Five Kid Friendly Parks in Austin

Best Parks in Austin Guest Blogger

Summer is upon us! For families with young children, summer is typically a time meant for ice cream, playing, sunshine (and sunscreen!), swimming, and PARKS! Living in Austin, we have so many parks because they can thankfully be used year round. If your kids are anything like mine, though, they really benefit from “mixing it up” with parks. The park that is down the street from your home is certainly convenient, but children benefit from different environments, textures, activities, sounds and smells. Before you head to your usual park, consider checking out some of our favorites below for something new and exciting!

  1. Mueller Lake Park

Located downtown and convenient to shopping and The Thinkery, Mueller Lake Park has a lot to offer! Their playground is large, fenced in, and has play options for all ages. There is also a lot of nature around for your children to be amused by -- ducks, lakes and ponds, geese, large fountains, and more! I was impressed with how natural everything felt despite being in a very suburban location. Their total span of 140 acres encompasses trails, open spaces, and the park, itself. For more information, check out their website.

  1. Bee Cave Central Park

This is probably our most frequented park for many reasons! The first playground, located at the main entrance, is geared more towards the skill set of older, school-aged kids. Mostly shaded, this front park has plenty of things to climb on, under, and through as well as two slides and swings. It is also immediately adjacent to a pavilion with bathrooms, picnic tables, and water fountains. As you continue driving through the park, you see some of the open fields and jogging trails. Bee Cave Central Park offers 50 acres of green space so there is plenty of room to kick a ball, throw a frisbee or do yoga! Towards the back of the park (south end) is a second playground and a dog park. This second playground is where I tend to gravitate with my two girls, as it is a little more pre-K friendly. There are slides and climbing structures that are more conducive to young children, as well as a second pavilion with bathrooms, picnic tables, and water fountains. My only caution is that this park tends to get crowded, especially on weekends, so it is worth coming earlier in the morning to snag parking. Check out their website for more information and directions. It is open to all individuals, and there are no gate fees.

  1. Lakeway City Park

Similar to the Bee Cave Central Park, the Lakeway City Park also boasts two playgrounds! The first playground is by the main entrance and is designed for toddlers and pre-k children.

The second playscape is designed for more school age children and has a basketball hoop. Both playground areas have a picnic area. The two playgrounds are located within the greater 64 acre Lakeway City Park that offers nearly two miles of jogging trails, a Bark Park (for your fur baby), grill at the covered pavilion, and the ability to relax by the waterfront. Be aware, though, that there are no lifeguards on duty. Check out the Lakeway City website for more information on the entire park, as well as the playgrounds. It is open to all individuals, and there are no gate fees.

  1. Springwoods MUD Park

Conveniently located in northwest Austin off of 183, this park is quiet, offers a variety of play equipment for different ages, and pavilions for picnic lunches. My favorite part is the cute little slide for toddlers – you’ll know what I mean when you see it! The park can get a little crowded on weekends, which makes parking difficult, but on weekdays the park is easy to access. They don’t appear to have a website, but you can find information about the park on Yelp. The park’s address is: 9117 Anderson Mill Rd, Austin TX 78729

  1. Trailhead Park

Also located on the northwest side of Austin, this park is a hidden gem! Tucked behind a residential neighborhood and conveniently adjacent to greenbelt trails, Trailhead Park is VERY toddler friendly. The entire park is under a large umbrella which makes it a good option for those hot summer days. A mini climbing wall, two walls of buttons that mimic musical instruments, slides of different sizes and steepness, as well as a walk-up ramp for strollers or wheelchairs makes this my personal favorite park that I’ve discovered so far. There are also picnic tables, a basketball court, and a sports field -- this means your tweens and teens can have age-appropriate fun as well! Get directions and more on their website. It is open to all individuals and there are no gate fees.

May your summer is full of laughs, smiles, and fun with your kids – I hope this list helps you add a few more smiles to your family’s memory bank!


About the Author:

Author Bio

Kelsey Packard single mama of two littles in Austin Texas. She has a masters in Human Development and Family Studies, does freelance work as a Project and Data Manager, and enjoys writing in her free time! She loves supporting other mamas and striving for a healthy, wholistic lifestyle! She can be reached at with questions from fellow mamas or with work opportunities!

Including Your Pet in Family Portraits

If you’re anything like me, your pets are part of your family. You count on them for support, you’re there for them when they need you, and you’d do anything for them. Therefore, why wouldn’t you choose to include your pets in your professional family portrait sessions? I love when I receive an inquiry from a client who is interested in including their pets in their session -- over my nearly 15 years as a professional, I have received requests to include pets in various situations and for all occasions. Pets bring joy to any portrait session, and anyone I photograph with their pet is more relaxed in front of the camera. Here are some ideas for ways you can include pets in your next portrait session:

  • Maternity Sessions – I often hear from new and expecting parents that their pet is their first baby. Including your dog or cat in a maternity session can be a fun way to creatively document the expansion of your family. Not every image has to include your fur babies, but you’ll be thankful that you decided to have Max part of this momentous stage of your life.
  • Newborn Sessions – I love photographing lifestyle images of families welcoming their new precious babies into their lives and homes. This is a time where your home and dynamics are making huge shifts. Honoring this time with professional photographs -- your fur babies included! -- is something you won’t regret.
  • Your Very First Pet – All pets leave their mark on our hearts. Having said this, you will never have a second “first” pet as an adult. My dog, Ruckus, was my very first dog and the photographs I have of the two of us together couldn’t be more precious.
  • With Your Children – the children I often photograph have always considered their pet to be like a sibling to them. How sweet is it to include pictures of them together? Perhaps you could to have them photographed playing or cuddling together, or engaged in their favorite activity. These moments are fleeting and leave a mark on all of us.
  • Family vacation – taking a trip to Tahiti on your private jet with Fido? Take me and let me document the whole thing. You won’t regret it, I promise.


Including Pet in Family PortraitsIncluding Pets in Family PortraitsIncorporate Pets in Family PortraitsIncorporate Pets in Family Portraits What are your favorite ways to incorporate your pets into your family portraits? 


Norah Levine has been a professional portrait photographer for nearly 15 years. She is also an author, photo educator, fine artist, and pet mama living in Austin, Texas. Her book, “Pet Photography” can be purchased at AMAZON or Rocky Nook publishing She also has online courses via CreativeLive and Craftsy Her fine art can be viewed on Etsy Inquire directly for learning opportunities, fine art commissions/purchases, and portrait sessions.

There's just something about photographing children... {child and pet photographer Austin, TX and Santa Fe, NM}

When I tell people I am a portrait photographer who specializes in imagery of children and pets I usually get a crossed-eyed response from the inquirer who says, "Wow, you picked the two most difficult subjects!" As I've stated before, I don't feel like I've chosen any of this; it just seemed to fall into place. Don't get me wrong–there are many challenges that come along with this subject matter, but the rewards are indisputable. I have been photographing these two children, Derya and Arda, since they were born and I have an especially close bond with both of them. They are both such characters. I love how children's expressions are so incredibly varied and authentic; their reactions unfiltered. These children are no exception.

While it may sound cliché, I sometimes forget to breathe when I'm photographing children. This is true in part because I know these little tikes have a limited attention span and I need to act fast. It is also because I get deeply absorbed in their unique beauty–just one of the characteristics that I can only hope emanates in the photographs I am creating.

Norah Levine is an Austin based children portrait photographer and pet photographer. She photographs in homes and on location. She also travels to Santa Fe, New Mexico frequently for sessions. Please view her website for more details Images rights must be obtained in writing for any use.


"The Value of Home" Choosing a location for your family portraits {Austin, TX and Santa Fe, NM children and pet photographer}

Choosing a location for your family, children, or pet portraits, is imperative to obtaining the most meaningful and genuine photographs. I specialize in on-location children and pet portrait sessions in Austin, Texas and Santa Fe, New Mexico. By "on location" I mean that I do not currently have a studio wherein clients come to me to have their portrait created on a background using props. Sometimes clients specifically request the look of a seamless background and I am more than happy to accommodate and bring necessary equipment on location. When a client and I discuss options for location, I always suggest photographing at their home. In-home sessions are more personal than studio sessions and offers a more comfortable environment for everyone–the children, pets and adults. As an on-location photographer I have to transport my equipment to the client, which is a lot of work, but it's worth it for me to ensure that I am obtaining genuine imagery and capturing honest portraits.

The house never has to be immaculately clean or perfect in order to have a portrait session there. I can always work around toys, etc.! Your home is where you and your loved ones are most comfortable; where many memories are created and where you share in experiences with your loved ones. As time moves forward and surroundings inevitably change, you can view the photographs and immediately access that exact moment in your family's life. This is powerful.

So when you choose the location for your next portrait session, consider these aspects and ponder the value of having art created in and around your home or at a location that holds strong meaning– wherever that may be at this moment for you.

Here's to a new year filled with hope, growth, laughter, and holding those we love tightly.


This portrait session was so much fun. I have photographed this family before and the boys certainly remembered me! We had a great time playing around both inside their home and outside in their favorite climbing tree. The energy was fantastic and I adore this family.

Norah Levine is an Austin based children portrait photographer and pet photographer. She photographs in homes and on location. She also travels to Santa Fe, New Mexico frequently for sessions. Please view her website for more details

Why am I a photographer? {Children and Pet Photographer, Austin, TX and Santa Fe, NM}

Being a photographer isn't much of a choice for me. Photography picked ME. (Kind of like all of my adopted dogs and cats did). I fell in love with photography for the magic of it–for the many possibilities to create and connect through my view finder. While the format of photography has changed dramatically from my days of rolling film onto reels, the magic hasn't changed a bit. Sure, owning a business has its challenges, but I can't really imagine not creating photographs. As a result of my profession I get to play and interact with incredible children and animals and meet amazing people–even make some new friends. Through that process I have the opportunity to create images that allow my clients to linger in the present moment just a little bit longer–as their new baby coos and drools, as they hold on extra tightly to one another and while their pets gaze longingly into their eyes... this is the magic. Time certainly doesn't stand still, but artful photographs can certainly help it pause just a little; help us to spend a moment or two reminiscing and feel warm and fuzzy. (For the record, I'm not ashamed of being a warm and fuzzy photographer.) As I work hard to photograph and produce the final artwork for all of my unique clients this holiday season I am most definitley thankful to be part of this magical art form. The photographs I am sharing today are from a recent portrait session with a dear family in Santa Fe. I loved spending time with them at a park nearby their home as well as capturing images of their beloved pets at their home.

Norah Levine is an Austin based children portrait photographer and pet photographer. She photographs in homes and on location. She also travels to Santa Fe, New Mexico frequently for sessions. Please view her website for more details

Sibling Portrait Session {Children Photographer, Austin, TX and Santa Fe, NM}

On a recent family portrait session in Santa Fe I photographed Leah and her two very special daughters, Anna and Greta. It was a gorgeous fall afternoon; a perfect day to spend photographing two giggly sisters and their mom. I had photographed Anna and Greta twice before and I was really looking forward to spending the time with them. I have enjoyed watching them grow (through my viewfinder) into two little ladies with two absolutely distinct personalities. Artfully capturing these sisters as they interact brings me joy–and definitely gives me a case of the giggles. Anna and Greta's connection reminds me of the close bond between my sister and I. (Except for yesterday when she lovingly told me she was going to "mute me" while we were having a video conference call if I didn't stop talking). Having the ability to capture these images for not only mom and dad, but also for the children to enjoy as they grow into adulthood really makes me feel good about what I do as a professional photographer. Photographing Anna and Greta always involves playing. When I arrived to their home Anna was boinging away on her pogo stick and Greta tried to be shy for about a minute and a half before booting a soccer ball across the yard. Even Jack, their sweet dog has been warming up to me. After spending some time at their home both outdoors and also indoors, we headed to an area I had spotted on my ride to their house; a space nearby where the trees just oozed with fall color and the afternoon light was exquisite. I love the warm feeling of the late afternoon light and the way the girls seemed to fit perfectly into the scene with their contrasting purple dresses. I could spend days photographing Anna and Greta. I am incredibly thankful to be invited me back to their home again and again.




Norah Levine is an Austin based children portrait photographer and pet photographer. She photographs in homes and on location. She also travels to Santa Fe, New Mexico frequently for sessions. Please view her website for more details

A sisterly bond: children portraits by Norah Levine

There is something tremendously endearing for me about photographing two sisters together. I just love it. I have photographed these two girls together for two years and enjoy every minute of my sessions with them. They remind me of my sister and I many years ago–especially the freckles; my sister is speckled with them. I love the special bond these two share– the giggles exchanged; the silliness and play between them. The connection of sisterhood is like no other and I value the chance to capture this loving bond in my photography. These two are unique in character like you can't imagine but certainly shine together brightly. I hope that many years from now they look at these photographs and reminisce about their childhood together and perhaps giggle a bit over a glass of wine.

Norah Levine is an Austin children portrait photographer and pet photographer. She photographs in homes and on location. She also travels to Santa Fe, New Mexico frequently for sessions. Please view her website for more details