You know the saying – “Keep Austin Weird”? Well, Austin, TX is undeniably cool, and if you’re looking to visit or move to the city, there are tons of things to do from food trucks to music festivals and swimming holes. Whether you’re on a budget or looking to splurge, there is something for everyone to do in Austin.
What To Do in Austin, TX
Lady Bird Lake
Lady Bird Lake is a gorgeous area for outdoor rec, hiking, biking, and adventuring. It’s not a swmmin’ hole, but you can go kayaking, rowing, or stand-up-paddle boarding. Explore the whopping 468 acres of land and take the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail for exercise with trees and lake as your backdrop.
Forget Peloton, come here for motivation to exercise! The best part? Admission is free!
Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum
For an after-hours experience, this is the place to go. Every day from 6 pm-8 pm, the museum holds a free “after dark” experience for the whole family. Enjoy a lit-up sculpture garden, gallery exhibits, themed activities, food, and entertainment.
It starts in May and goes through the summer, along with free evening yoga classes and refreshments from local vendors. This is an event the entire community enjoys. Come for a taste of what it’s like to live like a local Austinite and do something out of the ordinary.
Texas State Capitol
For a taste of Texas beauty and history, step inside the capitol building. It’s free to enter, and docent-led tours are offered every 20-30 minutes. Learn about the history of Texas and the beautiful building itself by experienced and knowledgeable guides. If you’d rather take a tour at your own pace, self-guided options are available for the whole family to enjoy.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Explore the astounding garden at the University of Texas and immerse yourself in the native fauna and flora of the Lone Star State. The center has regular family programs for children to get hands-on experience with gardening.
Older kids will love the available magnifying glasses, books, and binoculars to take their garden adventure to the next level. Be sure to call ahead so you can plan to experience everything the center has to offer.
Barton Springs Pool
They say everything is bigger in Texas. Well, folks, it’s true – even for swimming pools! If you’re looking for a family-friendly swimmin’ hole, this is it! Barton Sprints is an outdoor recreational swimming pool that measures a whopping three acres in size.
The pool is fed entirely with warm water from nearby natural springs and stays at a consistent year-round temperature of 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Continental Club
The Continental Club has been in operation since 1957 and holds a well-deserved reputation as a premier music club. They play a delightful variety of Americana and Texan tunes. It’s a favorite hot-spot for locals, but visitors and tourists are welcomed in gladly.
If you want to live like a local Austinite for a few hours, this is the place to come. Grab a drink and turn to a neighbor for delightful discussion about life in Texas.
You can’t have Texas without BBQ and BBQ wouldn’t be where it is today if it wasn’t for Texas. Franklin Barbeque is a legend in Austin and beyond, often boasting hours-long lines because they’re just that good. The chef and food celebrity, Aaron Franklin, cooks up sausages and beef ribs that are to die for.
One taste of his “Q” and you’ll never go back to eating regular barbeque again. Bring a folding chair, a hungry stomach, and a friend to hang with while you wait for your mouthwatering grub.
This ain’t your regular, ordinary, everyday doughnut shop. This particular donut shop serves up Texas-sized donuts for Texas-sized appetites. They come in mouthwatering flavors like the famous “Mother Clucker” – fried chicken on donuts, and “Cache Me Outside” – Nutella, bananas pecans, and whipped cream. No matter what you choose from their one-of-a-kind menu, you can’t possibly go wrong.
For a movie and good-eats, Alamo Drafthouse is the best there is. Snag a seat for your favorite flick and order from a menu that sports options like buffalo cauliflower, banh mi hot dogs, and bourbon milkshakes.
Why settle for the plain old popcorn and soda when you can have your move and dine-out experience, too? Austinites really love their food.
Snag a room in this hotel that is quite literally old as dirt. It’s a true Texas landmark and is the oldest operating hotel in Austin. It’s also creepily haunted. Whose specter roams its halls? It’s rumored that a girl who fell down the stairs to her death and few suicide brides have never left the building.
If you’re looking for a live music venue, you can’t pass up Mohawk. Live music gets going every day from 8 pm-2 am and showcases some of Austin’s best creatives. Other live music venues to consider are The Continental Club, Antone’s Nightclub, ACL Live, and Elephant Room. Live music is essential in the Austin culture.
No trip to Austin would be complete without getting your very own pair of spur janglers – that’s right, we mean good old-fashioned cowboy boots. You’ll be sure to find a pair you love in Allen’s, where the Texas-sized store boasts over 4,000 pairs of boots for your choosing.
You can also find cowboy hats, western duds, and plenty of accessories for a complete outfit. Walk in a visitor, walk out a Texan.
If you’re already visiting Allen Boots, head on over to the next store – the greatest antique and vintage shop around. Peruse items of old, relics, and home goods grandma used. If you’re looking to pick up household items to complete that “Farmhouse” style, this is where you’ll find them!
For nightlife lovers, this is the street where you’ll want to spend some time. It’s a local hot-spot and well-known icon in Austin. Why? It’s several blocks filled with bars and restaurants and endless options for grabbing a bite to eat, indulging in Texas grub, and drinking your fill of local and national brews.
Congress Avenue Bridge
This bridge is famous for two reasons. One, it’s dedicated to the 45th governor of Texas, Ann W. Richards. Two, it’s home to the largest urban bat colony of Mexican free-tailed bats. Between 750,000 and 1.5 million bats call this bridge their home during the summer months.
Here, you can join up to 100,000 tourists every year to watch the bats as they come out at dusk and fly around Lady Bird Lake looking for their nightly meal.
Harry Ransom Center
If manuscripts, historical documents, and old photographs are your thing, you won’t want to pass this up. The center is home to one of the most extensive archives of original manuscripts and documents in the nation.
Here, you can ogle at exhibits including The First Photograph – the oldest surviving photograph known taken in 1826 in France – and a first edition of the Gutenberg King James Bible.
Come Visit Austin!
These are only a few of the fun attractions that Austin offers. Want to learn more? Come visit this unique city that boasts a vibrant music scene, loads of food, and friendly people.
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