It’s officially summer, which means it’s time to load up on sunscreen and venture out into the great outdoors of our Lone Star State. While swimming, hiking, kayaking and leisurely strolls down city streets are all well and good, this is also the time of year when we look for sweet spots to sit a spell and turn the pages of our latest summer reads. In that spirit, here are ten of our favorite spots for summer reading in Texas, compiled by your friendly Texas Book Festival staff and intrepid interns.
1. Zilker Park, Austin
Find a shady spot and roll out your blanket at Zilker Park. When not hosting musical festivals or Austin’s own Trail of Lights, Zilker is a fabulous destination for making the most of a lazy weekend afternoon. With a beautiful view of the Austin city skyline, Zilker is a lovely place to kick back and enjoy a good book (and pet a few hundred friendly dogs).
2. State Capitol Lawn
It shouldn’t be a shock that one of our favorite places to relax with a book is part of the Festival’s venue – the Texas Capitol lawn. A sprawling 22 acres, the Capitol lawn is the perfect place to soak up history without having to leave your picnic blanket. Pack a lunch and bring your favorite historical fiction to the immaculate grounds – if you get bored, you can wander the acreage or get lost in a free tour of the Capitol.
3. Mozart’s Coffee Roasters, Lake Austin
Grab a cup of coffee and a table by the water at this relaxing spot. Located at Lake Austin, Mozart’s is a favorite haunt of studious college students and Austinites alike. With a quiet atmosphere and a fantastic view of the lake, Mozart’s is a great place to burn through a few more pages of your latest read while enjoying your second slice of cake from the delicious bakery (hey, who’s counting?).
4. Anywhere along the Barton Creek Greenbelt in Austin
A 12+ mile trail following Barton Creek, the Greenbelt is a quieter, undeveloped version of Barton Springs, and holds all the outdoor beauty you can expect from Austin. Although many come to the Greenbelt to hike or rock climb, you can just as easily find a solid rock by the creek to dip your toes in while diving into your new book.
5. Menil Park, Houston
Even those from Houston may not have discovered this hidden park right next to the Menil Collection. A quiet, small area, Menil Park is a secret locale that is perfect for lounging with a book for hours on end. You can enjoy the large, metal sculpture that quietly dominates the park, or simply snuggle up next to one of the giant oak trees. Either way, you’ll undoubtedly appreciate this peaceful park.
6. Sip, San Antonio
If you’re planning a trip to San Antonio, make sure to give Sip a try. A corner cafe on a major street in downtown San Antonio, Sip offers a relaxed atmosphere, killer sandwich menu, and perfect cup of coffee. If you can, grab a table by the window during Chalk It Up, when the block is closed and artists come to fill the street with incredible chalk art. (We won’t tell anyone if you do more people watching than reading here.)
7. Klyde Warren Park, Dallas
Located right across from the renowned Dallas Museum of Art, Klyde Warren Park is the perfect contrast between modern and ornate. Scattered with benches and small tables, Klyde Warren Park features a long line of diverse food trucks waiting to serve you your next favorite snack. With a fountain and a small playground, this park is a cool place to keep a family entertained while catching up on your reading list.
8. Murray Street Coffee Shop, Dallas
The coziest coffee shop you’ll find in Deep Ellum, Murray Street Coffee will remind you of a comfy, stylish loft. Scattered with couches and love seats, this venue invites you to enjoy a sandwich while getting snug in a space that will remind you of home. In between chapters, you can enjoy the various original art hung lovingly on the walls. Take a reading break in this quaint spot.
9. Balmorhea State Park, Toyahvale
Dubbed a “cool oasis in the high desert”, Balmorhea State Park is the ideal place to unwind in West Texas. Sporting the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool, Balmorhea is a short drive from Marfa and great place to get far, far away from it all. Take a dip in the pool and dry off in the sun with a book by your side. If you’re not in the mood for a swim, simply sit back and enjoy the park’s extensive 46 acres and natural wildlife.
10. James Kiehl River Bend Park, Comfort
A quiet park dedicated to a local war hero in Comfort, James Kiehl River Bend Park is a good area for reflection. A relatively unoccupied park, you are guaranteed a calm visit. Pick a spot by the river, or an open picnic table to crack open your book. Anyone searching for a peace and quiet will find safe haven in this tranquil retreat.