LeBlanc: You need water, restrooms and a little bit of quirkiness to create an ideal Austin walk or run

Free swing rides, home-grown water fountain and colorful mural all highlight an Austin run or walk

What does it take to create the quintessential Austin walk or run?

Someplace to get water, definitely. A bathroom comes in handy, too. But quirky highlights and beautiful scenery are what really make us forget our burning quads and flagging energy.

We took a look around the city, then checked in with some Austin runners to come up with this list of places to incorporate into your own epic Austin running or walking route.

1. Want to do a little (big) bird watching? You’re almost guaranteed a peacock sighting along West 35th Street between Mayfield Park, 3505 W. 35th St., and Laguna Gloria, 3809 W. 35th St. The birds strut along the retaining walls, perch on rooftops and spread their iridescent tail feathers for passersby.

2. If you hike up all 105 steps at Mount Bonnell Park, 3800 Mount Bonnell Road, you still won’t be at the highest point in Austin. But you will get a good leg workout in — and a great bird’s eye view of Lake Austin.

3. They don’t call it Scenic Drive for nothing. The West Austin road winds along a ridge above Lake Austin, providing more inspiring views.

4. The owners of a home on West Rim Drive in Northwest Hills built a water fountain right along the curb to keep passing runners and walkers hydrated. It’s pretty, too, decorated with colorful bits of tile. Plus, there’s a bowl for your dog to drink from.

5. What parent, out for a walk with their children, can resist the sign inviting them to take a free ride on the swing in front of Ana Salas-Porras’ home in the 4500 block of Shoal Creek Boulevard?

6. Run anywhere near Royal-Memorial Stadium the morning of a University of Texas football game and inhale the tantalizing aroma of Longhorn tailgating. Even at 6 a.m. you’ll get a whiff of smokers loaded with barbecue. The people watching’s not bad, either.

7. For another spectacular view, check out the city skyline from University Circle Drive at St. Edward’s University off South Congress Avenue. Tip: Best seen at sunrise.

8. Check out the refreshingly uncrowded hike-and-bike trail that winds through the Mueller development off Airport Boulevard, right in the middle of the city.

9. Everybody loves the trail around Lady Bird Lake. But lots of folks never venture east of Interstate 35. For a shady respite on a sunny day, head to the leafy section on the north side of the lake, between I-35 and Pleasant Valley Road. (And coming in 2014, the much-anticipated boardwalk on the south side of the lake, just west of I-35.)

10. In South Austin, detour to the “Greetings from Austin” mural by Billy Brakhage and Rory Skagen. The retro-postcard montage, painted in 1997, will make you smile.

11. The giant cement gorilla on West Lynn Street a few blocks north of Sixth Street, is good for a guffaw, and you never know what it’ll be wearing. And right across the street stand Puppy and Kitty, the colorful sculptures that guard the front of West Lynn Veterinary Clinic. They like to dress up for holidays, too.

12. The trail’s been spruced up at Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Park, 400 Grove Blvd., and athletes can stop at a portable toilet, then zip down a leafy and hidden out-and-back stretch of path toward U.S. 183.

13. What’s the best motivator? Food, of course. Pick a place for post-run breakfast tacos, pancakes or smoothies, park your car and run from there. When you finish, you don’t have to go anywhere to refuel. (Runners frequent Maudie’s Cafe, Torchy’s Tacos, Magnolia Cafe and Austin Java, to name a few.)

14. Not sure where you’re headed when you strike out? Tuck your Car2go membership card in your pocket and just go. When you’ve gone as far as you want to, you can use your smartphone to track down an available car and drive back home.

15. One last thing. You know you’ve had the perfect Austin run or walk when you spot Thong Guy, that anonymous Austin man who cycles around town wearing nothing more than a tea-colored thong. Don’t question it; just consider it your lucky day.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Lifestyle

Today’s birthdays - Sunday, February 25
Today’s birthdays - Sunday, February 25

Today’s Birthdays: Actress Ann McCrea is 87. Actor Tom Courtenay is 81. Former CBS newsman Bob Schieffer is 81. Actress Diane Baker is 80. Actress Karen Grassle is 76. Former professional wrestler Ric Flair is 69. Humorist Jack Handey is 69. Movie director Neil Jordan is 68. Rock singer-musician/actor John Doe (X) is 65. Rock musician Dennis...
Today’s horoscopes - Sunday, February 25

ARIES (March 21-April 19). It’s difficult not to get attached to things today, especially when they fall so perfectly in line with who you think you are. Of course, we’re never who we think we are, any more than we are who others think we are. TAURUS (April 20-May 20). Should you maximize your gains or minimize your losses? It depends on...
Gear up for rodeo, spring and more Austin family fun, Feb. 25-March 3
Gear up for rodeo, spring and more Austin family fun, Feb. 25-March 3

Events Rodeo Austin Cowboy Breakfast. Eat breakfast like a cowboy. 6 a.m. Friday. Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. rodeoaustin.com. Texas Independence Day Parade. Celebrate the history of Texas. Free. 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Congress Ave. celebratetexas.org. Explore UT. Find activities throughout the University of Texas campus. Free. 11 a.m. to 5 p...
Dear Abby - Sunday, February 25

Dear Abby: I am a 70-year-old male former teacher and social worker. I stopped dating 30 years ago because the only women I had loved had all dumped me. I felt I was only a temporary convenience to them. Since then, I haven’t been romantically involved with anyone so I would not be dumped again. However, I am lonely for female companionship and...
Flu shots less effective than normal, CDC report says

It turns out the rumors were true: This year’s flu shot is indeed less effective than usual. An unusually resilient strain of influenza called H3N2 has been the predominant assailant this season, and the vaccine rolled out last year was ill-suited to protect against it. While previous analyses from Canada and Australia on its H3N2 effectiveness...
More Stories