July Checklist Item: Walk the Boardwalk at Lady Bird Lake
Every time I would hear about the planning and construction surrounding Austin's Boardwalk, I immediately thought of the movie Beaches and the song "Under the Boardwalk." While I am totally on board with the idea that the Hike and Bike Trail should extend as far east as possible along Lady Bird Lake, I find that we spend most of our time around the most popular section of it, the 3-mile loop that starts at the Austin High pedestrian bridge and goes east to the Pfluger Bridge.
Let's be honest: that loop is the busiest part of the trail. It can be narrow, and it's hard to keep less-spatially aware kids from standing right in the middle of the trail while runners and bikers are trying to navigate it. While it's great to feed the ducks by Lou Neff Point, spending time on the busy parts of the trail can make you feel like a cat herder and can be anything but what you'd imagine to be idyllic free time outside.
|Our view as we crossed IH-35, heading south toward the Boardwalk.|
|There are many great spots for photos along the Boardwalk trail.|
Technically, the Boardwalk begins near the Austin American-Statesman on East Riverside (see the map to get a visual of the entire length of the Boardwalk), but we chose to park just east of IH-35, near Festival Beach. It was a nice day, so there were plenty of people out the day we visited, but it wasn't hard to find street parking. The Trail Foundation has a map of all the entrances to the Boardwalk and parking nearby.
|Technically, this area was probably for residents of the apartment complex, but we stopped for a few minutes to rest our legs without anyone telling us we had to leave.|
|Austin, you so purty.|
I was shocked to see all the development along the lake's south side. I had heard about the South Shore District, but had never checked it out. New apartment buildings were nestled in between existing, smaller complexes. I could see why it would be very attractive to live right by the water and so close to downtown.
We saw signs to a food court and a stand to rent canoes, kayaks and SUPs, although we didn't check out either on our first visit. There is always next time, right?
|"The road goes on forever and the party never ends." Words from a classic Robert Earl Keen song.|
|Talk about an idyllic spot to take a break! Lakeshore Point has restrooms and a large area to sit or stretch.|
I think what struck me the most, as an Austin native visiting the Boardwalk, was that I felt as though we were in a totally different city as we were walking. Things were somewhat familiar, but slightly different. It was a different side of Austin, yet still beautiful, pleasant, expansive and new. I'm looking forward to visiting again soon.
Hours: The Boardwalk is open from 5 a.m. to midnight each day.
Boardwalk Access: The Boardwalk can be accessed at several points: the northeast corner of the American-Statesman parking lot, off the Riverside Drive sidewalk at Blunn Creek, from the northeast corner of the Riverside and IH-35 intersection and at International Shores Park, 1820 S. Lakeshore Blvd.
Parking: Street parking is available along S. Lakeshore Blvd. between Pleasant Valley Road and Riverside. Or if you are walking the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail loop, you can park at Festival Beach across the river, or at any of the parking areas near the trail.
LiveMom.com and FreeFuninAustin.com.