One of our favorite family traditions during the Thanksgiving holiday is to take a hike or walk. Or as we say in our house, take a Turkey Trot. In the morning, in between preparing the turkey and sides, we watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV, followed by the National Dog Show. We usually eat lunch around 1pm and then go for a walk to a park in the afternoon. If we don’t feel like driving, we walk to Milburn Park or take a quick drive to Brushy Creek Lake Park.
Admittedly, on Friday we avoid Black Friday shopping. Instead we opt for the great outdoors and save our shopping time for Saturday when we try to support local businesses on Small Business Saturday. Check out these local Small Businesses you can support too. REI has made a national movement of this by being closed on Black Friday to encourage people to get outdoors.
The rest of the weekend usually involves getting outdoors somewhere by taking a little day trip. We usually have family in town so it give us a reason to explore new areas or take them to our favorite places. Here are some ideas of things we have done in the past of you want to make it your tradition too.
Arboretum, Austin – Feed the ducks and walk the Arboretum trail. Park on Arboretum Blvd next to the duck pond. The hungry ducks, fish and turtles are fun to watch. Many people feed them bread, although I’ve heard that it’s not good for them. Just behind the pond are the steps that lead up to the Arboretum shopping area. It’s pretty steep and uneven for the less agile, but there are hand rails. At the top there is a great view and some large cement cow sculptures that the kids like climbing on.
Turkey Creek Trail – Fitting trail to hike on Thanksgiving weekend. Turkey Creek Trail starts just outside the entrance of Emma Long Park. It’s a pet friendly trail too. You can also go into Emma Long Park, with paid admission, and dip your toes in the Colorado river. There is a playground there too.
Mayfield Park & Preserve – This is one of our favorite place to hike and take a picnic. Mayfield Park features beautiful water gardens and peacocks. It’s a unique Austin treasure tucked away in the center of Austin. The hiking trails on the 21 acre preserve meander through rocky terrain and under the canopy of large trees. Next door to the preserve is Laguna Gloria, an art museum and school on the lake. The outdoor sculpture garden is a wonderful place to take a stroll. Check their website for holiday hours.
Bob Wentz Park – Enjoy the scenic views of Lake Travis from Bob Wentz Park. Pay a small park fee and take a stroll around the park and lake.
Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center – No matter which time of year you go to the Wildflower Center, there is always something new to see. Whether it’s the changing art exhibits, new merchandise in the store or the ever changing seasonal displays of over 650 Texas native plant species, there is always something new to discover.
Austin Views – There are two fun hiking spots to take out of town guests for some Austin photo ops. Park just before the Pennybacker Bridge on 360. There is an entrance for a hiking trail that leads to the cliffs above where you can get a spectacular view of the river and bridge. Another place to get great views of Austin is at the trail at Mount Bonnell Park.
Georgetown – The Georgetown Square makes for a nice stroll and it’s close to home. Feel like you are on a mini getaway as you stroll the many shops and try several very good restaurants.
Johnson City – Johnson City is about an hour an a half away from Austin. During the Holidays they have a very nice light show downtown. There are a few good restaurants, East Main Grill, Bryans on 290 and Pecan Street Brewery. Visit the Hill Country Science Mill Museum, shop antique stores or go on a safari at the Exotic Zoo Resort. There are also many great wineries in and around Johnson City. We spend a lot of time in Johnson City because there is so much to do there.
Gruene, Wimberley, San Marcos – These cute little towns south of Austin are just a short ride away and fun to walk around.
San Antonio River Walk – If you are up for a drive, the River Walk is always a great place to take out of town guests. If you want to get some shopping done too, there is a nice mall on the River Walk and also just north of town is a beautiful outdoor mall called La Cantera.