Zilker Botanical Gardens
Austin Attractions - Austin Things to Do
Official Zilker Botanical Gardens website
Located on 31 acres in the midst of Zilker Metropolitan Park, the Botanical Gardens are popular without being crowded. This is not your typical Austin tourism hotspot, but it's so conveniently located just a little southwest of downtown, that visitors and locals alike should add it to their Austin Things To Do list.
Hours are 7am-7pm and admission is usually free, barring special events. Parking during the week is also free but may cost you $3 on weekends and summer holidays.
Like the Lady Bird Wildflower Center, the Zilker Gardens are a great place to enjoy some quiet time in a place of beauty and recharge your batteries.
Isamu Taniguchi Gardens
The main attraction is the Isamu Taniguchi Japanese Garden. In the late 1960s, at the age of 70, Isamu Taniguchi spent 18 months creating this garden on three hillside acres as a special gift to the city of Austin.
Highlights include a large koi pond with stone walkway in the center in the form of a sailing ship complete with anchor and gangplank. There are additional streams and waterfalls as well as smaller ponds that form the word AUSTIN.
Other Features of the Gardens
The Gardens have expanded over the years. In 1999, Austin's sister city of Oita, Japan gifted a pair of Stone Gates to the Zilker Botanical Gardens.
Other popular features of the Gardens include the Moon Bridge, the Japanese Teahouse (donated by the Heart O'Texas Orchid Society), a large, red-domed gazebo, and various smaller gardens such as the herb, rose, butterfly, and green gardens.
The adjacent Hartman Prehistoric Garden is also popular among dinosaur buffs and kids. It's a recreation of a Cretaceous Garden dinosaur habitat (in 1992, dinosaur tracks were actually discovered here).
Finally, be sure to check out Pioneer Village which includes an historic blacksmith shop, an 1840 Swedish Pioneer Cabin (relocated to the Zilker Gardens in 1965), and the Esperanza School House (built in 1866 and relocated and restored in 1962).
Not surprisingly, the tranquil and photogenic Gardens are extremely popular for special event photography such as weddings and photography. Commercial photographers are requested to register beforehand to avoid any scheduling conflicts.
There are facilities available for special ceremonies, receptions, and parties, but obviously those should be scheduled well in advance.
Be sure to add the annual spring Zilker Garden Festival to your itinerary if possible. The festival is typically the last weekend in March.
Zilker Botanical Gardens Map
Map - Zilker Botanical Gardens
2220 Barton Springs RD
Austin Texas 78746
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