Monday, March 7, 2011

Hammer It Out's Guide to Zilker Park

In Austin, people do not often leave their own neighborhood. When you are from somewhere else it does not take you long to settle into the groove of your little slice of town. The one exception to this is the community park. Zilker Park is one of the most important pieces of Austin, without this sprawling green space I do not think we would have as large of an outdoor culture as we do. You could spend days exploring the park starting with the Zilker Botanical Gardens learning about all sorts of flora and fauna. The Garden is booked as a perfect backdrop for weddings year round. You can take a dip in Barton Springs, a natural feed public swimming pool. Then stroll on over to the Umlauf Sculpture Gardens to get inspired by an amazing collection from the works of Charles Umlauf.

Special events include the Kite Festival on March 6th that will have the sky filled with kites that you can learn to make at the park as well as the South Asian New Year's Festival April 9th. At the The 54th Annual Zilker Garden Festival March 26th-27th you can buy plants and art from local vendors, and hear talks from experienced gardeners about planting in Austin. Zilker Park is where you also will see the fireworks on the Fourth. Patrons of the Hill Side Theater are treated to Shakespeare in the Park, movies outdoors, musicals, and concerts. You can also visit Splash! to learn about the Edwards Aquifer. The park is also the home of the Zilker Tree which is lit during the holidays each year. It is built on a replica of one of 17 of Austin's remaining Moonlight Towers that provided light at night since 1895.

Now down to the important stuff food and beverage. Barton Springs Rd., leading out of Zilker Park, is stuffed to the brim with amazing local fare. You will first run into Chuy's and if you love enchiladas and Elvis, you and he will get along just fine. If you would like a place to sit, have a drink, and a chat, check out Flipnotics. If you need some Bar-B-Que, which I completly understand, The Green Mesquite will get you all fixed up. If you need Bar-B-Que and an awesome brew made on site by Brian Peters then Uncle Billy's Brew & Que will cure what ales you.

If only a burger will do, make a bee line to the Shady Grove which is also known for its live outdoor shows. When you find yourself dragging from all the great music and fun head into Romeo's Cafe for a big bowl of pasta. Austin Java has a little bit of everything to please a large group. You can end your day at the Barton Springs Saloon, a neighborhood bar with a great patio to watch the rest of the town go by.

-Megan Russell
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