14 Best Things to do in Austin

best things to do in austin

Austin is known for being a fun and lively city, and it definitely lives up to its reputation! There’s always something going on, whether it’s checking out the nightlife on 6th Street, spending a day out on Lake Travis, or enjoying a leisurely day at Zilker Park.

Plus, there’s no shortage of great food options – from BBQ to Tex-Mex, you’ll definitely find something to your taste. Whether you’re visiting for a weekend or staying for longer, Austin is sure to have something for everyone.

With so much to do and see, we’ve compiled some of our best things to do in Austin into a few easy lists:

Best Outdoor Activities in Austin

“View of downtown Austin from Zilker Park” by Cesar’s iPhoneography is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

1) Spend a day Exploring Zilker Park

Commonly known as the most loved park in Austin, it’s only fitting that spending a day at Zilker park is at the very top of our list of the best things to do in this great city.

We could probably write an entire list dedicated to this metropolitan park, but if we have to choose, some of our personal favorites include paddle boarding in Lady Bird Lake, taking a swim in Barton Springs Pool, or taking a stroll through the Zilker Botanical Gardens, lovingly referred to as the Jewel in the Heart of Austin.

Zilker Park has a ton to offer, and you should definitely carve out some time on your itinerary to make it here during your trip to Austin.

Lake Travis Cafe in the Evening” by Trey Ratcliff is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

2) Rent a Boat on Lake Austin or Lake Travis

Austin has become a popular destination for bachelor/bachelorette parties over the past few years, and boat parties seem to be the event of choice when it comes to celebrating your friend’s last hoorah before they tie the knot.

Lake Travis is the bigger of the two lakes and is better if you’d like to try out some water sports, but Lake Austin is closer to the city and is probably more of the party destination. There are plenty of boat rental companies at both lakes, but if you’re in the boat-party camp, make sure to book through a company that offers a captain so that you and your friends can party responsibly.

Responsibly partying bachelor/bachelorette parties might be an oxymoron, but that really is not a detail you want to gloss over while planning your trip.

3) Cut Loose at Lake Travis Waterloo Adventures

For a more family-friendly Lake Day, make sure to check out Lake Travis Waterloo Adventures! Located in Lake Travis, here you can book an hour long session at “Adventure Island”, which is composed of 4 different water obstacles.

This could be a great option for the family, but just know that to get on Adventure Island you have to be at least 7 years old and taller than 45 inches. After you’re done on the water, there are plenty of lounge chairs along the shore as well as food and beverage stands available.

This is a truly unique experience here in Austin, and everyone from the kids to Adults rewinding the clock a bit are sure to have a blast!

Mount Bonnell Sunset” by atmtx is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

4) Hike up Mount Bonnell

If you’re visiting from a place like Denver, Mount Bonnell might not exactly be what you’d consider a lung-buster since it peaks at 781 feet, but nonetheless is a great way to spend the day in Austin.

Hiking Mount Bonnell isn’t all that strenuous, and once you get to the top there is a view deck and a pavilion that overlooks downtown and the 360 bridge. If you’re looking for a great place to snap some pictures with the city in the background, definitely be sure to check out Mount Bonnell.

ann and roy butler trail
Lady Bird Lake From a Bridge (Butler Trail) 5” by Cesar’s iPhoneography is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

5) Hike or Bike.. the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail

The Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail is a 10-mile loop that runs through downtown Austin and along Lady Bird Lake. The trail is popular with runners, walkers, and cyclists, and it offers stunning views of the city skyline.

The trail can be accessed from several different points, and there are plenty of opportunities to stop and rest along the way. Whether you’re looking for a short stroll or a longer hike or bike ride, the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail is a great option.

hill country
Indian paintbrush, bluebonnets, and hill country … Texas, you are killing it.” by AngieSix is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

6) Make a day trip to Hill Country

Central Texas is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the state. And, just a short drive from Austin, you can find yourself in the heart of Hill Country.

With its rolling hills, scenic vistas, and clear rivers, Hill Country is a nature-lover’s paradise. There are dozens of state parks and recreation areas to explore, making it the perfect place for a day trip or weekend getaway. Whether you’re hiking, biking, fishing, or just picnicking, Hill Country has something to offer everyone. So, when you’re ready to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, head out to Hill Country for a taste of the good life.

Fun Touristy Things to do while visiting Austin

Austin Capitol Building” by Thanks for over 2 million views!! is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

1) Check Out the Visitor Center to Find a Tour of the City

The visitor center in Austin offers several different tours that are all fun, informative ways to learn more about the city. The tour options run from Downtown walking tours, biking around Barton Springs, or you can even Twisted Texas Tours if you’re looking for a little more lively of an experience.

The tours are a great way to learn about the history of Austin and see some of the city’s most beautiful architecture. If you’re looking for a great way to spend an afternoon in Austin, be sure to head to the visitor center and check out one of the several types of tours available.

Stitched Up Heart (Austin, Texas, 2015-10-17)” by RalphArvesen is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

2) Attend one of the Many Free Outdoor Concerts this Summer

Each summer, the city of Austin comes alive with the sounds of music. For eight weeks, some of the best local and national bands take to the stage for a series of free outdoor concerts.

The concerts are held in a variety of locations around the city, from Zilker Park to Congress Avenue. Whether you’re a fan of rock, jazz, or country music, there’s sure to be a show that you’ll enjoy. And best of all, you can bring your own food and drinks and make a night of it.

So if you’re looking for a fun and affordable way to enjoy the summer months and love a great music scene, be sure to check out one of Austin’s outdoor concerts.

The Broken Spoke” by Jim_Nix is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

3) Take a Honky-Tonk Dance Lesson at the Broken Spoke!

There’s something special about dancing at the Broken Spoke in Austin. Maybe it’s the history of the place, or the fact that it’s one of the few remaining true honky-tonks in the city. Whatever the reason, there’s no denying that taking a dance lesson at the Broken Spoke is an unforgettable experience.

The dance floor is always packed with couples of all ages, and the music is guaranteed to get your feet moving. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a complete beginner, you’ll have a blast learning the two-step or line dancing with your partner. And who knows, you might even end up winning the coveted “boot scootin’ trophy” at the end of the night!

The Little Longhorn Saloon” by Lars Plougmann is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

4) Play a round of Chicken Sh*t Bingo… Yes, you read that correctly

If you’re looking for a whacky and downright bizarre experience while in Austin, look no further than chicken shit bingo. Once again, yes, you read that correctly – chicken shit bingo.

The brainchild of local artist Jimmie Johnson, chicken shit bingo is exactly what it sounds like. Every Sunday from 4-8pm at the Little Longhorn Saloon, a live chicken is placed in a pen atop a bingo board, and people bet on which square the chicken will poop on next.

There are even some prizes at stake if you happen to be the lucky winner, so if you’re looking for an unconventional way to have a good time, be sure to check out chicken shit bingo the next time you’re in Austin.

*** Just so you know, we aren’t making this up, check out their website here.

congress avenue bridge
Austin: Congress Avenue Bridge Bats” by wallyg is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

5) Check out Congress Avenue Bridge

The Congress Avenue Bridge spans Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin. The bridge is a popular gathering place for both locals and visitors, and it offers stunning views of the cityscape. Visitors can also see a variety of wildlife, including bats, ducks, and herons.

The bridge is also home to the world’s largest urban bat colony. Every evening at sunset, up to 1.5 million bats (in case you were wondering what those black dots in the photo were) emerge from under the bridge to feed on insects. The Congress Avenue Bridge is one of Austin’s most iconic landmarks, and it’s definitely worth a visit.

give sign on TOMS south congress
Give Sign on TOMS South Congress Austin” by nan palmero is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

6) Spend an afternoon exploring South Congress

South Congress is one of the most popular areas in Austin. The area is known for its eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, and bars, as well as its lively music scene.

Visitors can explore the many different stores and businesses that line South Congress Avenue, or catch a show at one of the many live music venues in the area. There is also a wide variety of food options available, from traditional Texas barbecue to Mexican and vegetarian fare. Whether you’re looking to do some shopping, see some live music, or just enjoy some good food, South Congress is the place to be.

Best Nightlife Scenes in Austin

Rainey Street” by mrlaugh is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

1) Bar Hop on Rainey Street

If part of the reason your in Austin is for the nightlife, you have to be sure to check out Rainy Street! With tons of options available from classy cocktails at Half Step to lawn games and a nice rooftop at the Lustre Pearl, there’s sure to be something up your alley.

The best part is, if you don’t love the first place you go to, there are about two dozen other places just a few minutes away! If you’re here for a good time, checking out Rainey Street is on the of best things to do in Austin!

SXSW 6th Street, Austin Texas” by John R Rogers is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

2) Party Down 6th Street

6th Street is one of the best places to go out in Austin. It’s full of bars and clubs and there’s always something going on.

Whether you’re looking for a place to dance all night or just grab a drink with friends, 6th street has you covered. Parlor & Yard, The Jackalope, and Greenlight Social were a few of our favorites!

No matter what your scene is, you’re sure to find a place on sixth street that’s perfect for you.

Recap of Best things to do in Austin

  • Zilker Park
  • Boat Day at Lake Travis or Lake Austin
  • Mount Bonnell
  • Day trip to Hill Country
  • South Congress
  • Congress Avenue Bridge
  • Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail
  • Find a tour for you at the Visitor Center
  • Free Outdoor Concerts
  • Broken Spoke
  • Chicken Sh*t Bingo
  • Nightlife on Rainey Street and 6th Street

Where to Next?

Love hiking and the outdoors? Check out Denver!

More interested in sports and nightlife? Check out Philadelphia!

Head to San Diego if a relaxing beach vacation is more your style!

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