Things to Do in Austin, TX

Discover the fun that awaits you in Austin , TX! From rockin’ concerts to lip-smacking barbecue to a clothing-optional park, there’s more than one way to keep it weird in Austin.

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Kayaking on the Colorado River

Feeling a little adventurous? Go kayaking on the Colorado River in the summer. Make sure you look up when you’re underneath the Congress Avenue Bridge. Why? Because about 1 million Mexican free-tailed bats migrate from central Mexico to this popular roosting site, making it the largest urban bat colony in North America.

Austin City Limits Music Festival

Austin is a hot spot for music. We recommend that travelers plan a fun trip to this city in October to catch the Austin City Limits Music Festival in Zilker Park. Sam Smith, Iggy Azalea, Eminem, Beck, Foster the People, Pearl Jam and the Replacements have been featured artists over the past few years. In March, Austin hosts South by Southwest, the hottest ticket in town. The 10-day event consists of film, interactive and music festivals and conferences.

Mount Bonnell

Don’t miss out on catching some of the best panoramic views of Austin from Mount Bonnell, located near Lake Austin. In addition to its long staircase that visitors can climb to get an amazing view, this area — a major tourist destination since the 1950s — is also a popular spot for hikers and bikers.

Horseback Riding

A trip to Austin wouldn’t be complete without spending some time horseback riding along a few of the city’s popular trails. We recommend saddling up at the 350-acre Lake & Creek Ranch in the Hill Country. Texas Trail Rides also offers patrons sunset and romantic rides, as well as a winery tour on horseback.

Lake Austin Spa Resort

Unwind and relax at Lake Austin Spa Resort. This luxury lodging offers more than 100 spa treatments and services, including a Rosemary Citron Sensation scrub, wrap and massage. Special treatments are also available for men and teens. Hot tubs, steam rooms and 2 pools are just a few of the spa’s amenities. Now we understand why Condé Nast Traveler named it the No. 4 destination spa in the world in its 2014 Readers’ Choice Awards.

Barton Springs Pool

No matter the weather in Austin, the blue waters of Barton Springs are always welcoming, hovering around a cool 68 to 71 degrees.  The pool has year-round swimming, full-moon parties, free yoga on Saturdays and a New Year's Day polar bear plunge.  As Austin as it gets.

Fly-Fishing

Explore the great outdoors in Austin! Go fly-fishing at Barton Creek or in Bull Creek District Park. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to catch a Guadalupe bass, largemouth bass, redbreast sunfish or catfish — native marine life in Austin’s creeks.

Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum

Enjoy a nice day outside and visit the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum, which is dedicated to American sculptor Charles Umlauf. He and his wife donated their home, studio and 168 sculptures to the city of Austin. Several pieces are eye-catching masterpieces, such as The Kiss, a sculpture of an intertwined couple kissing that is located in the center of the garden.

Zilker Botanical Garden

Located near the bank of the Colorado River, the Zilker Botanical Garden — the centerpiece of Zilker Park — attracts 500,000 people from around the world each year. Green thumbs will feel right at home at this 25-acre site, which features the Mabel Davis Rose Garden, the Isamu Taniguchi Japanese Garden and the Doug Blachly Butterfly Trail and Garden.

Hippie Hollow Park

Shed your clothes on the 109 peaceful acres known as Hippie Hollow. Located about half an hour from downtown Austin, this clothing-optional park is a popular hangout for locals to swim and sunbathe near Lake Travis. Crowds flock to Hippie Hollow in the summer because it’s the only clothing-optional park in Texas.

Hope Outdoor Gallery

Check out local artwork at one of the largest outdoor galleries in the US. The Hope Outdoor Gallery is an educational art project developed to provide muralists and graffiti artists with a 3-story canvas to display inspirational and positive art. This unique, open-air exhibition is located at 11th and Baylor streets in Austin.

Renaissance Market Shopping

In addition to the Austin farmers market, Lakeline Mall and Round Rock Premium Outlets, shoppers should also stop by the Renaissance Market, located near the University of Texas’ campus. More than 90 vendors sell handmade arts and crafts, including candles, pottery and jewelry.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Tour this nature preserve that was founded in 1982 by Lady Bird Johnson, who was renowned for her campaign to beautify highways when she was the nation's first lady. You can amble through the bluebonnets in the spring and enjoy the walking trails, native plants and amazing landscape year-round. And don’t forget to take the kids to the new children's garden.

Longhorn Cavern State Park

Spend the day hiking and exploring the more than 600 acres of Longhorn Cavern State Park. Guests should not miss out on the guided tours, such as a walking tour, wild cave tour, photography tour and, yes, a paranormal tour. Stories and legends about the cavern draw large crowds each year. One story claims that outlaw Sam Bass hid $2 million inside the cavern, but there’s no concrete evidence that he was ever in the park.

Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail

Stay active in Austin! Walk, jog or bike on 10 miles of trails around Lady Bird Lake. While you’re there, check out the memorial that honors legendary blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan.

East Side Kings

The East Side Kings trailer behind the Liberty Bar serves Thai fusion food so good that it will, as the motto states, "make your eyes roll back." The fried Brussels sprouts salad, overflowing with mint, basil and other fresh herbs, is a consistent favorite. This is just one of many delicious East Side Kings food trailers feeding hungry Austin revelers near bars across town.

Harry Ransom Center

This museum, library and archive is a treasure chest of literature and art. In the museum, you can see the first permanent photograph ever taken and a Gutenberg Bible, as well as the current temporary exhibition. The archives, available to the public, overflow with gems such as Jack Kerouac's journal and the manuscript collection of David Foster Wallace.

Bullock Texas State History Museum

Find out all you want to know about Texas’ history here. Located north of the state Capitol, the Bullock Texas State History Museum is named after former Texas Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock. This $80 million museum has 3 floors of interactive exhibits, a 200-seat Texas Spirit Theater and a 400-seat IMAX theater with 2-D and 3-D projectors.

Franklin Barbeque

Indulge in the holy trinity of Texas barbecue: brisket, ribs and sausage. But be prepared to arrive early and wait for it, because lines at Franklin Barbecue are known to be long. But Daniel Vaughn, Texas Monthly's expert in smoked meat, says it's the best of the best and worth the wait.

Blanton Museum of Art

If you’re near the University of Texas campus in Austin, don’t miss out on your chance to visit Blanton Museum of Art. The museum houses the largest collection of art in central Texas, which features more than 17,000 pieces, including modern and contemporary Latin American art, European paintings and more.

Alamo Drafthouse

Visit one of 5 Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas in Austin and find out why Entertainment Weekly ranks it as the No. 1 theater in America. From the classics and indie films to current box office hits, these unique theaters host events and make watching a movie an experience, providing patrons with a variety of food, a full-service bar and reserved seating.

LBJ Presidential Library

With a major renovation just completed at the end of 2012, the LBJ Library is now sporting the latest interactive technology, giving us new insight into an often-misunderstood presidency. Listen in on Lyndon B. Johnson’s private phone conversations and participate in the new Vietnam War exhibit to get a behind-the-scenes perspective on the president's decision-making process.  And don’t miss seeing the replica of the 1960s Oval Office.

Broken Spoke

Practice your two-step at this true Texas honky-tonk bar. If you're lucky, you may catch Willie Nelson visiting the Broken Spoke. He and Kris Kristofferson are known to swing by and play a song or 2.