Most of us would say that we enjoy traveling, and when it comes to wandering around areas of the country, one of the best places to visit is a state park.
Many state parks offer the greatest views and general scenery, providing you peace and tranquility.
Of course though, America is a very large country and every state is different – and the Lone Star state of Texas is no exception.
Austin within Texas has some excellent areas to visit, and nearby you can find plenty of the greatest state parks in the country.
But where exactly do you start? What are you going to look for? What do you need to do? Luckily, we’ve got all of these questions and more answered within this very comprehensive guide.
So, if you’re hoping to visit some of the best state parks near Austin – then read on and discover everything you need to know!
We’ll kick off our list with an amazing state park that is hailed as one of the best places you can go if you’re looking for a night, or a few nights, of high quality camping.
The views and setting around the area are glorious. With beautiful trees that engulf and protect you, you can set up your tents and a safe fireplace for you and your friends or family and gaze upon the gorgeous night sky.
If you don’t have a tent or you’re looking for something a little more comfortable, you can actually rent a cabin instead.
The cabins are very good quality too and they provide brilliant shelter, warmth and comfort that many travelers would prefer.
And don’t worry, you won’t be bored at this state park. It’s near one of the most popular areas to kayak, go canoeing or go for a swim – so everybody is happy, including the kids.
If you’re less adventurous than this, you can simply sit or go fishing instead.
On top of all this, it’s situated handily near trails for some brilliant hiking opportunities, so if you’re hoping for a traditional state park with a lot to offer – then Buescher state park is the place for you!
One of the most popular and most visited state parks around Austin is McKinney Falls. As the name suggests, there’s awe inspiring views from the waterfalls and this offers plenty of opportunities for water games and sports.
Of course, you don’t have to do this. If you’re more adventurous, you could go kayaking or white water rafting.
If you’re less adventurous, you could settle for photograph opportunities or take in a spot of fishing – but you need to check with the park ranger.
This state park is well renowned for its natural beauty, particularly when it comes to Onion Creek, and there’s plenty of options for where and how to rest and indeed activities – which is especially important if you’re going with your kids.
There’s over 80 campsites around this area and some have electric and water hookups, so it’s essentially a home away from home – or you could upgrade and opt for a cabin instead for an even more homelier choice.
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons why this state park is so popular around Austin is because of how close it is to the main city.
So, families do not need to travel too far from home but they can still take part in everything and enjoy time away.
There’s cycling and hiking trails, areas for geocaching and indeed the swimming and fishing that we mentioned earlier. Lots of fun to be had here!
As you can probably tell, this state park is located in Bastrop, Texas and it’s home to the famous Lost Pines that you may have heard about before.
Yes, despite being destroyed by fires in its past, this state park has gorgeous green scenery all around.
Of course though, on top of this there is an amazing view of the lake, providing a picturesque landscape, perfect for snapping pictures or simply taking it all in.
There’s cabins around if you’re looking for a place to stay overnight, and if you’re in a bigger sized group, you can use the group barracks instead.
The next day, why not enjoy some cycling, hiking, fishing and swimming
Our next addition is a magnificent state park situated in Johnson City, which is not too far from Austin.
This state park is famous for the Pedernales river, which has a unique, beautiful color, cutting through picture-perfect scenery.
There’s also some of the most amazing beaches you could possibly hope to find around Austin, which makes this state park extremely popular among tourists.
You will find that there’s many camping areas and cabin accommodations around, so you don’t need to panic about getting some shut-eye. When you get up in the morning, you have plenty of options for activities.
You could use the water to your advantage for some fun and games, or maybe you’d prefer to throw on your rucksack and head out on a hiking trail. Whatever you want to do, you’ve got the opportunity to, right here!
Inks Lake is known for being a place of magic. Not in a fantasy sense, but the feeling you get when you see the landscape is something that cannot be explained in any other way.
The lake itself is breathtaking and when the sun is shining high in the sky, it’s one of the most popular places to visit and relax. But why settle for just being near the water when you can be in it?
There’s lots to do within the lake itself, and you can even go scuba diving! But don’t worry, you don’t need to bring all of this gear with you – there’s a rental shop nearby and you can pick up everything you need!
Situated in Burnet, if you’re the type of person who enjoys caving and discovering some ecological history – then Longhorn is the place for you.
It’s a unique experience, mysterious and sometimes a little spooky!
Not only will you enjoy this alone or with your family and friends, but you can get involved with a tour of the exhibit from one of the nearby experts.
Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to camp here, but guess what? Closeby you can stay at our previous addition to the list – Inks Lake!
If you’re hoping for an escape from the modern world, then Lockhart state park is definitely something to think about. It’s not only close to Austin, but it’s not too far from San Antonio too.
There’s a golf course here which has been a staple of this state park for nearly a century, so certainly an option for golf lovers.
If you’re not into that though, you can enjoy the swimming pool or simply take in the views and scenery of the great outdoors.
Whatever you’re hoping to do, Lockhart offers a sanctuary for a calming getaway, allowing for you to rewind and reset from the hustle and bustle of modern America.
This is one of the most breathtaking state parks you could ever dream of visiting. The Blanco river, which lends the state park its name, is one of the most unique and picturesque sights in the country.
Along with the photo opportunities and ability to view beautiful scenery, you can dive right into the water. There’s even safe, smaller waterfall areas which are perfect for little kids – so you can take the whole family with you!
As you can probably imagine, there’s lots of potential for water games, sports and activities in this state park. You can rent a boat, go fishing, diving, swimming and lots, lots more!
If you want to explore further afield, you can go camping, geocaching, hiking and cycling. There’s just so much to do that you’ll probably not want to go home!
When it comes to state parks, sometimes you can get a little disillusioned by them.
However, Colorado Bend state park is certainly a unique place to visit. There’s not only waterfalls and glorious scenery, but there’s old caves and changing landscapes.
In fact, you can get involved in a tour of these caves if you want to. You can learn so much more about the local history and geology, which is ideal for educational trips.
If you want to go a little further though, you can involve yourself in the Gorman Falls hike which has excellent views and plenty of camping areas.
In fact, these camping spots have open air showers and toilets – so you’ll be fine for the basics!
If you and your family are looking for a state park with a high focus on water activities, then Guadalupe River state park is definitely the top of your list.
The amazing setting allows for plenty of games and activities, there’s really no shortage of options.
Of course there’s swimming, tubing, diving and fishing available, but a lot of it will come down to your own imagination.
Once you’ve dried off, you can get ready for excellent other activities around the site. You can go horseback riding or hiking, or take part in geocaching if you’d like.
Whatever you’re hoping to do, don’t forget to take a moment and bask in the glory of the Guadalupe River.
You might be someone that prefers a more traditional stance to state parks, and if that sounds like you – then no problem – you’ve got Lake Somerville to choose!
This is an experience that is heavily focused on local wildlife and wildflowers, so it’s not really a place to take your kids – but it’s definitely a place to go for relaxation or a couples weekend away.
There’s still opportunities for good hiking trails, and there’s also plenty of amenities in the nearby areas, so you’ve got everything you need for a calm, collected and adult getaway.
Located within Gonzales, Texas, you’ll feel as though you’ve entered a different land here. Due to the localized tropical setting, this state park attracts lots of tourists and adventurers alike.
There’s plenty of fauna and wildlife to catch a glimpse of, and much like the previous addition to our list – this state park is much more tailored to older travelers rather than children.
You can stay in one of the many tent or RV camping spots and really immerse yourself in the nearby settings! Truly a good choice for adults.
Finally on our list, we have the most magnificent sight to see. There’s a rock that overlooks the most amazing view of the landscape, it’s one of the most perfect places to see a sunset or sunrise.
If you’re the type of person that enjoys rock climbing – then this is the place to go.
It’s one of the few state parks that offer rock climbing as an activity, and this paired with the beautiful landscape is something that is difficult to beat.
On top of this, there’s opportunities for bird watching, wildlife spotting, hiking trails and of course, camping. Bear in mind though that some of these activities might not be available if it has rained heavily!
Austin is nearby to so many amazing state parks, but with so many out there, it’s understandable that you’d need to know a lot more about your options.
We hope our list has been helpful for you to make a more informed decision. Just remember to plan ahead and take all of your vital equipment and provisions!
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