TOP 10 AUSTIN PARKS & CULTURAL PLACES

Spend the day exploring some of the city’s fascinating hidden gems.

Austin Parks & Recreation has been a steward of iconic Austin places and historic sites since 1928. While you’re visiting the Capital City, set aside a day to discover our many hidden gems, ranging from must-see museums to scenic nature preserves and diverse cultural places. We’ve put together a top 10 list to help you plan.

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  1. Pay a visit to historic Oakwood Cemetery, established the same year as the city of Austin itself (1839), and view the graves of early pioneers. Be sure to stop by the stunningly renovated, Gothic Revival-style Oakwood Cemetery Chapel Visitor Center, where you can learn about the cemetery’s history and sign up for a tour.

  2. Housed in what was once the German-born sculptress’ 1890s studio, the Elisabet Ney Museum displays the largest collection of the artist’s work in the world, including sculptures of notable 19th-century Texans such as Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston. Don’t miss Ney Day in April or Polkapocalypse in October.

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  3. Visit the Brush Square Museums, made up of the Susanna Dickinson Museum, home of one of the few Anglo survivors of the Battle of the Alamo; and the O. Henry Museum, the quaint, Victorian-style residence of the famed short story writer. Catch the Annual O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships in May.

  4. Nature lovers should head to Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve, originally an early 1900s summer retreat for the family of prominent Austin politician Allison Mayfield. Today, Mayfield Park is a beautiful public green space known for its lush gardens and vibrant peacocks. Attend Trowel & Error in April.

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  5. Spend the day exploring the 385-acre Zilker Park and two of its most popular sites. The spring-fed Barton Springs Pool, home to a historic Bathhouse, is an ideal spot for swimming and sunbathing on its grassy hillside. Then, tour the 12 different gardens of Zilker Botanical Garden, featuring butterflies, waterfalls and a recreated prehistoric dinosaur habitat.

  6. Downs Mabson Field has been synonymous with baseball and the East Austin African-American community since the 1940s. The Austin Black Senators, whose team included National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Willie Wells, played on the original stadium site. Today, Downs Field is home to the Huston-Tillotson University Rams and the Austin Metro Baseball League. Check out Downs Field’s amazing murals and catch a game. Nearby, historic Rosewood Park is located on land that was originally a homestead for local store owner Rudolph Bertram in the 1870s. Today, Rosewood Park is a focal point of the East Austin African-American community, offering a recreation center, pool, tennis courts, baseball fields and a bandstand. Join in the Juneteenth Park Celebration, held in June.

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  7. Since the mid-1800s, visitors have been ascending the stone steps of 784-foot-high Mount Bonnell to reach Covert Park and take in the awe-inspiring views of Lake Austin and the city below. Be sure to check out the restored Covert Monument, the oldest manmade feature of the park, sculpted by a stone carver in 1938.

  8. The Old Bakery & Emporium, an Austin landmark on Congress Avenue, began life as a Swedish bakery in 1876. Today, the building houses a tourist information center, a curio shop with fun souvenirs, an upstairs museum housing the previous bakery owners’ antique baking tins and giant oven, and an art gallery exhibiting works by local artists.

    exterior of historic Hezikiah Haskell House in austin texas

  9. Make an appointment to tour the storied Hezikiah Haskell House in Clarksville, a Freedom Colony established by former slaves after the Civil War. The 1879 home stands as a reminder of the community’s historic roots, and is named for former resident Hezikiah Haskell, a Black Cavalry member who served as both a Union and Buffalo soldier.

  10. Wooldridge Square, with its Classical Revival-style bandstand, has been a mainstay of Austin’s outdoor social, musical and political life since it was established as a public square more than 130 years ago. Explore nearby historic sites, including the Heman Marion Sweatt Travis County Courthouse (named for the first African-American student to attend the University of Texas School of Law), the Austin History Center (a former public library) and an 1890s moonlight tower, located at the corner of Guadalupe and 9th Street.