February 19, 2020

Playground Hunt – Austin, Texas

When it comes to public parks in the city of Austin, connectivity and natural amenities are key features.

Nowhere is that more true than in Austin’s northeastern corridor near the border with Cedar Park, Texas. Neighborhood design on Austin’s northern borders tends to favor development that folds artificial and natural features.

That’s why it’s not unusual to see a row of suburban homes backed up to wooded green belts. In Austin, nature is right at your doorstep.

Here are a few of northeast Austin’s favorite neighborhood parks and what residents say is most appealing about them.

Rattan Creek Park

On an overcast day at the Rattan Creek Park off Parmer Avenue in North Austin, Theresa Caplin and her two days enjoy the playground’s swing set.

“We live just down the block so we typically go on a walk in the afternoon and come here for about an hour,” she said. “This is a great local park because it’s not just about the playground but about the area as a whole.

Rattan Creek Park is the centerpiece of the Rattan Creek neighborhood, which covers a broad swath of curving roads lined with old-growth live oaks.

The playground itself has installed green equipment and a dark green canopy to accompany the wooded area surrounding the park. Leading in almost every direction from the direction are walking trails that crisscross the area.

The park includes wood chip surfacing, and Caplin said the area is usually pretty quiet for a well-populated area.

“The kids love it because they get to use the equipment,” she said. “Even if they don’t, there’s always somewhere to walk.”

Racine Woods Park

Significantly smaller than Rattan Creek, the Racine Woods Park is surrounded by local schools and is usually busy, dad Mark Thomas said alongside his daughter.

The park itself is situated on a small corner lot, but shares many of the same features as Rattan Creek with a quick walk to area elementary and middle schools, and nearby walking trails.

The playground shares many of the shared features of Austin playgrounds with green equipment and canopies to shade from the hot summer temperatures.

Thomas said the park is a recent addition to the neighborhood but is a popular haunt with the neighborhood kids, who swarm the area in droves on the weekends.

“What’s great about this neighborhood is the number of kids and the fact that everyone has kids around the same age,” he said. “A lot of these neighborhoods in North Austin have some of the same features, which is great for younger parents.”

Brushy Creek Lake Park

Taking the concept of a neighborhood playground to a grand scale, the Brushy Creek Lake Park borders a mileslong walking trail that attracts hundreds each weekend.

Allisyn Jacobs and her three daughters are using a slide on the playground and say the park is usually so busy it’s difficult to find any space to play.

“We like coming here because it feels like being in nature, but it really does get busy,” she said. “Get her at the right time, though, and you should be good.”

The Brushy Creek Lake playground is only a stone’s throw from a nearby creek that is a favorite with outdoorsy adventurers. Sharing similar features to other Austin parks, it has dark, natural-colored equipment and wide canopies to block out the shade.

Similar to other parks, the primary focus here is on connectivity. A successful playground is one that connects to nearby neighborhoods and trails, and this one succeeds as well.

Jacobs said her family is new to the area but fell in love with Brushy Creek Lake Park right away.

“Where we came from you just didn’t have parks like this,” she said. “But we love it here.

Special to PNW By Kyle Blankenship

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