Austin is known for it’s natural beauty, with its great parks, miles of hiking trails, and the beautiful Lady Bird Lake running through downtown. Any tour of Austin should include at least one scenic overlook, an elevated place where you can get a great view of the city. These spots are great places for a romantic hike, relaxing, or great people watching.
Lucky for you, this guide will highlight some of the best public scenic overlooks in Austin using photos from the Austin coffee table book, Austin, Texas: A Photographic Portrait.
Austin 360 Cliff
Northwest side the Pennybacker Bridge south of West Courtyard Dr. (see map)
One of the best views in Austin! From on top of the cliff you can see Lake Austin, the Pennybacker Bridge, and the downtown skyline from a distance. To access the view, park on the side of the road in the small gravel lot and hike 2 minutes to get to the top of the cliff. There are people there at all hours during the day, and this is a popular photo and picnic spot.
Lou Neff Point
Hike and Bike Trail at the Corner of Zilker Park (see map)
If you are running the loop on the hike and bike trail, Lou Neff point is an awesome place for a break. Here, you can see the entire skyline from across the lake, there is ample seating, and you can watch the kayaks and canoes row by.
Sunset is particularly beautiful here, as shown in the picture above. If you just want to go to the point without walking the trail, If you park in the back right corner of the Zilker great lawn on Lou Neff Road, it’s only a 1 minute walk down the large stone steps to get to the point.
Mount Bonnell Park
3800 Mount Bonnell Drive
From atop Mount Bonnell, you can see an amazing view of the lake all the way to the Pennybacker Bridge and the mansions that back right up to the water (boat docks and all). Because of this, the park has become a favorite spot for families, those who want to just sit on the cliff and relax, and couples on a date.
There are two entrances, one up a steep flight of stairs, and one up a gentle hill. The edge of the hill slop provides the best view, and is a great place to relax, read a book, or take a picture.
Doug Sahm Hill
Located right next to the Palmer Events Center, Doug Sahm Hill comes complete with a huge map of Texas and a cool circular bench where you can sit and watch the skyline. Perhaps the best time to climb the hill is right before sunset, for the most beautiful view of downtown.
Just below the hill is the Liz Carpenter Fountain, kids play freely in during the hot summer days. At night the fountain’s LEDs provide a beautiful light show.
6550 Comanche Trl
The so called Sunset Capital of Texas – an amazing view of Lake Travis attached to a gigantic restaurant that’s a great place to grab a drink with visiting friends. This is part of the standard tour for many.
Although food at the Oasis is not so great, two new restaurants next door, Soleil and Uncle Billy’s, come with the promise of the same great view with better food.
Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge
Lamar and Riverside Dr
The Pfluger Pedestrian bridge is frequented by joggers and bikers, but there’s a great large sitting area right in the middle, complete with park benches and beautiful landscaping. It’s easy to just relax there for hours, watching boats on the lake, cars on the Lamar Bridge, and people move by.
Also, you get a great view of downtown as well as some of the coolest grafitti downtown, that reminds you to take a deep breath and relax.
The Great Lawn is huge piece of green that’s a great place to have a picnic, play some soccer, or fly a kite that also happens to have an amazing view of the skyline. Large trees and a granite outcrop on the lawn serve as a great spot to cool off on hot summer days.
Perhaps the most famous use for the Zilker Great lawn is serving as the home of the Austin City Limits Music Festival. The lawn is also the site of the Zilker Kite Festival and a great place to watch fireworks on the 4th of July.