Austin is a city located in central Texas and happens to be the capital of the Lone Star State. And while it hasn’t always been the first in mind when people plan a trip to Texas, this quirky city is rapidly rising as a hot tourist destination. These are the best things to do in Austin, Texas.
People are traveling here for its rich Texas history, beautiful Austin nature, several unique art galleries, and its overall lively feel. With a large University of Texas campus, there’s a sizable young adult population in the city, which has led to a ton of entertainment in Austin.
In fact, Austin has become a top choice for young people from all over the country to move to in search of a new city and fun things to do.
Austin isn’t hard to get to, as its major airport serves it with flights from all over the country. For road trippers or those visiting Austin as part of a bigger Texas trip, it’s well-connected to nearby cities such as San Antonio, Dallas, and the rest of the state by highways.
If you’ve packed your cowboy boots and are looking for the best Austin attractions, we’ve got you covered here. Read on to see some of the best Austin things to do and everything you need to know.
The Best of Austin Driving Tour is the perfect way to see the city's most popular sights in one day. This tour takes you on a journey through downtown Austin and beyond, where you'll explore iconic landmarks, hidden gems and even venture outside city limits to get a taste of country life.
Austin is one of the most popular cities in Texas and has a lot to offer. With two decks, each with their own climate-controlled environment, this tour bus offers maximum comfort to sightseers as they pass by key landmarks for an unforgettable experience.
Austin is a rapidly growing city with plenty to offer its residents and tourists alike. At the same time, it has been called weird. This tour will include many of the most popular attractions in town, but also some not-so-well-known places that are fascinating. Take an insider's look at Austin as you explore the city on two wheels!
Show Table of Contents
- Things to Do in Austin, Texas
- 1. Tour Texas Hill Country
- 2. Lady Bird Lake
- 3. Lake Austin
- 4. McKinney Falls State Park
- 5. Go on a Sightseeing Tour of the City
- 6. Umlauf Sculpture Garden
- 7. Zilker Park
- 8. Zilker Botanical Garden
- 9. South Congress Avenue
- 10. Congress Avenue Bridge and Bat Viewing
- 11. Blanton Museum of Art
- 12. Take a Self-Guided Tour of the Austin Mural Scene
- 13. Barton Springs Pool
- 14. Bullock Texas State History Museum
- 15. Go on a Haunted History Walking Tour
- 16. Rainey Street Historic District
- 17. Lake Travis
- 18. Deep Eddy Pool
- 19. Watch the Sunset Over Austin from Mount Bonnell
- 20. Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve
- 21. Enjoy Live Music in the Live Music Capital of the World
- 22. Austin Zoo
- 23. Learn to Square Dance at Broken Spoke
- 24. Mexic-Arte Museum
- 25. LBJ Presidential Library and Museum
- 26. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
- 27. Cathedral of Junk
- 28. Austin Nature & Science Center
- Where to Stay in Austin, Texas
- Budget Hotels in Austin
- Mid-Range Hotels in Austin
- Luxury Hotels in Austin
- Vacation Rentals in Austin
- What is Austin, Texas, known for?
- What are some things to do in downtown Austin?
- Are there good things to do in Austin, TX with kids?
Need a more succinct Austin city guide? Here are the highlights!
- Most significant landmark – Congress Avenue Bridge
- Best park – McKinney Falls State Park
- Best free activity – Congress Avenue Bridge & Bat Viewing
- Best activity for kids – Austin Zoo
- Best activity for adults – Austin Haunted History Walking Tour
- Best food – Jo’s Coffee
- Best nightlife – Rainey Street Historic District Bars, Restaurants, & Food Trucks
- Best place to stay – Four Seasons Hotel Austin
Things to Do in Austin, Texas
If you’re wondering what to do in Austin, know there’s much more here than just the Texas State Capitol and the University of Texas Austin campus. In no particular order, here are some fun things to do in Austin, Texas.
1. Tour Texas Hill Country
The beautiful Texas Hill Country is part of Texas, located between Austin and San Antonio, also known as the Edwards Plateau. This area includes 41 counties and is best known for the vast number of wineries in the region.
The area is also a major source of granite rock. The red granite sourced from Granite Mountain was used to construct the Texas State Capitol building.
Take the worry of driving out of touring and opt for this Hill Country BBQ & Wine Shuttle. Your driver and guide will take you to one of the most popular spots to sink your teeth into some real Texas BBQ.
Of course, no trip to the Texas Hill Country is complete without checking out a few of the area’s best wineries. You’ll visit Salt Lick BBQ (which also has its vineyard), Fall Creek Vineyards, and Duchman Family Winery.
After a full day of tasting some delicious local wine, you’ll be happy you opted for the shuttle instead of worrying about who will drive. This tour lasts approximately 4.5 hours, and pickup is at the Austin Visitor Center.
2. Lady Bird Lake
Lady Bird Lake is a reservoir on the Colorado River located right in the heart of Austin. It’s a popular place for residents and visitors to enjoy outdoor activities like kayaking, river cruising, and stand-up paddle boarding.
The manmade lake is named after Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Johnson, who was the first lady of the United States from 1963 to 1969 and the wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson. She was a proud Texan and an alumna of the University of Texas at Austin.
The lake is the perfect spot for a date or a day outside with the family. Beyond the activities you can do on the lake, there are so many things to do around the lake as well. There are several miles of hiking trails and bike paths that circle around the lake.
If you’re looking to take a tour of the skyline and learn more about the city of Austin, check out this Austin Kayak Tour, which takes place on Lady Bird Lake.
Additionally, there is a lovely boardwalk that crosses over the lake. The boardwalk is part of the Ann and Roy Butler trail and offers an amazing view of the city. It’s definitely a place I would recommend you check out for sunset.
Austin is known as one of the most dog-friendly cities in the nation. If you’re traveling with your pup, there’s an awesome dog park next to the lake called Auditorium Shores Dog Park.
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3. Lake Austin
Located northwest of Central Austin, Lake Austin is another manmade reservoir with a much more laid-back vibe than Lady Bird Lake. If you’re looking for a typical day on the lake with fun water activities, this is the place for you!
Lake Austin is located away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Boat rentals, wakeboarding, water biking, and paddle boarding are just some activities you can expect to see and do while at Lake Austin.
Lake Austin is also a wonderful place to fish, as the reservoir is stocked with a ton of largemouth bass. The holiday season is a special time to visit Lake Austin. You can find various Christmas light displays around the lake, especially in the Lake Austin Spa Resort area. Check out the resort’s restaurant for its special holiday dining and drink menu.
Of course, if you’re not visiting during the holidays, the resort still offers some of the best dining options on the lake. Check out Aster Café for its amazing lunch and snack options. I recommend the Avocado Tartine and the homemade sorbet.
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4. McKinney Falls State Park
Address: 5808 McKinney Falls Parkway, Austin, TX 78744
In south Austin, on the outskirts of town, you’ll find one of the most popular State Parks in the city. McKinney Falls State Park is a natural escape from the city, where you can find rushing waterfalls, calm creeks, and tranquil forests.
These falls are not along the Colorado River that runs through Austin but instead the Onion Creek tributary. A beautiful landscape of limestone boulders forms the base of the falls and sends water crashing into pools below. Normally, the river water is wonderfully clear, allowing you to see straight to the bottom.
Some favorite activities at McKinney Falls are hiking, biking, fishing, camping, and swimming. Visitors like to admire Old Baldy, an over 500-year-old cypress tree, as well as the ruins of one of Austin’s original homesteads. It really is Austin’s backyard escape, whether you want to spend just a few hours in nature or a few days away from it all.
If you’re looking to camp here, you’ll be pleased to know that the park is a full-service campsite with RV and trailer hookups, as well as cabins for rent. If you are planning a day in the park, be sure to reserve tickets online for a small fee, as the state limits capacity to keep the space enjoyable for everyone.
5. Go on a Sightseeing Tour of the City
Touring Austin is the absolute best way to see the city and get a feel for the unique vibe that the lively metropolis has to offer. As the state capital, Austin has many notable landmarks you won’t want to miss visiting.
If you’re short on time, this Double Decker Single Loop Sightseeing Tour might be your perfect solution. It’s a quick way to get in all your Austin sightseeing. This tour brings you to 17 major landmarks of Austin, including The Driskill Hotel, the Texas State Capitol, the Texas Governor’s Mansion, and the LBJ Presidential Library.
The tour offers a detailed commentary along the way, so you can learn about each landmark’s history and significance. The entire loop lasts approximately 1.5 hours, giving you lots of time to spend how you’d like.
You don’t have to give up certain sights; you can see them all on one tour! And if you discover new landmarks during the tour that you want to go back to, you can certainly do that.
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6. Umlauf Sculpture Garden
Address: 605 Azie Morton Road, Austin, TX 78704
If you enjoy seeing the art of a new city, the Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum is sure to be an interesting museum and stop for you. This sculpture park is the former home of esteemed sculptor and professor Charles Umlauf, who worked at the local University of Texas campus in Austin for many years.
Charles Umlauf’s sculptures are displayed at some of the most prestigious museums around the country, including the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. But he gifted his personal collection as well as his studio and home to the city of Austin after his retirement, and the museum was born.
Umlauf’s work ranges “from haunting expressionism to detailed neoclassical realism, to lyrical abstraction,” according to the museum. His materials are quite diverse, and all of this variety makes Umlauf’s work so special. Visitors to the museum and sculpture park can see a great sample firsthand.
The Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum is open every day except Monday. There is a small admission fee, and students can get a more than 50 percent discount. Personal photography is generally permitted, but check with the artist if there is a special exhibition.
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7. Zilker Park
Address: 2207 Lou Neff Road, Austin, TX 78746
If you’re in need of an urban green space within the city limits, Austin is home to several. Zilker Park is a local favorite, comprised of more than 350 acres where Barton Creek meets the Colorado River.
The city has created all kinds of fun spaces within Zilker Park: picnic sites, playgrounds, a disc golf course, and volleyball courts, just to name a few. There’s also the locally famous Barton Springs Pool, a naturally fed spring within the park, which deserves its section with more details below.
Attractions within the park also include the Zilker Botanical Gardens, home to some beautiful manicured plant life, and the Zilker Hillside Theatre, where you can catch local concerts and performances. Above all, Zilker Park is a great place to stroll around and enjoy a walk or run.
The park is open all day, every day, and is easily accessible from the rest of Austin. There’s even a shuttle bus running in the summer for those who prefer to park at the One Texas Center building closer to downtown.
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8. Zilker Botanical Garden
Address: 2220 Barton Springs Road, Austin, TX 78746
While we’re on the subject, there are beautiful botanical gardens within Zilker Park that make for a tranquil escape even from the rest of the park. The Zilker Botanical Garden is 31 acres in size and located in the west of the park, along the Colorado River.
The gardens consist of multiple independently maintained gardens connected by lovely trails. One favorite is the Taniguchi Oriental Garden, a Japanese-themed section with exotic plants and a koi pond. Built by hand by a Japanese immigrant, Isamu Taniguchi, the ponds were constructed in the Japanese tradition to resemble a letter or word – in this case, they spell “Austin.”
The Hartman Prehistoric Garden is a landscape that seems to come from the Jurassic era, complete with sculptures of dinosaurs among the plants. Other beautiful exhibits to tour include the Cactus and Succulent Garden, the Pioneer Village, and the Butterfly Trails and Garden.
A great new addition to the park is a food truck serving coffee and beverages if you need something to sip on during your stroll. There is a small, reasonable entry fee to visit the gardens, and free tours are given a few days a year.
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9. South Congress Avenue
You may know that Austin is known as the live music capital of the world. If you want to experience this Austin tradition and find some of the best restaurants and shopping in town, one good place to start is South Congress Avenue.
The South Congress neighborhood is in the southern part of Austin. It’s a main thoroughfare with boutiques, cafés, bars, and entertainment venues.
You won’t have to walk far to find a stage with local artists playing tunes, a dance floor to have fun after dark, or simply a nice outdoor patio to enjoy some great Austin food.
One notable café photographers love is Jo’s Coffee, at the corner of South Congress Avenue and James Street. Besides being a local favorite for good food and drinks and a great vibe, it’s home to the famous “I love you so much.” mural (we’ll get onto that a little later).
This Instagram-viral mural is just a simple, green wall with those words spray painted in red that has become an iconic photo for visitors to the city and the South Congress area.
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10. Congress Avenue Bridge and Bat Viewing
Address: Congress Ave, Austin, Texas 78704
Now you may be wondering, why is a seemingly unremarkable bridge on the list of best things to do in Austin? Well, it’s actually the location of Austin’s most popular tourist attraction!
The bridge is home to what is believed to be the largest urban bat colony. An estimated 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats call the underside of the bridge home from mid-March to early November.
During this time of year, the bats emerge each night to forage for food. Seeing the large mass of bats take flight is unlike anything you’ve seen before. Visitors and locals can witness this stunning display every evening around sunset.
It is truly one of the most unique things you can see in Austin. I recommend getting there approximately thirty minutes before sunset, but you may want to get there a bit earlier in the summer months when it’s most crowded.
Admirers of these amazing creatures can watch the spectacle from the bridge, down below at a small viewing area, or from the water.
Make this unique experience even more memorable by going on this Congress Avenue Bridge Sunset Bat Kayaking Tour. Enjoy the display from Lady Bird Lake on your own kayak, away from all the crowds.
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11. Blanton Museum of Art
Address: 200 East Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard, Austin, Texas 78712
The stunning Blanton Museum of Art is one of the largest university art museums in the United States. It is located on the University of Texas at Austin campus, just in front of the Jester West Residence Hall and next to Clark Field.
The museum has over 21,000 pieces of artwork and artifacts in its collection. The collection includes ancient Greek pottery, abstract paintings, and everything else.
In addition to the permanent collection, the Blanton Museum of Art hosts several traveling exhibits throughout the year, so you can often find a new exhibit you’ve never seen before.
The most recognizable and notable piece of art at the museum is the stunning stone building with colorful glass windows pictured above. It was gifted to the museum by American painter and sculptor Ellsworth Kelly shortly before he died in 2015.
The Blanton Museum of Art is one of the most affordable art museums I’ve come across, so I definitely would take advantage of this if you’re a big art history buff like myself.
The museum is open every Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and on Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 pm. I highly recommend visiting on Thursdays, when admission is free for everyone; no ticket is required!
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12. Take a Self-Guided Tour of the Austin Mural Scene
If you’re a young (or young at heart) artistic soul, chances are you’re drawn to Austin’s vibe. Besides being the world’s live music capital, the city is also known as a huge hub for the arts.
Around Downtown Austin, you’ll come across countless murals and street art displays. I definitely recommend spending a few hours wandering around the area with your camera in hand.
One of the most notable murals is “Tau Ceti,” located at Brazos and Second Street. The mural is several stories tall and looks like a rainbow prism, seeming almost like it’s three-dimensional. Since it’s so tall, I recommend getting down as low as possible and pointing your camera to the sky.
Over in east Austin, you’ll be able to find many murals on a smaller size scale. My favorite one in east Austin is “Rhapsody,” located at 1021 East 11th Street. The mural pays homage to Austin’s jazz and blues musical roots.
As we mentioned earlier, south Austin is home to one of Austin’s most Instagram-famous murals, “I love you so much.,” located at 1300 South Congress Avenue. There are several other popular murals located on this one street alone.
If trying to keep track of all the murals you want to see seems a bit daunting, check out this Austin Mural Selfie Tour. The tour really takes out all the work of finding the murals without diminishing the fun. All you have to bring is yourself, a cute outfit, and your camera!
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13. Barton Springs Pool
Address: 2201 William Barton Drive, Austin, TX 78746
As you probably know, Austin gets very hot in essentially every season except winter. If you are visiting during one of the hot months, you may want to cool down like the locals do and head over to the famous Barton Springs Pool.
The Barton Springs Pool is within Zilker Park in a scenic area south of the Colorado River. The pool is three acres, enough space to accommodate a crowd. The water occurs naturally from underground springs at a consistent year-round temperature of just under 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
That makes the springs refreshingly cool on a hot Texas summer day! The city of Austin has installed accessories such as diving boards, ladders, and stairs, but swimming in the springs still has a very natural feel to it.
There are deep ends and shallow ends, making the pools accessible to swimmers of the most confidence levels. The bottom can get slippery, so water shoes aren’t a bad idea here, but they are not required. Women are legally permitted to be topless here, so don’t be surprised if you see some people soaking up all the sun they can.
The pools are open during the same hours as the park, from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 pm. An admission fee is required, which can be paid online or in cash at the entrance.
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14. Bullock Texas State History Museum
Address: 1800 Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas 78701
Most people know that Texas has a long and significant history. The Bullock Texas State History Museum aims to preserve and tell the stories of Texas from times long before its statehood to the present day.
The museum is named after a former lieutenant governor of Texas who was passionate about the state’s history and wanted its story told formally. It was established in 2001 and can be found just a few blocks north of the State Capitol, across from the University of Texas campus.
The Bullock Texas State History Museum tells the story of over 16,000 years of Texas. It begins with the native tribes of the area, which sustained themselves on bow and arrow hunting and gathering. The European colonization of Texas and the wars, deals, and geopolitics brought us to Texas’s present-day growth and success.
The museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and tickets can be purchased online or in person. However, be sure to check their website to see if a free admission day is taking place during your stay. These are generally on the first Sunday of each month, which can be great savings for a fun and interesting attraction. While you’re here, be sure to check out the gift shop for Texas trinkets!
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15. Go on a Haunted History Walking Tour
Austin is known to be home to some of the most haunted spots in all of Texas. This fact contributes to the Austin “weird and quirky” vibe.
Of course, the main culprit of Austin’s “most haunted” places is The Driskill, Austin’s oldest hotel. The hotel opened its doors in 1886 and is considered home to several ghosts and ghouls.
These ghosts include a woman who died in room 525 and a child who fell down the grand staircase in 1887. The hotel guests still report hearing a child laughing and playing around the lobby.
Another top haunted spot is the Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill. The restaurant is housed in one of the oldest commercial buildings in Austin. In the early 1900s, a flash flood tore through the area, killing many. It’s believed that the souls of those who perished in the flood still haunt the building today.
This Haunted Austin Walking History Tour will take you around all the best creepy places that this quirky city has to offer. This highly-rated tour includes a tour guide who is an incredible storyteller and will truly transport you into the midst of Austin’s haunted history.
16. Rainey Street Historic District
The Rainey Street Historic District is another top choice for visitors looking for the great restaurants and live entertainment that Austin is known for. This neighborhood is found just south of downtown, where Waller Creek meets the Colorado River.
Rainey Street and its smaller side streets are home to quaint little 20th-century bungalow-style buildings which keep their historic charm today. Many have been turned into bars, restaurants, and cafes serving some of Austin’s best food and drinks.
Plenty of outdoor patios and stages hosting live music, as they love in Austin. There’s also a famous parking lot for food trucks that locals love.
At Town Lake Metropolitan Park, just beside the Rainey Street Historic District along the river, you can visit the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center. This is a free attraction with exhibits and events exploring Mexican American art and heritage, an important community group of Austin and all of Texas.
For some of the best cocktails in the neighborhood, stop by Half Step for a drink. Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden is a famous food place, and Little Lucy’s Mini Donuts is a great stop for something sweet.
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17. Lake Travis
If swimming holes and cold spring pools aren’t going to do it for you, you’re probably looking for a place like Lake Travis, where there’s plenty more room for fun on the water. This flood control reservoir is on the Colorado River, about 20 miles northwest of central Austin.
Lake Travis is a water sports heaven for those who want to be kayaking, boating, fishing, swimming, jet skiing, or having other fun on the water. It’s also a popular spot to sail out and watch the sunset from a pontoon boat.
The lake covers a wide area; surrounding towns include Volente, Hudson Bend, Point Venture, and Lakeway. You’ll find lakeside resorts, parks, and marinas throughout, which are great places to rent toys and boats if you aren’t hauling your own. There are some beautiful restaurants to enjoy lunch or dinner at as well.
If you aren’t confident in your boat-driving skills but want to get the famous pontoon boat experience, consider a small-group sunset cruise to see the best. Early morning cruise tours are also available if you’d rather reserve a sunset for a nice dinner on the shore.
18. Deep Eddy Pool
Address: 401 Deep Eddy Avenue, Austin, Texas 78703
There are plenty of places to cool off from the hot Texas sun, and the Deep Eddy Pool was the original of Austin. This is the oldest swimming pool in the state – which underwent a recent renovation so that Texans and visitors could continue enjoying it.
This pool, located in a park bearing the same name just across the river from Zilker Park and the Barton Springs Pool, is also fed by a natural cold spring. Its name comes from an eddy or small whirlpool formed by a current caused by a large boulder at a nearby swimming spot in the river.
A businessman bought the land surrounding the springs and the swimming hole over 100 years ago and built a concrete pool over it, which quickly became the hotspot (or cool spot) of Austin. It is operated today by the city of Austin, which has created swimming lanes and various depth areas along with picnic spots and other facilities around it.
Deep Eddy Pool is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 pm, and a small entry fee is collected at the park. Visitors can also enjoy a walking trail and community gardens around the pool and park area.
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19. Watch the Sunset Over Austin from Mount Bonnell
Address: 3800 Mount Bonnell Road, Austin, Texas 78731
Just on the edge of the Austin city limits, you will find Mount Bonnell, the highest point in Austin, Texas. The peak was named after the former Commissioner of Indian Affairs for the Texas Republic, George Bonnell.
This spot is a lovely place to get out of the city and enjoy the great outdoors. Mount Bonnell is located within Covert Park and is among Austin’s best free things to do. The trail to get to the peak is also free and pet-friendly.
Though the path is not paved, it is suitable for most visitors. Most of the trail is a gravely, easily marked path with just over 100 steps of stairs. The entire loop is just half a mile.
The trail is open daily from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 pm, so it’s perfect whether you’re looking for a great morning workout activity or a romantic spot to admire the sunset.
20. Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve
Address: 3505 West 35th Street, Austin, Texas 78703
If you’re looking for a tranquil escape in the heart of Austin, look no further. Mayfield Park is two acres of lush gardens, while the nature preserve encompasses 21 acres surrounding the park. The park is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
You’ll find beautiful palm trees and colorful peacocks within the Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve. It will feel as if you’ve been transported to a tropical island oasis. You will find a hike and bike trail within the nature preserve area and several other smaller walking trails.
The Laguna Gloria Trail is one of the most popular trails within the preserve for bird watching. It’s only 0.4 miles long and offers visitors a quiet and peaceful place to enjoy. Dogs are not allowed, even on a leash, because the trail is located within a nature preserve.
Mayfield Park is open every day from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 pm.
21. Enjoy Live Music in the Live Music Capital of the World
One simply cannot visit the world’s live music capital without enjoying some amazing live music. Throughout Austin, you can find several theaters, bars, and restaurants that host musical artists throughout the day.
There’s truly no shortage of live music when it comes to Austin. Live music venues range from coffee bars to theaters and even huge music festivals. You can also find music of almost every genre out there.
If you’re a blues and jazz fan, check out Friends Bar at 208 East Sixth Street. Enjoy some great food and beer while listening to some local artists; no cover required.
Or maybe you want to see some of the world’s biggest bands and superstars. In this case, check out what’s going on at the Germania Insurance Amphitheater at 9201 Circuit of the Americas Boulevard. This open-air venue is the perfect place to dance the night away to your favorite music artists.
For a unique Austin experience, this Austin Live Music Crawl will take you to some of the most iconic live music venues throughout the city. The tour starts at 8:00 p.m. and finishes at around 11:00 pm. During this time, you’ll visit at least three different music venues and learn about Austin’s history of music.
22. Austin Zoo
Address: 10808 Rawhide Trail, Austin, Texas 78736
A visit to the Austin Zoo is one of the best things to do in Austin with kids. The zoo has over 300 individual animals and features over 100 species. The main goal of the Austin Zoo is to assist rescue animals and promote conservation through education.
One of my favorite experiences the Austin Zoo offers is its capybara encounters. The capybara is an adorable animal native to South America. They are known for their good nature and temperament, making them the perfect animal to meet while visiting the zoo.
The Austin Zoo is home to several species native to Texas, including the Texas rat snake and the Northern mockingbird. The zoo also has many animals found in North America, like the North American black bear, Coatimundi, and Texas Longhorn cows.
The zoo is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 pm, with extended hours until 6:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, respectively.
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23. Learn to Square Dance at Broken Spoke
Address: 3201 South Lamar Boulevard, Austin, Texas 78704
Looking for an authentic Texan experience? Check out Broken Spoke! Broken Spoke is a classic country music dance hall and full-service restaurant. The dance hall has hosted some big country music superstars, including Garth Brooks and Dolly Parton.
Live music happens every night in the restaurant and the dance hall, so you don’t want to miss out! If you’re new to the country dance hall scene, don’t worry. Broken Spoke offers two-step line dance and western swing dance lessons for newbies and those that need a refresher. Before you know it, you’ll be a line dancing expert!
Dance lessons happen every Wednesday through Saturday night from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in the dance hall. Broken Spoke opens Tuesdays through Saturdays at 4:00 pm. Closing hours vary between 11:00 p.m. and 1:00 am. So, grab your favorite cowboy boots and head to the dance floor!
24. Mexic-Arte Museum
Address: 419 Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas 78701
The Mexic-Arte Museum is a fine art museum that primarily showcases contemporary Mexican art. It is also the official Mexican and Mexican-American Museum of Texas.
The museum has over 5,000 pieces in its collection, including paintings, photographs, sculptures, and ceramics. The museum also hosts several performative art exhibits throughout the year.
The main goal of the museum is to display to the public the beautiful culture and arts that Mexico has to offer. The museum has also recently expanded to include works from artists within the larger Latin American art community.
The museum is open on Mondays through Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 pm, Fridays through Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 pm, and Sundays from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 pm. It’s truly a hidden gem within Austin that’s just waiting to be discovered by you.
The amount of works of art and various mediums far outweighs the low entry fee.
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25. LBJ Presidential Library and Museum
Address: 2313 Red River Street, Austin, Texas 78705
President Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th president of the United States who took over immediately following John F. Kennedy’s assassination, was born and raised in a small town just west of Austin. It was only appropriate that the city offered to host his presidential library and museum, where it opened in 1971.
It’s always interesting to see the documents and artifacts from a president’s time in office. The LBJ Presidential Library and Museum contains those from his term and is housed on the University of Texas campus just next to the LBJ Auditorium and the LBJ Fountain.
There are more than 100,000 items from LBJ’s presidency here, as well as a nearly full-scale replica of the Oval Office, exactly how he had it set up. The former president’s actual desk is there as well. His wife, Lady Bird Johnson, made many of the design and architecture decisions of the museum.
The LBJ Presidential Library and Museum is open seven days a week, and tickets can be purchased in person or online. Note that admission is half-priced on Tuesdays!
26. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Address: 4801 La Crosse Avenue, Austin, Texas 78739
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is Texas’s state botanical garden and arboretum. It is located in the suburbs of Austin and is a wonderful spot if you’re looking for somewhere peaceful to spend your time.
The wildflower center strives to create beautiful landscapes using beautiful flowers and plants native to Texas. The 284-acre center is home to over 900 species of native plants. The arboretum spans over 16 acres and features 70 trees native to Texas.
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center also sees several wonderful species of animals passing through the gardens daily.
Throughout the year, the wildflower center hosts several large events, like the Field of Light exhibition and the annual native plant sale. You can find workshops, tours, and even workout classes among the beautiful wildflowers almost daily.
Texans can even purchase a specially-designed license plate where the proceeds go directly to the wildflower center to be used to protect and conserve native plants. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 pm.
See Related: Best Road Trips in the USA
27. Cathedral of Junk
Address: 4422 Lareina Drive, Austin, Texas 78745
Now, a junkyard is not normally something we’d recommend. But this is not a junkyard; it’s just junk…in someone’s backyard. Still not following?
The Cathedral of Junk is an ever-changing and constantly evolving living sculpture. It’s a massive cathedral-like structure made from everything you can imagine, including toilets, dolls, and car parts. And It’s beautiful in its sort of way.
The Cathedral of Junk is said to have contained over 60 tons of materials during its lifetime and covers the entire backyard that it sits in. It’s actually quite an impressive feat when you think about it.
The sculpture definitely fits in with the unique and weird vibe of Austin that we’ve come to know and love, and it’s a work in progress. You can often see Vince Hannemann, the sculpture’s owner and creator, outside adding and editing items to the cathedral!
To visit this unique creation, call Vince before making a reservation. Check out the “Cathedral of Junk” Facebook page for the most up-to-date contact information. For a side trip, you can snap photos in Austin on For the ‘Gram Photo Tour or enjoy the Austin and Hill Country Panoramic Tour.
28. Austin Nature & Science Center
Address: 2389 Stratford Drive, Austin, Texas 78746
The Austin Nature & Science Center is a nature lover’s delight! If you’re interested in natural history and learning about native plants and animals, this is the place for you. It’s also a wonderful place to visit if you’re looking for things to do in Austin with kids.
The center features several hands-on exhibits where you can learn about fossils, native plants and animals, and the environment. I highly recommend stopping by the Dino Pit exhibit if you’re visiting with kids. This exhibit allows children of all ages to learn about paleontology and experience what it’s like to dig for fossils.
The forest trail is a great spot for the whole family to enjoy. The path includes 45 trees native to Texas and educates visitors on conserving native landscapes. The Austin Nature & Science Center is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sundays from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 pm.
Where to Stay in Austin, Texas
Whether on a food, music tour, or just visiting to learn more about Austin history, you’ll need somewhere to hang up your stetson. Check out our favorite places to stay in Austin, plus a few lovely rentals!
Budget Hotels in Austin
Super 8 by Wyndham Austin University/Downtown Area
Address: 5526 North Interstate 35, Austin, TX 78751
If you don’t mind being just a few miles outside of the center of Austin, this Super 8 motel has the basics you need plus extras like a swimming pool at a fantastic price. Breakfast is served in the lobby, and there’s a coffee and tea maker in every room.
Extended Stay America Suites – Austin – Downtown – Town Lake
Address: 507 South First Street, Austin, TX 78704
For extra space and self-catering amenities like a kitchenette, Extended Stay America properties are great choices. This one in downtown Austin is in a great location with an on-site laundromat and pet-friendly rooms.
Mid-Range Hotels in Austin
Hyatt House Austin/Downtown
Address: 901 Neches Street, Austin, TX 78701
The Hyatt House brand is popular for its brand new or newly renovated properties with comfortable, quality amenities. This one in downtown Austin is steps from some of the biggest attractions. This hotel also features an outdoor swimming pool and a great gym.
Moxy Austin – University
Address: 2552 Guadalupe Street, Austin, 78705
If you’ve ever stayed at a Moxy, you know they are all about the young and hip crowd who come to be social and party. Austin couldn’t be a better city to host one of these great hotels, and this one will have you checking in at the bar just downstairs from your wonderfully comfortable room.
Luxury Hotels in Austin
The Driskill, in The Unbound Collection by Hyatt
Address: 604 Brazos Street, Austin, TX 78701
I love staying at Unbound Collection hotels, as they go beyond the cookie-cutter feel of branded hotels and retain their unique features and local vibe. The Driskill is a true Texas lodge that has all the comfort and luxury that you would expect from the Hyatt group.
Four Seasons Hotel Austin
Address: 98 San Jacinto Boulevard, Austin, TX 78701
No other luxury hotel group does it quite like Four Seasons – if you’ve tried it, you know. Their Austin hotel is in a beautiful spot on the riverfront, has a swimming pool and state-of-the-art gym, and features one of the best spas in town. You can’t go wrong with this hotel for an amazing stay.
Vacation Rentals in Austin
Lake Austin Waterfront Retreat
Location: Lake Austin
If you’re looking for a quiet place to stay while visiting Austin, check out this beautiful two-bedroom house right on the shores of Lake Austin. This dog-friendly accommodation gives you direct access to the lake and includes amenities such as a hot tub, boat dock, stand-up paddle boards, kayaks, and canoes.
The Soco Studio by Lodgewell
Location: Travis Heights, Austin
Looking for extra space and a more home-like place to stay? This studio has a ton of space at a great price and sits in a local neighborhood among restaurants and bars.
The Best Little Shorehouse in Texas
Location: Volente, Texas
Did Lake Travis catch your eye with its amazing views and fun water sports? You can rent this historic cabin, once owned by an advisor to President Lyndon B. Johnson, with its country charm and modern amenities.
What is Austin, Texas, known for?
Austin has a reputation as the live music capital of the world thanks to some very popular music festivals and a venue, The Continental Club, that brings huge artists from around the world. Rooster Teeth is famously based in Austin and hosts the beloved RTX convention annually.
Austin is also a hotspot for young people to relocate from all over the country, thanks to its university atmosphere, booming economy, low housing costs, and fun things to do. The food in Austin is also out of this world!
What are some things to do in downtown Austin?
Downtown Austin is where you’ll find the Texas State Capitol Building, the Blanton Museum of Art, and the Bullock Texas State History Museum. There are also plenty of bars and restaurants here, as well as the Austin nightlife well-known around the state. If you’re here on a flying visit, downtown Austin is best viewed quickly on a bike tour!
Are there good things to do in Austin, TX with kids?
Children can have much fun in Austin at attractions like the Barton Springs Pool and the Austin Zoo. Most of the Austin outdoor activities, such as McKinney Falls State Park, are also great for the whole family!