Zilker Metropolitan Park is located in South Austin, Texas, and it covers about 350 acres of publicly owned land. This recreational park is named after the man who donated the property to the city, Andrew Jackson Zilker. The park was developed during the Great Depression in the 1930s, and today, it is one of the most famous hubs for several recreational activities. In this article, we are going to know more about the history of Zilker Metropolitan Park and the things that you can enjoy while you’re there.
The land surrounding Barton Springs was claimed by William Barton during the 1830s and used the property for his cattle ranch. However, during the 1860s, the land was purchased by the Rabb family, who used the land for their mills on Barton Creek. During the early twentieth century, a man named Andrew Jackson Zilker decided to buy a 350-acre land between Barton Creek and Colorado River, which included the Springs. Zilker took advantage of the spring water and used it in his ice-making business. In a series of payment done in 1971,1923, and 1931, the City of Austin purchased Zilker’s land; and Zilker donated the money to a trust that is dedicated to funding Austin’s public schools.
During the 1930s, the City of Austin decided to renovate Zilker’s ranch into a space for park amenities, public recreation, and several buildings with the Civil Works Administration. The City of Austin also gave Barton Springs Pool a concrete dam and created an enlarged swimming area. In 1934, the city decided to name the park as Zilker Metropolitan Park, in honor of Andrew Jackson Zilker’s donation and patron.
Things to Do and Enjoy at Zilker Metropolitan Park
- Take a Dip at Barton Springs Pool – You do not have to worry about being cold while swimming here because three underground springs located in and around Barton Springs Pool provide 68-degree water. This is a three-acre big pool, and the best part is most of the bottom of the lake is kept in its natural state. This means that if you dive down, you can see fish and turtles swimming along the bottom.
- Take a Tour at Austin Nature and Science Center – This is a great place to visit, especially if you have kids because the Austin Nature and Science Center has a Dino Pit where your little ones can enjoy digging for facsimiles of dinosaur bones. Not only that, but it is also home to several rescue animals in Austin. That is why you can see some armadillos, bobcats, fox, hawks, or owls in the Austin Nature and Science Center.
- Play Disc Golf – The disc golf course in Zilker Metropolitan Park is known to be one of the few in town with a full 18 targets made of metal basket and chains that would make a loud clink when you hit your mark. If you want to have some fun time burning off some calories, you should try this activity at the Zilker Metropolitan Park.
- Experience the Zilker Zephyr Train – This train will take you on tour throughout the park for 25 minutes. You and your little ones can take a tour from Barton Springs Pool and over Lady Bird Lake Hike-and-Bike Trail.
- Witness musical performances and other shows at the Zilker Hillside Theater – This theater offers free musical performances throughout the summer. All you have to do is spread out a blanket on the hillside and have a picnic while watching the show. You do not have to worry about bringing your kids along because they always feature family-friendly shows.
- Relax at the Zilker Botanical Garden – If you just want to relax and breathe in the beauty of nature, then the Zilker Botanical Garden is the right place for you. Here you can see a beautiful garden that has blooms all-year-round. You can relieve your stress by watching the tranquil ponds filled with koi. Aside from this, you can also learn all about gardening and see other specialized gardens such as a rose garden, cactus garden, and the butterfly garden.