Austin Engagement Session Locations
Butler Park (aka Butler Metro Park)
1000 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704
(512) 974-6700 (Austin Parks & Recreation)
Parking: Limited parking is available at the park and behind Dougherty Arts Center
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Pets: Yes (on leash)
Pros: Centrally-located, pretty sunsets, variety of backdrops
Cons: Can be crowded, especially on weekend evenings, parking can be tricky
Butler Park is one of my go-to locations for engagement sessions. It’s also fantastic for surprise proposals. Located just south of Auditorium Shores on Ladybird Lake, the park includes a surprising amount of greenspace, Doug Sahm Hill, a splash pad with fountains, The Long Center and Palmer Events Center, and a well-maintained pond. Formerly known as Town Lake Metro Park, this little gem in the heart of Austin is loaded with beautiful spots for photos.
Doug Sahm Hill, named after the Texas country musician (who you should definitely check out if you like Texas music), is probably my personal favorite spot in Austin to catch the sunset. If the conditions are right, with some golden light and clouds, you might luck into an absolute stunner of a sunset. Unfortunately it’s very unlikely you’ll have the hill to yourself at sunset; Butler Park is no longer the secret spot it once was, and you’re likely to be sharing the view with lots of other folks. I personally think it’s worth the crowds, though, and the pictures from up top can be gorgeous.
The Long Center for the Performing Arts, also located in Butler Park, is another perfect spot for engagement photos and is just a short walk away. With a wide, unimpeded view of the skyline over Ladybird Lake and architecture you won’t find anywhere else, it’s a very Austin spot. As a bonus, it’s got a unique and awesome glowing dance pad.
A note about parking: it’s tricky. There is a small lot on the north side of the park and another small lot at the very back of the Dougherty Arts Center. If both are full there is another small lot across Riverside near the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge and street parking up the hill on Dawson Rd., south of the park.
There are restrooms located near the Dougherty Arts Center parking lot. They are occasionally very gross.
Butler Park is also within walking distance to the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge. The bridge is another favorite of mine for catching amazing sunsets. It’s fantastic for proposals as well!
McKinney Falls State Park
5808 McKinney Falls Pkwy, Austin, TX 78744
Wheelchair: Parts of the park are wheelchair accessible, others are not
Pets: Yes (on leash)
Pros: One of the prettiest spots in Austin, plentiful parking, amazing bluebonnets and wildflowers
Cons: Occasionally closures due to high volume of visitors, prone to flooding after heavy rains
McKinney Falls is one of the coolest places in Austin. We’re lucky to have a 600+ acre state park within the city limits. Opened in 1976, the park is named after Thomas McKinney, a senator to the first legislature in Austin, who lived in what is now the park. The remains of his homestead remain standing at the park.
In spring, the bluebonnets at McKinney Falls are stunning. Fields and fields of wildflowers course through the park and make for an unforgettable backdrop for photographs. You’ll also find Indian Paintbrush, Indian Blanket, and other colorful Texas-native wildflowers throughout the park.
Onion Creek and Williamson Creek, which flow through the park, form two dazzling waterfalls (the unoriginally-named Upper Falls and Lower Falls). Both are fantastic spots for photographs. If you’re willing to get a little bit wet, the creek is wadeable and makes for really unique images.
There is a huge exposed limestone hill that my family has always called the “moon rock.” It’s a perfect place for sunset photographs.
On weekends, especially during wildflower season and any other day when the weather is nice, the park can reach capacity. I always recommend planning an engagement session during the week to help mitigate this problem. If it’s not possible to schedule on a weekday, it’s a good idea to make reservations. You can do that at Texas State Parks' reservation page.