Ahhh….Austin. There are more beautiful, active, and fun things to do in Austin than we can even start to list! But as locals who get to enjoy our own backyard in every weekend, we are going to try to do our very best!
Check out our ever growing list below of all our favorite activities in this diverse, active, beautiful Central Texas City.
- Must-Do Activities in Austin
- Active Things to Do in Austin
- Historic Austin Activities
- Yummy Things to Eat
- Indoor Activities in Austin for Stormy or Just-Too-Hot to Handle Summer Days
THINGS TO DO IN AUSTIN THAT YOU JUST CAN’T MISS
1. Spend the Day at Zilker Park
This city park is far from a hidden gem – everyone knows about it here – but it is so wonderful that you might kind of wish that it was a secret spot! This 351 acre park is filled with grassy space for picnics and frisbee, access to the lake for paddle boarding and kayaking, a natural swimming pool (see #2), playground, botanical garden, miles of walking paths, sculpture garden, nature center, and a delightful hillside theater.
Events at the hillside theater are free admission with donations requested, and each summer their musical is a must-do in Austin. 2022’s production of Newsies! was phenomenal and Matilda is on the books for 2023.
2. Take a Refreshing Swim in Barton Springs
The chilly waters of the Barton Springs Natural pool might initially take your breath away on a hot summer day, but you’ll soon appreciate the ability to stay cool on a hot summer day in such a gorgeous location! The water stays at about 68 degrees, and many trees shade the grassy hillsides. Admission fees do apply and picnics must be enjoyed outside the pool gate.
The pool is open year round and even offers a Polar Plunge event on New Year’s day. Rumor has it that when the air is cool, the water feels warm when you jump in. Let me know if you want to try it out and report back!
Local tip: Bring a floatie of some sort – a tube, air mattress, sparkly unicorn – whatever! You will enjoy yourself much longer in these Texas natural springs if you can keep part of your body out of the water as it is deep and chilly.
While not a typical spot with sand and waves, Barton Springs is one of Austin’s best beaches.
3. See the Congress Bridge Bats
Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin, is crossed by Congress Bridge and is also home to over a million bats. From early Spring through late Fall, the bats leave the safety of the bridge and fly out close to sunset to find food. It makes for quite the sight to see! Viewers can observe the phenomenon from the bridge, from the observation area at the southeast corner of the bridge, or from a bat boat tour directly on the lake.
4. Stop to Smell the Roses at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
These gorgeous gardens are not to be overlooked when looking for things to do in Austin. Trails wind through the 250+ acre property highlighting the flowers that are currently in season across Central Texas. It is the perfect place for photos when stopping by the Texas bluebonnets along the highway just isn’t going to work out. Admission fees apply and reservations are recommended.
5. Take a Self-Guided Street Art Tour
Street art murals abound in this diverse and happening city. The works of art make for fun photos and a colorful afternoon activity. Take a self-guided tour or book one with a local to get the inside scoop.
6. Have a Picnic in the Bluebonnet Fields
If you are near Austin in mid-March to early April, you are in for a real treat! This beautiful Texas state flower pops up along the highways, hiking trails, wildflower centers, and fields around Central Texas. Check out St. Edwards University and Brushy Creek Lake Park for some beautiful bluebonnet fields views close to the city.
7. Schedule a Hometown or Vacation Photo Shoot
We scheduled a family photo shoot with Robyn with Flytographer in Austin and had the best time! We LOVE creating the best souvenirs ever by booking photo shoots while on vacation, and this time decided to do a hometown photo shoot instead.
This session was at McKinney Falls, but a session downtown with the street art murals would be amazing too! If want to check out Flytographer (they are in 350+ cities worldwide, you can get $25 OFF your first photo shoot!
ACTIVE THINGS TO DO IN AUSTIN
8. Lake Travis Zip Lines
9. Hike Mount Bonnell for a Beautiful View
This “easy” hike might leave you breathless, but won’t take you long to climb. There are 102 steps up the mountain and a 200 foot elevation gain, but the lookout over the lake at the top is worth every step.
Remember that the Texas heat is brutal, so we highly recommend enjoying this activity for sunrise, sunset, or outside of the summer months.
10. Rent a Paddleboard on Lady Bird Lake
This metropolitan lake park isn’t just for kayakers! Rent a board from Live Love Paddle and paddle to your heart’s content under the city bridges and along the shore of Texas’s capital city.
11. Bike Tours
12. Hike Barton Creek Greenbelt
Barton Creek Greenbelt offers many short trails for an enjoyable morning hike. Check out Twin Falls for a waterfall experience or Sculpture Falls if your priority is a swimming hole along the trail. As always, pack your sunscreen and more water than you think you will need.
HISTORIC THINGS TO DO IN AUSTIN TEXAS
13. Tour the Texas State Capitol
14. Historic walking tour
15. Bullock State History Museum
16. Driskill hotel
YUMMY THINGS TO EAT IN AUSTIN, TEXAS
17. BBQ at Terry Black’s Barbecue
18. Order a Coffee on the Patio at Mozart’s
19. Austin’s Legendary Breweries
20. Breakfast Tacos
21. Picnic Food Truck Park
22. Pick Up a Cupcake from Polkadots Bakery
The strawberry champagne cupcakes from Polkadota are so delicious that you will have a hard time eating just one! They have six flavors always available, and six other flavors available on a weekly basis. You can plan out your cupcake eating schedule here. Hint* The Black Bottom cupcake is a great back-up option!
The cupcakes itself is nice and fluffy and the frosting is just sweet enough without being so sugary that you feel like you have to scrape some off – ya know what I mean? Please note that they are only open in the afternoons and not open on Sundays.
INDOOR ACTIVITIES IN AUSTIN
23. Magic’s Theater
24. Escape Room
25. Visit the Museum of Ice Cream
26. Shop till you Drop at the Barton Creek Mall
MORE FUN AUSTIN THINGS TO DO
27. Take a Day Trip to Hill Country
28. Walk Downtown, South Congress, and Try on Boots at Allen’s
29. Visit the Beautiful McKinney Falls
McKinney Falls State Park is a beautiful place for a hike, picnic and a swim in the waterfalls.
30. Austin Duck Adventures
31. Walk Rainey street
Walk this fun street in the evening, while picking up food from one of the food trucks nearby. It’s got a different vibe than the rest of downtown and you are sure to love it. We recommend the beef fajita tacos from Wild Taco. But even if you aren’t hungry, you have to try the mini donuts from Lucy’s! You will likely hear music and maybe catch a football game on a big screen if it’s the season!
32. Watch the Sunset from the Bridge Over Lady Bird Lake
Few things will so perfectly end a day in Austin as taking the time to stand on the bridge on South Congress and watching the beautiful Texas sky sunset over the lake.
33. Take in the View at Oasis Brewing Company
The view from Oasis can’t be beat! Feel free to just stop by for the sunset, but while you are at it, you might as well grab a tasty burger and stay awhile!
34. Getaway for a Day or Two to Hyatt Lost Pines
35. See the Austin Christmas Lights
if you are in visiting Austin during the holiday season, you are in luck! There are SO many Christmas activities, beautiful festive lights, and holiday things to do in Austin. Check them out here!
36. Pick a Pumpkin or Make your Way through Corn Maze
When the weather starts to cool off, there is no shortage of things to do in this outdoor city! With fall, brings adorable country pumpkin patches with hay rides, barn photo opps, challenging corn mazes, tire swings and farm animals. Don’t miss the campfires, apple pies, or kettle corn either!
37. Visit an Austin Water Park
What better way to beat the heat than visit one of the best Austin water parks or a new options just a half hour away? From Quest ATX to Typhoon Texas to Kalahari, there are small intimate parks to large, popular options filled with lazy rivers, fast slides, splash pads, and wakeboarding.