring to protect your child as she/he plays. They have tables where your child can figure out how sand and gravity work and other interesting things. This park has one of the nicer and more
child friendly playgrounds in the Austin area. If your child gets bored, take them on the miniature train ride through the park. (There is a fee) Children love this. In the summer the park has live
music (Zilker Hillside Theatre) at times and the kite festival. It also has Shakespeare in the park, which is great. Just sit on the lawn somewhere and enjoy. In late fall they have a haunted trail
for trick or treaters. If you want to bring your children this is great and if you don't have children you can hand out candy. Winter brings on the trail of lights. This is huge in Austin. Try to
go during the week because on weekends the cars make their own trail of lights. Christmas lights are twisted into�all kinds of Christmas designs. The first night they do the "Lighting of the Tree."
Get there early or you want be able to find a place to park.
For the adults (children, if yours can swim) Barton Springs pool is great. It is always the same temperature year round. That's because
it is fed by a spring so it never gets over 68 degrees. People swim here in the summer and the winter. In the summer it feels great when it is 101 in Texas but your body almost goes into shock when
you hit the water. This water is deep. It is over my head in most places. I am�not short either. Pay attention to your children if they can't swim. There is a lifeguard on duty but a parent is
their child's first and most important Life Guard. There is a per person fee to get in to the Pool area. Also,�sometimes you will come across someone sunbathing topless or I have even seen them
nude near the bathroom area so, if you don't want your child to see this, it may not be an appropriate place to take your child.
�Across the street, a little caddy corner to Zilker Park is the Zilker Botanical Gardens. This is beautiful. It is FREE. You may go in
and enjoy the coy ponds, fountains, and waterfalls. It is amazing to see. Take a stroll through the bamboo and take the little bridges across the ponds and streams. Don't forget to see the huge
window that looks like a key whole. It was actually in someone's home at one time. There is a rose garden and you can't forget the Dinosaur part. It has larger waterfalls and is gorgeous. It has
large dinosaur sculptures as well. Stop and rest at the top of the hill in a huge butterfly chair. You can also see the butterflies eat while you are in this area. Before you leave, check out the
old school house and small buildings. These are historical and can add a little to your learning experience. On your way out you have to stop by the herb garden. Smell the aromas of different herbs
such as rosemary and mint.
Next stop, Austin Nature and Science Center... Did you peak out into the street when you were headed back to the Dinosaur part of the
Botanical Gardens? That big gate that looks out on the street and to Town Lake (Lady Bird Lake), is the first thing you will see when you head over to the nature trail. Just head up the hill and
check out the sidewalk while you are headed up. As you can see, this is about the children. For some, this may be a hike getting up all those steps. They have a few benches along the way so take a
rest if you need to. This is an amazing place. Let the children check it all out in the exhibit room. They are allowed to touch. They can also see the pond and waterfall from the huge glass window.
Watch for turtles and things here. Then head out on the trails. Do not get off them because this place is all about preservation and you wouldn't want to destroy the foliage or flora. These trails
will take you by the water and around to the wildlife area. It is great for the kids. Check out the wildlife exhibit. Most of these animals could not return to their natural habitat and survive so
they keep them here so you can learn from them. These are not pets so do not allow your children to put their hands inside these cages. They look adorable but they still may bite. Here you will see
a coyote, skunk, a cotymundo (not sure if I said that or spelled that right) I call it a coty. There is a racoon that is adorable. More animals are there as well and you should check with the
center for feeding times if you would like your children to watch them eat. If you have children who are frightened easily you should check for sure because some of these animals eat baby chicks,
whole. Grouse! Continue on and go inside the reptile/amphibian building. Here you will find snakes, turtles, frogs, and much more. Including salamanders. Keep going like you are going to leave the
park but instead turn left when you get back through the big building. This is a great trail. If you are tired you must at least go to the start and see the birds. Here you will find hawks,
buzzards, several types of owls, and lots more. There are turtles and such in this area as well. If you are ready you can leave this part of the area and head back down to the parking lot. Watch
out for the pigions. They will do the deed on your head. They nest under all the bridges around this lake. Fishing here is great due to all the bird doo. This is the hike and bike trail area. At
least go out and cross the bridge. Your kids will love it. Watch for wildlife in and on the water. You can rent canoes and canoe the lake if you feel up to it.
Back over to the Zilker Park area. Across Barton Creek from the park is another great picnic area where the Sunken Gardens used to be. I
am not sure what is going on with this but if it is back up you should check it out. You can also walk the trail along the water and get below Barton Springs Pool here. There will be a ton of
people in the water here if it is summer. (Free area). Across the street from this is Umlauf Sculpture Gardens and Museum. If you can say it then you are doing better than me. This is a fee based
garden. It is really beautiful so if you have a little extra pocket change, check it out.
Finally, you can find great places to eat along Barton Springs road. There is also a fun put-put golf course and in the summer you can
catch free concerts on the lawn next to Sevie Ray Vaughns statue. You were going there to see the statue anyway, right? Usually concerts are on Wednesday nights. Bring a blanket an icechest full of
drinks for the kids and a frisbee in case they get bored. All set. �
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