One of our favorite family traditions during the Thanksgiving holiday is to take a hike or walk outdoors. 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 2pm and then go for a walk in the afternoon to work off all that food!
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.
There are plenty of beautiful parks around here to enjoy the outdoors. Visit Leander’s newest lakeside City park, Lakewood Park to enjoy miles of paved trails, lakeside picnic area and more. Read more here. The Brushy Creek Park and Trail System can keep the whole family occupied for days with miles of trails, a skate park, disc golf course, dino dig, kayaking, fishing, playgrounds and picnic areas. Fly a kite too is several expansive fields.
The rest of the weekend usually involves getting outdoors somewhere by taking a little Day Trip. We always have family in town so it gives 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.
Best Local Hikes – Right here in Cedar Park we have access to the beautiful Brushy Creek Hike and Bike Trail and Twin Creek Historic Park trail, two of our favorite places to go. See more of my picks for Best Local Hikes, like Turkey Creek Trail, St. Edwards, Riverplace and more. The Cedar Park Sculpture Garden and trail is also a nice place to take an afternoon walk.
Mayfield Park & Preserve – This is one of our favorite places in Austin to hike and take a picnic. Mayfield Park features beautiful water gardens and peacocks roaming the grounds. 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 to enjoy this scenic park with spectacular Lake Travis views. You can even see The Oasis across the lake. If you are ready to brave the chilly waters, you can take a dip from the shoreline or launch your kayak. There are several places on Lake Travis to rent boats, paddle boards and jet skis if you really want to get out there.
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. Image below is from a previous year’s Fortlandia exhibit which changes annually. Check the Wildflower Center for today’s happenings.
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.
If you have to get in a little shopping on Black Friday, head outdoors to the Arboretum to 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. Better to bring a bag of frozen peas or corn, they like that too. 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 of 360 and some large cement cow sculptures that the kids like climbing on. Get some ice cream at Amy’s or have lunch at Cheesecake Factory and browse Barnes & Noble while you are there. Pottery Barn, Game Stop and many clothing stores are there to get your shopping fix. And you can’t miss my favorite store there, Sugarboo & Co!
Outdoor Day Trips from Austin
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 meander through the many shops on the square 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 beautiful light show, Lights Spectacular, downtown with carriage rides, food vendors and other fun activities. Make it a whole day and visit some family friendly wineries too. There are a few good restaurants in Johnson City too, 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. We spend a lot of time in Johnson City because there is so much to do there! One of my favorite small town in TX. Of course Fredericksburg is nearby, so just make a whole weekend of it!
Gruene, Wimberley, San Marcos – These cute little towns south of Austin are just a short ride away and fun to walk around. The glass bottom boat in San Marcos is also a family favorite and fun for the grandparents too.
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.