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We were looking for a short, low-key outing to finish out our Saturday, so we decided to visit Garrison Park at 6001 Manchaca Road in South Austin. (We later learned that the park is rumored to be haunted! Read more in the final paragraph below.)

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We were barely out of the car when my 10-year-old son started jumping on these little wooden poles, happy to be outdoors after a rainy morning.

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The playscape was inviting and well-shaded.

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This pretend cannon was a favorite of many children visiting the park.

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The Austin Parks Foundation web site described Garrison Park as having .7 miles of trails. We never found an actual trail loop but rather walked on these different intersecting paths (pictured below) within the 40-acre park.

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The kids were amazed by all of the trees at the park. We thought this tree deserved its own picture.

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After walking around briefly on the trails, we followed the park road around to the back of the park to the baseball fields, where the kids had fun jumping on these big rocks.

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Then we went back toward the playscape.

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It was an easy walk and the park was pretty serene late in the day.

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My 7-year-old son wanted one more run at the playground before we left.

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THE RUNDOWN:

Austin Active Kids Opinion: A basic park with a fun playscape, lots of shade, and room to roam. An unexpected twist: some people say the park is haunted. See below.

Outing Time: Under 1 hour.

Outing Distance: About 1/2 mile.

Reminders: The park has restrooms, water fountains, LOTS of picnic tables, BBQ grills, and basketball courts. It was not crowded when we visited. There is a public pool adjacent to the park, so the parking lot might get busier when the pool is open.

After our visit when I was researching online for this blog post, I ran across a few articles suggesting that Garrison Park is haunted. (Maybe next time I should do my research before we go on an outing!) Apparently, a small historic family cemetery, the Stanley-Nolen Cemetery, was part of the tract of land acquired by the City of Austin in 1961 from the Stanley family to develop Garrison Park. These photos from Flickr show what the graves look like: here, here and here. We didn’t know about the graves or see them on our walk. (I think they are located north of a small pavilion near the center of the park.) Despite the online buzz, the boys and I didn’t see anything scary even though we were there after sundown…but you never know. Wa ha ha!

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We decided to have a preview of summer fun today and headed to Lake Pflugerville Park (18216 Weiss Lane) for a swim! This park has something for everyone, including an 180-acre reservoir for swimming and a 3-mile trail for walking or jogging.

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We arrived around 11:15 a.m. and the park was not too crowded.

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The boys were very interested in this unusual playscape feature.

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We walked to the lakeshore to take a look around.

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The sand made it feel like we were at the beach!

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The boys couldn’t resist wading into the water.

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Before long, they had changed into their swimsuits and were ready to take the plunge!

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More families showed up to enjoy the lake but it wasn’t too crowded. Many people were better prepared than we were, with chairs, pop up shade canopies, lunches, beach toys, etc.

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The lake isn’t just for swimming. There were windsurfers.

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And people in kayaks.

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If you don’t have your own equipment, you can rent it on site!

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Lake Pflugerville Park also has a pavilion with tables to enjoy your snacks or meal.

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After 1.5 hours of swimming, the boys wanted to take one final run at the playscape.

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THE RUNDOWN:
Austin Active Kids Opinion: You could play for an hour or play all day at Lake Pflugerville Park!
Outing Time: Just over 2 hours.
Reminders: The park has restrooms, water fountains, picnic tables, and grills. There is not much shade. Bring hats, sunscreen, pop up shade canopies, small tents, etc. Other items you might need are: snacks, picnic lunch, water and other drinks, towels, bathing suits, and sand or beach toys. Please note that there are no lifeguards on duty at Lake Pflugerville! Make sure to pack your life jackets or other swimming support gear (depending on your kids’ swimming skills) and watch your children carefully.

Special events like the Lake Pflugerville Triathlon and the Pflugerville Pfirecracker Pfestival occur at Lake Pflugerville so check the City of Pflugerville’s online calendar or other community calendars, especially if you go on a weekend or holiday.

Our friends at Free Fun in Austin visited Lake Pflugerville in 2011.