If you are ready to see some of the best things to do in Austin, you’ve come to the right place! People in Austin are generally very kind, and you feel welcomed to the city! You will learn that there are countless things to do and a great deal of variety in the city.
A large number of activities in Austin are around the Colorado River that runs through the city. You will find so much fun out in nature while in Austin, from natural springs and swimming holes to paddle boarding and tubing on the river. In addition, of course, you will find museums, a variety of restaurants, and indoor activities as well.
Austin is a bustling yet relaxed city; it’s hard not to fall in love with the city! So which of these things to do in Austin will you do first?
30 Best Things To Do In Austin Texas
Barton Springs Pool
The Barton Springs Municipal Pool fills its walls with water from a nearby natural spring, Barton Spring, which is the fourth largest natural spring in Texas. After you purchase an entrance pass, you can enjoy the large pool that has depths from 0 to 18 feet. When you aren’t in the pool, you can lay in the sun or picnic on the concrete or grassy areas around the pool. Barton Springs Pool is by far one of the most extraordinary things to do in Austin!
Bullock Texas State History Museum
This history museum in Austin is just a few blocks from the capitol building and will walk you through the story of Texas becoming a state, oil, and gas in Texas, and much more Texas history! The museum is great for travelers of all ages. For family travelers, you will be happy to know that there is a cafe and an IMAX theatre at the museum. However, keep in mind that you will also need to pay for parking.
Blanton Museum of Art
The Jack A. Blanton Museum of Art is located at the University of Texas at Austin and is one of the largest university art museums, and the cherry on top is that on Thursdays, it’s free! The museum has a permanent collection of more than 19,000 works of art and holds events all throughout the year.
Eat at The Oasis On Lake Travis
Eating a meal at The Oasis overlooking Lake Travis is one of the coolest things to do in Austin, Texas! The building is covered in rocks, giving a Tuscan vibe and the views over Lake Travis are stunning. They serve a combination of American and Mexican dishes alongside a variety of mouth-watering desserts.
Lou Neff Point
This point along the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail offers you incredible views of the river and Austin skyline behind it. It’s also a great place to launch a paddleboard or kayak. Paddleboarding and kayaking the river in Austin are popular activities for locals and visitors and are a great way to experience Austin from the outdoors!
Tom Hughes Park
Tom Hughes Park is a beautiful park on Lake Travis that offers its visitor’s swimming and hiking opportunities, as well as some primitive hiking trails. Swimming in the blue water and hanging out on the rocks while watching the sunset over the lake is a special experience to have when in Austin.
Tour Capital Building
Free thirty-minute tours of the State Capitol Building are available daily. So if you’re a history buff and longing to learn more about Austin and of Texas as a whole, there’s no better way to learn about the history of Texas and the capitol than touring the state capitol building.
The Austin Aquarium is one of the best things to do in Austin with kids for family travelers. This aquarium isn’t just home to marine life but also birds, lemurs, sloths, turtles, alligators, and other reptiles. You can see thousands of species, enjoy their interactive exhibits, shop for souvenirs, and grab a bite to eat while you’re there.
Eat Texas Tacos
One of the best things to do in Austin is hunt for amazing tacos! Looking for the best tacos in Austin can be a fun activity in and of itself. You will see Mexican restaurants, taco stands, and everything in between. A few of the most popular places to get some of the best tacos in Austin include: the food truck called Granny’s Tacos has unique drinks and some of the best breakfast tacos in Austin, OneTaco Taqueria, which has fantastic vegetarian tacos, and the Las Trancas Taco Stand that offers a large variety of tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and tortas.
Mckinney Falls State Park
Mckinney Falls State Park is one of the 80 state parks in Texas and is a must-see when you’re in Austin! The city of Austin is in such a beautiful location in Texas, and although it is a bustling city, you can still find so many areas of natural solace within the city limits. At Mckinney Falls State Park, you will find dramatic rock features along the ground that eventually drops off into a body of water. Waterfalls over the edge of the rock, and you can see more dramatic rock features under the water as well. Mckinney Falls is a natural wonder that you need to see with your own eyes!
Watch The Bats at Sunset
Every day at sunset, more than a million bats fly out of the Congress Avenue Bridge and into the night sky! One of the best ways to experience this is by renting a kayak or stand-up paddleboard so that you can get as close to the action as possible. If you prefer to have your feet on solid ground while watching the bats, head to the Statesman Bat Observation Center. You can also stand on the Congress Avenue Bridge as sidewalks are running down both sides. Watching the bats is one of the most incredible things to do in Austin, Texas!
Have you or your little ones ever wanted to feed a Capybara? What about a giant tortoise? You can, at the Austin Zoo! They also have a train ride through the zoo where you can see the animals playing and exploring. If you want to increase your chances of seeing the animals out and about, make sure to visit the zoo early in the morning when the animals are the most active!
Also called the Pennybacker Bridge, this bridge has a weathered steel arch that offers fantastic sunset views over Austin and the Colorado River. If you want to view the bridge itself and the surrounding area, consider taking the Lake Austin to 360 Bridge Overlook hike. This hike is ranked as moderate in difficulty and is 1.8 miles long. This hike is popular in Austin, so you are unlikely to be alone on your way up to the overlook. You can find the complete hike information by looking at the trail on AllTrails.
For those traveling with young kids, this Austin attraction will be one of the most fun things to do in Austin. It’s a children’s museum with one of the most incredible playgrounds you have ever seen! They have indoor and outdoor water play stations, indoor learning and play activities and opportunities for your little ones to use their mind and experiment! The Thinkery also has different programs, both in-person and online, so make sure to check their website before heading to the museum!
If you are looking for a swimming hole while in Austin, your trip wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Campbell’s Hole! You will find the landscape is quite similar to Mckinney Falls State Park. This area is very popular, and you will see people sunbathing, playing in the water, and hanging in hammocks around the swimming hole. When the creek is dry, there is still plenty of exploring to be done in the area, and it’s the perfect place to have a picnic or read a book out in nature.
Austin Nature and Science Center
This site is another one of the attractions in Austin that should make your list of things to do in Austin if you are traveling with kids! You can learn about and see native wildlife indoors and outdoors at the Austin Science and Nature Center. You can explore the dino pit where your little ones can practice their skills at digging up dinosaur bones, look at bones, plants, and more under magnifying glasses, walk the forest trail, observe honey bees, check out the human sundial and pond walk, and so much more!
If you’re looking for great Mexican food and a wide selection of tequila, look no further than La Condesa. Whether you’re looking for carne asada, carnitas taco, tostadas, or short rib quesadillas, La Condesa has you covered. Make sure to try some of their churros or tres leches before leaving!
Try Vegan Ice Cream Flavors at Anti Social Ice Cream Co
There are tons of places in Austin to get ice cream. However, you will find Anti Social Ice Cream Co away from the rest of the shops in the city, prompting its name. You can find six flavors of vegan ice cream, sandwiches, splits, sundaes, shakes, and banana-based soft serve ice cream at this yummy ice cream shop in Austin, Texas. Eat it in a cone or a cup, top with Oreo’s or sprinkles, and eat until your heart’s content!
Lady Bird Johnson Wild Flower Center
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center should be on your list of things to do in Austin. This attraction is a botanical garden and arboretum at the University of Texas. It’s here that you can see more than 900 species of native Texas plants. Plus, unique architecture, lilypad-covered ponds, stone, and wooden structures, water features, and much more. This center is a perfect place to walk, enjoy nature, and take beautiful travel pictures while in Austin.
Get a taste of the Mediterranean at Tillery Kitchen and Bar
With all of the diversity and deliciousness that Austin cuisine offers its visitors, it can be challenging to choose a place to eat! If you like Mediterranean food, consider stopping by the Tillery Kitchen and Bar. The Mediterranean-inspired dishes on their menu are served in eco-chic surroundings. You can order yourself a lox plate or a meat and cheese board with a glass of draft wine and enjoy it out on their large patio that offers impressive views of the river below!
Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve
Of all the places to visit in Austin, the Mayfield Park and Nature Reserve offers one of the most serene experiences in the city. The Mayfield preserve is a twenty-one-acre natural area where you can find many walking trails, gardens, a historic cottage, and more. You will enjoy the scenery and serenity of this Austin attraction. Make sure to look for the peacocks that call the preserve home and take top-notch travel photos while you’re there!
Texas Military Forces Museum
For history buffs, this is one of the best things to do in Austin! This history museum in Austin is free and is open from Tuesday to Sunday each week. The museum is indoors and an open-air museum as well. You can learn about war history, see machinery, tanks, war memorabilia, and more. This museum is not only great for history buffs but homeschoolers as well. There’s no better way to learn than by seeing it for yourself and getting a hands-on learning experience.
Zilker Botanical Gardens
This beautiful piece of nature can be found right here in Austin, Texas. The botanical garden has varied topography and is located on the bank of the Colorado River near downtown Austin. So if this attraction isn’t on your list of things to do in Austin, make the addition! The grounds are stunning, and it’s a popular location to walk and for photography as well. So if you enjoy taking pictures or are just interested in getting some fantastic travel snaps, make sure to swing by the Zilker Botanical Gardens!
Are you looking for a swimming hole in Austin? Sculpture Falls is a popular swimming spot in town, and it can be reached by hiking along the Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail. The rock features at this site are truly unique and intriguing. The rocks curve and bend to allow the water to flow through multiple small waterways before falling into a perfect swimming hole. This natural beauty must be seen with your own eyes. Don’t miss this site if you visit Austin in late spring, summer, or early fall!
Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail
If you’re looking for free things to do in Austin, consider visiting the Ann and Roy Butler Bike Trail! If you like to bike or check out the cities you visit on foot, then a visit to this Austin attraction is a must. You can enjoy views of the city skyline, walk along the water’s edge among lush trees, and watch the kayaks and boats go by as you enjoy the fresh air and warm Texas sun on the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail!
Typhoon Texas Waterpark
Of all the places to go in Austin, the Typhoon Texas Waterpark can be your best friend on a hot Austin summer day! Whether you’re traveling alone, as a couple, or as a family, a trip to the Typhoon Texas Waterpark is so much fun during the long Texas summers! So float down the lazy river, zip down waterslides, swim in a pool, or grab tasty treats from the eateries on sites; either way, you’re sure to enjoy yourself at this Austin, Texas waterpark.
Lady Bird Lake and Boardwalk
Of all the free things to do in Austin, make sure to walk out onto the BoardWalk at Lady Bird Lake. With seven different viewing areas, a restroom, 300 piers, and more than 7,250 feet of boardwalk, you can get amazing views of the Austin skyline and the Colorado River. You can enjoy the fresh air, watch kayakers go by, and get photos with the skyline in the background at this Austin attraction.
Grab a Waffle Bowl From Lick Honest Ice Creams
This hip ice cream shop in Austin has unique flavors of ice cream made from local ingredients that are both natural and sustainable. There are many yummy items to choose from, but a waffle bowl is a must-grab! Then, enjoy a round scoop of ice cream in a flavor that you’ve never tried or heard of before. Flavors like Hill Country Honey & Vanilla Bean, Goat Cheese, Thyme, & Honey, Roasted Beets & Fresh Mint, Grapefruit Paloma, and more are waiting for you at Lick Honest Ice Creams!
Museum of Weird
There are many neat things to do in Austin, Texas, one of the most unique is the Museum of Weird. Have you ever heard anyone say Keep Austin Weird? Keep your trip to Austin weird by stopping by the Museum of Weird on East Sixth Street. You can see weird things like shrunken heads, two-headed cows, Bigfoot print impressions, and many more oddities at the Museum of Weird!
Covert Park at Mount Bunnell
The view of the Colorado River at Covert Park at Mount Bunnell is stunning and iconic, making it one of the best things to do in Austin! This hilltop park is the highest point in Austin and offers the best views as well! Other than the great view, it’s always a good idea to stay active while traveling, and you can do just that by visiting the Covert Park at Mount Bunnell.
Day Trips From Austin
Just a forty-five-minute drive from Austin, this cool natural feature makes for a perfect day trip from Austin. The Hamilton Pool is a natural pool formed when the land above an underground river eroded thousands of years ago. The pool is beautiful, has a waterfall, and the water temperature is around 50 degrees. You will need to pay and make reservations for the pool online before visiting. Keep in mind that you will pay a fee for a vehicle pass on arrival as well.
Georgetown, Texas, is forty minutes away from Austin and has several natural features that are must-visits! First, the San Gabriel River runs through the town and offers many forms of enjoyment for visitors. Second, there’s no better place than Blue Hole Park for swimming and spending the day on the water! Third, if you want to camp nearby the water so that you can have a full day of fun in the sun before crashing at the end of the day, Cedar Breaks Park may be for you. Lastly, a visit to the Inner Space Cavern is one of the most incredible things you can do in Georgetown!
An hour’s drive from Austin will land you in New Braunfels, Texas. New Braunfels is just outside of San Antonio, Texas, making for one of Austin’s best day trips. New Braunfels is full of life and has so much to offer visitors to the city. Consider visiting the Natural Bridge Caverns, Landa Park, Prince Solms Park, Lake Placid, Hinman Island Park, or Comal Springs for explorers and nature lovers. There are also kid-focused attractions, museums, and delicious places to grab some southern Texas cuisine while in the city!
As you can see, there are so many cool things to do in Austin. You may have heard people say the phrase “Keep Austin Weird,” this is adopted by the Austin Business Alliance and has been used to promote small businesses in the city. If you get the chance to support local small businesses while in Austin, that’s always a great idea!
Another thing to consider doing while in Austin is to enjoy live music performances. The city has been known as the Live Music Capital of The World since the ’90s; there are countless opportunities to hear a live performance while you’re in the city.
With all of these awesome things to do in Austin, which will you do first?
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