McKinney Falls State Park

#17 in Best Things To Do in Austin
McKinney Falls State Park picture
ShengYing Lin/Getty Images

Key Info

5808 McKinney Falls Parkway

Details

Parks and Gardens, Recreation Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
3.8

scorecard

  • 4.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 3.0Atmosphere

Onion Creek winds through McKinney Falls State Park, providing cool respite for campers hoping to escape the hot Texas sun. In addition to the creek, nearly 9 miles of trails take hikers and bikers around the park’s limestone formations and wooded areas. After an active day, visitors at McKinney Falls can wind down at one of the park’s 81 campsites or six cabins.  

According to recent overnight guests at the park, many of the camping spots include raised tent pads to ease setup and protect the area’s vegetation. Past visitors recommend checking out both the upper and lower falls. Travelers also suggest planning your trip to coincide with the wet season (May to late September), as the river can nearly dry up during the dry season.

The gate for McKinney Falls State Park is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, while the park office is open from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Saturday through Thursday and until 6:30 p.m. on Friday. The fee for adults is $6 daily, while children 12 years old and younger get in for free. Campsites at McKinney Falls State Park start at $20 per night and don’t include the daily fee. The park sits about 10 miles southeast of Austin and is not accessible via public transit. Be sure to check out the McKinney Falls State Park’s website to learn more about planning a trip there.

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#1 State Capitol

Standing stoically in the heart of central Austin is Texas's legislative center, the State Capitol. Opened in 1888, this pink-granite landmark stands 14 feet taller than the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Much of the capitol, including the 218-foot rotunda, the chamber of the Hall of Representatives and the governor's receiving room, still look the same as they did when the capitol opened.

The structure underwent a large-scale restoration starting in the 1980s, including replacing the zinc statue of the Goddess of Liberty that sits atop the dome with an aluminum one. The restoration also included a 667,000-square-foot underground extension that was completed in 1993 to accommodate how much the state government had grown. Many visitors say it's the most impressive state legislative building they've ever seen, but they also warn it can be crowded at times. If you want to learn a bit of Texas history without having to pay an entrance fee, you can't beat a visit to the capitol building, according to past travelers. The building is also a featured stop on many of the best tours in Austin.

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