Trying to figure out some of the essential things to do in Austin? We’ve got the inside suss on the unmissable attractions and places to eat, drink and discover.
While traditionally most people would think of music as the main Austin attraction, there’s so much more to this exciting city. World-class culture, beautiful hikes, swimming spots and comfort food unlike any you’ve had before.
Yep, you won’t be bored here, that’s for sure. With that in mind, we’ve shared our top picks of the things everyone has to do in Austin at least once…
Best things to do in AustinHow do these rankings work?
1. Go swimming in Barton Springs Pool
Hot outside? Go for a dip in one of the crown jewels of Austin – Barton Springs Pool, an ideal spot for year-round swimming. It has an average water temperature of 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit that comes fresh from natural springs and is home to the endangered Barton Springs Salamander.
Just take note that it’s closed for cleaning and wildlife preservation every Thursday from 9am-7pm.
2. Listen to live music
Jam out at Little Longhorn Saloon, the mainstay of Austin’s honky-tonk country music scene – there’s never a cover charge. It’s also known for its six-days-a-week happy hour, with $1 Lone Star beers.
Austin’s iconic Waterloo Records regularly hosts free in-store performances by emerging local musicians.
3. Watch 1.5 million bats fly into the sunset
From April-October, North America’s largest urban bat population calls Austin home. Every evening at sunset, 750,000 and 1.5 million bats fly out from underneath Congress Avenue Bridge.
Arrive early for a front row spot (the sidewalk gets crowded) and be sure to face the east, as the bats will fly out in that direction.
4. Eat your way around the city’s Food Trucks
From tasty cupcakes at Hey Cupcake! to Chi’Lantro’s taco-and-Korean barbecue, Austin has over 1,000 food trailers, with more opening every single day. Food-court trailer parks are an Austin phenomenon in which multiple food trucks join together to create a dining destination.
Check these spots out for a serious feast:
- FoodTrailersAustin.comThe Picnic Food Trailer Park
5. Hike around Lady Bird Lake
Hike (or bike) the 10-mile Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail that goes all the way around the sparkling waters of Lady Bird Lake. It’s one of the best spaces in the city, and you can dip in and out of the trail if you don’t fancy doing the full loop.
6. Explore Texan history at the Bullock Museum
Stop by on the first Sunday of each month (year-round) for the H-E-B Free First Sunday event series. This family-friendly event offers free exhibition admission all day along with special, interactive activities celebrating culture, education and Texas history.
7. Do a DIY street art tour
Take a self-guided tour of Austin’s iconic murals, including Greetings from Austin at South First and Annie Streets; Hi, How Are You at Guadalupe and 21st Streets; and the “I love you so much” mural painted on the wall of Jo’s Coffee on South Congress.