Zilker Park in Austin, TX is the city’s largest public park and recreational area located just southwest of Downtown Austin near the juncture of the Lady Bird Lake and Barton Creek. Zilker offers over 350 acres of public land.
Named after Andrew Jackson Zilker, who donated the land to Austin in 1917, the property was developed in the 1930s to create a variety of outdoor recreational activities for residents and visitors alike. The large park makes it an excellent place for large-scale events like the Austin City Limits Music Festival, Blues on the Green, and the Zilker Park Kite Festival.
History of Zilker Park
In the 1830s, William Barton claimed the land around Barton Springs, which included the land that eventually became Zilker Park. Back then, the land was primarily a cattle ranch. In the 1860s, the land was acquired by the Rabb family who used Lake Austin and Zilker Park land for milling. Shortly thereafter, Andew Jackson Zilker, the namesake, purchased the 350 acres near Barton Creek and Lady Bird Lake to use the spring water for his ice making business.
For the most part, the land remained undeveloped. Over the years, Andrew Zilker sold off sections of his plot to the City of Austin, eventually selling off everything by 1931.
The city then began developing the ranch land, creating public spaces for a variety of recreational purposes, including damming and enlarging Barton Springs Pool, creating walking paths, and more. Since then, the City has continually developed Zilker Park offering more amenities, including a massive dog park, statues for local heros, baseball fields, pedestrian bridges, and more.
Zilker Park Amenities
Zilker Park offers something for everyone, from children to adults.
One of the most popular amenities is Barton Springs Pool which is a year-round attraction. This unique water feature is fed by an underground spring that keeps the water a frigid 68 degrees year-round, which is great in the summer. During the colder winter months, you’ll still find avid swimmers taking the icy plunge.
The Zilker Botanical Gardens are another major attraction that feature a wide array of garden scapes along 26 acres of the the south shore of Lady Bird Lake. You’ll find a succulent garden, Japanese garden, herb garden, butterfly garden, and more.
Last but not least, the Zilker Dog Park is a popular hangout for dog lovers. This on-leash dog park features lots of open space for dogs and owners to play fetch, take dips in Lake Austin, and more.
Additionally, park goers will find three picnic sites, the Zilker Payscape, five volleyball courts, the Disc Golf Course, and much more.
Special Events at Zilker Park
Zilker Park is home to some of Austin’s biggest events. Annually, there is the three day Austin City Limits music festival that regularly has more than 150 performing musicians that extend from country, hip-hop, rock, and folk music. The festival has brought in as many as 450,000 fans because it covers such a rich variety of music genres. A local event featuring Austin-area artists, Blues on the Green, is also hosted at Zilker Park during the summer months. It’s a free concert that includes artists like Gary Clark Jr., Los Lonely Bows, Bob Schneider, and more. It’s a beautiful way to spend the day hanging out in a park atmosphere with friends and family. Bring your lawn chair, blanket, umbrella, your children and dogs.
Below is a complete list of prominent Zilker Park events: