South By Southwest is upon us. And downtown is wild, but for locals and visitors who want to explore the city (and further away from Austin) without the crowds, here are activities to do outside during Spring Break (March 12-17).

A group of people jumps into the water together during the Annual Barton Springs Polar Bear Splash at Barton Springs. Most people that participated took the plunge and stayed in the water when they were finished they immediately tried to dry off, change clothes and head for their heated cars. Monday, January 1, 2018. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Ricardo Brazziell

Barton Springs Pool

An Austin outdoor staple, this really, really cold natural pool is the best way to beat that Texas heat, especially if you’re not from around here. The pool is separated from the creek flowing into it, and so there are two sides: the creek on the left (free entrance) and the man-made pool on the right (fee for entrance).  Be careful in the creek because the rocks are a little slippery! Also, the creek, appropriately named the Greenbelt, has shimmering emerald water flowing alongside a winding 7.2 mile trail where you can run, stroll or bike.

Mayfield Park and Preserve in west Austin has long been a popular destination for a quiet stroll and an up-close look at the 20 peacocks that roam the grounds. Palm trees and water lilies dot the two-acre park. The Mayfield Preserve, a 21-acre natural area that surrounds the park, features walking trails and wildlife habitat. RALPH BARRERA / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Ralph Barrera/Austin American-Statesman

Mayfield Park

After all that dancing and sprinting to taco vendors, take a day off and check out Mayfield Park, home to these colorful, confident birds: Peacocks. With two acres and a quaint cottage, green gardens, ponds and palm trees, you can get close to the social birds in a peaceful area.

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In spring the hills are covered in a mosaic of wildflowers. Contributed by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Contributed by the Lady Bird Joh

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Named after First Lady and wife of former President Lyndon B. Johnson, the botanic garden preserves abundant, vibrant flowers and towering, majestic trees you can sometimes climb. The center carries on Lady Bird’s dedication to beautifying cities and sustaining nature.

Students from Highland Park Elementary School in Austin emerge from a cave on the 65-acre Westcave Preserve during a springtime tour. The preserve recently received a grant from Impact Austin that will help fund future tours for students from urban schools.CONTRIBUTED

HANDOUT/Lake Travis View

Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center

About 45 minutes from downtown Austin, Westcave’s "Grotto," a canyon with a 40-foot waterfall, lush greenery and peaceful pool. The center gives guided tours for the Hill Country spot, with a main mission to education children about preserving nature. It’ll give weekday tours March 13-16 during the break, with tours starting at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.

Arwen and Nina Kauzar were enthralled with a winged Robin Allen s miniature pony, AlassA, which means winged one in Elven.
SEPT. 12, 2015

HANDOUT/Bastrop Advertiser

Sherwood Forest Faire

Renaissance fairs sound odd, but once you see the heart-racing jousting, elaborate costumes and colorful theatrical performances, it's pretty neat. The annual Sherwood Forest Faire is in Sherwood Forest off US Hwy 290 (about 30 minutes drive outside Austin). Like SXSW, the fair has its own share of live music, beer and wine tasting. For the kiddos, the lively plays and animals are sights to see. The fair is split up over several weekends from March to April, including March 10-11 and March 17-18, and will be open the Friday of Spring Break (March 16).

Lauren Rozelle lets out a scream as she zip lines at Zip Lost Pines in Cedar Creek on Wednesday, November 2, 2016. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Deborah Cannon

Zip Lost Pines

Vibrant green trees are below your feet as the whooshing of wind whistles by your ears.  Zip Lost Pines in the McKinney Roughs Nature Park is having zip line tours usually two to three hours with six side-by-side zip lines. The best part? You can just hang back as you glide over the scenic nature and take in Texas' beauty. Tickets are $115 per person and tours are March 9-18.


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