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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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!
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!