HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ZILKER!
FIVE WAYS TO CELEBRATE THE CENTENNIAL OF AUSTIN’S CROWN JEWEL.
Zilker Park (or, if we’re being official, Zilker Metropolitan Park) is the constant core of our ever-evolving and expanding city, 350 acres of idyllic green space where Austin remains the same.
Businessman Andrew Zilker, who began buying horse pasture between the Colorado River and Barton Creek in the late 1890s, sold the land in 1917 to the city on the condition that the profit go to the school district and the property be open to the public.
A century later, more than 1.5 million visitors come to Zilker each year to throw Frisbees to their dogs, play soccer, celebrate birthdays, dip into Barton Springs, and jump on the Zilker Zephyr miniature train. We flock there for the ACL Music Festival in the fall and the magical Trail of Lights at the holidays, but it’s the summer where Zilker revels in its natural glory. Here are five ways to honor our favorite urban sanctuary this season:
1. BE THE ONE!
From picnics to puppies, Zilker is a social media natural, especially with its latest addition. In honor of the centennial, the park has installed two life-size zeroes near Rock Island: When you stand next to the installation, you form the “1.” Just add the hashtag #Zilker100, and you’re golden.
2. FOLLOW THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD.
Zilker Hillside Theater will transform into to the Emerald City in the Zilker Theatre Production of The Wizard of Oz. This year’s summer musical will spotlight literacy and STEAM youth initiatives in and around the park. The six-week run is free to the public, and shows begins at dusk. 2206 William Barton Dr., 512-479-9491; zilker.org
3. SAY HOPPY BIRTHDAY.
The only thing better than a Barton Springs plunge on a sweltering summer day is a cold beer. The brew-masters at Zilker Brewery Co. collaborated with the Austin Parks Foundation to create the Zilker 100 Parks & Rec Pale Ale, which hit shelves in May. zilkerbeer.com
4. BEAT THE HUMP DAY BLUES.
It’s hot, it’s crowded, it’s a quintessentially Austin combination: live music and Zilker Park. KGSR’s Blues on the Green, the city’s largest free concert series, kicked off its 26th season in May with a show by Jamestown Revival and Walker Lukens. Upcoming dates are July 12 and August 2. Look for the acts to be revealed about a month out from each show. kgsr.com
5. GO NIGHT-SWIMMING.
Although refreshing during the day with its constant 68-degree temperature, the natural spring-fed Barton Springs Pool is especially magical at night. On nights with a full moon, join other revelers to swim and howl away. 2201 Barton Springs Rd., 512-867-3080; zilkerpark.org