McKinney Falls State Park was busy, but that is probably because it feels secluded, yet is actually close to Austin. Located on the Onion Creek, McKinney Falls State Park has an upper and lower falls both of which have great swimming holes. It was too cold for us to swim when we visited though due to a ‘Norther’ (chilly air blowing down from Canada). We did get to do some fishing, but the only thing caught was a turtle that wasn’t even hauled out of the water. The fish we could see were large though and I would recommend bringing your fishing pole if you visit the state park. The campground was in the forest and quiet with a small amount of city noise in the distance, but when we went to visit the capital it only took twenty minutes to get downtown!
The capitol building in Austin, Texas is the largest in the nation. It might not be the tallest, but it has the most square footage. The parking in Austin wasn’t the worst that we have seen so far on our adventure and most places gave you a few hours free, though sometimes only with validation. (The toll roads were tricky though and I would recommend avoiding them if you are towing) The capitol building has beautiful architecture, antique furniture, history, and art with a ton of people added in since the legislature was in session. We were hoping to sit in on the senate, but we missed it by fifteen minutes and the house didn’t meet until later in the day. Walking up to the building was impressive. Then we went under ground to the huge addition and we were really blown away. It is a giant complex and only our nations capitol is larger!
Sarah emailed ahead and booked us on the Governors Mansion tour. It was tricky to find a parking spot, but she managed it and we made it to the tour on time. Seeing inside the Governors Mansion was really special. Not only did the tour guide give us an in depth history of the mansion, but he talked about the city and the governors that have lived in the mansion. The antique furniture was especially nice to see up close and well worth the security hoops that had to be cleared to get in.
We visited a children’s museum called the Thinkery. Not only was it educational, but with hands on exhibits it was exceptionally fun too. We spent several hours learning about light, physics, and math though the kids didn’t even realize that school was in session. They also got some exercise climbing in the huge outdoor play space. The favorite of the day was the water area where everyone left soaked. Building planes and launching them was also a big hit. Next door to the Thinkery was an awesome playground with a giant sculpture of Nessy, a large serpent. An odd merry go round shaped like a tire, bizarre climbing structures, and other strange spinning jungle gyms made this a truly unique place to play. Unfortunately it was cold and windy outside, so we only could play for a short time.
One of the differences for us in camping in Austin was having Sarah’s parents along at the camp. It isn’t often that we have guests and they are the only people that have spent the night in our trailer. There isn’t much privacy in a travel trailer, but lucky for us we all get along famously and everyone enjoyed themselves. It was a wonderful end to our visit with them and I really liked watching them skip rocks with the kids near the falls. They were happy to get a glimpse into our new life on the road and everyone had a great few days at McKinney Falls. We finally were able to put our Texas sticker on our adventure map, since we had seen the capital building in the state. That makes twelve states so far though it seems like more. We have been in eighteen states, but we only like to count them after we have visited the capital building.
Here are some links to the places we visited if you are interested in visiting yourself or if you just want more information.
McKinney Falls State Park Website
Austin Capital Building Tours
Governor’s Mansion Tour