Things to do in Austin

Things to do in  Austin

Queso is a lifestyle

Dynamic and down-home, distinctly Texan but an entity all its own, Austin melds contrasts and contradictions into one transportative whole. Recent infusions of tech dollars—plus the SXSW cultural festival, which touches down every March—have fostered an ever-growing audience hungry for third-wave coffee shops, James Beard Award–winning restaurants, and slick boutique hotels, but the city’s barbecue hotspots, live music joints, taco trucks, and cowboy-boot emporiums evince its local pride. From its hidden swimming holes and Hill Country hideaways to its southern hospitality, the Lone Star State’s capital is worth getting to know.

Top 15 attractions in Austin

Texas Capitol

Everything is bigger in Texas, and the Texas Capitol building in Austin follows suit. It’s the largest by square footage of any state capitol, and is 15 feet (4.6 meters) taller than the US Capitol. Its rosy hue, stunning at sunset, comes from the red granite exterior. Texas Hill Country limestone and granite were used in the building’s construction.More

Congress Avenue Bridge (South Congress Bridge)

Austin’s Congress Avenue Bridge is home to roughly 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats—the world’s largest urban bat colony. Spectators gather here on summer nights, cameras in hand, to watch these flying mammals emerge from beneath the bridge to hunt in the sky above Lady Bird Lake.More

6th Street

Austin’s 6th Street, sometimes known colloquially as Dirty Sixth, is the epicenter for late nights, free-flowing drinks, and all-around good times in the Live Music Capital of the World. This historical neighborhood is lined with bars, restaurants, and souvenir shops, and car traffic is blocked on weekends so pedestrians can take their party into the street.More

Driskill Hotel (The Driskill)

The oldest operating hotel in Austin, the Driskill has been legendary in Texas since it was built in 1886. Celebrities have visited the historic landmark over the years, including former president Lyndon B. Johnson, who took Lady Bird there on their first date. Today the Driskill Grill and 1886 Cafe & Bakery restaurants are here as well.More

Lady Bird Lake

The 416-acre (169-hectare) Lady Bird Lake, at the northeastern end of Zilker Metropolitan Park, anchors a host of outdoor recreational opportunities in downtown Austin. Locals and visitors alike hike, bike, and walk it, as well as birdwatch, canoe, paddleboard, and fish for carp, largemouth bass, catfish, and sunfish in and around this man-made reservoir once known as Town Lake.More

Bullock Texas State History Museum

Greeting visitors with a 34-foot (10-meter) bronze star, the Bullock Texas State History Museum invites you to learn about the story of Texas. Its three floors of historical exhibits are as entertaining and engaging as they are informative. Also here are Austin’s only IMAX theater and a separate 4-D theater.More

LBJ Presidential Library

The LBJ Presidential Library chronicles the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson from 1963 to 1969. Exhibits include multimedia presentations, photographs, and artifacts from the tumultuous social climate of those years, including the Vietnam War, civil rights movement, and LBJ’s Great Society programs.More

Austin Convention Center

Stretching more than six city blocks and housing almost 250,000 square feet of exhibit space, the sprawling Austin Convention Center hosts a variety of events and conferences. It’s an ideal location for meetings and conventions, with more than 54 meeting rooms and seven ballrooms, and it’s within close proximity to the hotels, restaurants, and bars of downtown Austin.More

Barton Springs

A visit to Barton Springs Pool in Austin’s sprawling Zilker Park is a treasured experience for both Austin locals and visitors. The pool, which is more than 3 acres (1.2 hectares) in size is the result of a naturally occurring underground-fed spring. Generations have enjoyed the fresh, cool water, which stays a constant temperature of about 68°F (20°C).More

Texas Governor's Mansion

The Texas Governor’s Mansion in downtown Austin has been the official home of the presiding governor of Texas and family since 1856, and it’s the fourth-oldest continuously operating governor’s house in the United States. The Greek Revival-style mansion, a national historic landmark, is open for free tours on select days.More

South Congress Avenue (SoCo)

Austin’s South Congress Avenue (SoCo) comprises a slew of hip, funky restaurants and boutiques south of the Congress Avenue Bridge. Stroll down the main drag, people-watch and window-shop, and marvel at the retro neon signs including the Austin Motel and Jo’s Coffee (home of the iconic “I love you so much” mural).More

Austin Paramount Theatre

The historic Paramount Theatre in Downtown Austin is a classic revival-style theater. First opened in 1915, the site has undergone many transformations and has hosted major theatrical events and stars over the years, from Houdini and Katharine Hepburn to Ira Glass and Wynton Marsalis. Take in a comedy show or a film screening and experience the history.More

2nd Street District

The 2nd Street District in Downtown Austin is a trendy area of the city with the motto: “Where Texas Warmth Meets Austin Cool.” Here, you’ll find a variety of trendy and uniquely Austin boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants, and dessert shops on six city blocks.More

Texas State Cemetery

The Texas State Cemetery, in addition to being a somber place for reflection, provides a historical overview of the notable men and women whose legacy continues to shape the Lone Star State. Among the famous interred here are writer James Michener, Civil Rights leader Barbara Jordan, and Stephen F. Austin, known as the Father of Texas.More

Mayfield Park and Preserve

Wander the grounds of Austin’s picturesque Mayfield Park and Preserve, a former privately owned estate that includes a historic cottage, gardens, walking trails, and several resident peafowl—a delight for young and old visitors. Mayfield Park is located next to two other popular city sights: the Contemporary Austin Laguna Gloria and Mt. Bonnell.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Austin

Austin Biker Gang E-Bike Tour

Austin Biker Gang E-Bike Tour

Austin Live Music Crawl
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Austin Live Music Crawl

Austin Boat Tour with Full Sun Shading Available
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Austin Boat Tour with Full Sun Shading Available

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The Brunch Bus: Food Tour with a Live Band on Board the Bus!
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Austin Sightseeing and Capitol Segway Tour
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Austin Segway Tour

Austin Segway Tour

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All about Austin

When to visit

Summers in Austin can be sticky, while winters can be chilly, making September–November and March–May ideal times to visit. In these months, you can expect daytime temperatures to be pleasant enough for outdoor dining. The Austin calendar is full of fun festivals, such as SXSW in March, so be sure to check with the timing of any trip to be prepared for the larger crowds and inflated lodging that come with the festivities.

Getting around

There are many great options to get around Texas's capital city, with one of the best being public transportation. The local transit system is made up of buses and light rail, run by Capital Metro. Centrally located areas of town, such as downtown and near the University of Austin are easily traversed by foot or bike. After all, much of the city is flat, and trails, such as those around Lady Bird Lake, are plenty.

Traveler tips

Barbecue is an integral part of Austin, and visitors shouldn't miss this local specialty. (Non-meat eaters will do fine at the city's many plant-based restaurants.) Food tours may be the best way to navigate the complex ecosystem of local joints, which change every year. Standouts include The Salt Lick in nearby Driftwood, Franklin Barbecue, and Terry Black's Barbecue. Arrive early and be prepared for lines at the most popular joints.

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People Also Ask

What is famous in Austin, TX?

Austin is the capital of Texas and home of the University of Texas. Visitors flock to the city for its barbecue, live music, and eclectic vibe. Congress Avenue Bridge is a popular stop to view the city’s bat population as well as strolling, biking, and kayaking around Lady Bird Lake.

How can I have fun in Austin?

Austin is well-known for its live music venues featuring alt-country, blues, and rock. Before the music starts, there are Tex-Mex and barbecue joints to explore, as well as a thriving brewery scene. Or, join the locals biking around town, swimming at Barton Springs, and kayaking around Lady Bird Lake.

Is 3 days enough for Austin?

Three days is plenty of time to enjoy smoky barbecue, relax in the outdoors, and hear Austin’s world-famous music. You may even have time for a Hill Country day trip. Most visits include the Texas Capitol building, Zilker Metropolitan Park, and Congress Avenue Bridge, home of the city’s bat population.

Why is Austin so popular?

A thriving barbecue, live music, and brewery scene—as well as plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation—has made Austin a popular destination, both to live in and visit. The city’s “Keep Austin Weird” ethos has made it a haven for creatives who infuse the city with energy, quirkiness, and innovation.

What is the fun street in Austin?

Sixth Street, located in Austin’s downtown, is a boisterous area for revelers to visit live music venues, dance clubs, bars, and comedy clubs. But it isn’t the only place to find fun in the city. Other entertainment districts in the area include Rainey Street, Seaholm District, and the Warehouse District.

How do I spend a day in Austin?

Start with a migas breakfast before exploring the Texas State Capitol building and other attractions downtown. After a Tex-Mex lunch, hit the Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake and Congress Avenue Bridge—look for bats at dusk. Save the evening for a barbecue meal and a live music show.

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