Known previously as Town Lake, Lady Bird Lake is actually the portion of the Colorado River that runs through the center of Austin, dammed on either end to create a peaceful waterway with plenty of boating opportunities. The Town Lake Corridor, surrounding the water, is full of hike and bike trails, parklands, sports fields, music and festival locations - with views of the Austin skyline competing with the serenity of river's vistas.
The Town Lake Corridor includes both north and south banks of Lady Bird Lake, bounded by Cesar Chavez to the north, and the appropriately named Riverside to the south, with Tom Miller Dam marking the western boundary, and the Colorado River Park to the east. Within this huge, rambling area, you will find over ten miles of some of the most popular and scenic hike and bike trails located in Austin. Wildly popular, the trails are shared by runners and walkers, bikers and strollers, dogs and people alike. The 8 miles that flank the river are wide, level, shady, and have trail markers, water fountains and benches scattered along the way.
Boating on Lady Bird Lake is perennially popular both for sporting teams and for recreational boaters. No motors are permitted, allowing visitors to enjoy a relaxing day rowing, canoeing, kayaking or peddle boating. The Rowing Dock is a Town Lake Austin Parks and Recreation concession where visitors can rent boats by the hour. They also offer camps, private lessons, classes and memberships.
No visit to Town Lake would be complete without a pilgrimage to the Steve Ray Vaughan Memorial Statue, located on the south side of the River. Mounted by the City of Austin in 1994, the homage to the late great Texas blues guitarist is directly adjacent to Auditorium Shores, not coincidentally one of Austin's most popular periodic outdoor music venues. Vaughan played Auditorium shores during his abbreviated career, and it remains a top stage, featuring local and national acts.
Town Lake Park boasts 17 ball fields for baseball, football, soccer and rugby, and volleyball, and on its western perimeter adjoins Zilker Park, making this easily the biggest recreational area in the city. Its proximity to downtown Austin means that many dining options can be found within blocks on either side of the water, including the “restaurant row" located on Barton Springs Road. Austin's perennial favorites such as the Shady Grove, Austin Java, Chuy's and the Green Mesquite join relative newcomers including P. Terry's Burger Stand, and Flip Happy Crepes - located in a shining silver Airstream trailer. The popular South Congress and South First dining and shopping areas are in walking distance as well.
On July 26, 2007, the Austin City Council passed a resolution authorizing the renaming of Town Lake to Lady Bird Lake in honor of Lady Bird Johnson, the former First Lady of the United States and a long-time resident of the Austin area. Although Johnson had declined the honor of having the lake renamed for her during her life, her legacy as a proponent of nature and beauty endures after her passing.
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