When it comes to photography, Austin, Texas, offers a plethora of picturesque locations.
This hilly green city in the center of Texas is innervated with flowing creeks and winding lakes, giving it a lush natural beauty which may not be expected by newcomers who imagine Texas as a desert. Austin’s “lakes” are actually dammed-off rivers, winding through the rolling green hills.
From urban landscapes to serene natural settings, the city’s diverse scenery provides countless opportunities for stunning photographs. This list will showcase 8 gorgeous places to take pictures in Austin, Texas.
Places to take pictures in Austin:
1. Mount Bonnell (Covert Park)
Nestled directly above Lake Austin, Mount Bonnell is a classic Austin view. The hike to the summit takes only about 5-10 minutes and follows stone steps with a hand railing straight up to the top.
It might be a bit steep for some, but the reward is a breathtaking panoramic view of both Lake Austin and the 360 Pennybacker bridge on one side, and Downtown Austin on the other.
There are also trails along the ridge line with several more spots to admire the vast landscape.
2. Pennybacker Bridge (360 Bridge)
Austin’s Pennybacker Bridge, colloquially known as the 360 Bridge, offers an iconic view of the Hill Country.
Driving southwest on Loop 360, you will see a line of cars on the side of the road directly before the Pennybacker Bridge. There is a trail directly next to this lot that takes you to the top of the cliffs.
Perched high above Lake Austin, this location is perfect for both day and nighttime photography. You may want to bring a tripod to this location to take long exposures of the roadway.
With a view facing southwest, the sun sets every evening over the winding lake. atmosphere after sundown, while the rolling hills and cliffs surrounding the bridge make for an unforgettable daytime vista.
This location is known to have occasional break in’s so avoid leaving valuables in your car.
3. Butler Park
Butler Park is often overlooked for scenic views in Austin, but it definitely deserves a spotlight of its own. Situated directly on the southern bank of Lady Bird Lake, this park offers a variety of lovely views of Austin’s ever-changing city skyline. Stroll along the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail for picturesque perspectives of Austin’s downtown from the edge of the water.
This city lights and the reflective water features also make this park an excellent location for nighttime photography.
The park is neighbors to the famous Long Center, whose distinct architecture and towering pillars provides many more interesting photographic opportunities.
The park also boasts lovely gardens, vibrant flowers, and a tranquil reflecting pool, making it an ideal spot for both cityscape and nature photography.
4. Red Bud Isle
Red Bud Isle is a tiny island on the west end of Ladybird Lake, right next to the dam.
While it is technically a dog park, this little known gem is home to one of the most stunning waterfront views in Austin. The tangling roots of the giant cypress trees on the island extend into the water, giving this space a magical atmosphere.
The best time to visit Red Bud Isle to take pictures is about an hour to 30 minutes before sunset. Witness and capture the serene view as the still water reflects the pink and red sunset.
5. Ladybird Lake Hike and Bike Trail
The trail around Ladybird Lake is a must-see for anyone looking to photograph the Capital City. Spanning a total of 10 miles, the downtown trail gives views of Austin from every direction. The abundance of water allows for gigantic cypress trees adorning the edges of the trail, allowing for some interesting photo opportunities. The trees along this trail are some of the largest you will find in Austin.
My favorite Austin view from the trail is most easily accessed by parking at the main field at Zilker Park and walking directly towards the downtown skyline. You then cross the road encircling the park and go down a short path onto the main trail which runs along the lake.
There, you will see a limestone gazebo with benches, and a beautiful, picturesque view of the Austin skyline. If you’re lucky, you may even see some white swans swimming gracefully in the lake. Don’t get too close though, they sometimes bite!
6. Pace Bend Park (Lake Travis)
Pace Bend Park is a rocky, cliff-laden park about 45 minutes from downtown Austin. You will see some of the best views of Lake Travis available to the public at this park. There’s camping, hiking, and some of the best cliff jumping in Central Texas, so this area provides tons of opportunities for landscape and nature photography.
There’s usually a $5 per person fee to get into the park, so come prepared!
7. Zilker Metropolitan Park
Zilker Park is a massive urban park that offers a diverse range of iconic photo opportunities. There are two main fields straddling Barton Springs Road and alongside Ladybird Lake.
With the giant boulders in the center of the park, a view of the Austin skyline, and the crowds of people and dogs enjoying the outdoor space, there is a plethora of subject matter to capture here.
Zilker is a great place to start before visiting the Botanical Gardens and the Hike and Bike trail since they all are in very close proximity.
8. The Oasis (Lake Travis)
Although it’s a bit of a drive from downtown Austin, The Oasis on Lake Travis is well worth the trip for a dramatic sunset photo.
Perched on a cliff overlooking the lake, this multi-level restaurant and entertainment complex provides a stunning backdrop for capturing the vivid colors of the Texas Hill Country at twilight.
The sunset views are so spectacular that The Oasis has earned a reputation as the “Sunset Capital of Texas.”
9. Zilker Botanical Gardens
A little-known gem in Austin, the Zilker Botanical Gardens is a haven for nature and photography enthusiasts alike.
These gardens feature a diverse range of landscapes, from lush Japanese flora to vibrant rose gardens.
The tranquil scenery and colorful blooms provide countless opportunities for macro, portrait and landscape photography. Visit during the different seasons to capture the ever-changing beauty of this hidden oasis.
Austin, Texas offers a diverse range of scenic locations to explore and photograph. From the heights of Mount Bonnell to the waterfront views of Butler Park, these seven spots showcase the city’s beauty in its many forms. Grab your camera, explore these hidden gems, and capture the unique charm of Austin from fresh and exciting perspectives.