Austin Parks

Austin Parks and Recreation, Cultural Places, & Natural Spaces


Park Locations in Austin, TexasWhen we think of Austin, we tend to think of ACL Music Festival, Texas Longhorns, and the nationally acclaimed 6th Street. While all of these things are fantastic, there is still one more thing Austin is known for that hasn’t been mentioned: the city’s parks and recreation. Whether you want to swim in the crystal clear water at Barton Springs Pool, or catch a performance at the Dougherty Arts Center, Austin has it all. Parks not only improve our quality of life, but they greatly improve our home values.

Austin Park Locations:

Austin Nature and Science Center

Committed to the discovery of the natural world, Austin Nature and Science Center (ANSC) has been providing nature exhibits, education programs, and recreation resources for children and adults since 1960. ANSC is the perfect spot if you are looking for hands-on educational exhibits and recreational activities. From the Dino Pit to the Wildlife Exhibits, ANSC increases awareness and appreciation of the natural environment in visitors of all ages. Located on the western edge of Zilker Park, Austin Nature and Science Center is a one-of-a-kind place to visit.


Barton Springs Pool

Known as “the crown jewels of Austin”, Barton Springs Pool is 3 acres in size and stays at a constant temperature of 68 degrees year-round. This spring-fed pool has been around for several decades and is known for the diverse crowds it attracts. From topless sunbathers to state legislatures, Barton Springs Pool is appreciated by everyone. The pool is open every day of the week from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. except for Thursdays when it is closed for maintenance. There is simply no other way to beat the heat of Austin summer’s than swimming at Barton Springs Pool.


Zilker Botanical Gardens

Located in the heart of Texas’ capital city, the Zilker Park Botanical Gardens are magnificently endowed by nature with handsome trees, natural grottoes and aquatic features that have been integrated into a design of spectacular beauty and tranquility. The Zilker Park Botanical Gardens allows visitors to escape into their stunning featured gardens, including Taniguchi Japanese gardens and a Butterfly trail and garden. The gardens are open from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and all ages are welcome.


Zilker Hillside Theater

Home of the Summer Musical, the Beverly S. Sheffield Zilker Hillside Theater is located across from the one and only Barton Springs Pool. Since, the first production of the Summer Musical in 1959, audiences continue to gather every summer to be captivated, engaged and entertained at the Zilker Hillside Theater.


Zilker Metropolitan Park

Considered “Austin’s most-loved park“, this 351-acre park is home to a variety of recreation opportunities and special events for individuals and families.


Recreation Centers

Austin currently has over 20 recreation centers located throughout the city. The Parks and Recreation Department offer a wide variety of programs at these centers for Austinites of all ages. Programs at the recreation centers include arts, dance, fitness, card games, table games, gymnastics, tiny tots, boxing, karate, team sport leagues, after-school programs, day camps and a lot more. Click here to view a map of all recreation centers to find one near you.


Dougherty Arts Center

The Dougherty Arts Center (DAC) with its three programming components- the Dougherty Arts Center Theater, the Julia C. Butridge Gallery, and the Dougherty Arts Scool- is an award-winning cultural arts center. The DAC attracts a broad audience by providing a wide variety of visual, performing and digital arts experiences. Whether you are looking to catch a show in the DAC Theater, check out the Julia C. Butridge that is home to numerous art exhibits created by local Austin artists, or take an art class offered by the Dougherty Art School, the DAC can bring out the creativity in anyone.


Elisabet Ney Museum

In 1892, European sculptress Elisabet Ney purchased property in Austin, and started a studio and portrait collection called Formosa. At the turn of the 19th century, Formosa became a gathering place for influential Texans drawn to the sculptress and to the inspiring discussions of politics, art and philosophy that took place there. Following the death of Elisabet Ney, her friends, and those she influenced decided to preserve her studio establish the Texas Fine Arts Association in memory of her. The museum now offers a range of educational programs, exhibits, special events, workshops and lectures.


Emma S. Barientos Mexican American Cultural Center

The Emma S. Barientos Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC) is enthusiastic to share with visitors the preservation, creation, presentation and promotion of Mexican American cultural arts and heritage. The MACC currently offers guest numerous exhibits, classes, and programs that are all geared toward creating awareness and appreciation of Mexican American, Native American, Chicano and other Latino cultures.


George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center

The George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center is dedicated to the collection, preservation, research and exhibition of African-American historical and cultural material. This museum offers guests gallery exhibits, programs, classes, theatre productions and a genealogy center. The George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center is home to the Boyd Vance Theatre which has served countless audiences for a wide-range of events from dance performances to City meetings.


Joseph and Susanna Dickinson Hannig Museum

Located on east 5th street, the Joseph and Susanna Dickinson Hannig home is over 100 years old. The mission of the Joseph and Susanna Dickinson Hannig Museum is to preserve the home and legacy of Battle of the Alamo survivor Susanna Dickinson, and to celebrate Texas’ historical heritage by providing programs and educational resources to the citizens of Austin and its visitors. The museum is open from noon to 5 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday.


O. Henry Museum

The O. Henry Museum presents visitors with a look into the life of William Sidney Porter during his Austin years leading up to his controversial prison term. The museum offers group tours that aimed at providing visitors with information about the author and his transformation into the famed short-story writer.