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Austin Day Trips: Commons Ford Ranch

Alex Reichek’s favorite place to leap into the lake is just 25 minutes from downtown

Alex Reichek is a hospitality PR and marketing expert working with several Austin brands to create awareness, partnerships and increase business. In addition, her website is filled with recommendations on where to dine, drink and experience the best of Austin, where she lives now, and New York City, where she lived for eight years after attending UT, as well as discoveries made on her travels around the world. This year, with COVID-19 changing up everyone’s plans, Reichek is exploring the Texas Hill Country and sharing her day-trip escapes with Tribeza readers. Be sure to visit her instagram @ChekmarkEats to keep up with all of the best food and adventures in Austin and beyond. This summer I’ve been discovering new places to enjoy the outdoors and cool off safely in the many watering holes nearby. Commons Ford Ranch is easily my favorite find. It’s only about a 25-minute drive from downtown, which is basically how long it would take to get from Clarksville to the East Side during rush hour in previous times.

My friends and I drove in on a Thursday evening before the sky began to twinkle as the sun faded and made way for the moon. The gorgeous lake was crisp enough to give us a good jolt as we leaped into the water off the wooden dock.

Once you park your car and walk up to the beautiful setting, you feel like you have your own private waterfront lake house (minus the house). The luscious green grass overlooking the Lake Austin water is perfect to spread out for a picnic, throwing a football, card games and sipping on Ranch Riders. We had more than enough space, and it wasn’t crowded at this 6 p.m. hour and beyond (the park is open from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.).

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I went with three guy friends, and the best addition was that they brought a couple lounging rafts for us to float on as we watched the speedboats drive by and the sun set. You can’t find a more private, comfortable and relaxing experience on the natural water than this place. There’s a shallow area for kids to play and swim, and you can bring dogs – as long as they remain on a leash.

Next time I’ll look around for more of the walking trails, but once you see that glittering water, which you can basically have all to yourself, you’ll have a hard time walking away.

Commons Ford Ranch is now open without reservations Monday through Thursday. Day pass reservations are required (but free) Friday through Sunday. Those can be made here, and then you’ll need to show a printed pass to the guard as you pull up. The park is located at 614 N. Commons Ford Road.