Austin is a stunning city located in Central Texas. Its unique landscapes with rolling hills, rivers, and lakes make the city more beautiful. And when the natural beauty combines with the vibrant city life, you’ll definitely have a lot of things to do in Austin, Texas.
Although Austin is the smallest city in the state of Texas, it is filled with new and more exciting things everywhere. Enjoyable live music, delicious foods, adventure activities, and unique culture are the most highlighted things in Austin.
Here, I’m going to share with you 30 best things to do, 10 things to do with kids, 10 fun things to do, 10 unique things to do, a one-day itinerary, and a weekend itinerary in Austin.
30 Best Things to do in Austin, Texas
Enjoy Time in the Lady Bird Lake
Lady Bird Lake is the most beautiful place in Austin. Just imagine a lake in the middle of a busy city with glittering water and tree-lined shores. That is exactly what the Lady Bird Lake looks like.
The most important thing is it offers you numerous entertaining outdoor activities on the water and off the water. And for example, wet activities like cruise, kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding. (Keep in mind, the lake authority does not allow you to ride motorized boats)
On the other hand, if you like for dry activities, just try biking, hiking, and walking since there are several trails surrounded by Lady Bird Lake in Austin.
Get more information from the above official website link.
Greetings from the Austin Murals
This is an awesome selfie spot for tourists. Locating in the middle of the city, you can see a painted wall and written “Greetings from Austin”.
Every tourist attracts to this life-sized mural to take photos as a memory of their Austin tour. Inside the paint, all the highlighted landmarks of the city are drawn. Actually, it is a major reason to attract people to this mural.
Once you are done with selfies, you can step inside Roadhouse Relics Studio. There you can find the owner of this mural and all the other signs, art prints, and designs of him. And you can buy them as souvenirs.
Visit Zilker Park and Zilker Botanical Garden
Texas considers as one of the most beautiful states in the USA. As I said to you earlier, Austin has all of those natural beauty features with different landscapes. Zilker Park is an ideal example of that.
It contains waterfalls, hills covered with stunning wildflowers, natural walking and hiking trails, and multiple lakes. Yes, everything is included in Zilker Park within the busy Austin city.
I can’t even finish mentioning the list of things to do in this park. Yes, there are plenty of things. Like, just walking to discover the park, cycling, hiking, paddling, boating, and kayaking. They are the highlighted outdoor activities.
Aside from them, the lakes inside the park have crystal clear water as they are spring-fed. And you can swim through this clean water. For example, Barton Springs Pool is the fourth largest spring in Texas and it is located inside the Zilker Park.
The Barton Springs Pool has crystal clear, natural, and warm water (20ºC to 23ºC). So, you can swim in this pool throughout the year. Actually, many Austins have learned to swim from this natural pool.
Another stunning place is the Zilker Botanical Garden. There are flowers, nice landscapes, and stress releasing natural views in this garden.
Most of the tourists and locals attract to Zilker Park not just because of its natural beauty, but it also hosts public events like live musical shows, music festivals, art exhibitions, and other commercial activities. Check the above link to know the event dates.
So, do not try to miss this place.
Suggested Reading: 17 Amazing Arizona Beaches Guide
Participate in Austin City Limits Music Festival
As I mentioned above, Zilker hosts music festivals. Austin City Limits (ACL) is such an awesome music festival that occurs in Zilker Park. It normally happens on a three days weekend at the beginning of October. And it hosts every type of music like hip hop, rock, country, indie, and electronic through eight big stages.
Not only music but the festival has delicious foods as well. So, you can enjoy music while having tasty foods with your loved ones.
Actually, the name Austin City Limits is famous as it is the longest-running music TV show in the USA. And it offers a platform to perform by famous music legends as well as new bees. You can watch how this show happens and how the artists perform in the show if you visit the Moody Theater located near Zilker Park.
Visit Moody Theater
This is one of the most enjoyable things to do in Austin. Participating in Austin City Limits (ACL) Live at Moody Theater is a thing that you should not miss when you are in Austin.
They host more than 100 concerts annually. Since it has the capacity for 2750 visitors, no need to worry about the space. But, if you want to catch an ACL, you have to get passes from the show’s website. So, check this link to know the calendar.
Visit Blazer Tag Adventure Center
Blazer Tag Adventure Center in Austin is more popular in the wintertime. If you are searching for something to do in the winter, this is the ideal thing as it is the largest laser tag arena in the state.
You may feel like you are in a real video game because it is so different from a usual laser tag game arena. It offers you amazing tactical landscapes with three floors, towers, corridors, ramps, and bridges.
All you have to do is to fight against the other team and win. After winning the game, you can celebrate the victory by having delicious pizzas, burgers, nachos, funnel cakes, cheese sticks like foods from its cafeteria.
This is one of the best entertainment spots in Texas. So, I highly recommend you visit this place on your Austin tour.
Take a Food Tour in Austin
One of my favorite things to do in Austin is food hunting as the city has more incredible restaurants. You can find tacos, BBQs, burgers like staple foods in these restaurants. And also, they offer you various foods from all over the world.
For example, Terry Black’s BBQ offers you uniquely flavored briskets, sandwiches, sides, salads, drinks, and desserts.
On the other hand, Austin has more than 1000 food trucks everywhere. Trust me, they are delicious and high quality with a transparent cooking environment. You can choose any kind of food truck as there are BBQ food trucks, taco trucks, pizza trucks, burger trucks, and many more.
Since I love tacos, I recommend you Veracruz All Natural Mexican Food Truck in Austin. I hope you’ll love those delicious tacos. You can even order online through the above link.
Visit the Austin Nature and Science Center
Austin Nature and Science Center is a good place to visit with your kids. But, it offers very family-friendly activities that can enjoy by all ages. Actually, this is a learning station for kids. They can observe wildlife, birds, different rocks, dig fossils, and gemstones like things in this science center.
And the most important thing is, this place is not just for observing and listening to a guide. It is about doing and learning things. That’s why you must visit this place with your kids.
Visit the Circuit of the Americas
Circuit of the Americas was initially built as a professional racetrack. But, now it has an observation tower, amphitheater, various sports facilities that anyone can experience.
In the wintertime, you can catch the Formula One Grand Prix while in the spring you can watch IndyCar Classics. Not only them, but you can also watch rugby matches, go-kart races, and musical concerts that host by the circuit. For that, you must check their schedule before visiting. So, click the above link.
Visit Texas State Capitol
Texas State Capitol is the most iconic landmark in the city. Yes, it is high more than 300 feet, and bigger than the Washington D.C. Capitol. And obviously, this is the most valuable seat of government in Texas.
The eye-catching part of it is the unique architecture. If you like, you can visit the building and observe both architecture and political activities. However, it is totally worth visiting the Texas State Capitol in Austin.
Visit Congress Avenue Bridge
Another iconic landmark in the city is Congress Avenue Bridge as it offers you stunning city views with the blue sky. But, now I’m going to tell you a completely different story.
Congress Avenue Bridge provides the home for the largest bat colony in the whole state. So, you can experience the way they come out together like in horror movies and cartoons. And I know they smell very bad. But, it is a totally worth catch that Austin bats scene when you are in the town.
Just check the reviews of TripAdvisor.
Enjoy time at Hippie Hollow Park
Well, I’m going to tell you a secret. Hippie Hollow Park is an entertaining non-official nude beach in Austin. So, plenty of interested crowds attract to this beach for socializing, sunbathing, partying, and swimming like purposes.
Locating on the rocky shores in Comanche Trail, the hippies attract here since the 70s. So, it is not a new thing. And wearing clothes is optional and it is the most highlighted rule on Hippie Hollow Beach.
Visit the Texas Memorial Museum
Texas Memorial Museum is a place that highlights and appreciates natural science. Because its exhibits, displays, and programs are dedicated to the areas of zoology, geology, ichthyology, herpetology, and paleontology. Therefore, you can see well-preserved fossils, dinosaur bones, and other rare things inside glass displays.
Since this museum is located in the world-famous University of Texas, it hosts some other events as well. Like wildlife feeding events.
However, visiting the Texas Memorial Museum is one of the best things to do in Austin with your kids.
Visit Mckinney Falls State Park
Do you like water activities? Me too. Then, here’s the ideal destination for you. Mckinney Falls State Park. It is stunning, natural, famous, and adventurous. Actually, this is one of the top tourist hot spots in Austin.
As you can swim and do other water activities, people attract here in the summertime to avoid high temperatures in Texas. Other than just seeing the natural beauty of the Mckinney Falls State Park, there are so many things to do.
Like you can plan for paddleboarding, camping, fishing, biking, hiking, picnicking, stargazing, geocaching, and wildlife watching.
And there are around 80 campgrounds with all the amenities for camp lovers. You can check for the availability of them through the above link.
So, do not miss this natural beauty on your Austin tour.
Participate in Austin City Limits Music Festival
Just like Nashville, Austin is also famous for live music. Therefore the city calls the “Live Music Capital of the world”. And Austin City Limits Music Festival is a great chance for you to experience the best live music shows.
This annual music festival offers you live performances of rock, jazz, country, hip hop like genres. Starting from 10 am, it runs till 10 pm. Other than music, the festival offers you delicious food, drinks, art and craft displays, game zones, and many more entertaining things.
If you are a music lover, do not try to miss this. Just book your tickets.
Visit Emma Long Metropolitan Park
As I said to you earlier, there are plenty of lakes and ponds in this city. But, it is very difficult to find a good one for swimming. Don’t worry, Emma Long Metropolitan Park has it.
Actually, not only swimming, this park offers you a chance to camping, biking, sightseeing, biking, walking, and picnicking like outdoor activities.
But, this park is more famous for water activities. Because it has the water is crystal clear and an awesome shoreline with soft sand. You and your family members can swim, ride boats, fishing, observe different fish, natives birds, and build sandcastles on the stunning shoreline.
You may feel like you are on a Florida beach. Or you can other dry activities as well. However, Emma Long Metropolitan Park is a place filled with plenty of adventures for your whole family.
Visit Austin Visitor Center
Austin Visitor Center is a place that you can visit to get all the travel information about the city. As the people in southern areas are famous for hospitality, anyone will warmly greet you and help you to get information.
If you are looking for information on major attractions, secluded places, events, and programs like things, this is the first place you must visit. The staff members of this center really help you to grab information on tour packages (food tours, adventure tours).
And most importantly, they show you how to avoid probable frauds and traps for tourists. Another thing about Austin Visitor Center is, it has souvenirs and gifts that you can purchase.
Visit Sculpture Falls
Sculpture Falls is a stunning natural destination in Austin. And I don’t know why. But, still, it is a secluded or a hidden gem in the city. Trust me, this is a heavenly beautiful place to visit.
The reason to say like that is, Sculpture Falls is surrounded by green trees, lush forests, mini waterfalls, and tide pools. Yes, there are several mini-waterfalls around the main falls. Therefore, I noticed many tourists fail to identify which one is the Sculpture Falls. So, do not forget to follow the google map location to catch it.
However, all the falls, pools, and the surrounding in this place are superb.
The most important feature of these waterfalls is they are more horizontal rather than vertical. Therefore, they have created little swimming pools everywhere. Since you have to take a little effort to reach Sculpture Falls, you can cool down the body by dipping in these waterfalls.
This secret place offers you a great chance to escape from the busy city life for a while. So, just try it.
Visit Elizabeth Ney Museum
Have you heard about Elizabeth Ney? She was a great German-American sculptor who was lived the first half of the life in Germany and the other half in Austin, Texas. Therefore, you can see some of her artworks in Austin.
Her artworks still shine in Elizebeth Ney Musuem, US Capitol Building, and Smithsonian Museum like places. And the artworks include attractive fountains, statues, and ornaments like things.
Especially, there are many artworks are displayed in Elizabeth Ney Musuem. Further, it contains her life story as well. Since this is totally a free place to visit, I think you should not miss it.
Visit Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve
Another superb natural place in Austin is Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve. It considers as one of the last parts of the city that is well preserved and untouched by people. So, if you visit there, you can definitely catch various native fauna and flora with stunning natural views.
Waterfalls are falling over the rocks, amazing hiking trails run through cliffs, on the way you can observe many endangered animal species. Yes, you can experience all of these insane things from Wild Basin.
But, strictly keep in mind to follow the nature protection guidelines and rules. I think it is our biggest responsibility.
Visit the Cathedral of Saint Mary
Having Irish Catholic roots, the Cathedral of Saint Mary is one of the top attractions in the city. As it is also one of the oldest churches in Austin, history runs to the 1800s. And still, it has that classical and rich heritage look.
Due to the multinational origin of this church, it attracts many Irish, Scottish, and Austin visitors. Therefore, you don’t need to wait until Christmas to enjoy the cathedral. Because it always hosts musical events and concerts by various catholic communities.
Other than the events, you can watch the stunning architectural views of this cathedral. Its gothic architecture rooted towers, crosses, rose windows, spires, and interior domes are really impressive.
So, I beg you not to miss the Cathedral of Saint Mary when you are in Austin.
Visit Uncommon Objects
Uncommon Objects? Seriously, is it a shop?
That was my first question when I heard this name. And it is true. Uncommon Objects is a store in Austin that contains anything that exists on the earth. I will mention some items to get an idea.
Things like guitars, carnival masks, purses, marble statues, music boxes, perfumes, old jewelry, decorative tins, and plenty of mysterious artifacts.
Yeah I know, it sounds a bit weird. But, trust me. It is more fun as you can purchase these unique items for cheap prices. Actually, it is one of the most enjoyable things to do in Austin.
Visit Snake Island
Snake Island is also an awesome hidden island in Austin. Surprisingly some residents don’t know about this island. As there are no maps and proper directions to reach this island, here’s the address: Ann and Royal Butler Hike and Bike Trail, Austin, TX 78741, USA.
It is just a small, natural, and untouched island near Lady Bird Lake in Austin. Although it is not recognized as an official park, it is not illegal to visit. Of course, you must visit this unique place for picnicking, swimming, paddleboarding, kayaking, canoeing, camping, or just walking around.
Since it never gets crowded, you can spend an authentic camping life. On the other hand, this island is full of adventures as well. Within just 2000 square feet of land, (covered with trees) it features a tree swing, rope swing, and trapeze like enjoyable things.
To reach this island, you have to use a non-powered watercraft (just rent a kayak, SUP, or canoe) as motorboats, and swimming is not allowed in the Lady Bird Lake. And the next thing is, there are no snakes. So, don’t worry about the name.
So, visiting Snake Island (also called “Hobo Island”) is totally one of the most unique things to do in Austin.
Visit Blanton Museum of Art
The famous university, The University of Texas includes an awesome art musuem called Blanton Musuem of Art. And the important feature of this musuem is, it contains 18,000 artworks that represent different cultures all over the world.
Like European, Latin American, and contemporary American artworks. Therefore, all the visitor can be proud of their cultures while seeing the exhibits. Further, it contains pre-1900 European Fine and decorative art. On the other hand, the contemporary collection has names like El Anatsui, Yayoi Kusama, Nina Katchadourian, and Natalie Frank.
And I must say, that each and every artwork has its own story hidden behind it. If you like to explore them, just visit this awesome museum.
Visit Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum
Charles Umlauf is a great artist in the USA. You can see more artworks of him other than any other artist in Austin. And he was so generous. The reason to say like that is, he has donated his home, studio, and all the creative sculptures as a musuem to the Austin visitors in 1984. (Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum)
Then, after six years, the home and garden was developed into a museum and sculpture gardens and opened to the public. As it is located on the south bank of Barton Creek, it offers you nice natural environmental views as well. Trust me, you’ll forget that you are in the middle of a busy city.
If I tell you something about Umlauf’s artworks, they are very diverse, creative, and composed of wood, bronze, terracotta, alabaster, and marble-like elements. On the other hand, the subjects of those artworks are also diverse. (Like female nudes, religious symbols, mythological figures, animal figures, and many more)
Visit Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Do you love wildflowers? Well, I love them to see and smell. So, this is the place you should visit the see wildflowers in Austin. Having around 43 acres, this center was developed by American socialite Lady Bird Johnson and actress Helen Hayes in 1995.
And it contains around 1000 Texas native flora species which is great. They are recreationally grown and it offers you awesome, Instagrammable views. Along a four miles trail, you can observe a variety of plant types like hummingbird plants, pond plants, native Texas grasses, cactus, and succulents.
I suggest you check their website to know the flower blooming times before you visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
Visit Hamilton Pool
Hamilton Pool is one of the prettiest and natural places in Austin, Texas. It is a limestone bowl with a small and stunning waterfall. And you may surely feel that this is a wonderful creation of Mother Nature.
Because you can see the pool through the waterfall. That means you can walk behind the waterfall and take pictures of it. Isn’t that amazing?
(The Cover Photo shows the Hamilton Pool)
But, keep in mind, the falls get dry during Texas’s dry periods. But, the natural pool remains the same and has crystal clear water. Locating 30 miles west to Austin, Hamilton Pool was considered as a preserved natural area since 1990.
Swimming in this pool is currently prohibited as it is not well maintained and treated. But, still, I suggest you not to miss this scenic natural place. Trust me, your gallery will be filled for sure.
Before visiting the pool, do not forget to check whether the pool preserve is opened or not. Click the above link to know it.
Visit the Historic Paramount Theater
The Historic Paramount Theater features movies and lives performances in Austin since 1915. And having the capability of sitting 1,250 seats, the theater attracts world-famous recording artists, famous comedians, podcast tapings, and sketch acts.
Paramount Classic Summer Film Series is more famous all over the world. They show them in the Christmas season (like Home Alone, Wonderful Life). So, if you are in Austin just visit this historic theater to watch a movie and see its interior.
Climb Mount Bonnell
Mount Bonnel is the ideal place for you to say goodbye to Austin. It is a small mountain that has a height of 775 feet Don’t worry, there are 102 stairs to climb it). And since it is the highest point of the city, you can observe all the lakes, hills, rocks, buildings with awesome panoramic views.
Once you reach the top, there’s a resting area where you can have food, enjoy views, take photos, and stay until the sunset. If you feel like to continue, trust me, Mount Bonell is the best place in the city for stargazing.
By considering all of the above reasons, I highly suggest that Mount Bonnell is the perfect place to end your Austin tour.
10 Things to do in Austin with Kids
I have already mentioned some great places to visit with kids on the above list. Apart from them, I suggest the following things to add to your bucket list.
Visit Austin Public Library
Now you may think, why is a library should be on a travel list. Yes, it is fair to think like that. But, Austin Public Library is so different from other libraries. It is an extraordinary one.
The reason to say like that is, it has a rooftop garden, a big cafe, and an impressive interior. And you can see plenty of impressive local artworks on the walls. So, you can grab a book and read it in a calm, relaxing environment. (while having a cup of tea)
The building has six stories and each one represents different things. Like game rooms, story rooms, demonstration areas, and hangout spaces. Actually the library has games like chess, entertaining events for kids, teens, adults, and even for senior citizens.
Therefore do not miss Austin Public Library if your kids love book hunting with entertainment.
Visit Typhoon Texas
If you are visiting Austin on a hot and sunny day, Typhoon Texas is the ideal place to visit with your kids. Because it is a great waterpark with plenty of funny experiences. Like water rides, slides, splash pads, rafts, pools, and plastic tube fun.
Even the toddlers have some space to enjoy themselves. For example, pint-sized playgrounds, gentle jest, and streams. And for older ones, there are so many items like “The Bronc Buster” and “The Gunslinger” (plastic tubes). On the other hand, teenagers can enjoy by drifting down canals on gigantic floats, and by swimming in the pools.
So, you can just wave them and be relax by sipping a cocktail or join with them to do water activities.
This amazing water park is located a few miles north of Austin and nearby a town called Pflugerville. Do not even try to miss this enjoyable place. Your kids will be really happy.
Click the above link for reservations and more information.
Visit Austin Zoo
Austin is a great place that cares more about animals rather than visitors. As we all know in most zoos, people don’t care more about animals. They just need to attract more visitors. But, in the case of Austin Zoo. It is totally different.
They care and rehabilitate lions, cougars, monkeys, wolves, bears, alligators, birds, and giant tortoises like animals. Also, they have provided enough space for them to feel the freedom. So, yes, it is not a showy kind of zoo with a lot of attractions.
But, they offer a chance to interact with animals in a safe and healthy manner. I think it will be great news for your kids. For example, feeding giant tortoises, close observations of the habitat of various animals. Although Austin Zoo is not one of the largest zoos in Texas, it is a great place to learn about animals.
On the other hand, this place will teach your kids how to care, love, and treat animals. Click the above link for online tickets and other information.
Visit Austin Aquarium
Just like Austin Zoo, Austin Aquarium is also a place you cannot miss when you are in Austin with kids. It is home for more than a thousand sea creatures, birds, amphibians, and reptiles. Yes, you heard correct. It has more animals with sea creatures. But, marine life is the major attraction of this aquarium.
The aquarium has very large tanks with awesome sea creatures like glowing jellyfish and tropical fish. So, kids can take selfies and play with them. And also they can join with special interactive programs hosts by the aquarium. Like visitor feeding programs for sharks, stingrays, otters, honey beers, parakeets, and tortoises.
Kids always love marines and animals. So, just add this to your Austin plan.
Visit Mayfield Park
Visiting Mayfield Park offers you a chance to experience ancient times as it is filled with flowers, cottages, gardens, and long and green grasses. And therefore place was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.
It has ponds filled with water lilies and the air is also mixed with the fragrances of roses, Susans, and daisies like flowers. Yes, it is like heaven on the earth. Actually, your kids should see and experience the beauty of nature by visiting this kind of park.
When you walk along these nice trails huge trees provide you the cool shade. On the other hand, the most impressive sight is, you can see peacocks in Mayfield Park. They are just hanging here and there with their colorful feathers. If you are lucky enough, you may a peacock dance.
Kids will be thrilled. So, are you still going to miss this place?
Visit Thinkery in Austin
Thinkery is the former Children’s Museum in Austin. Although the name’s changed, still it contains an impressive collection of exhibits and amazing children’s activities. Actually the aim of this place is not just showing things to the young generation.
It is for helping the young generation to think differently. To develop their minds and to make their imagination into reality. And it contains building, molding, cooking, crafting, experimenting, and other science workshops.
On the other hand, there is a playground, a spark shop with child-safe tools, and a restroom for listening stories. Yes, Thinkery tries to make Einstien like scientists, Davinci like artists. I think their effort should be highly appreciated.
Another important thing is, parents are getting a chance to experience how they should support children’s dreams. So, it is totally worth visiting.
Visit the Texas State History Museum
The Bullock Texas State Museum in Austin is also a great and educational place to visit with your kids. It is totally dedicated to the historical story of Texas state. Texas State Preservation Board is the one who handles this educational place.
I think it is good to show your kids how Texas was born and highlights of its history. It has many exhibits, video storylines, and programs that you can join. And most importantly there are programs especially for kids as well.
But, you need to check for their official website before planning the tour.
Play at Peter Pan Mini-Golf
Well, Peter Pan Mini-Golf was first opened in 1948 and it is privately owned and maintained by the Dismukes family for more than 70 years now. It is really cute, funny, and enjoyable. So, I highly recommend this place to visit with your kids.
Visit Austin Toy Museum
Toy Museum in Austin, Toy Joy is a funny place that contains fun and quirky toys. So, you can play and buy board games, finger traps, kaleidoscopes, lava lums, wind-up figures, and many more. Yes, it offers more traditional toys than modern things. So, the kids will be happier as they can buy their favorite souvenirs from Austin.