Austin, Texas: home of barbecue, live music, and seriously epic paddle boarding. Also, there are a few things everyone should know about Austin: Austin is Weird (with a capital W), it's the Live Music Capital of the world, and Austin doesn't have a professional sports team. You may not know it, but Austin has a plethora of nature and outdoor activities - something for everyone.
Anyways - with so many places to SUP in Austin, you’ll have your hands full visiting all of them! Here’s a rundown of our favorite spots for SUP in Texas's capital city.
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As the most popular SUP spot in Austin, Lady Bird Lake (pictured in the main image above) is the place to get a pulse on the Austin paddle boarding scene. If you’re looking to meet new pals who share your passion for SUP, this is where to do it. On weekends, you’ll find a carefree party atmosphere to paddle your troubles away. Join a SUP touring group to learn more about the city as you go. You can even take part in a sunset bat paddle tour (yes, bats) where you can watch the city’s massive urban bat colony in action front and center.
At Lady Bird Lake, you can paddle directly through downtown Austin for snapshot-worthy skyline views. Of course, the downside to being at the center of the Austin paddle boarding universe is that Lady Bird Lake gets pretty crowded. But the energy here is simply unmatched. If you don’t have your own SUP with you, stop by EpicSUP or Live Love Paddle for a rental.
This low-key island in the middle of Lady Bird Lake makes for a relaxing SUP escape during the day. But at night, things get even more exciting, thanks to Live Love Paddle’s Full Moon Music Paddles. On nights lit by a full moon, this beloved local SUP rental company leads a nighttime tour to Snake Island (don’t worry, no actual snakes there!). When you get there, you’ll get to enjoy live music around a campfire. Talk about living your best life.
Covering a whopping 18,000 acres and surrounded by natural beauty, Lake Travis is a true Texan paradise. Just 30 minutes outside of Austin, the lake serves as a weekend getaway for city dwellers, and that makes for a whole lot of gorgeous waterfront mansions to gawk at during your SUP session. If you don’t have a SUP with you, rent one from Viking Ship Kayak Rentals.
With tranquil bright blue water to enjoy, SUP beginners and seasoned SUP fans alike can have a leisurely day on the lake. (And hey, if you’re feeling bold, you can stop by Lake Travis’ Hippie Hollow, the only nude beach in the state. Just make sure you’re very liberal with your sunscreen.)
Lake Travis is also known for its plethora of off-water activities. You'll never get bored here with its abundance of breweries, vineyards, shopping, golfing, and more. Check out Visiting Lake Travis for a list of everything to do there - there's something for everyone.
If the crowds at the center of Lady Bird Lake just aren’t your jam, head over to the lake’s much quieter West End, near Zilker Park. As you paddle west, far from the chaos of the city center, you’ll find a whole new world - one where you’re not getting elbowed and splashed by selfie-taking strangers. You can grab a SUP rental at Texas Rowing Center or The Rowing Dock.
Come nightfall, the West End is home to one of Austin’s most iconic SUP events: glow-in-the-dark paddling. (If you thought bat paddling was the wackiest thing you’d ever heard of, you’ve got another thing coming.) With Glow Paddle, you can paddle through the night on neon-colored light-up boards. Trust us, it’s every bit as cool as it sounds.
Photo Credit Austin Distel
Congress Avenue Bridge SUP offers a little bit of city and a little bit of country all in one. If you paddle close to the bridge, you’ll get to enjoy electrifying city views. If you prefer more of a nature experience, you can gather up your energy and paddle over to the Greenbelt. It’s a bit of a trek, but it’s worth it! The bridge is another popular spot to catch bat SUP tours, and here, the view is even better. (Try to count how many bats you see before losing track, we dare you!) Get yourself set up with a rental at Congress Avenue Kayaks.
For a short and sweet adventure, stop by Barton Creek. Here, you can immerse yourself in a quick but rejuvenating nature paddle. At the end of the creek, you’ll be treated to a jaw-dropping view of the skyline. It’s a speedy pick-me-up for a busy day. You can rent a SUP at Zilker Park Boat Rentals.
Photo Credit FreeFuninAustin.com
Secret Beach is a hidden swimming hole that lives up to its name. It can be hard to find, even on Google Maps. What makes it so special is that it’s extremely close to downtown Austin, but attracts very few crowds. Here, you can enjoy some peace and quiet without a long drive out of the city. There aren’t any SUP rental spots near Secret Beach (like we said, this place really is a secret!) so bring your own board or stop by a rental shop elsewhere in Austin before you go.
Hint: You can SUP to Secret Beach located on the Colorado River not far from the Colorado River Park Wildlife Sanctuary. Don't tell anyone we told you!
Festival Beach has it all: gorgeous scenery and zero logistical effort required. It’s a wonderful place to watch the sunrise or sunset over the water. The best part, however, is that nearby Vision Paddle will deliver your board to you at the beach for a no-fuss adventure. All you have to do is show up!
This hidden gem in laidback East Austin is never too crowded, but it does attract an adorable bunch of SUP-loving dogs. Dog-owning SUP fans in the know about Walter E. Long Lake treasure this spot. It’s the perfect haven for some quality time with your dog, and with mellow waters, it’s great for SUP beginners. With very few trees around to block the sunlight, it’s also a great spot for sunbathing. In short, it’s got all the ingredients for a perfect summer day.
Make no mistake, Lake Austin is the holy grail of Austin SUP fishing. Stocked with all kinds of interesting species of fish, this lake is a total hotspot for anyone with a tacklebox. If you don’t fish, you’ll still love the lake’s zen surroundings and wildlife. Paddle boarding Lake Austin is best for experienced paddlers, because there are lots of boats out on the lake to watch out for.
Photo Credit: Scott Bauer
A SUP session on Spring Lake is an express ticket to some of the most phenomenal paddle boarding Austin has to offer. The lake is a nature preserve set on the site of a former water park - but that’s not even the most interesting part of this place. Thanks to its limestone bottom and striking tropical tones, Spring Lake is thought to be the clearest body of water in Texas. Who needs to book a flight to the Caribbean when you’ve got all the turquoise-hued water you need right here?
Photo Credit: Scott Bauer
You'll need your own SUP here, but do NOT forget to bring your snorkel and mask! Spring Lake offers breathtaking underwater scenery - there's no better way to spend the day than right here!
Update 7/12/20 on Spring Lake: they now only do guided tours here. Please check MSU's Website for more information.
No matter where your adventures paddle boarding in Austin may take you, one thing is clear: this city has a little something for everyone. If you don't have a SUP, we've listed paddle board rental companies through this article. When you're done paddling for the day, Austin offers plenty of nightlife.
Keen to discover more of our favorite SUP destinations? We've got a whole list of epic places to paddle board right here.
Is your favorite SUP spot in Austin not on this list? Add it in the comments below!
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