Zilker Park plays host to many Austin events each year, but even when it isn’t packed with people rockin’ out at ACL or flying kites at the longest running kite festival in the U.S., Zilker Park is a gathering place for residents and visitors alike. If you’d prefer to read about Zilker Park, the video transcript can be found below.
Greetings! I’m Craig Smyser with 1835 Realty. For many people, the back yard is a place where friends and family gather to have a great time. We’re going to visit the city’s back yard, Zilker Metropolitan Park, on this episode of Discover Austin.
Zilker Park is truly Austin’s gathering place. It covers 351 acres, mostly south of Lady Bird Lake around Barton Creek and Mopac. There is so much to do on an average day, let alone all the special events the happen here. In fact, Discover Austin has filmed five previous episodes here. The two biggest events are the Austin City Limits Music Festival in early Fall and the Trail of Lights in December. Other notable festivals include Blues on the Green during summer and Kite Fest in March.
The list of amenities at Zilker Park is long. Barton Springs Pool is simply iconic Austin. Fed by an underground spring, it’s about three acres large and up to 18 feet deep. It has an average temperature around 70 degrees and swimming is permitted all year long. It’s also home to the Barton Spring Salamander which is a protected species only known to this area.
The Hillside Theatre is an outdoor theatre with various shows and concerts that run from March to October. The best known events are probably Shakespeare in the Park and the Zilker Summer Musical. Seating is on the lawn on either blankets or low-profile chairs.
The Zilker Lodge is an indoor/outdoor event space with over 21,000 square feet designed for conferences, weddings, retreats, customer appreciation events, and more. It is operated by Austin Sunshine Camps which uses the funds to offer free overnight summer camp experiences to qualifying kids.
The McBeth Recreation Center offers year-round activities and sports to those with differing abilities.
There’s also a Disc Golf Course, Zilker Caretaker Cottage, sand volleyball courts, hike & bike trails, and a playground. The Austin Nature and Science Center provides hands-on nature exhibits, educational programs, and recreation activities for people of all ages. The Zilker Botanical Garden is a horticultural oasis full of a variety of different gardens. There are also a lot of open spaces and picnic areas. One of the Moonlight Towers is also located in here. The Zilker Zephyr was a miniature train that offered 20 to 25 minute rides through Zilker Park. Unfortunately, as we film this, the train has been removed but is expected to return in the future.
Zilker Park is named for Andrew Zilker who arrived in Austin in 1876 at the age of 18. He soon discovered that there was money to be made as an icemaker. Before too long, he owned his own ice plant. He was a successful businessman who also owned a brickyard, water supply systems, and was even the first Coca-Cola bottler in Austin. Zilker was very community-minded and volunteered in many capacities. He was one of Austin’s first millionaires and began buying land around the Colorado River and Barton Creek in 1901, amassing over 350 acres including Barton Springs. In 1917, he orchestrated a long-term deal which sold the land to the city with the funds going to set up an endowment which still exists and is known as the school-to-work program. When Zilker died in 1934, the park was named in his honor.
There’s so much to do at Zilker Park from major festivals to sitting under a tree with a book and everything in between. I’m Craig Smyser with 1835 Realty, thanks for joining me for this episode of Discover Austin. And remember, when you’re ready to buy or sell a home in Central Texas, I’m ready to help.