Austin, Texas is by far one of the coolest cities in the US. There are so many fun things to do and places to see that even if you are a local resident, you still stumble on new places all the time. As a family photographer, it is my job to find great spots for family photos, engagement sessions, senior portraits...you get the idea. I've compiled a short list of some great spots in and around Austin for families with young kiddos. You probably don't want to be hiking up to the top of Mt. Bonnell with 2 toddlers in tow (although it is a very popular location for proposals and engagement photos). But for easy parking and easy walking plus great backdrops for photos, check out my list below.
1. Butler Park - 1000 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704
My first and probably favorite location is downtown, right behind the Palmer Events Center. The only major con for this location is parking. There are a few spots available on Riverside Drive and they are usually filled (there is a pretty quick turnover though because it's limited to 2 hours). You can also park on the other side of the park, behind the Dougherty Arts Center. As long as they aren't having an event they have quite a few parking spots available to the public. It's also not always fun driving downtown when there is a big event or festival going on, so that limits the days you would want to go here. The pros usually outweigh the cons though. It's a short little paved (great for strollers) circular walk around the park with many great spots for good photos. There's a small pond, a few piers to walk out on and check out the turtles, lots of trees and open space, and my favorite part in the summer time...a kids splash park. So much fun! You can go up to the top of the hill and get a gorgeous view of the skyline, and you can even roll down the hill if you are so inclined. ;P I love this park for the wide variety of backgrounds for your family photos, any time of year.
The best part about this park is the splash pad! If you're willing to let the little ones get soaked, I promise you will get adorable photos!
2. Mayfield Park - 3505 W 35th St, Austin, TX 78703
I have always been fascinated by peacocks, and when I need a little peacock-fix I head to Mayfield Park. Walking around the beautiful gardens and ponds and mingling with majestic peacocks is something most people don't get to do every day. There is a small parking lot that is never full (at least not whenever I've gone) and it is super close to the cottage and gardens. The walkways can be a little uneven and difficult for young toddlers, so if you have runners you may want to go on the hiking trail instead. There is a fee to have a professional photographer take your photos at this site, but if you are just going on a family outing and want great photos, you can't beat the beauty here. It may be hard to catch a peacock in your photo, but if you do, what a great bonus!
3. Old Settler's Park - 3300 E Palm Valley Blvd, Round Rock, TX 78665
If you live in north Austin or Round Rock, Old Settler's Park is the place to go for photos. It is huge! There is sooooo much to do at this park, but for family photos there are several different areas that I love. The first is super close to the entrance of the park. If you turn left into the trailer park area you will see a large open field with some beautiful trees and a perfect little barn and some other cute buildings. The lighting here is always spectacular for some reason. I LOOOOOOVE it. If you want a little rustic feel to your photos, check this place out.
If you drive down about a mile you'll pass a few cool areas, but one on the right (by the sand volleyball courts) has great parking access to a gorgeous lake. There is a paved walking path and a short walk takes you to a pretty pedestrian bridge. You can bribe the kiddos with the playground afterwards if they're good for their photoshoot! :D
4. Memorial Park - 600 N Lee St, Round Rock, TX 78664
Another great option for up north is Memorial Park. There are actually 2 parts to this park that are separated by 35, so this really counts as 2 locations. If you go to the address listed you will find easy parking and a nice little park with a paved walking path. There is a small playground and picnic area and the path follows along the water of Brushy Creek. If you walk to the end of the path you will come across a pedestrian bridge, but the sweet spot for photos is behind the bridge, down the grass to the water. Again, I always get amazing light at this location. I wouldn't suggest this area for babies, but young kiddos will love it. If you are adventurous you can get great shots in the shallow water as well.
Memorial Park (part 2) - 910 Round Rock Ave, Round Rock TX 78681
If you take 620 to the other side of 35 and go to the restaurant at 910 Round Rock Ave. (it used to be the 620 Bakery & Cafe and then the 620 Hacienda Bar & Grill but now it's currently vacant) and drive down behind the restaurant and then to your right, you will come across a beautiful little waterfall. It has gained popularity in the last few years and is usually a little crowded, but if you go in the off season you have a good chance of having the place nearly to yourselves. Even if it's crowded, you can still snag a spot for a great photo. There is ample parking and the waterfall is right there by the parking lot. Walking is not easy for toddlers and you certainly would want to be very cautious letting young kids get close to the edge of the rocks. But if you want a stunning background that's easy to access, this is where it's at!
There are a bazillion other great spots for photos in and around Austin, but these are definitely my top picks for easy access and beautiful backgrounds. Comment below if you have a favorite spot.
Stay tuned for my next post with lots of tips for how to get the best photos of your kids. The very best tip would be to hire me (haha - very subtle, huh?), but I'm going to give you tips to get great shots on your own. Click below to subscribe and get it straight to your email!