HAPPY BIRTH­DAY, ZILKER!

FIVE WAYS TO CEL­E­BRATE THE CEN­TEN­NIAL OF AUSTIN’S CROWN JEWEL.

Austin Way - - SCENE | STYLE | SPACE - BY HAN­NAH MOR­ROW

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

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