Outdoors & Recreation
1998 Readers Poll
1998 Critics Picks
Best Austin Athlete

Our state is obsessed with football; but as y'all know well, Austin ain't your typical Texas city - our readers' ongoing rally behind astounding, resilient, cancer-fighting cycler Lance Armstrong is testament to that. Of course, we're not ignoring our Horns altogether; running back and 1998 Heisman Trophy candidate Ricky Williams touches down in second.

Lance Armstrong
Lance Armstrong Foundation
2201 E. Sixth
www.lancearmstrong.com

Best Austin Team

Admit it: You laughed when you heard Austin was getting a hockey team. Buttwo years later, the Ice Bats are the WHPL's most successful franchise,drawing over 200,000 fans last season. The Bats will face off Oct. 8, inthe third-season opener at the Travis County Expo Center - and they'll bespending their off-the-ice time looking for a new Bat Cave closer todowntown.

Ice Bats
Travis County Exposition Center, 7311 Decker Ln.
512/927-7825
www.icebats.com

Best Basketball Court/Game

The half-court heavy Enfield Park is the players' perennial favorite. Clark and Pease got next.

West Enfield Neighborhood Park
2008 Enfield
www.cityofaustin.org/parks

Best Bicycle Repair

Three-time past winner Bicycle Sport Shop falls to second against your ironic pedal-pushing pals at Ozone. Buck's cranks in at third.

Ozone Bike Dept.
3202 Guadalupe, Ste. C
512/302-1164
ozonebikedept.com

Best Bicycle Shop

This place is so well-loved that it's busier day-to-day than Santa's workshopthe week before Christmas. With fast, pleasantly priced repairs on what youalready own, plus a supplies of new bikes to choose from should you desire,Ozone has all your needs covered. Bonus points for weekend bicycle workshopsthey run at area schools. We wonder what Amy Babich thinks ....

Ozone Bike Dept.
3202 Guadalupe, Ste. C
512/302-1164
ozonebikedept.com

Best Bike Ride

With so many different types of paths - from gentle slopes to hell-on-wheels - along so many of our blessed Barton Creek's corridors, is easy to see why readers crank out the vote, year after year, for this challenging woodsy wondertrail. On your right!!!

Barton Creek Greenbelt
Zilker Park to Lost Creek, 512/974-6700
Twin Falls, and off MoPac, south of Loop 360, north of U.S. 290, 512/974-6700
www.ci.austin.tx.us/parks/greenbelts.htm

Best Camping & Outdoor Gear
REI

"Honey, pack up the mini espresso machine in the Range Rover, we're going camping!" They climbed down from the rainy Northwest U.S. to bring their sportier-than-thou attitude to Gateway strip mall in our own northwest quadrant. That said, those gearhead boys and strappin' gals who comprise the gregarious staff at REI can pitch our tents anytime. For that alone, they should get a prize. Our beloved locals Whole Earth Provision Co. made a strong showing in second, and your vote for Best Sporting Goods, Academy, takes third.

REI
9901 Capital of TX Hwy. N., 512/343-5550
601 N. Lamar, 512/482-3357
201 University Oaks, Round Rock, 512/255-1938
www.rei.com

Best Community Garden

Nestled behind Lamar Boulevard on six lush acres near Hyde Park, the Sunshine Gardens site is home to over 350 tended plots, where young and old gardeners from all over Austin grow a diverse array of flowers, vegetables, and herbs. The all-organic garden plots, which rent for $70 a year, are tenant-maintained but overseen by Austin Community Gardens, a pioneering community gardening group which set down roots in Austin in 1975.

Sunshine Gardens
4814 Sunshine Dr.
512/458-2009
www.main.org/sunshine

Best Day Hike

The intricate trails of the Barton Creek are fun on foot, too. It's easier to catch the sights and sounds of the creek's creatures and drink in both its obvious and subtle blessings while taking it a little slower. The Greenbelt has been winning this and the bike ride category for so long, and hikers and bikers share an understanding that this land is our land.

Barton Creek Greenbelt
Zilker Park to Lost Creek, 512/974-6700
Twin Falls, and off MoPac, south of Loop 360, north of U.S. 290, 512/974-6700
www.ci.austin.tx.us/parks/greenbelts.htm

Best Day Trip

Ehhh, get out of town, wouldya? Enchanted Rock wins, as it has every time, as our readers' favorite destination. The enormous stone outcropping near Fredericksburg, so rich in history and abundant of view, lives up to its name. Readers also think that Fredericksburg ist wunderbar; Pedernales falls in third. And a roll-of-the-eyes and lick-of-the-tab honorable mention to those readers who voted for LSD.

Enchanted Rock
16710 RR 965
Fredericksburg
830/685-3636
www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/enchanted-rock

Best Dog Walk

Pease poochie hot, Pease poochie cold! Please poochie off the leash, keep controlled! (Growl.) But seriously, this long and winding greenbelt along Shoal Creek offers plenty of room for Fido to stretch all four legs. The "Doggie Happy Hour" invites dogs of all stripes (and spots) to remember what it's like to run with the pack. Last year's winner, Town Lake, takes second.

Doggie Happy Hour, 6-8pm ish, between 24th & 29th, off Lamar

Best Golf Course

The narrow, tree-lined fairways at Lions Municipal are our readers' bag. But beware the badass dog leg left par 4 Hogan hole! Not to be outdone, second-place Hancock "the Rock" sports a mean par 5 second.

Lions Municipal Golf Course
2901 Enfield
512/477-6963
www.austintexas.gov

Best Neighborhood Park

Try to imagine Austin minus Zilker - it's a sad picture. You've chosen Zilker as your favorite place to play for the last six years. There's something for everyone: Soccer! Playscape! Choo-choo! Barton Springs! Rock Island! Plus, room to stretch out or to get lost! Pease Park off Lamar wins second and Stacy Park in Travis Heights gets third.

Zilker Park
2100 Barton Springs Rd.
512/974-6700
www.austintexas.gov

Best Overall Nursery

The dirt on Gardenville is that they've buried the competition in this category. Perhaps readers dig the impossibly vast variety of herbs or just find the minds of the helpful staff to be fertile when it comes to advice. Gardenville's radio show on KLBJ-590AM keeps their reputation growing. Photosynthetic hubs Barton Springs Nursery and Red Barn are sprouting through this category's topsoil, though.

Garden-Ville
4001 Ranch Rd. 620 S, Bee Cave, 512/219-5311
10624 North FM 620, 512/219-5311
250 WL Walden Rd., Georgetown, 512/930-1715
2212 Ranch Rd. 12, San Marcos, 512/754-0060
www.gardenville.com/

Best Participatory Sport

Whoever thought of taking the wanky sport of golf and combining it with the wanky sport of Fris - ahem, flying-disc-tossing, throwing in some beer and some pot to create a decidedly slacker sport, and taking it to the parks of America ... Well, if the inventors weren't Austinites themselves, they sure struck a chord with them. Disc golf holes up in first for the second year running. World Cup fever brings soccer to second place, and basketball gets third. Volleyball, the readers' favorite from 1993-96, has apparently been bumped from those hearts.

Disk Golf / Disc Golf
512/499-6700
www.ci.austin.tx.us/parks/

Best Place To Skate

This category seems more a testament to how fashion is dictating your glide than a measurement of your loyalty to a particular venue. In-liners rule, voting in the Veloway for the third year rolling. The ice rink at Northcross Mall places second, and those who enjoy \'blading in the great indoors or still like the old-school four-wheel experience voted Skate World in third.

Veloway
4900 La Crosse
512/974-6700
www.cityofaustin.org/bicycle

photograph by John Carrico   John Carrico

photograph by John Carrico   John Carrico

Best Public Sports Facility

Village People jokes aside, the YMCA packs you in and pumps you up. Their early/late hours, cool indoor pool, massage therapist, and wide array of fitness programs only enhance an already extensive gym. Last year's winner is still your favorite Neighborhood Park, Zilker.

YMCA TownLake Branch
1100 W. Cesar Chavez
512/542-9622
www.austinymca.org

Best Rock Climbing

When you want to dino for a jug on the only rock in Texas that doubles as an exfoliant, Enchanted Rock has you under its spell. So does Pseudo Rock, even though it's fake, and you're all over the Greenbelt for third.

Enchanted Rock
16710 RR 965
Fredericksburg
830/685-3636
www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/enchanted-rock

Best Scenic Drive (in-town)

Drive this smooth highway as it winds gently among the hills bordering the southwestern flank of "The Live Music Capital of the World," glide through places where those hills have been kindly cut to allow vehicular passage, feast your eyes on woods and fields and close-to-town country, marvel at the exquisitely simple-looking feat of engineering that is the 360 Bridge, do it all. It's like a massage for the eyes, driving this well-maintained stretch of asphalt; it's like a balm for the traffic-jammed, gridlocked, rush-houred soul.

Loop 360
www.txdot.gov

Best Spectator Sport

Admit it: You laughed when you heard Austin was getting a hockey team. Buttwo years later, the Ice Bats are the WHPL's most successful franchise,drawing over 200,000 fans last season. The Bats will face off Oct. 8, inthe third-season opener at the Travis County Expo Center - and they'll bespending their off-the-ice time looking for a new Bat Cave closer todowntown.

Ice Bats
Travis County Exposition Center, 7311 Decker Ln.
512/927-7825
www.icebats.com

Best Sporting Goods Store

Those of you who (rightfully) refuse to plunk down more than $50 for athletic shoes know that Academy can't be licked for its bargain-basement prices and unpretentious selection - it's the practical man's sporting good store. Hand-in-hand with the Roost, Academy knocks Oshman's out of its four-year reign in first. Let's hear it for the home teams!

Academy
7513 N. I-35
512/407-6310
www.academy.com

Rooster Andrews
8650 Spicewood Springs Rd.
512/258-3488

Best Swimming Hole

From the "oh, big surprise" file: Barton Springs is again your favorite spot to dip your tootsies. But really: Despite gross mossy floating clumps, despite developer-salamander-environmentalist fisticuffs, Austin's love for Barton Springs proves transcendent and spiritual year after year. Hamilton Pool dives in a cool second; you also feel deeply for Deep Eddy.

Barton Springs Pool
2131 William Barton Dr.
512/974-6300
www.austintexas.gov/department/barton-springs-pool

David Brendan Hall

 
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