A Day Trip to McKinney Falls State Park
Looking for an easygoing adventure for the whole family near the Austin area? Look no further, McKinney Falls State Park is within minutes from downtown Austin. This is the perfect spot to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the serene nature!
Our family loves adventure and the outdoors and we love that we have easy access to such beautiful places such as the Texas Hill Country. We recently visited McKinney State Falls Park on one of our Saturday Family Days and had a blast! While our drive there was only 40 minutes long, we intentionally planned to stop halfway for a coffee break. This not only gave us the opportunity to get fueled up with some caffeine but our 8 month old baby was happy to get out of the car seat as well. (Pro tip for parents road tripping with their babies: Play Cocomelon and stop for coffee!)
Upon arrival to the park, you will reach a booth where you will show your payment confirmation or pay the entrance fee. It costs $6 per vehicle. While it is not required to purchase a ticket beforehand, it’s best to do so to ensure admission. Sometimes the park can get full.
Parking is abundant and there is a bathroom right by the parking lot. The park has a section for camping and the other part is where the falls are. We visited the area where the falls are. The terrain heading towards the falls is very crater-like and while it isn’t smooth it is still fairly easy to walk on. If you have a baby who does not walk, I would suggest wearing them in a carrier as the area is not quite stroller friendly. The hike to the water was fairly short and trails overall are not rigorous.
This state park not only boasts the beauty of Onion Creek flowing over limestone ledges but it’s filled with multiple activities such as hiking, camping, fishing, swimming, and biking. Our family enjoyed the hiking trails, dipping our feet in the water, and sitting near the falls. We visited in October and the weather was so pleasant which made for an even more enjoyable day. I don’t think we would have enjoyed ourselves as much if it was a hot summer day! My husband also got to relive his childhood by skipping rocks in the river all while holding our sleepy baby in tow! Sitting near the falls was our favorite memory. Our baby and pup were amazed by the water and loved watching the mini-waterfall.
Aside from hiking and enjoying the falls, there is also history to explore. McKinney Falls Park has the ruins of McKinney’s Texas homestead, his horse trainers cabin, gristmill, and a rock shelter at the park as well. We unfortunately did not make it to this area because that is the reality of adventuring with a baby, sometimes we can’t do everything and must embrace a change of plans. It just means we will need to go back and do more exploring there!
If McKinney Falls State Park is on your list to visit, here are some pro-tips to know before you go:
- Wear appropriate shoes. If you plan on walking in the water or hiking the trails, it is advisable to wear the right kind of shoes. Wearing sandals or flip flops is not a good choice.
- Fall is the best time to visit. Austin fall weather is perfectly sunny but not overwhelmingly hot.
- Go early in the morning. It will be less crowded and makes for a more peaceful experience.
- If bringing a baby, baby-wear them in a carrier. As mentioned above, the area near the falls is not stroller friendly.
- Reserve your spot online. The park gets full often so snagging your ticket online ensures admission.
- Eat before you go. Food and snacks are not allowed near the falls.
This is the perfect adventure for individuals who want a serene environment, for couples who want to do an adventurous date, or families and their dogs who want to explore the outdoors together. Whether you live in Central Texas or you are traveling through the Austin area make a stop at McKinney Falls. You will not regret it!
TO DO BEFORE YOU GO:
Book vehicle entry fee online. Best to do 2-5 months in advance. Weekends are busy so weekday would be best!
Hiking shoes, baby carrier, camera, backpack, water bottles
Cocomelon music, bring toys, and a stop on the way!
Levercraft Coffee! They serve Sour Duck Market pastries and Vaquero Taquero tacos-both Austin local favorites!
Parking is included in the reservation fee. Lots of parking at the park.
BONUS – ADVENTURE STAPLES:
Stroller, baby carrier, napkins, mask, and umbrella