©2006 Kaanah Nature's beauty is showcased at Zilker Botanical Gardens.

Relaxing & Unwinding in Austin

A lot of unwinding in Austin happens on the water. Town Lake is one of three lakes that are the jewels of the city: there's also Lake Austin, close to downtown, and Lake Travis, north of the city, and each offer stunning views, smooth water for skiing and wakeboarding, and plenty of places to simply hang out and enjoy the scenery.

With about 300 days of sunshine each year, it's not surprising that outdoor activities are tops on most Austinites' list of things to do to relax. The American Hiking Society named the Barton Creek Greenbelt No. 2 on its list of "top 10 top walking trails," and the Bull Creek Greenbelt in northwest Austin is another local favorite.

There's nothing quite as relaxing as a spa, and there are several notables to choose from in Austin -- whether you want a half-day of pampering, a meditative retreat, or a few days of rejuvenation.

Insider's Guide: The Best of Relaxing & Unwinding in Austin

Insider's Guide: The Best of Relaxing & Unwinding in Austin

The Crossings Austin (13500 FM 2769, near the intersection of Bullick Hollow and Volente Road), a holistic, continuing education, and healing retreat with a day spa, wellness center, has classes to feed your soul and move your body, and a setting that takes full advantage of the introspective beauty of the Hill Country. Overlooking parts of Lake Travis and just a half-hour from downtown Austin, the Crossings offers workshops with the likes of Martha Beck, David Whyte, and others, and personal retreats where you stay for as long as you want. Meals are included, and you can choose from spa services such as the hot and cold stone massage.

Austin's known for its great golf courses, such as the Twin Creeks Golf Course, (3201 Twin Creeks Club Dr, Cedar Park) designed by Masters champion Fred Couples. The Palmer Lakeside Golf Course (8212 Barton Club Dr) was designed by Arnold Palmer. The Cimarron Hills Golf Course (103 Cimarron Hills Trail, Georgetown) was designed by Jack Nicklaus.

You can also spend time at the links at Falconhead Golf Club (15201 Falconhead Blvd), America's First PGA Tour Signature Series golf course, and is open to the public seven days a week. In Round Rock, Teravista (4333 Teravista Club Dr) is another popular course. Ringed by luxury homes, Central Texas' only Troon Golf course -- known for its luxury golf amenities -- was voted No. 1 by Avid Golfer magazine for Best Service, Best Practice Facility, and Best Pro Shop.

Take in a little Austin history and still get in a good game of golf at two of Austin's oldest' courses: The nine-hole Hancock Park Golf Course (811 East 41st St) was built in 1899, and the Lion's Municipal Golf Course (2901 Enfield Rd) is the second-oldest course in Austin, built in 1928. Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Tom Kite, and Ben Crenshaw (Kite and Crenshaw are both UT grads) have all played at Lion's, which covers just 6,001 yards. Make reservations at least a week in advance; both, especially Lion's, are very popular among locals.

Take time to explore Austin's scenery and tranquil terrain with a day trip to the Barton Creek Greenbelt (2201 Barton Springs Rd). At nearly eight miles long and 809 acres, there's plenty to see. Imagine sheer cliff walls, green everywhere, and swimming holes galore, the Barton Creek greenbelt is a local favorite. If you can pull your own weight, try the Gus Fruh, Loop 360, and Spyglass access points along the trail.

The Highland Lakes are another worthwhile daytrip -- or overnight stay for true relaxation. Located about 85 miles northwest of Austin and heading in toward the city itself, these six lakes in the eastern part of the Texas Hill Country (including Lake Buchanan, Inks Lake, Lake LBJ, Lake Marble Falls, Lake Travis, and Lake Austin) are oases in the midst of rolling hills and greenery. Cyclists: be prepared for heaven -- and don't forget your wheels. Boaters, fishermen and women, and campers also will enjoy the incredible scenery; there's definitely something for everyone here.

McKinney Falls State Park (5808 McKinney Falls Parkway) is another popular Austin gem. Between stunning scenery, hidden swimming holes, camping, mountain and road biking trails, fishing and more, there's plenty to do in this 744-acre park.

The Veloway, located about 15 minutes south of downtown Austin in south Austin just off South Mopac (4801 La Crosse Ave) is another unexpected oasis of activity. Created specifically for rollerbladers and cyclists, this 3.1 mile paved loop through beautiful Hill Country is a great way to commune with nature.

Zilker Botanical Gardens (2220 Barton Springs Rd), is a relaxing place to meditate and enjoy the gardens, especially the Hartman Prehistoric Garden, located where dinosaur tracks were found in 1992, and the Green Garden, where local designers showcase native plants. Don't miss the Taniguchi Oriental Garden; it's truly a transcendental and peaceful place.

If you're not sure where to start with your Austin sightseeing, an organized tour might be just the thing. Go to the next page for our overview of organized tours in Austin. A lot of unwinding in Austin happens on the water. Town Lake is one of three lakes that are the jewels of the city: there's also Lake Austin, close to downtown, and Lake Travis, north of the city, and each offer stunning views, smooth water for skiing and wakeboarding, and plenty of places to simply hang out and enjoy the scenery.

With about 300 days of sunshine each year, it's not surprising that outdoor activities are tops on most Austinites' list of things to do to relax. The American Hiking Society named the Barton Creek Greenbelt No. 2 on its list of "top 10 top walking trails," and the Bull Creek Greenbelt in northwest Austin is another local favorite.

There's nothing quite as relaxing as a spa, and there are several notables to choose from in Austin -- whether you want a half-day of pampering, a meditative retreat, or a few days of rejuvenation.

©2006 Kaanah Nature's beauty is showcased at Zilker Botanical Gardens.

Insider's Guide: The Best of Relaxing & Unwinding in Austin

Insider's Guide: The Best of Relaxing & Unwinding in Austin

The Crossings Austin (13500 FM 2769, near the intersection of Bullick Hollow and Volente Road), a holistic, continuing education, and healing retreat with a day spa, wellness center, has classes to feed your soul and move your body, and a setting that takes full advantage of the introspective beauty of the Hill Country. Overlooking parts of Lake Travis and just a half-hour from downtown Austin, the Crossings offers workshops with the likes of Martha Beck, David Whyte, and others, and personal retreats where you stay for as long as you want. Meals are included, and you can choose from spa services such as the hot and cold stone massage.

Austin's known for its great golf courses, such as the Twin Creeks Golf Course, (3201 Twin Creeks Club Dr, Cedar Park) designed by Masters champion Fred Couples. The Palmer Lakeside Golf Course (8212 Barton Club Dr) was designed by Arnold Palmer. The Cimarron Hills Golf Course (103 Cimarron Hills Trail, Georgetown) was designed by Jack Nicklaus.

You can also spend time at the links at Falconhead Golf Club (15201 Falconhead Blvd), America's First PGA Tour Signature Series golf course, and is open to the public seven days a week. In Round Rock, Teravista (4333 Teravista Club Dr) is another popular course. Ringed by luxury homes, Central Texas' only Troon Golf course -- known for its luxury golf amenities -- was voted No. 1 by Avid Golfer magazine for Best Service, Best Practice Facility, and Best Pro Shop.

Take in a little Austin history and still get in a good game of golf at two of Austin's oldest' courses: The nine-hole Hancock Park Golf Course (811 East 41st St) was built in 1899, and the Lion's Municipal Golf Course (2901 Enfield Rd) is the second-oldest course in Austin, built in 1928. Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Tom Kite, and Ben Crenshaw (Kite and Crenshaw are both UT grads) have all played at Lion's, which covers just 6,001 yards. Make reservations at least a week in advance; both, especially Lion's, are very popular among locals.

Take time to explore Austin's scenery and tranquil terrain with a day trip to the Barton Creek Greenbelt (2201 Barton Springs Rd). At nearly eight miles long and 809 acres, there's plenty to see. Imagine sheer cliff walls, green everywhere, and swimming holes galore, the Barton Creek greenbelt is a local favorite. If you can pull your own weight, try the Gus Fruh, Loop 360, and Spyglass access points along the trail.

The Highland Lakes are another worthwhile daytrip -- or overnight stay for true relaxation. Located about 85 miles northwest of Austin and heading in toward the city itself, these six lakes in the eastern part of the Texas Hill Country (including Lake Buchanan, Inks Lake, Lake LBJ, Lake Marble Falls, Lake Travis, and Lake Austin) are oases in the midst of rolling hills and greenery. Cyclists: be prepared for heaven -- and don't forget your wheels. Boaters, fishermen and women, and campers also will enjoy the incredible scenery; there's definitely something for everyone here.

McKinney Falls State Park (5808 McKinney Falls Parkway) is another popular Austin gem. Between stunning scenery, hidden swimming holes, camping, mountain and road biking trails, fishing and more, there's plenty to do in this 744-acre park.

The Veloway, located about 15 minutes south of downtown Austin in south Austin just off South Mopac (4801 La Crosse Ave) is another unexpected oasis of activity. Created specifically for rollerbladers and cyclists, this 3.1 mile paved loop through beautiful Hill Country is a great way to commune with nature.

Zilker Botanical Gardens (2220 Barton Springs Rd), is a relaxing place to meditate and enjoy the gardens, especially the Hartman Prehistoric Garden, located where dinosaur tracks were found in 1992, and the Green Garden, where local designers showcase native plants. Don't miss the Taniguchi Oriental Garden; it's truly a transcendental and peaceful place.

If you're not sure where to start with your Austin sightseeing, an organized tour might be just the thing. Go to the next page for our overview of organized tours in Austin.