The 416-acre (169-hectare) Lady Bird Lake, at the northeastern end of Zilker Metropolitan Park, anchors a host of outdoor recreational opportunities in downtown Austin. Locals and visitors alike hike, bike, and walk it, as well as birdwatch, canoe, paddleboard, and fish for carp, largemouth bass, catfish, and sunfish in and around this man-made reservoir once known as Town Lake.
Lady Bird Lake, along with Zilker Park, form a relaxing oasis in downtown Austin, allowing views of the skyline from a bench or something more adventurous, like a canoe or paddleboard floating on the water. There are several hiking and biking trails that zigzag through the park and two pedestrian-only bridges. Bike and kayak tours help you explore the sizeable Lady Bird Lake with assistance from a guide.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Maximize your fun by booking a tour to help you navigate the miles of trails and make the most of your time on the lake.
- Rental equipment, from bikes to boats and paddleboards are available through tour outfitters.
- It is illegal to swim in Lady Bird Lake (and has been since 1964) due to dangerous debris from bridges and dams.
- Motorized boats are prohibited in the lake.
- Bring sunscreen, and be sure to stay hydrated while on the water.
How to Get There
Lady Bird Lake runs between Riverside Drive and 1st Street in downtown Austin. You can find parking at Zilker Park, or look for street parking along South Lakeshore Boulevard between Pleasant Valley Road and Riverside. If you want to explore the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail, park at Festival Beach across the river.
When to Get There
If you want to get out on Lady Bird Lake and explore, the best time to visit is March through September, when the warmer weather makes for a relaxing day on the water. You can see the famous Congress Avenue Bridge bats from Lady Bird Lake in spring and late summer. Late June through early August is considered peak season.
Austin Duck Derby
An annual rubber duck derby takes place on a Saturday in August in Austin, when a huge loader deposits 20,000 yellow rubber ducks into Lady Bird Lake from the Congress Avenue Bridge. The event draws large crowds to the pedestrian walkways, bridges, and on boats in the water to watch the ducks bob around, making their way to the finish line.