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Whether you prefer pedaling among high-rise buildings of downtown, clocking fast miles on a paved veloway, exploring a gravel trail along the lake or cruising separated bike paths alongside creeks and streams, Austin’s trail system beckons. The city may be best known for its network of single-track mountain biking and off-road running trails along Barton Creek, but it’s quickly making strides with its urban trails, too.
The most prominent, the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail, circles Lady Bird Lake in the heart of downtown. On blue sky days, tourists, commuters, runners and locals, many of them with leashed dogs in tow, flock to this wide path.
Highlights? Exercise stations, quaint wooden bridges, scenic pullouts, views of logs stacked with turtles, access to Zilker Park and Barton Springs Pool, and, best of all, a 1.4-mile stretch of over-the-water boardwalk, with railings decorated with bronzed belts engraved with the lyrics of songs written by beloved musicians.
Stray a few blocks from that bike and pedestrian thoroughfare, and you can hop on the cross-town Lance Armstrong Bikeway, zip north on the Shoal Creek Trail, or head east on the Southern Walnut Creek Trail, a separated-from-motor traffic paved path that spans 10 miles and offers access to one of the local YMCAs.
Austin prides itself on its weirdness, and you can get a glimpse of that via its trails. Keep an eye out for colorful murals (the famous I Love You So Much mural adorns a coffee shop on South Congress, just a few blocks south of the Butler Trail), a larger than life statue of musician Stevie Ray Vaughan gazes over passers by at Vic Mathias Shores, and plenty of bars, restaurants and coffee shops make perfect stopping points along the way. You might even encounter the Downtown Cowboy, who occasionally moseys through the city on horseback. (We’re not kidding.)
The twisty Veloway in South Austin caters to cyclists and roller skaters who don’t want to tangle with traffic, and it’s adjacent to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, where visitors can learn about local flora and explore acres of gardens planted with native species.
Other trails and mixed-use paths provide quick, functional ways for cyclists to link trips to grocery stores (don’t miss the flagship Whole Foods store at Lamar Boulevard and Fifth Street downtown), shopping areas like South Congress Avenue and recreation hubs including Zilker Park and Barton Springs Pool.
With temperatures that can rise above 100 degrees, it’s best to avoid the summer months and plan your visit for late fall or early spring. March and April are ideal, and as a bonus that’s when wildflowers bloom, so cyclists and hikers get rewarded with fields of bluebonnets or Indian paintbrushes. Freezes are rare and don’t last long, so even a winter visit can be pleasant.
Fly into Austin Bergstrom International Airport. Capitol Metro provides bus service and limited rail service. Buses are equipped with racks to carry bicycles and they are allowed on rail cars. Ride sharing services including Uber and Lyft are available. Car2Go offers car sharing and Austin B-cycle operates a low-cost bike share system.
Cyclists must stop at traffic lights. Cyclists are allowed on sidewalks except on a stretch of Guadalupe Street alongside the University of Texas campus known as The Drag, and in the core of downtown that includes Congress Avenue.
Austin’s bike-sharing program is B-Cycle, offering 24/7 availability to bicycles throughout the city’s downtown. Visitors can purchase a 3-day Weekender Pass online (austinbcycle.com) or 24-hour access at any B-Cycle station, both good for unlimited checkouts of up to 60 minutes during the purchased period.
If flying, you’ll arrive at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS), about 6 miles from downtown. From there, the MetroAirport bus (capmetro.org/airport) is a low-cost way to reach the city center. If coming by train, the Austin Amtrak station (250 North Lamar Blvd.) is located close to downtown.
Modern full-service hotel with bars and restaurant located in heart of Second Street entertainment district.
New downtown hotel and convention center.
Historic downtown full-service hotel with bars and restaurant, located on Sixth Street, a popular entertainment district.
Interior Mexican food and margaritas located on bustling shopping strip.
Hometown southern food served up with a helping of Austin¿s vibrant music scene.
Traditional Tex-Mex restaurant located near Zilker Park and Barton Springs Pool downtown.
Home-grown bike shop located in Hyde Park area.
Downtown bike shop with service department and rentals.
Lance Armstrong¿s downtown bike shop, featuring bikes, gear, a coffee shop and training center.
Museum on the University of Texas campus that includes exhibits on dinosaurs, fossils, gems and natural science.
The city's largest and most popular park, featuring Barton Springs Pool, Zilker Hillside Theater, Great Lawn and more.
Features collections related to 36th president of the United States.
The seat of government for the state of Texas; free tours.
Museum that honors city¿s African-American history; theater, dance studio and library.
Display gardens and education center that highlight Lady Bird Johnson¿s influence on the environment.
Offers classes, arts and education related to preservation of Mexican-American culture.
Oldest building in Austin; collections include objects belonging to Alphonse Dubois and Robertson families.
The Southern Walnut Creek Trail winds along Austin's east side, traveling north from Govalle Park towards US 290. Following Walnut Creek, the paved...
The 183A Shared Use Path is a 7-mile paved path along the 183 Toll Road connecting travelers from Leander to Cedar Park. Open to bikers and joggers,...
Brushy Creek Regional Trail offers an important commuting corridor linking neighborhoods, shopping areas, and workplaces in the northern suburbs of...
The Veloway Trail is a 3.1-mile, 23-foot-wide loop trail, paved, through a quiet and secluded area of the Circle C Ranch Metropolitan Park on the...
The Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail, named for a former Austin mayor and his wife, is a natural gem in the heart of the Texas capital. The...
Although located in the heart of Austin, the Shoal Creek Trail shelters trail-goers from the bustle of the city as it meanders along the creek under a...
So far 4.6 miles of the Lance Armstrong Bikeway (Crosstown Bicycle Greenway) is complete, with additional sections planned. The trail, which is...
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For its small size, the nation’s capital is jam-packed with attractions: world-class museums, a plethora of historical sites, top-notch theaters and art galleries and a first-hand look at America’s three branches of government. And, for those who want to take it all in, an expanding network of bicycling and walking facilities connects it all.
Despite the hills, despite the rain, Seattle is a great city for walking and biking. And, thanks to the city’s infrastructure investments, it’s slowly getting better all the time. In 2016, Bicycling Magazine ranked Seattle the 5th best bike city in the U.S. WalkScore says Seattle is the 8th most walkable city in the country.
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Whether you prefer pedaling among high-rise buildings of downtown, clocking fast miles on a paved veloway, exploring a gravel trail along the lake or cruising separated bike paths alongside creeks and streams, Austin’s trail system beckons. The city may be best known for its network of single-track mountain biking and off-road running trails along Barton Creek, but it’s quickly making strides with...
To really understand why Bicycling Magazine recently placed Chicago first on their list of the 50 best U.S. cities for cyclists, it takes a look beyond the 100 miles of new protected bike lanes Chicago has added since 2015, the nearly 600 bright blue Divvy Bike Share stations and, of course, the city’s iconic Lakefront Trail.
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Towering saguaros, 115-degree summer temperatures, Major League Baseball spring-training parks: They are all signature features of Phoenix, Arizona. A bit more under the radar, perhaps, is the well-established network of trails that crisscrosses the massive urban area.
Picture year-round mild weather, miles of multi-purpose trails, one-of-a-kind sights and a mountains-to-coast terrain with small hills, short hills, large hills and long hills—all interspersed with acres of level land. If you see a pattern here—best described “perfect”—you’ve captured San Diego County’s biking and hiking scene.