Skip to Content

28 Fun & Best Things to Do in Austin, Texas

28 Fun & Best Things to Do in Austin, Texas

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.

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 it’s served by its own major airport 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 got your cowboy boots packed and you’re 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.

TLDR

Need a more succinct Austin city guide? Here are the highlights!

  • Most significant landmarkCongress 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 all-around accommodationFour Seasons Hotel Austin

Fun & Best Things to do in Austin, Texas

If you’re wondering what to do in Austin, know that 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

Texas Hill Country Scenery

The beautiful Texas Hill Country is the 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 amount of wineries found in the region.

The area is also a major source of granite rock. The red granite sourced from Granite Mountain was used in the construction of 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 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 own 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

Sunset at 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. Lady Bird Johnson 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.

See Related: Best Breweries in Austin, Texas

3. Lake Austin

Lake Austin Aerial View

Located to the 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!

Unlike Lady Bird Lake, Lake Austin is located away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Boat rentals, wakeboarding, water biking, and paddle boarding are just some of the 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 their 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.

See Related: Best National Parks in the US to Visit

4. McKinney Falls State Park

Falls in 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 even 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 just 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

Austin ATX sign

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 is home to many notable landmarks that 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 the history and significance of each landmark you see.

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.

See Related: Best Vacations for a Group of Friends

6. Umlauf Sculpture Garden

Sculpture in Umlauf Sculpture Garden
image by Phil Roeder is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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 for many years at the local University of Texas campus in Austin.

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 as well, and all of this variety is part of what makes Umlauf’s work so special. Visitors to the museum and sculpture park can see a great sample of it firsthand.

The Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum is open every day except Monday. There is a small fee for admission, and students can get a discount of more than 50 percent. Personal photography is generally permitted, but check with the artist if there is a special exhibition.

7. Zilker Park

Zilker Park Scenery

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 own 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 simply 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.

See Related: Best Travel Credit Cards

8. Zilker Botanical Garden

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 like it came 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 a few days a year, free tours are given.

9. South Congress Avenue

South Congress Avenue Night Lights

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 lined with boutiques, cafés, bars, and entertainment venues.

You won’t have to walk far to find a stage with some local artists playing tunes, a dance floor to have some fun after dark, or simply a nice outdoor patio to enjoy some great Austin food.

One notable café that 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.

See Related: Top Sites for Booking Tours

10. Congress Avenue Bridge and Bat Viewing

Sunset at Congress Avenue Bridge

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 while 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 choose to 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.

11. Blanton Museum of Art

Blanton Museum of Art Architecture

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 in between.

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 his death 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 am to 5:00 pm and on Sundays from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. I highly recommend visiting on Thursdays, when admission is free for everyone; no ticket is required!

See Related: Best Things to do in Colorado

12. Take a Self-Guided Tour of the Austin Mural Scene

Austin Mural Art

If you’re a young (or young at heart) artistic soul, chances are you’re drawn to Austin’s vibe. Besides being the live music capital of the world, 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!

See Related: Best Things to Do in Dallas

13. Barton Springs Pool

Swimming in Barton Springs Pool

Address: 2201 William Barton Drive, Austin, TX 78746

As you probably know, Austin gets very, very hot in essentially every season except winter. If you are visiting during one of the hot months, you may very well 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 itself is three acres in size, giving it more than 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 most confidence levels. The bottom can get a bit slippery, so water shoes aren’t a bad idea here, but not totally 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 am to 10:00 pm. An admission fee is required, which can be paid online or in cash at the entrance.

See Related: Best Warm Winter Destinations in Europe

14. Bullock Texas State History Museum

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, just 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 who sustained themselves on bow and arrow hunting and gathering. The European colonization of Texas and the wars, deals, and geopolitics that this brought is what brings us to the present-day growth and success of Texas.

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 on a very fun and interesting attraction.

While you’re here, be sure to check out the gift shop for Texas trinkets!

See Related: Ways to Book an Around the World Ticket

15. Go on a Haunted History Walking Tour

Austin City Night Lights

Austin is known to be home to some of the most haunted spots in all of Texas. This fact really 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 first opened its doors in 1886 and is thought to be 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. Guests of the hotel 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

Rainey Street Historic District Scenery
image by dianaconnolly101 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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.

You’ll find 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 place for food, and Little Lucy’s Mini Donuts is a great stop for something sweet.

See Related: Best Family Travel Insurance Plans

17. Lake Travis

Lake Travis Aerial View

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 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, and surrounding towns on its shores 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 even 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 sunset for a nice dinner on the shore.

18. Deep Eddy Pool

Deep Eddy Pool
image by Steve Hopson is licensed under CC BY 2.5

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. In fact, this is the oldest swimming pool in the entire state – which underwent a recent renovation so that Texans and visitors could continue to enjoy 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 that is 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 am 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.

See Related: Best Pink Lakes in the World to Visit

19. Watch the Sunset Over Austin from Mount Bonnell

Mount Bonnell Sunset Scenery

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 the best free things to do in Austin. 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 am 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

Peacock in 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.

Within the Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve, you’ll find beautiful palm trees and colorful peacocks. It will literally feel as if you’ve been transported to a tropical island oasis.

Within the nature preserve area, you will find a hike and bike trail 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. Because the trail is located within a nature preserve, dogs are not allowed, even on a leash.

Mayfield Park is open every day from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm.

See Related: Best Things to do in Denali National Park and Preserve

21. Enjoy Live Music in the Live Music Capital of the World

Concert

One simply cannot visit the live music capital of the world 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 pretty much every genre that’s 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 pm 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

Texas Longhorn in 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 is home to over 300 individual animals and features over 100 different species.

The main goal of the Austin Zoo is to assist rescue animals and promote conservation through education.

One of my favorite experiences that 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 am to 4:00 pm with extended hours until 6:00 pm and 5:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays, respectively.

See Related: San Antonio City Pass Review: Is Go City Worth it?

23. Learn to Square Dance at Broken Spoke

Broken Spoke Building

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 pretty 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 just 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 pm to 9:00 pm in the dance hall.

Broken Spoke opens Tuesdays through Saturdays at 4:00 pm. Closing hours vary between 11:00 pm and 1:00 am. So, grab your favorite pair of cowboy boots and head over to the dance floor!

24. Mexic-Arte Museum

Mexic-Arte Museum Exhibit
image by Management/TripAdvisor

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 am to 6:00 pm, Fridays through Saturdays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, and Sundays from 12:00 pm 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.

See Related: Best Places to Travel in Your 20s in the US

25. LBJ Presidential Library and Museum

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

Yellow Flowers in Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Image by alamosbasement is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Address: 4801 La Crosse Avenue, Austin, Texas 78739

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is the state botanical garden and arboretum of Texas. 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 that are 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 species of trees native to Texas.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center also sees several wonderful species of animals passing through the gardens each day.

Throughout the year, the wildflower center hosts several large events, like the field of light exhibition and the annual native plant sale. Almost every day, you can find workshops, tours, and even workout classes among the beautiful wildflowers.

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 am to 5:00 pm.

See Related: Best Road Trips in the USA

27. Cathedral of Junk

Cathedral of Junk Interior
image by Thomas Hawk is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

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 a living sculpture, meaning that it is ever-changing and constantly evolving. It’s a massive cathedral-like structure made from everything you can think of, including toilets, dolls, and car parts. And It’s beautiful in its own 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 owner and creator of the sculpture, outside adding and editing items to the cathedral!

To visit this unique creation, you must call Vince ahead of time to make a reservation. Check out the “Cathedral of Junk” Facebook page to find 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

Austin Nature & Science Center Entrance
image by Larry D. Moore, Wikimedia Commons. is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

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.

If you’re visiting with kids, I highly recommend stopping by the Dino Pit exhibit. This exhibit allows children of all ages to learn about paleontology, and they can 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 the importance of conserving native landscapes.

The Austin Nature & Science Center is open from Monday through Saturday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and on Sundays from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

Where to Stay in Austin, Texas

Whether you’re here on a food or 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

Super 8 by Wyndham Austin University Building
image by Booking.com

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

Extended Stay America Suites - Austin Room
image by Booking.com

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

Hyatt House Austin-Downtown Building
image by Booking.com

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

Moxy Austin - University Hotel
image by Booking.com

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

The Driskill Hotel
image by Booking.com

Address: 604 Brazos Street, Austin, TX 78701

I love staying at Unbound Collection hotels, as they go a step 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

Four Seasons Hotel Austin Building
image by Booking.com

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

Lake Austin Waterfront Retreat Outdoor Seats
image by VRBO

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

The Soco Studio by Lodgewell Room
image by VRBO

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

The Best Little Shorehouse Vacation Home
image by VRBO

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.

FAQ

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 every year.

Austin is also known as 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 a ton of 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 great for the whole family as well!

Related Resources:

Lock In Your Travel Now
Looking for Extra Travel Perks?
My favorite travel companion is The Platinum Card® from American Express, which gives me lounge access, Uber credits, upgrades, and plenty of other travel perks. If you want to find out the best travel rewards credit card for you, consider using CardMatch to instantly get matched to a travel rewards credit card that meets your travel needs.
Booking Flights

Use Skyscanner to book the cheapest flight possible. Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine as you can find flights around the globe and from every airline possible. You'll be in great shape to get the best price possible.

You must grab a free trial or join Scott's Cheap Flights Premium to get cheap flight alerts directly to your email inbox. My favorite cheap flight alert was 25,000 Delta SkyMiles to London non-stop.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It's a low cost way to ensure your travel plans go smooth no matter what's thrown at it. Use World Nomads to find the best policy for your travel schedule.
Book Your Accommodation
In order to capture the widest selection of properties and the best price, use Booking.com as they have the cheapest rates for guesthouses, hotels, luxury condos, B&Bs and so much more.
Want More Destination Ideas Direct to Your Inbox?
Be sure to join the ViaTravelers Newsletter for expert tips, tricks and inspiration for your next travel journey!