Lone Star Travel Guide

17 Fun Weekend Getaways from Austin (Road Trip Ideas!)

As absolutely fantastic of a city as Austin is, everyone needs a change of scenery once in a while! These weekend getaways from Austin, including everything from national parks to beach towns, are the perfect way to enjoy a change of pace.

Whether you’re planning a romantic getaway, a quick family trip, a vacation with friends, or even a solo adventure, one of these road trips from Austin is no doubt right for you.

bluebonnets along a small road with a fence in the background

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How We Structured Austin Weekend Getaways Guide

We intentionally structured this guide to the best weekend getaways from Austin to cover destinations between roughly 3 and 8 hours from the city (with a couple of small exceptions).

While there are dozens of destinations closer to Austin that could certainly justify a fantastic weekend escape, including Fredericksburg, Wimberley, Waco, and San Antonio, we have already covered those in our Austin day trips guide , so chose not to include them here.

Nature-Focused Road Trips from Austin

Garner state park.

Encompassing more than 1700 acres of beautiful Texas Hill Country, nearly 3 miles of the stunning Frio River, and roughly 16 miles worth of trails, Garner State Park is absolutely one of the best weekend getaways from Austin!

Whether you’d like to hike, camp, float the river, or simply enjoy a picnic and a swim, Garner State Park’s unforgettable beauty will be on full display.

Driving Distance From Austin

View of the turquoise water of the Frio River in Garner State Park, one of the best weekend getaways from Austin TX

Big Bend National Park (+ Beyond)

Home to some of the most stunning views in Texas, Big Bend National Park is a fantastic place to hike and explore–don’t miss the incredible Santa Elena Canyon or the Lost Mine Trail while you’re there!

In addition to the national park, the immediate area surrounding the park has plenty more to see, including Big Bend Ranch State Park and the ghost town of Terlingua. 

If you’d like to go a bit out of your way, this road trip from Austin can also hit up the ultimate Instagram darling of West Texas–the small town of Marfa.

7 hours, 30 minutes.

Hiker standing in Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park looking away from the camera

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Located just half an hour from Amarillo , not far from Route 66, sits the second-biggest canyon in the USA and one of the best weekend trips from Austin: Palo Duro Canyon!

There are plenty of hikes and overlooks to choose from, but be sure to prioritize hiking to the lighthouse formation! The trail is scorching and can be a bit grueling, especially during the final ascent, but the payoff is absolutely worth it.

7 hours, 15 minutes.

Kate Storm standing in front of the Lighthouse in Palo Duro Canyon TX

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Set just south of the New Mexico border in West Texas, Guadalupe Mountains National Park is home to the four highest peaks in Texas and some incredible hiking trails.

Depending on how long you plan on exploring, you could extend your Austin road trip into New Mexico, as well: just over the border sits Carlsbad Caverns National Park, which features more than 100 caves and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Rocky peak in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, one of the best couples trips in Texas

Caverns of Sonora

The founder of the National Speleological Association, Bill Stephenson, once said this about the Caverns of Sonora: “This is the most indescribably beautiful cave in the world, its beauty cannot be exaggerated, not even by a Texan.”

With a sales pitch like that, it’s not hard to see why the Caverns of Sonora are among the most famous caverns in Texas!

Even though they don’t take long to tour, they’re a bit far from the capital for a practical day trip–but they are among the best overnight trips from Austin!

3 hours, 30 minutes.

Interior of the Caverns of Sonora, one of the best caves in Texas

Caddo Lake State Park

While Texas may be classically characterized as a place of desert landscapes and cowboys, at Caddo Lake State Park, you’ll find a very different side of the Lone Star State–one dotted with giant cypress trees that drip Spanish moss and leisurely canoe rides.

This isn’t a lake for swimming–the alligators who live in the lake are best avoided–but it is utterly beautiful, and a fantastic road trip from Austin for those looking to leave city vibes behind entirely.

5 hours, 15 minutes.

Caddo Lake, with Spanish moss hanging from the trees in the background and the lake in the foreground

Lost Maples State Natural Area

Lost Maples State Park makes for a beautiful weekend getaway from Austin year-round, but never more so than during the fall, when the park becomes one of the best places to enjoy fall foliage in Texas!

The foliage is typically best from late October through mid-November and lasts 3-4 weeks, but the season does vary by year, so if you have your heart set on catching the foliage at its best, be sure to check its status before heading out.

2 hours, 45 minutes.

Lost Maples State Park in central texas during fall foliage season, one of the best central texas day trips from austin

Best Cities for Weekend Getaways from Austin

As the largest city in Texas, the fourth-largest city in the USA, and one of the most diverse cities in the country, it’s safe to say that Houston is packed with enough fun things to do to fill more than one weekend trip from Austin!

Be sure to check out the Space Center Houston and NASA–the most famous of all the attractions in Houston–as well as sample some of Houston’s other top museums and parks.

Head to Kemah Boardwalk for a charming slice of Americana, and be sure to enjoy the food scene: Houston’s diversity is perhaps best displayed through its enormous collection of fantastic restaurants featuring cuisines from across the world.

Houston Texas skyline on a sunny day. One of the most interesting facts about Texas is that Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the USA

New Orleans

Featuring some of the best food, music, and culture in the USA, having a city as incredible as NOLA reachable as a road trip from Austin is definitely something to take advantage of!

While you’re there, be sure to enjoy Bourbon Street, but get off of it, as well: New Orleans is more than just its incredible partying (though the partying does indeed live up to the legends).

During your weekend in NOLA , consider visiting the Garden District, taking a ghost tour, visiting the nearby bayou, taking a steamboat cruise, and of course, eating plenty of excellent food, from po’ boys to beignets, during the course of your weekend getaway.

Red building in NOLA French Quarter with iron balconies and black shutters. NOLA is one of the best weekend trips from Austin Texas

Known for big hair, big (oil) money, and big buildings, Dallas is a quintessentially Texan city–and also one of the fastest-growing cities in the USA, with an excellent food scene and plethora of things to do.

Of course, no weekend trip to Dallas would be complete without a somber exploration of the assassination of President Kennedy, whose murder in Dallas in 1963 is one of the most haunting in the USA’s collective memory.

On a lighter note, though, Dallas offers far more than morbid history: with phenomenal shopping, excellent skyline views at Reunion Tower, walkable neighborhoods like the Bishop Arts District, and great gardens and museums (the Dallas Arboretum is stunning), you’ll find plenty of fun things to do during a weekend in Dallas.

Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in Dallas Texas as seen from above at sunset. This bridge is one of the most instagrammable places in Dallas Texas!

Best Beach Road Trips from Austin

South padre island.

The only tropical island in Texas is, hands down, one of the best road trips from Austin. 

Here, you’ll find 34 miles of sandy beaches with calm, beautiful water, dolphins to watch, recovering sea turtles to visit, the opportunity to take a horseback ride on the beach, and some stupendous sunrises.

South Padre Island is one of the most popular beaches in Texas for good reason, and though it is known for its raucous Spring Break parties during March, outside of those weeks, the island is a far more laid-back escape.

5 hours, 30 minutes.

Sunrise over the beach in South Padre Island Texas, one of the best Texas romantic getaways

One of the most popular weekend getaways from Austin, but even more so from Houston, Galveston is home to some of Texas’ best-known beaches!

With miles of coastline, a small, picturesque theme park on the Galveston Island Pier, the East End Historic District that features beautiful Victorian-era homes, and tons of family-friendly attractions and parks, Galveston is a favorite for families looking for a quick beach trip in Texas.

Colorful umbrellas set up on the sandy beach with chairs in Galveston, one of the best day trips from Houston TX

Corpus Christi

As one of the closest beaches to Austin, Corpus Christi is popular with visitors looking to enjoy the beach for a bit while still retaining access to some small tastes of city life, like the beautiful Art Museum of South Texas and the interesting USS Lexington, a WWII-era aircraft carrier turned museum.

Corpus Christi from above with the harbor in the foreground and the skyline in the background

Mustang Island

Just a bit further from Austin than Corpus Christi–really, so close that you can conceivably visit both places in one trip if you’d like to–sits Mustang Island, a barrier island that is a popular Austin road trip for those looking for beach towns a bit quieter than Corpus Christi.

Port Aransas, the largest town on the island, has a population of merely 4,000, making Mustang Island a laid-back retreat for those looking to fish, go boating, or simply take a swim.

Wood stairs leading down to a sandy beach in Port Aransas Texas

Best Small Town Weekend Trips from Austin

Of all of the weekend getaways from Austin outlined here, this one is the closest to the city–but the best thing to do in Bandera definitely justifies more than a day trip!

As the self-proclaimed Cowboy Capital of the World, Bandera is known for its horseback riding, outdoor activities, and dude ranches!

If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at staying on a dude ranch, a weekend in Bandera may be the perfect road trip for you.

Chestnut horse in a field of bluebonnets on a sunny day

As the home of the official Texas Bluebonnet Trail, Ennis (located about 45 minutes from Dallas) is the ultimate road trip from Austin when the flowers are blooming each spring.

Even outside of bluebonnet season, though, Ennis still has plenty of charms that make it worth visiting, including Bardwell Lake, a drive-in movie theater, and historic downtown.

Wide field of blooming Texas bluebonnets at sunset

Drive into Dublin, and you’ll be greeted with a gigantic sign in the shape of a 4-leaf clover that reads “Welcome to Dublin, Texas”, making it immediately obvious that Dublin considers it the Irish capital of Texas!

Home of Dublin Bottling Works, which bottled the original Dr. Pepper, Dublin features a Dr. Pepper museum, a bottling tour, beautiful shops and restaurants, and a historic downtown.

Without a doubt, Dublin is one of the best weekend getaways from Austin!

Map of the Best Weekend Getaways from Austin

4 photos of Texas: Palo Duro Canyon, Caddo Lake, Garner State Park, and wildflowers at sunset. Black and red text on a white background reads "17 best getaways from austin"

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Austin   Travel Guide

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fun places to visit near austin

26 Best Things To Do in Austin

With more than 300 days of sunshine, it's no surprise Austinites and many of Austin's top activities are outdoors. From Zilker Metropolitan Park to the Butler Hike and Bike Trail to Mount Bonnell, visitors mingle with dogs on leashes, teens

  • All Things To Do
  • 1-Day Itinerary
  • 2-Day Itinerary
  • 3-Day Itinerary

fun places to visit near austin

Zilker Metropolitan Park Zilker Metropolitan Park free

U.S. News Insider Tip: The Austin City Limits Music Festival transforms Zilker Park for the first two weekends in October. Some attractions like the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and the Zilker Botanical Garden will be closed for those dates. – Catherine Parker

Sitting on the banks of the Colorado River, this beloved park spans more than 350 acres and buoys Austin's reputation as one of the Best Places to Live . Zilker Metropolitan Park shelters some of the city's most popular attractions – from the Zilker Botanical Gardens to Barton Springs Pool – as well as several athletic fields and plenty of open space for strolling. You'll be able to spend a whole day here thanks to a range of activities such as swimming, canoeing or digging for fossils at the Austin Nature and Science Center 's Dino Pit. Art aficionados can peruse the works housed within the UMLAUF Sculpture Garden & Museum while garden enthusiasts can peruse the specialty gardens in the Zilker Botanical Garden. After a day spent strolling the park, cool down with a dip in Barton Springs Pool, a 3-acre natural swimming hole. A theater, train for children and sports courts are also on-site. The park hosts several popular events, including the Austin City Limits Musical Festival, the ABC Kite Fest and the holiday Trail of Lights  (each affect the park's accessibility so plan ahead).

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Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake free

A cherished outdoor space in the center of the city, the 10-mile Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail (locals refer to it as the Lady Bird Lake trail) serves as a popular place for runners, walkers and cyclists, for both locals and visitors. The urban path takes visitors along the water's edge and passes by plenty of places to relax and picnic. Part of the trail is a 1.3-mile boardwalk, which offers amazing downtown views along with bronze belts emblazoned with Texas song lyrics. There are several restrooms and water fountains along the path, plus scenic overlooks.

Outdoor enthusiasts raved about the peace and quiet beauty the trail affords. Recent visitors jumped on wherever convenient and enjoyed the trail's views. Most said the trail was busy enough to feel safe. It is also a good place to see the Austin bats . 

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Texas Capitol Texas Capitol free

Standing stoically in the heart of central Austin is Texas's legislative center, the State Capitol. Opened in 1888, this landmark (made of Texas sunset red granite) stands 14 feet taller than the  U.S. Capitol  in  Washington, D.C.  Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Texas Capitol was designated at National Historic Landmark in 1986.

The structure underwent a massive restoration starting in the 1990s, including replacing the zinc statue of the Goddess of Liberty that sits atop the dome with an aluminum one. The restoration also included a 667,000-square-foot underground extension to accommodate how much the state government had grown.

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University of Texas at Austin University of Texas at Austin free

U.S. News Insider Tip: Visitors should research and purchase parking ahead of their UT event as there is no free parking on campus. Ride-share and public transportation are also options. – Catherine Parker

In addition to being home to 52,000 college students, the University of Texas also shelters several attractions and venues that appeal to residents and visitors alike. Concert-goers head to the newly completed Moody Center for big name musical acts and UT basketball games. Meanwhile, the Bass Concert Hall hosts Broadway shows and smaller traveling acts. The open-air Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium vibrates on UT football game days with seating for more than 100,000 fans.

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Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater

Odds are your favorite band has played at Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater. It's home to the legendary "Austin City Limits" television series, which holds the title of the longest running music series in American television history. The theater seats more than 2,700 people. The balcony level houses the Jack & Jim Gallery, which showcases the portfolio of Jim Marshall, a photographer with a passion for music. If you can't secure seats to a show, take a tour of the venue. The tour covers ACL history along with visiting the galleries. Tours depart from Monday to Saturday at 11 a.m. and last 90 minutes.

Music buffs praise the acoustics at ACL Live, claiming that there is not a bad seat in the house. Others said it was a bucket-list venue, similar to those in Nashville . A few note that some security staff was rude.

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Lake Travis Lake Travis

Texas believes bigger is better and its lakes are no exception. Lake Travis is nearly 64 miles long and boasts 271 miles of shoreline. First-time visitors can get a good idea of its scale if they drive by Mansfield Dam, the dam that created Lake Travis while taming the Colorado River. After seeing the massive dam, stop by Mansfield Dam Park for impeccable lake views and activities like picnicking, swimming and scuba diving. Numerous other parks line the lake, offering everything from picnic tables and hiking trails to water sports and swimming. (Note: Hippie Hollow Park is a clothing optional beach and access is restricted to patrons 18 and older.) Travelers who want to enjoy the scenery with a drink should try The Oasis on Lake Travis. It's perched above the lake and calls itself the "Sunset Capital of Texas."

Recent visitors enjoyed their time on the lake, especially when viewing the sunset. It didn't seem to matter too much which park patrons picked, as many of the spots offer clean beaches and good amenities. Some recommended water shoes for slippery and jagged rocks underfoot.  

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Best Austin Tours

fun places to visit near austin

Austin Tours

The 16 Best Austin Tours

March 5, 2020

fun places to visit near austin

Circuit of the Americas Circuit of the Americas

The Circuit of the Americas (COTA) is primarily a Formula One race track, though it hosts events year-round ranging from motor sports to concerts to its holiday-themed Peppermint Parkway lights display. The Lenovo United States Grand Prix race, which COTA has hosted since 2012, is a three-day Formula One event held in October that features heart-pounding race action paired with top musical acts and immersive experiences for attendees.

Beyond Formula One, COTA also hosts NASCAR and MotoGP events, as well as concerts at the on-site Germania Insurance Amphitheater, the largest outdoor concert venue in Austin. Behind the amphitheater, visitors can head up the COTA Tower for sweeping views of the surrounding landscape and racetrack 250 feet below; it costs $35 to visit the observation platform. 

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Mount Bonnell Mount Bonnell free

For great views, head to Mount Bonnell at Covert Park, which provides sweeping vistas of the city, Lake Austin and the surrounding hills. The 5.1-acre linear park is home to a 781-foot outcrop, considered one of the highest spots in the area. Mount Bonnell is designated a Texas Historic Landmark and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The point has proven to be an enduring tourist destination since the 1850s.

Recent visitors said Mount Bonnell offers great views that are best on clear days. Others suggested a sunset visit for the top experience. Regardless of when you hike up, make sure to take water. Additionally, make sure to take your valuables with you when you park.

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South Congress Avenue South Congress Avenue free

South Congress Avenue is the section of Congress Avenue after it passes over Lady Bird Lake. With amazing views of the Texas State Capitol , South Congress, or SoCo as the locals call it, plays a vital role in the city's culture. From the murals around every corner – like "Willie for President" (Nelson that is) to the iconic "I Love You So Much" – people are snapping pictures everywhere. Shopping along SoCo ranges from authentic boot shops to curated boutiques attracting both travelers and locals who are in search of conversation-starting outfits. Another top activity is patio dining where you can grab delicious bites from morning to night along with choice vantage points for people-watching. When you're not shopping, eating or strolling, swing by the Continental Club to grab a drink and enjoy some live music.

Recent visitors appreciated their time along SoCo, some for shopping, others for its restaurants or live music. The murals along South Congress are a top must-see for travelers. Others enjoyed the vibe that they described as "Americana."

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Blanton Museum of Art Blanton Museum of Art

Located on the  University of Texas at Austin  campus, the Blanton Museum of Art is a must-see for any art enthusiast. It's considered one of the largest university art museums in the country, and is home to more than 21,000 works of art. Its collection of Latin American art (totaling more than 2,000 works) is one of the oldest, largest and most comprehensive collections in the U.S. with artists from Mexico and the Caribbean along with Central and South America. For some first-time visitors, Ellsworth Kelly's "Austin" grabs a lot of attention: "Austin" is a 2,715-square-foot stone structure with colored glass windows. Sometimes referred to as "the Kelly Chapel," this freestanding building features three sets of stained-glass windows, a totemic wood sculpture and 14 marble panels hanging on its interior walls.

In May 2023, the museum unveiled several new exterior features, including shade structures that stand three stories tall and look like flower petals; an outdoor sound gallery; a path that leads to a nearby parking garage, and the Lookout, a large window that allows visitors on the museum's second floor to gaze down at the newly upgraded plaza.

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Sixth Street Sixth Street free

A trip to the "Live Music Capital of the World" wouldn't be complete without discovering some of Austin's up-and-coming talent along Sixth Street. After a drastic restoration took place in the 1960s to save the area from its grungy reputation, it became the hub of Austin's music scene in the 1970s. Today, Sixth Street between Congress Street and Interstate 35 (known as Dirty Sixth to locals) is the center of the musical action in Austin. The area buzzes with activity from shops, restaurants, bars and live music joints, such as Maggie Mae's, Pete's Dueling Piano Bar and the historic hotel, The Driskill (rumored to be haunted).

Another standout is Esther's Follies, a longstanding Texas tradition that combines comedy, music and magic. The show began in 1977 and still showcases its satirical blend of politics and pop culture .

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LBJ Presidential Library LBJ Presidential Library

U.S. News Insider Tip : Visitors should be mindful of the University of Texas home football games since the LBJ library is in the same area. Traffic will congested and the ride-share drop-off location will be closed. – Catherine Parker

While the thought of visiting a presidential library may sound like a bore, this one is an exception. Dedicated to the 36th president of the United States, the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library houses all the expected artifacts – such as presidential papers – as well as several quirkier exhibits like LBJ's limousine. Visitors wander from a display depicting the day he became president (after John F. Kennedy’s assassination) to his oval office to a talking LBJ animatronic that tells tales. In addition to the wealth of information about the president, you can learn about former first lady Lady Bird Johnson in both a gallery about her and her former office.

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Barton Springs Pool Barton Springs Pool

Nestled in  Zilker Metropolitan Park , Barton Springs Pool has been a favorite swimming hole for locals and out-of-towners for generations. Native Americans used the springs for thousands of years before European colonists arrived. William Barton first developed it as a swimming hole in the 1830s. Fed by underground springs, the 3-acre pool consistently stays between 68 and 70 degrees. The grounds also feature grass areas for lounging, bathhouses and an educational exhibit about the history of the Barton Springs, including its endangered salamander.

Recent swimmers said the experience is one of the things that makes Austin unique. Even on a hot summer afternoon, the water felt a bit cold (especially for little kids), according to reviews. Some suggested wearing water shoes. Multiple visitors also warn of sizeable crowds and recommend arriving early.

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Guided Sunset Bat Kayak Tour in Austin

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Bullock Texas State History Museum Bullock Texas State History Museum

Named for Texas's 38th lieutenant governor, the Bullock Texas State History Museum explores the Lone Star State's vibrant past with artifacts ranging from the original Goddess of Liberty statue that resided at the top of the  State Capitol's dome to a 1960s missile control console from the space center in Houston . Along with galleries featuring more than 700 artifacts, the museum features rotating special exhibits to reflect the diverse history of Texas. The museum is also home to the largest IMAX screen in the state as well as the Texas Spirit Theater, a cafe with an outdoor patio and a souvenir shop. 

Native Texans and out-of-towners alike say the museum has a good layout and many recommend setting aside a few hours to take in all there is to see. Moviegoers enjoyed their IMAX experience.

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Rainey Street Rainey Street free

U.S. News Insider Tip : Grab one of Austin's scooters, a pedicab or walk to Rainey Street, especially on weekend nights. Traffic can grind to a standstill and cheap parking is nonexistent. –  Catherine Parker

As the Live Music Capital, Austin offers more than one entertainment district. Sixth Street oozes into Fourth's Warehouse District, packed shoulder-to-shoulder with bars and clubs. South Congress Avenue across Lady Bird Lake offers more dining and boutique shopping paired with classics like The Continental Club. Meanwhile, Rainey Street attracts a younger crowd, blending dog-walking locals cutting out early with visitors in town for a bleisure trip. This area features many of its original bungalows repurposed into venues and restaurants. The vibe might be laid-back, but the sound systems are cranked up. In between venues, Austin's ubiquitous food trucks offer a sampling of the city's dining scene. Several high-rise hotels cast their shadows down on Rainey, such as  Hotel Van Zandt , and the Austin Convention Center is nearby.

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Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Named for its co-founder Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Johnson (wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson ), the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is the place to visit if you're a flower enthusiast. The former first lady co-founded the center with Helen Hayes to educate others about the benefits of planting native plants, a project that has revolutionized gardening habits in central Texas. The center features North America's most diverse collection of Texas native plants. Visitors flock from all over the country to enjoy more than 900 species of Texan flora – including bluebonnets and evening primrose – that flourish on more than 280 acres of gardens. There are also walking trails and an observation tower. The 16-acre arboretum features 50 types of oaks found in Texas. For the kids in the group, head to the Luci and Ian Family garden for play structures and a maze.

Visitors say it's pretty year-round, but the spring and early summer provide the best chance to see the most flowers in bloom. They advise spending an hour or two here and to bring the kids so they can explore.

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Austin Bats Austin Bats free

According to experts, Austin is home to the largest urban bat colony in North America. Approximately 1.5 million bats make the Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge their home for part of each year. The bats settled here after a renovation of the bridge in 1980 created crevices that were perfect for bats to take refuge in against predators. Every spring, the Mexican free-tailed bats migrate north to the bridge to give birth and raise their babies. Come summertime, the bats can be seen each evening at dusk as they emerge for their nightly excursions to rid the city of pesky insects before heading back to central Mexico in the fall.  Evening kayak trips on Lady Bird Lake are a great way to observe the bats. Alternatively, head to the Statesmen Bat Observation Center (free) to watch: It's located next to the bridge on the south side of Lady Bird Lake.

Past visitors and locals alike who have taken the time to watch the bats say it's an interesting sight to see. Others remind future travelers that the bats are a natural phenomenon and therefore unpredictable, so you could be waiting a while. Many said to arrive early to grab a prime spot to watch.

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The Contemporary Austin The Contemporary Austin

The first thing to realize when planning a visit to The Contemporary Austin is that the art museum actually occupies two separate sites that are miles from each other. There's the west side Laguna Gloria and the downtown Jones Center. The 14-acre Laguna Gloria houses the Art School at Laguna Gloria and is a beloved location for its art-in-nature setting. Laguna Gloria also houses the historic 1916 Driscoll Villa and the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park. Most of the sculptures at Laguna Gloria are outdoors, and fans of modern art will appreciate the beauty of its location close to Lake Austin.

Set on the corner of Congress Avenue and 7th Street, the Jones Center is hard to miss with neon script glowing from Jim Hodges's "With Liberty and Justice for All (A Work in Progress)" steel installation. The 8,000-foot Jones Center features two floors, including the Moody Rooftop, a favorite for views. This facility offers a robust calendar with exhibitions and films.   

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Austin Boat Tour with Full Sun Shading Available

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Congress Avenue Bat Bridge Kayak Tour in Austin

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Downtown Austin Sunset Kayak Tour with 1.5 Million Bats

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UMLAUF Sculpture Garden + Museum UMLAUF Sculpture Garden + Museum

The works of Charles Umlauf, a University of Texas art professor for 40 years, intermingle with native Texas landscaping and water features on Umlauf's former property. Umlauf and his wife, Angeline, gifted their property, house and Charles' studio along with 168 sculptures to the City of Austin in 1985. The garden features 59 of Umlauf's sculptures, mainly in bronze using the lost wax method. The collection also includes thousands of his drawings.

Recent visitors called the garden "peaceful," particularly noting the sounds of water as they strolled. Most guests advised it would take about an hour to see the sculptures.

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Elisabet Ney Museum Elisabet Ney Museum free

Back in 1892, Elisabet Ney, a German-born sculpture artist, built a neoclassical limestone home and studio in Austin's Hyde Park neighborhood that ultimately earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places. She went on to create sculptures of notable Texans, like Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston (both namesakes to Texas cities). Those life-sized marbles statues can be found in the Texas State Capitol foyer, blocks away. The Elisabet Ney Museum includes sculptural works, maquettes, medallions and some of Ney's personal effects and furniture. Located just north of the University of Texas , the castle-like home is one of the Hyde Park's must-sees. It sits on 2.5 acres of a restored Texas prairie that features native plants similar to what Ney would have seen upon arriving in Austin in the late 1800s.

This "hidden treasure" museum attracts many art lovers, who don't mind making the trek north of downtown. Several of the visitors were intrigued by the noted female artist working in the late 1800s Texas, when that was uncommon. Museum-goers enjoyed the grounds and the unique home.

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Mexic-Arte Museum Mexic-Arte Museum

The Mexic-Arte Museum is devoted to the conservation of Mexican, Latinx and Latin American art and culture, including artists based in Texas. It's home to a permanent collection of more than 5,000 contemporary works, which includes photographs, sculptures, decorative arts and Mexican dance masks as well as works from local artists. The museum also hosts theatrical and musical performances year-round. 

Recent travelers said the museum was a pleasant surprise and recommend stopping in the eclectic gift shop. Many described the museum as "small, but mighty." Most recent visitors said it took about an hour to explore the collection.

fun places to visit near austin

Austin Nature & Science Center Austin Nature & Science Center free

Nestled in a corner of Zilker Park , the Austin Nature & Science Center cultivates a passion for the outdoors, especially for kids. The center provides hands-on exhibits designed to foster connections with the natural environment. One outdoor option is the Forest Trail, which includes information about the 45 types of native trees planted along the path. Visitors with kids should not miss the Dino Pit, which allows children to dig up an assortment of fossil casts, introducing them to paleontology. The Austin Nature & Science Center also houses several animal exhibits, including small fish, reptiles, birds of prey and mammals like bobcats. Additionally, visitors can observe a honeybee hive and walk along the pond.

Travelers appreciate how well the park caters to children, as the array of exhibits are sure to keep even the antsiest kids entertained. Several parents comment their kids spent hours wandering around the facility, especially the Dino Pit. Several recommend bringing hats and water bottles on hot days.

fun places to visit near austin

The Domain The Domain free

For high-end boutique shopping in Austin, head to The Domain, a collection of more than 100 retailers sheltered in an outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment district in North Austin. Neiman Marcus anchors the center, but shoppers will also find Tiffany & Co., Gucci and Louis Vuitton. In addition to luxury shops, The Domain offers more affordable staples like H&M, Macy's and Zara. Shopping isn't the only activity here: Travelers will also find the Museum of Ice Cream at The Domain, where visitors can learn about the history of ice cream in 12 different multi-sensory exhibits and enjoy unlimited ice cream treats. Located adjacent, the Domain Northside's Rock Rose District offers a strip of bars and eateries ranging from Velvet Taco to Lavaca Street Bar.

The Domain also houses four different lodging options:  The Westin Austin at The Domain ; the retro-inspired Lone Star Court; The Archer Hotel , a dog-friendly boutique property; and Aloft Austin at The Domain.

fun places to visit near austin

Clear Kayak Sunset Glow Tour

(54 reviews)

Best of Austin Small-Group Driving Tour with Local Guide

Best of Austin Small-Group Driving Tour with Local Guide

(1940 reviews)

from $ 45.00

Downtown Austin Live Music Pub Crawl

Downtown Austin Live Music Pub Crawl

(72 reviews)

from $ 35.00

fun places to visit near austin

Mayfield Park and Preserve Mayfield Park and Preserve free

Despite its listing on the National Registry of Historic Places, Mayfield Park and Preserve attracts travelers primarily because of its exorbitant population of peacocks (around two dozen!). The peafowl roam the entire park; keep your eyes peeled as you explore and don't forget to look in trees and on roofs. The historical cottage and gardens sit in a 2-acre parcel of land, which Mary Mayfield Gutsch donated to the city of Austin in 1971. There are plenty of ponds and gardens to explore. Mayfield Preserve is a 21-acre natural landscape that travelers can access via walking trails.

The beautiful peacocks, who stayed relatively calm despite the steady stream of gawkers, impressed past visitors. Several parkgoers were able to snag photos of the peacocks spreading their feathers. Keep in mind a visit here in summer could get hot, so bring plenty of water.

fun places to visit near austin

McKinney Falls State Park McKinney Falls State Park

McKinney Falls is a nature fix for many Austinites. Onion Creek provides spots for swimming on hot summer days. As a bonus, fishing is allowed and you don't need a state fishing license. In addition to the creek, nearly 9 miles of trails take hikers and bikers around the park's limestone formations and wooded areas. After an active day, visitors at McKinney Falls can wind down at one of the park's 81 campsites or six cabins.  

Parkgoers recommend checking out both the upper and lower falls, calling both beautiful. Travelers also suggest planning your trip to coincide with the wet season (spring) to see the waterfalls at their best.

fun places to visit near austin

Thinkery Thinkery

Consider Thinkery Austin's children's museum. It offers activities that combine science, technology, engineering, arts and math, aimed at children up to age 11. Permanent exhibits at Thinkery range from Train Town and the Fresh! Farmers Market to Innovators' Workshop to Currents, which focuses on water. The museum also houses an enormous outdoor playground for kids to enjoy. In all, the Thinkery offers 40,000-square feet of space for babies, toddlers and kids to explore with their people.

Recent visitors appreciated Thinkery's assortment of hands-on activities, which they claimed did an excellent job of keeping children entertained. Museumgoers also recommend bringing a change of clothes, as the museum's water exhibit may soak your children. Overall, the museum makes an excellent destination on a rainy (or exceptionally hot) day in Austin.

fun places to visit near austin

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Visit Austin

Austin Insider Blog

This blog, written and curated by Visit Austin staff, shares the things that visitors love and locals can't get enough of.

50 Fun Things to Do in Austin

There’s truly something for everyone in Austin. Whether you’re looking for live music , must-see museums , authentic Texas cuisine , scenic outdoor adventures or family-friendly fun , our city offers it all.

Here are 50 of the best things to do in Austin to kick-start your trip.


Local shopping, live music & nightlife, arts & culture, outdoor activities.

1. Try Austin’s favorite food: tacos ! Some of the best are served up by Veracruz All Natural , Fresa’s Chicken al Carbon and Torchy’s Tacos .

2. Sample a variety of food trucks in one location at The Picnic , where you’ll find homemade pasta from  Cannone Cucina Italiana   and authentic Thai cuisine at  Coat & Thai .

Overhead view of a platter of bbq meats and sides like beans, slaw, grits and potato salad

3. You’re not doing Austin right if you don’t try some of our world-famous barbecue . Get in line for the ultra-tender brisket crafted by James Beard Award-winning pitmaster Aaron Franklin at Franklin Barbecue . Try the Brisket Frito Pie topped with chili and cheddar cheese at Micklethwait Craft Meats . Or sample Texas-style (and sized) dino beef ribs at Stiles Switch .

4. Dine alfresco (even in winter!) on the heated patios at Grizzelda’s (Tex-Mex cuisine) and Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill (American fare), or sip on craft cocktails and slurp oysters on the oak-tree shaded patio at Perla's (seafood).

5. Taste your way along the scenic Texas Hill Country wine trail , home to more than 50 wineries. Or sample the brews from local microbreweries on the Austin Craft Beer Trail .

Overhead view of various dishes and beverages from Fareground's food vendors

6. Dine at Fareground , Austin’s very first food hall, featuring outposts of some of the city’s favorite eateries, including a variety of bite-size sammies at Jewboy Sliders .

7. Enjoy brunch with a side of music at Stubb’s Bar-B-Q , serving up lip-smacking barbecue during its rousing Sunday Gospel Brunch. Or meet the locals at  Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden , where 200+ craft beers are served, and 30 varieties of sausage are grilled during the Sunday Big Band Brunch.​

8. Don’t leave Austin without sampling some of our town’s best Tex-Mex cuisine , including barbecue breakfast tacos from Cisco's , Bob Armstrong queso at Matt’s El Rancho and sizzling fajitas from Maudie’s .

9. Make your first stop at the Austin Visitor Center and get insider tips on the best Austin has to offer, hop on a tour and shop locally made items. You can also check out the online Gift Shop for Austin-themed goodies.

Girl reaching for a pair of cowboy boots at Allens Boots.

10. Shop  South Congress Avenue , known for its funky stores and chic boutiques. Check out the kicks at  Allens Boots , one-of-a-kind jewelry and clothing by local artisans at  Paper Work  and vintage treats at Big Top Candy Shop .

11. Flip through the extensive selection of vinyl at Waterloo Records and catch a free in-store performance by an emerging local musician.

12. Spend some time at the original flagship Whole Foods Market , where you’ll find restaurants, a beer and wine bar, a food truck, and free rooftop live music and events.

13. Shop ‘til you drop in the 2ND Street District , teeming with Austin-owned boutiques that offer everything from music-inspired apparel at Austin Rocks to gorgeous jewelry from Eliza Page and tailored menswear from League of Rebels .

14. Start your day with farm-fresh produce, artisan goods, colorful flowers and live music at the  SFC Farmers’ Market Downtown , held Saturdays in Republic Square .

15. Search for retro treasures in the North Loop neighborhood, where  Room Service Vintage  and  Blue Velvet  are good bets for affordable clothing and home decor finds.

16. Listen to Texas singers, songwriters and musicians perform in the Oak Garden at  Güero’s Taco Bar  on Wednesdays as part of the  Texas Radio Live  series presented by Sun Radio. Limited seating available.

17. Get a taste of Austin’s cocktail culture at Whisler's , known for creative concoctions with unique ingredients, and the reservations-only Midnight Cowboy , serving classic libations in a sultry speakeasy.

Man and woman two-stepping at White Horse

18. Slip into a real honky-tonk and go two-stepping at Broken Spoke , known for its chicken-fried steak and free dinner show; do some boot-scootin' at  The White Horse , with live country jams; or drop in at Little Longhorn Saloon  during its six-days-a-week happy hour, with $2.50 Lone Star beers.

19. Watch a band at the legendary Continental Club on South Congress Avenue, which has been hosting live music ranging from rock to country for 60 years, and is often the site of surprise celebrity performances.

20. Hit some of Austin’s best LGBTQ+ bars on Fourth Street in the  Downtown Warehouse District , with dancing and drag queens at hot spots that include Rain on 4th , Highland Lounge and Oilcan Harry’s .

21. Toast the latest Texas Longhorn victory at  Scholz Garten , Austin’s oldest drinking establishment and the  place to celebrate University of Texas football wins since 1893.

22. Fall brings exciting events to Austin. Tune in for this year's hybrid edition of the annual Texas Book Festival , held November 11-12; explore galleries, museums and artist workshops around Austin at the Austin Studio Tour , November 4-19; and get a jump on your holiday shopping at the Blue Genie Art Bazaar , running from November 17 through Christmas Eve.

23. View a stunning collection of modern art at  The Contemporary Austin  at the Jones Center and get free same-day entry to  The Contemporary Austin–Laguna Gloria , a Mediterranean-style villa with an outdoor sculpture park on Lake Austin. Advance tickets are required.

Sunrise aerial view of the Texas State Capitol grounds.

24. Stop in at the historic Texas Capitol Visitors Center  and get a Lone Star State history lesson during a free guided tour of the handsome pink granite Texas State Capitol .

25. Play it smart at the Thinkery , Austin’s hands-on children’s museum that incorporates science and technology into the fun with interactive exhibits and engaging activities. Open Tuesday-Sunday.

26. Visit the free Brush Square Museums that include the limited-entry  Susanna Dickinson Museum (the only Anglo adult survivor of the Battle of the Alamo) and the O. Henry Museum , former residence of the famed short story writer.

27. Visit an impressive collection of museums at the University of Texas at Austin , including the Blanton Museum of Art , featuring Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin , a stone building with brilliantly colored glass windows (advance tickets required); the Harry Ransom Center , housing cultural archives that include the first photo; and the LBJ Presidential Library , with inspiring exhibits on President Lyndon Baines Johnson photo.

Woman standing with arms wide and iced coffee in hand in front of the iconic "i love you so much." mural.

28. Snap a selfie in front of one of Austin’s iconic  murals . The popular  I love you so much  mural is painted on the wall of  Jo's Coffee  on South Congress Avenue.  Hi, How Are You  features a bug-eyed bullfrog named Jeremiah, originally drawn by outsider folk artist Daniel Johnston, near the  University of Texas at Austin  campus. And the colorful  Greetings from Austin  postcard is a must-shoot in  South Austin .

29. Celebrate African-American heritage at the  George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural and Genealogy Center  through exhibits, programs and theatrical productions.

30. See a classic film at the  Paramount Theatre , a century-old performance venue and movie theater located in the heart of downtown Austin.

31. Get an insider’s look at the history and culture of Texas at the  Bullock Museum , containing three floors of interactive exhibits, the Texas Spirit Theater, an  IMAX Theatre  and the Story of Texas Cafe. Limited capacity, with timed-entry tickets.

32. Take a free guided tour (with  advance reservations ) of the elegant  Texas Governor’s Mansion , built in 1854 as the official residence of Texas governors and their families.

33. See a comedy show at  Esther's Follies , specializing in political satire and hilarious musical numbers, or  Fallout Theater , presenting sketch, stand-up and improv comedy shows by new and seasoned comedians.

34. View Mexican and Latin American artworks at the  Mexic-Arte Museum , and snap a photo with one of the revolving murals painted on the side of the museum.

35. Catch a limited-seating concert at ACL Live at The Moody Theater , named for the long-running Austin City Limits television music series filmed here, which hosts artists of every genre and offers behind-the-scenes tours .

Hanging fabric pieces in various colors at the Women & Their Work gallery.

36. Browse the vibrant galleries that showcase local emerging artists, including  Austin Art Garage   (open limited hours),  Women & Their Work  and the  Old Bakery & Emporium  (located in an 1870s national landmark on Congress Avenue), which presents juried art shows.

37. See everything from opera to dance and family musicals at the Long Center , one of Austin’s leading performance venues. This state-of-the-art venue offers both indoor and outdoor performances on their three stages.

38. Tour the free  Elisabet Ney Museum , housed in what was once the German-born sculptress’ studio, and see portrait sculptures of notable 19 th  century Texans.

39. Bike or hike along the 10-mile Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake, which winds along the shoreline and boasts panoramic views of Austin’s skyline.

40. Hike up the stone steps of  Mount Bonnell   and get a sweeping view of the city from atop this Lake Austin landmark that has been a popular attraction since the 1850s.

41. Explore Mayfield Park , home to incredible gardens and colorful preening peacocks that make the perfect backdrop for your photos.

42. Putt your way through the kitschy Peter Pan Mini Golf , featuring two 18-hole mini golf courses filled with fun obstacles and colorful characters that include a towering T. rex.

woman sitting on overlook at greenbelt in Austin Texas

43. Hike or bike along the  Barton Creek Greenbelt  to find Gus Fruh, a swimming hole known for its famed Urban Assault limestone rock wall that’s a favorite of climbers. Explore further to discover the hidden Twin Falls and Sculpture Falls areas.

44. Join fellow Texas Longhorn fans in cheering on the beloved University of Texas at Austin Longhorns. Limited seating available at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium   for football games. 45. Harness the cowboy spirit in the Texas Hill Country during a guided horseback trail ride with  Maverick Horseback Riding  in Lockhart or  Texas Trail Rides , just outside downtown Austin.

46. Take a swing at the  Harvey Penick Golf Campus , featuring a PGA Tour-designed nine-hole golf course and Austin’s first-ever, 18-hole Footgolf course, which combines the best elements of soccer and golf for a high-energy game.

47. Make tracks to the free  Austin Nature & Science Center  to explore nature trails, see small wildlife creatures and dig for “dinosaur fossils” in the Dino Pit.

People enjoying UMLAUF Sculpture Garden and Museum in austin texas

48. Wander around  Zilker Park , a 360-acre oasis in the heart of the city that’s home to the  Zilker Botanical Garden  and leafy trails that lead to outdoor artworks at the  UMLAUF Sculpture Garden and Museum .

49. Hike through a Texas Hill Country landscape of limestone cliffs and stone river beds along the Pedernales River at  Pedernales Falls State Park . Follow Juniper Ridge Trail, which leads to the park’s rushing Pedernales Falls.

50. For an adrenaline rush coupled with an awesome view,  Lake Travis Zipline Adventures  offers five pulse-pounding ziplines (one being the longest in Texas) to whisk you away on an exciting outdoor adventure.

Discover more things to do in Austin today, this week and this weekend with our online event calendar here . 

Guest Blogger

10 Must-Do Adventures Near Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas is one of those towns where once you know, you know.

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

fun places to visit near austin

Austin has a well-established reputation as a live music mecca and foodie paradise. What flies a little bit under the radar is Austin's adventure-loving heart. From swimming in natural pools to hiking Mount Bonnell, you'll find that the nights in Austin may belong to music, but the days belong to adventure. 

Here are some of our favorite places to explore in and around Austin.

fun places to visit near austin

The Barton Creek Greenbelt runs through south Austin, and the 12-mile trail is the lifeblood of the city's urban outdoor adventures. Take a break from the Texas heat with an easy 1.5 mile hike on the Greenbelt to Sculpture Falls, a large swimming hole that is always a refreshing 70 degrees. 

fun places to visit near austin

Speaking of the Barton Creek Greenbelt, you can use to access the rock climbing at Gus Fruh. Urban outdoor rock climbing? Yes, please! This a trad climbing spot, so be sure your party has experience in lead climbing and belaying.

fun places to visit near austin

For panoramic views of the city, take the short hike up Mount Bonnell. The trail climbs 300-plus feet to the summit via a series of manmade and natural stairs. Don't forget your camera, and water. It's hot in Texas!

fun places to visit near austin

I mean, is there any better way to "Keep Austin Weird" than to visit the Cathedral of Junk? This art piece is open to visitors by appointment, and it's worth the trip. 

fun places to visit near austin

McKinney Falls is the perfect place to spend a day away from the bustle of the city. Two falls run best when the water is high, but this is a great spot for swimming and hiking during the hot summer months. Camping is available within the park, too.

fun places to visit near austin

Austin is chock full of artistic murals and graffiti, and there's no better way to explore it (and the city itself) than by hopping on a bicycle. Austin's "B-cycle" program has pick up and drop off spots all over the city, and for $12 for a 24 hour pass, it's a no-brainer.

fun places to visit near austin

To see and be seen (and to cool off!), head to historic Barton Springs Pool in Zilker Park. Plan to spend the day, because once you arrive you won't want to leave. Zilker Park also has a disc golf course, volleyball courts, botanical gardens, and open-air performance venue that pretty much always has live music or theater on the schedule.

fun places to visit near austin

To get a bit off the beaten path, check out the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve. This 2.5 mile hike through the woods includes a waterfall, woodlands, and the Wild Basin Creative Research Center . 

fun places to visit near austin

Lady Bird Lake isn't so much a lake as a wide section of the Colorado River, but it's the place to watersport in Austin. The calm water is perfect for kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding, plus, you'll get spectacular views of the Austin skyline. 

fun places to visit near austin

If you're willing to go a little further afield, don't miss checking out Hamilton Pool Preserve. This swimming hole is in an overhanging rock cave which is fed by a 50 foot waterfall. It is as amazing as it sounds, so get there early to claim a spot on the small beach.

Cover photo by Sarah Williams

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Do you love the outdoors?

Yep, us too. That's why we send you the best local adventures, stories, and expert advice, right to your inbox.

fun places to visit near austin

Erin's Travel Guide to Austin, Texas

Erin Newman-Mitchell

Austin, Texas is renowned for being the Live Music Capital of the world, but what many don't know are the multitude of adventures Austin holds aside from its night scene.

fun places to visit near austin

Top 20 hikes near Austin, Texas

Aurora Slaughter

Austin is known for music and food, but it's also full of incredible places to hike! Check out these hikes near Austin to get out of the city and into nature.

fun places to visit near austin

25 Must-do hikes in Texas

The Outbound Collective

You've got a lot of ground to cover on Texas hikes!

fun places to visit near austin

72 Hours of Adventure in Dallas, Texas

Korey Taylor

Get outside and enjoy the Texas sunshine.

fun places to visit near austin

5 Must-Do Adventures Near Houston, Texas

Sarah Vaughn

Escape the city and get outside.

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The best things to do in Austin right now

Explore the Texas capital with our guide to the best things to do in Austin, from outdoor activities to annual events

Photograph: Shutterstock/Sean Pavone

James Wong

Everyone wants to come away from their trip feeling like they saw it all and hope they never stumble across a TikTok post-trip highlighting a destination and making them ask, “Did I even go to [blank]?”

Austin, Texas, is one of the cities you don't want to miss out on. With its crave-worthy restaurants and vibrant bar scene , it's the kind of place to spur a first-timer to consider moving here to save on making frequent trips back. It's also a big city with a rural feel. Think natural wonders punctuating a lively downtown, where some of the country's largest festivals happen to take place.

Below, you'll find Texan landmarks that’ll make any wannabe cowboy hoot n' holler and spots that buck all expectations. Whether it's your first time here or you're a newbie looking to get a lay of the land, these are the best things to do in Austin. 

RECOMMENDED: The best day trips from Austin The best hotels in Austin The best Airbnbs in Austin The best spa hotels in Austin

This guide was updated by Austin-based writer Deven Wilson . At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines . 

Been there, done that? Think again, my friend.

Best things to do in Austin

1.  congress avenue bridge.

Congress Avenue Bridge

What is it?  The nightly flight of 1.5 million bats that live under the Congress Avenue Bridge .

Why go?  It’s an Austin ritual to gather each evening—from late March through early fall after checking the "bat emergency hotline" for times—and watch the creatures come out to feed. Hop in a kayak from the water under the bridge for a closer look. Each August, Bat Fest celebrates the little vampires with food, drink, bands and other entertainment spanning the length of the bridge.

2.  Barton Springs

  • Things to do

Barton Springs

What is it?  Zilker Park’s crown jewel, this legendary natural pool is filled with fresh water from nearby springs.

Why go?  Austin gets hot, and you need to cool off. Lounge on the grassy areas before diving into the cool spring water (the pool reaches depths of 18 feet in some spots). Barton Springs has played host to generations of Austinites and an endangered little guy called the Barton Springs Salamander. The "Splash! into the Edwards Aquifer" exhibit in the Beverly S. Sheffield Education Center near the bathhouse teaches guests about the history and biology of the springs. This will be relocated to the main entrance of the pool in 2024.

3.  University of Texas Turtles

View this post on Instagram A post shared by HenrikJaron (@henrikjaron)

What is it? On the north side of the UT Tower, there’s a collection of ponds home to the iconic campus's unofficial mascot .

Why go? A free and sporadic reason to explore the historic center of UT’s campus, these turtles are the perfect touch of Austin's “weird.” Relax and watch the collection of a few dozen different species of turtles as they swim and run around their lush grounds with the old greenhouse in the background and the looming tower above.

4.  Waterloo Records

  • Music and entertainment
  • Greater Austin
  • price 2 of 4

Waterloo Records

What is it?  The city’s largest and most prominently located music store is well-stocked with new releases from indie and major-label artists.

Why go? Discover a local band or pick up some weird vinyl from the bargain bin to impress your friends. Waterloo is a great place to spend an hour or two indoors, browsing the unbeatable selection of music. There are frequent in-store performances as well, so check the event calendar.

5.  Continental Club

  • Travis Heights
  • price 1 of 4

Continental Club

What is it?  It's one of Austin's most famed live music venues that’s been open since 1955.

Why go?  Whatever you're looking for, you'll find something to satisfy your tastes at the Continental Club. The iconic club has been home to performances from the likes of Double Trouble, Paul Ray and the Cobras, Robert Plant, Wanda Jackson and ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons. Always packed, the 200-capacity space is the spot for intimate, electric evenings.

6.  Pease Park

View this post on Instagram A post shared by 365 Things Austin (@365thingsaustin)

What is it? Proud home to the Eyore's Birthday Party , this historic park offers year-round reasons to explore its limestone cliff-lined grounds.

Why go?  The celebrated Danish artist Thomas Dambo has added to the growing collection of interactive sculptural elements like the all-ages Treehouse with his latest troll, Malin . Offering a calming presence to an already peaceful park, the reclaimed sculpture is the newest addition to the park's history of blending conservation with culture. Beyond the troll, explore the trials, meander around Shoal Creek's banks and walk downtown without ever seeing a car.

7.  Zilker Park

  • Rollingwood

Zilker Park

What is it? An ATX institution. The massive park is a playground for outdoor activities and is home to annual events like the ACL Festival and Blues on the Green .

Why go? Stroll the stunning Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Zilker Botanical Gardens , rent a canoe or kayak the tranquil waterways (including Lady Bird Lake), and cool off in the Barton Springs Pool . Or bring a cooler stuffed with all your faves for a leisurely picnic in the park.

8.  Allen’s Boots

  • South River City
  • price 3 of 4

Allen’s Boots

What is it? An Austin institution since 1977, Allen's Boots has been selling premium leather footwear to tourists and locals alike for decades.

Why go?  Head to the original location on South Congress to find what you need: Turquoise women's boots? Got 'em. Black studded men's boots? Allens has those too. Spend an afternoon trying them all before landing on the perfect pair, then hit up the rest of South Congress' popular shopping district.

9.  The Little Gay Shop

The Little Gay Shop

What is it? As the storefront suggests, The Little Gay Shop sells art, apparel, books, magazines, and more exclusively from LGBTQIA artists.

Why go? Austin’s famously been a safe space for the queer community in Texas, where y’all truly means y’all. If you’re going to get a quirky souvenir or cheeky gift, this is where you can get it. The owners believe in making art accessible to all, and you’ll also find both original and limited prints at exceptional prices.

10.  Austin City Limits Live

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What is it? Broadcasting long before Austin was trendy, PBS showcases a variety of artists on national TV with a year-round calendar of performances .

Why go? Now, with two stages, one at the Moody Theater downtown and the other a bit more intimate at 3TEN, there’s double the chance of catching a taping of the iconic show. Moody mainly shows off current stars, but get ahead of the music curve and see rising and/or local bands at 3TEN before they get big.

11.  Texas Capitol

  • Attractions

Texas Capitol

What is it?  Standing 14 feet taller than the U.S. capitol building in Washington, D.C., this Renaissance revival landmark is impossible to miss.

Why go?  You’ll confirm that everything is bigger in Texas. Wander around on the immaculate terrazzo floors and gaze at the star-crested rotunda. Or, if you're after a deeper understanding of the place, join one of the many official tours of the building, from a basic half-hour introduction to specialized theme tours such as Heroes of the Texas Revolution or Women in Texas History.>

See this iconic Texas landmark from Zilker Park on a bike tour.>

12.  The Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail around Lady Bird Lake

The Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail around Lady Bird Lake

What is it?  Encircling Lady Bird Lake at the center of Austin, the trail offers one of the  best hikes in Austin .

Why go?  The 10-mile trail is a hub for bikers, runners and hikers. Every day, thousands ride, jog and amble over the landscaped bridges and under the iconic statue of legendary guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan as they make their way around the circuit. The route offers outstanding views of the Austin city skyline, as well as the neighboring Zilker Park. Rent a canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard  to cool down afterward.

13.  Franklin BBQ

  • Central East Austin

Franklin BBQ

What is it?  Franklin Barbecue produces some of the best brisket in Texas, and the line forms early at this lunch-only spot.

Why go? James Beard award-winner Aaron Franklin seasons and smokes his brisket to juicy perfection. It’s so good that people queue up and sometimes wait four hours for a taste. The line has become an experience in itself, as hungry patrons arrive early in the morning with chairs, drinks and a willingness to chat with strangers. Not a fan of lines? La Barbecue and Leroy and Lewis offer equally delicious meats for a shorter wait time.

14.  Walton's Fancy & Staple

Walton's Fancy & Staple

What is it? A Sixth Street restaurant that serves comfort food from brunch to dinner. Everyone’s favorite Miss Congeniality and Austin adoptee, Sandra Bullock, owns it.

Why go? Because who can resist down-to-earth Sandy’s charms, especially when it comes to restaurants? Housed within an adorable century-old building, every dish feels like a hug—come for eggs at brunch, browse the boutique while you wait, and people-watch by the window.

15.  Paramount Theatre

  • Performing arts space
  • Congress Ave District

Paramount Theatre

What is it? Austin’s oldest theatre, a legendary stage that has welcomed the likes of Miles Davis and Dr. Maya Angelou.

Why go?  The Paramount Theatre relives the glamour days when seeing a show was a dress-up occasion. Their annual Anniversary Gala is the hottest ticket in town (Congress Avenue is lined with red carpet leading up to its doors), and they also host a variety of shows throughout the year worthy of a date night.

16.  Austin City Limits

Austin City Limits

What is it?  Austin City Limits (ACL) is Austin’s largest music festival, held every October over two consecutive weekends in Zilker Park.

Why go? Every Austinite has been to ACL at least once in their lives. You can’t miss this fest: With multiple stages and more than 130 bands, the festival includes a full spectrum of rock, pop and hip hop. Local Austin faves are featured at the food booths, and art vendors sell their wares throughout. Tickets go on sale early, so grab yours before they sell out, and start planning your weekend.

17.  Broken Spoke

  • South Lamar

Broken Spoke

What is it?  The definitive Texan dance hall is all about letting your hair down. 

Why go?  It doesn’t get much more Texan than two-stepping to country music. There are dance lessons on some nights, so hesitant toe-tappers can fit right in with boot-scooting bosses. After all that dancing, grab an ice-cold Lone Star and one of the Spoke’s famous (and famously enormous) chicken-fried steaks.

18.  Higher Ground

Higher Ground

What is it? Higher Ground is a spiritually themed restaurant, bar, and nightclub rolled into one huge downtown venue.

Why go?  You’re in the Bible Belt, so you may as well keep with holy themes. Higher Ground promises a sinfully good time, with a space that’s intricately decorated with religious artifacts, stained glass windows, and a DJ booth made from a vintage organ. As for spirits, there are a ton of them here (the liquor sort). Go bananas.

19.  Veracruz All Natural

  • East Cesar Chavez

Veracruz All Natural

What is it?  This standout taco truck is revered for everything from its migas to its al pastor made with fresh, clean ingredients.

Why go?  The breakfast offerings include a migas taco with a cult following: the tortilla stuffed with eggs, tortilla chips, avocado, pico de gallo and cheese will make you a fan too. Try a fresh juice to complete your breakfast, and you’ll see why they’ve earned a loyal following that's led to additional outposts, including six brick-and-mortar locations. Plus, their tacos are available at a few coffee shops around town.

20.  Mount Bonnell

Mount Bonnell

What is it?  Located in Covert Park, Mount Bonnell is one of the top hikes in Austin, offering spectacular views of the city and Lake Austin from the summit.

Why go?  The ascent to the 775-foot peak (believed to be along an old Native American trail) is easy: The path consists of 102 concrete steps and will usually take between 15 and 20 minutes. Most evenings you’ll find groups of chatty locals toasting the sunset up here, but don’t forget your bug spray—the mosquitoes enjoy the show just as much as you will.

21.  Bullock Museum

  • Arts District

Bullock Museum

What is it?  Discover four centuries of Texas history through abundant artifacts, including an impressively renovated shipwreck.

Why go?  Whether you’re a local or a tourist, learning about the fascinating history of Texas is a must. From the Alamo to the Kennedy assassination, Texas has a rich and influential past—at one point it was even its own country. From tales of the Bush family and space exploration to awesome IMAX movies and public programming, The Bullock has it all.

Want to see more attractions? Book a tour of Austin . 

22.  Desert Door Distillery

Desert Door Distillery

What is it?  Desert Door Distillery is the U.S.’s first and only distillery producing sotol.

Why go?  Made from the desert spoon plant native to West Texas, sotol is herbaceous and slightly floral. It’s a unique spirit deeply rooted in Native American history and culture. Visit the distillery for tours and tastes, then stick around for cocktails in the stylish tasting room with comfy couches, a fireplace and regional art.

23.  Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum

Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum

What is it?  The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum is one of the most spectacular of the country’s presidential libraries.

Why go?  Located on a 30-acre site within the UT campus, the stately building contains a mind-boggling collection of historical artifacts from the 1960s and '70s, including 45 million pages of documents and 643 hours of the former president’s recorded telephone conversations. The permanent exhibits range from an in-depth study of the Vietnam conflict to "Humor and the Presidency—"a celebration of LBJ’s lighter side featuring a life-size animatronic model of the notorious joketeller himself.

24.  Hamilton Pool

  • Parks and gardens

Hamilton Pool

What is it?  This stunning natural pool is located in Balcones Canyonlands Preserve and is easily accessible from downtown.

Why go? Nature lovers will adore the Preserve, one of Austin's best parks and a protected area for rare birds and wildlife. There are hiking trails and picnic tables, but the most popular attraction is Hamilton Pool. It’s a natural pool created thousands of years ago when the ceiling of an underground river collapsed. Take note: There is an entrance fee, reservations are required, and occasionally bacteria levels make swimming impossible.

25.  Laguna Gloria

Laguna Gloria

What is it? The 14-acre park features woodlands, meadows, gardens, Lake Austin waterfront, and an extraordinary collection of permanent outdoor art.

Why go? Part of The Contemporary Austin, Laguna Gloria is a 1916 villa built by Clara Driscoll, known as the "savior of the Alamo." The Sculpture Park and grounds offer stunning natural beauty and some seriously Instagrammable sculptures. Tom Friedman’s towering steel statue,  Looking Up, 2015 , is something of a social media celebrity. Seek out Tom Sachs’s mischievous  Miffy Fountain , too, as well as his more recent  Tower of Power .

26.  Mayfield Park

Mayfield Park

What is it?  This historic cottage, garden and nature preserve is perched on a bluff overlooking Lake Austin.

Why Go?  A picnic in this West Austin park is peaceful, even inspirational. The landscaped gardens surrounding the historic cottage feature lush green trees, palms, water lilies, and plenty of spots to stretch out and relax. Best of all, the beautiful peacocks—introduced to the park in 1935—roam freely. The vibrant males strut their stuff most prominently in late winter and early spring.

27.  Peter Pan Mini-Golf

Peter Pan Mini-Golf

What is it?  This classic, colorful spot for mini-golf has been a family fun staple since 1948.

Why go?  The course, located south of the river near Zilker Park, features handcrafted sculptures of various animals, a giant T-Rex, a Chuck Taylor-inspired shoe and, of course, Peter himself. The kids will love it and it’s a grand time for adults too, especially considering there’s a BYOB policy.

28.  University of Texas Tower

  • Walks and tours

University of Texas Tower

What is it?  The iconic tower stands as the centerpiece of the University of Texas.

Why go?  Students and employees use it for the library and administrative offices inside, but it's also an Austin landmark. Fun fact: The tower lights up orange to celebrate big UT victories. Go Horns Go!

Want to see more of the area? Book a bike tour . 

More great things to do in Austin

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Time Out magazine

53 Best & Fun Things To Do In Austin (Texas)

By: Author Jerric Chong

Posted on Published: March 19, 2020  - Last updated: October 15, 2023

Things To Do In Austin

With everything from wild mountain ranges to hip and trendy bars, Austin is one of the most vibrant cities in Texas.

It welcomes more than 27 million visitors per year, and it hosts all kinds of concerts, festivals, parades and government events as befitting the state capital.

It has a dual identity, too.

While it’s home to many patriotic landmarks and solemn memorials, its unofficial slogan is “Keep Austin Weird,” and it lives up to that promise with funky shops, colorful murals, secret speakeasies and one-of-a-kind neighborhoods with lots of atmosphere.

Are you ready to experience everything that this fun and unique city has to offer?

Here are just a few things to do in Austin, Texas.

Disclaimer: This article may contain affiliate links. If you make a booking through these links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Table of Contents

1. Greetings From Austin Mural

Greetings From Austin Mural

Wally Gobetz / flickr

Start your vacation right with the “Greetings From Austin” mural .

Located in the heart of the city, it’s a painted wall that resembles a cheerful, life-sized postcard, and it’s the perfect selfie spot for tourists.

The mural contains images of iconic Austin landmarks such as the Texas State Capitol and the University of Texas Tower.

It’s free to visit and take photos, so you can pose with it as many times as you’d like to get an Instagram-worthy photo.

When you’re done, step sideways into the Roadhouse Relics studio.

The owner is the one who painted the mural, and he makes all kinds of signs and art prints that can be purchased as souvenirs.

Address:  1720 S 1st St, Austin, TX 78704, United States

2. Lady Bird Lake

Lady Bird Lake

Skylar Dawn / Shutterstock

With glittering waters and tree-lined shores, Lady Bird Lake is one of the most beautiful attractions in Austin, and it can offer hours of entertainment for outdoor enthusiasts.

The first thing to know about the lake is that motorized boats are prohibited.

However, you’re free to rent a canoe, kayak or paddleboard, so the ban is actually a good thing that keeps the area calm and clear for tourists.

If you prefer to stay dry, there are enjoyable activities for you as well.

You can hike or bike one of the many trails that encircle the lake; you can walk a paved, picturesque boardwalk; you can even take a cruise along the water.

Lady Bird Lake is one of the major points of interest in Austin, so you should definitely put it on your list.

As long as you don’t mind mud in your water shoes, you’ll have a great time.

Check details, prices and reviews here.

Address: 1820 S Lakeshore Blvd, Austin, TX 78741, United States

3. Museum of the Weird

Museum of the Weird

sean hobson / flickr

With its eye-popping colors and brain-bending oddities, the Museum of the Weird is one of the most unique things to see in Austin.

It’s the only place in the city where you can find shrunken heads next to melted wax figures next to gigantic statues of movie monsters.

Its bright yellow walls are decorated with splashy, vintage-style posters, so the assault on your retinas will begin as soon as you enter.

From there, you can check out weird antiques, psychic trinkets, taxidermy animals, deformed skulls and many other odds and ends.

Nothing is off-limits at the Museum of the Weird.

It’s the kind of place where you’ll leave the building, blink in the sunlight and wonder what just happened.

You should definitely schedule a visit if you’re wondering where to go during your vacation!

Address:  412 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701, United States

4. Zilker Park

Zilker Park

Jill Shepherd / Shutterstock

Texas is one of the most beautiful states in the country, and when you’re surrounded by the lush, vibrant landscapes of Zilker Park , you’ll understand why.

Hills are covered in wildflowers.

Nature trails wind through babbling brooks and charming little footbridges.

Multiple lakes are scattered across the park, including an all-natural, spring-fed lake with water so clear and mild that it’s used as a swimming hole all year long.

Popular pastimes include hiking, cycling, fishing, boating, paddling and touring the local gardens and sculpture exhibits.

If you’ll be there on the weekend, you can take advantage of free-to-the-public events like outdoor movie nights and plays in the park.

There are commercial activities as well; Zilker Park hosts everything from music festivals to holiday light shows.

Are you looking to enjoy yourself this weekend?

Consider a trip to Zilker Park.

It’s one of the best, most beautiful attractions in Texas , so it’s a must-see while you’re down south.

Check out this 2-Hour sightseeing bike tour that runs through Zilker Park.

Address:  2207 Lou Neff Rd, Austin, TX 78746, United States

5. Blazer Tag Adventure Center

Blazer Tag

Many of the tourist attractions in Austin are best visited on sunny, summery days.

But what if you’re headed to Texas in the winter?

You might be wondering what to do.

The answer is Blazer Tag .

Hailed as the largest laser tag arena in Texas, Blazer Tag offers three entire floors of ramps, towers, corridors and bridges.

Rather than playing a rinky-dink game of tag in a small, enclosed area, you’ll immerse yourself in an amazing tactical landscape like something out of a video game or military exercise.

When you’ve defeated the other team, you can relax at a cafe that offers pizza, burgers, nachos, cheese sticks and funnel cakes.

You can also get nostalgic with an arcade that boasts everything from pinball machines to good old skee-ball.

Blazer Tag is one of the top places to visit in Austin, so give them a call if you want some exciting possibilities for a vacation, birthday party or corporate event.

Address:  1701 W Ben White Blvd, Austin, TX 78704, United States

6. Downtown Austin

Downtown Austin

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

With its gleaming buildings and waterfront views, Austin has one of the most recognizable skylines in the entire state of Texas.

However, there are just as many fun things to see on the ground!

Shops and restaurants line the sidewalks.

Malls, museums, art galleries and performance theaters offer a fun night on the town.

A farmer’s market provides fresh produce and artisan crafts every week.

There’s a boardwalk for sightseeing and a river for kayaking.

The state capitol building is available for tours.

You can rent cars, bikes and boats to follow every whim and explore every trail.

Whether you’re looking to shop ’til you drop or stuff your belly until you explode, downtown Austin has it all.

It’s a must-do while you’re in the city for any length of time.

Check out this awesome downtown history walking tour.

7. Terry Black’s Barbecue

Terry Black's Barbecue

Terry Black’s Barbecue

In Texas, it isn’t a good platter of ribs unless it’s as big as your face.

Thankfully, Terry Black’s Barbecue knows how to serve up a worthy portion of dripping, sauce-slathered pork.

Everything is cooked in gigantic smoke ovens that tenderize the meat until it practically falls off the bone.

The menu includes ribs, briskets, sandwiches, sides and even a salad or two, and there are drinks and desserts when you’re craving something sweet after stuffing your face.

The restaurant has a cafeteria-style setup, so even if there’s a wait for your ribs, you can start munching on potato salad and mac and cheese as soon as you arrive.

No one goes hungry at Terry Black’s Barbecue.

It’s one of the best restaurants in Texas, so if you’ll be near the Austin or Dallas area, make sure to loosen your belt buckle and stop by!

Address:  1003 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704, United States

Visiting other parts of Texas? Be sure to check out our list of things to do in Houston  & things to do in San Antonio !

8. Austin Nature and Science Center

Austin Nature & Science Center

Austin Nature & Science Center

Are you traveling to Texas with kids?

You won’t want to miss the Austin Nature and Science Center .

While it offers family-friendly fun that can be enjoyed by all ages, it holds a special kind of magic for children.

Maybe it’s because of the wildlife center that houses everything from birds to bobcats.

Maybe it’s because of the “dino pit” where little paleontologists can dig up their own rocks, fossils and gemstones.

Maybe it’s just the fact that the Austin Nature and Science Center makes learning fun .

It isn’t a dull place where you have to listen to tour guides drone on and on about things that you don’t care about.

At this destination, you can enjoy education and entertainment all rolled into one, so it should please parents and kids alike.

Address:  2389 Stratford Dr, Austin, TX 78746, United States

Visiting other parts of Texas? Be sure to check out our lists of things to do in Galveston  & things to do in Fort Worth !

9. Circuit of the Americas

Circuit of The Americas

Tricia Daniel / Shutterstock

If you feel the need for speed, there’s no better place to get the wind whipping through your hair than Circuit of the Americas .

Though it was built as a professional racetrack, it’s expanded to include an amphitheater, observation tower and various sports facilities, so it’s easily one of the top destinations in Austin.

Plan a trip in the spring to enjoy the IndyCar Classic.

Visit in the winter to watch the Formula One Grand Prix.

Go anytime to marvel at the glass floors and ceilings of the observation tower, or check their schedule to see when they’ll be hosting concerts, rugby matches, motorsport events or go-kart races.

There’s always something exciting to do at Circuit of the Americas, which is why it’s one of the most fun things to do in Austin.

Call today to see what they’ll be hosting tomorrow!

Address:  9201 Circuit of the Americas Blvd, Austin, TX 78617, United States

10. Toy Joy

Toy Joy

When traveling to Austin, you might hear the locals say that they want to “Keep Austin Weird.”

It’s a rallying cry meant to support the small, one-of-a-kind businesses that give Austin its eclectic charm.

Toy Joy is one such business.

Crazy and colorful, it’s home to all kinds of fun, quirky toys, including vintage collectibles that you can’t find anywhere else.

You’ll have your pick of board games, kaleidoscopes, finger traps, wind-up figures, lava lamps, stuffed animals and more!

It does offer “traditional” toys, so if you’re looking for something familiar to occupy your kids in the backseat, you can find the usual dolls and puzzles to keep them entertained.

However, the true strength of Toy Joy lies in its unique and kitschy trinkets.

Whether you’re shopping for souvenirs or just letting out your inner child for awhile, you’ll love the unforgettable shelves of this toy store.

Address:  403 W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701, United States

11. Texas State Capitol

Texas State Capitol

LMPphoto / Shutterstock

You can’t visit Austin without checking out the Texas State Capitol .

Not only is it the most important seat of government in Texas, but at more than 300 feet tall, it’s even bigger than the famous capitol building of Washington D.C. !

Tours are available if you’re interested in the grand architecture of the building or the politics within it.

If not, you can check out the different photos, videos and exhibits that have been arranged for visitors.

The highlight is a gigantic Lego model of the capitol that required more than 65,000 blocks to complete.

You’ll definitely want to visit the Texas State Capitol if you’re headed to Austin.

It’s one of the major points of interest of the city, so even if you don’t spend hours and hours there, you’ll want to drop by just to say that you saw it.

It’s almost like a prerequisite if you’re looking for things to do in downtown Austin.

Address:  1100 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701, United States

12. Congress Avenue Bridge

Congress Avenue Bridge

Jaime Becerra / Shutterstock

Congress Avenue Bridge is an iconic landmark in Austin.

Not only does it form an important part of the city skyline, but it’s also home to the largest bat colony in Texas.

Have you ever seen a dark cloud of bats scattering through the air like something out of a gothic horror movie?

This is your chance!

Experts say that as many as 1.5 million bats could be living in the nooks and crannies of the bridge’s concrete structure.

They sleep during the day, but at night, they take flight.

Visitors to Austin can watch thousands and thousands of bats soaring through the sky.

They’re a remarkable sight, especially if you stand on the pedestrian portion of the bridge and get a bird’s eye view of their rise.

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Austin, you won’t want to miss Congress Avenue Bridge when the sun goes down.

The bat migration is something that has to be seen to be believed.

Address:  Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704, United States

13. Lake Travis Zipline Adventures

Lake Travis Zipline Adventures

Olesia Bilkei / Shutterstock

If you’re going to hurl yourself through the air at 30 miles per hour, you might as well book the best, and that’s Lake Travis Zipline Adventures .

They boast the longest and fastest ziplines in the entire state of Texas!

Their lines aren’t the only things that they have going for them, however.

They also offer food, lodging and transportation for guided tours through the beautiful scenery of Austin.

Whether you’re looking to rent a cabin for the weekend or just lounge on a private beach for the afternoon, this company can arrange everything for you.

Do you dare to fling yourself off the tree tops?

Do you dream of sunbathing on a quiet, unoccupied stretch of sand?

Call Lake Travis Zipline Adventures.

You could be having an exhilarating near-death experience as early as this weekend!

Address:  14529 Pocohontas Trail, Volente, TX 78641, United States

14. Hippie Hollow Park

Hippie Hollow Park

Philip Arno Photography / Shutterstock

If you’ve always wanted to go to a nude beach, Hippie Hollow Park is something to put on your Austin bucket list.

It isn’t officially known as a nude beach.

In fact, it isn’t really a beach at all.

Located on the rocky shores of a limestone outcropping, it’s more of a place to sit, socialize and sunbathe rather than a splash in the water.

However, it does have a “clothing optional” rule, and many people take advantage of that and let their nether regions breathe.

Texas hippies have been doing it since the ’60s and ’70s, and today, visitors like to throw off their coats and join the fun as well.

Do you believe in body positivity?

Do you like the thought of cracking open a beer and soaking up the sun with like-minded individuals?

Visit Hippie Hollow Park and let it all hang loose!

Address:  7000 Comanche Trail, Austin, TX 78732, United States

15. Sixth Street

Sixth Street

Rolf_52 / Shutterstock

Sixth Street is one of those “love it or hate it” places in Austin.

Known to locals as the Dirty Sixth, it has a thriving nightlife scene that includes everything from microbreweries to dance bars, so it’s a source of food, drink, art, live music and spontaneous tattoos.

On the other hand, Sixth Street can be a pretty overwhelming place.

The lights glitter like it’s Vegas instead of Austin, and it’s definitely an adult-oriented neighborhood where the best action happens after the kids go to bed.

It’s part of downtown Austin, too, so it’s always loud and lively.

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Austin, however, you can’t beat Sixth Street for sheer opportunity.

There’s always something going on, and it’s usually boozy.

You should give it a try if you like having a good time and are decent at holding your liquor.

Address: 115 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701, United States

Traveling to other parts of Texas? Why not check out some of the fun things to do in El Paso  & things to do in Waco !

16. Texas Memorial Museum

Texas Memorial Museum

Ken Wolter / Shutterstock

Located on the University of Texas campus, the Texas Memorial Museum is a celebration of natural science.

Its programs and exhibits are devoted to geology, zoology, paleontology, herpetology, ichthyology and more.

Fossils are preserved behind glass. Specimens float in jars, and dinosaur bones rise to dizzying heights.

There are even chairs shaped like scaled-up models of vertebrae!

Special events are frequently held at the museum, too.

If you’re intrigued by the thought of touching meteorite rocks or feeding little critters from wildlife shelters, there’s something on the schedule for you.

Make use of travel hacks to get free or discounted admission.

The best things to do in Austin aren’t always centered around roller coasters.

Sometimes, they’re located within places like the Texas Memorial Museum, and they’re educational and entertaining.

Address:  2400 Trinity St, Austin, TX 78705, United States

17. Wonder Bar

Wonder Bar

If Instagram opened a bar, it would be Wonder Bar .

Filled with colorful, whimsical props that range from carousel unicorns to stripper poles in ball pits, it’s a dream destination for people who like to take cool and unique photos for social media.

Snuggle with a gigantic teddy bear.

Put on a pink cowboy hat and ride a spring-operated spaceship.

Get a “printed drink” in a tall, funky glass that’s just begging to be photographed.

There’s a bar area with fuzzy, colorful upholstery that will delight your eyes and your taste buds.

There’s a dance floor if you like to groove.

There are even secret rooms with more props if you want to go on a selfie tour!

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Austin, it doesn’t get more novel than the Wonder Bar.

It’s one of the best tourist attractions for anyone with a smartphone camera.

Address:  11500 Rock Rose Ave suite d, Austin, TX 78758, United States

18. McKinney Falls State Park

McKinney Falls State Park

Daniel Mullins / Shutterstock

McKinney Falls State Park is one of the hottest tourist spots in Austin.

In the summertime, this is quite literal; temperatures can climb high in Texas, so people flock to the streams and pools of state parks to get a little relief.

In terms of activities, however, McKinney Falls State Park is still pretty hot.

It boasts more than 80 campsites, and you’ll have the option of sleeping under the stars or living the life of luxury in a wooden cabin.

You can also swim, fish, hike, bike, picnic, bird watch and even geocache.

Amenities are available if you want them.

Otherwise, you can enjoy the rugged natural beauty of McKinney Falls State Park by exploring it in your own way.

It’s one of the major points of interest in Austin, so you won’t be alone.

Thousands of visitors flock to its scenery each year, and thousands more are subjected to the vacation photos of their friends and family as they explain, “This is where we rented a paddleboat, and this is where Johnny scraped his knee on the rocks…”

Address:  5808 McKinney Falls Pkwy, Austin, TX 78744, United States

19. Pinballz Arcade

Pinballz Arcade

Atmosphere1 / Shutterstock

If you’ve always lamented the fact that you can’t find old-fashioned arcades anymore, Pinballz Arcade is a must see destination.

It’s a cozy little place that offers all of the best retro games, and with a relaxed, open atmosphere that includes a “bring your own beer” policy, adults can enjoy it just as much as kids.

A plush carpet will sink under your shoes as soon as you enter.

Dark lighting will make the pinball machines glow.

You’ll be transported right back to childhood as the chimes and jingles of high scores fill the air.

Once you’ve beaten the games, you can mosey on over to Pinzball Lake Creek for even more fun.

It’s a secondary location that offers laser tag, escape rooms, bumper cars and virtual reality simulations, so there’s a little something for game enthusiasts of all types.

Pinballz Arcade is definitely one of the best things to do in Austin, so if you’re looking for the city’s best tourist attractions, put this one on your itinerary.

It can offer hours of tipsy, nostalgic fun!

Address:  8940 Research Blvd, Austin, TX 78758, United States

20. Austin City Limits Music Festival

Austin City Limits Music Festival

Ismael Quintanilla III / Shutterstock

Austin is known as the “Live Music Capital of the World,” and the Austin City Limits Music Festival is a celebration of that.

Held every year over the course of two weekends, it brings together literally hundreds of musical acts, and it’s always a crazy good time.

The concerts go all day long. They start at 10AM and end at 10PM.

Multiple stages are in operation at any given time, and the music coming from them could be rock, jazz, country, electronic or hip hop.

In addition to the music, there’s always food and drink for hungry revelers, and there are special booths for arts, crafts, games and other fun things.

If you like music, you won’t want to miss the Austin City Limits Music Festival.

It’s the southern version of Coachella.

Book your tickets early so that you can guarantee yourself a spot at this amazing annual event.

21. Austin Public Library

Austin Public Library

ShengYing Lin / Shutterstock

You wouldn’t normally see a library on a list of tourist attractions, but the Austin Public Library isn’t an ordinary place.

Its gleaming, high-tech building is home to everything from a cafe to a rooftop garden where you can relax outdoors with a cup of tea and a good book!

The inside is equally impressive, however. Local artwork hangs on the walls, and there are dozens of soft, comfortable reading nooks tucked between bookshelves and computer stations.

With six floors in total, you can also wander between story rooms, game rooms, hangout spaces and demonstration tables.

There’s a giant chess set on one floor and a keyboard on another.

Special events are always going on for kids, teens, adults and even seniors.

The Austin Public Library is one of the coolest places to visit in the city.

In fact, it might be one of the coolest places to visit in the entire state of Texas.

Whether you’re looking for leisure or excitement, there’s a room that can meet your needs.

Address:  710 W Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78701, United States

Got more time? Why not check out some of the fun things to do in Lubbock  & some of the things to do in New Braunfels ?

22. Emma Long Metropolitan Park

Emma Long Metropolitan Park

Larry D. Moore / CC BY-SA

Despite the abundance of lakes and ponds near Austin, it can be difficult to find a good spot for swimming.

Emma Long Metropolitan Park is where you’ll want to go to splash.

Open every day of the year, Emma Long Metropolitan Park is a beautiful and family-friendly location for swimming, biking, camping, picnicking and sightseeing.

The water is always mild, and there’s a sandy shoreline for catching tadpoles and building sandcastles.

You can be forgiven for thinking that you’re in Florida rather than Texas.

Do you hate sand in your shoes?

You can also hike, bike and camp on dry land.

Do you love wildlife observation?

See if you can spot the native birds and fish of Austin.

Emma Long Metropolitan Park isn’t a wild and crazy place, but it can offer a fun time for families who just want to enjoy a sunny day together.

Bring a basket lunch; slip off your shoes at the wooden docks. Stay awhile.

Address:  1600 City Park Rd, Austin, TX 78730, United States

23. Hatchet Alley

Hatchet Alley

AP Group of Photographers / Shutterstock

If you’re wondering what to do in Austin on a rainy day, consider Hatchet Alley .

It offers more than 12,000 feet of indoor recreational space, and activities include everything from axe throwing to football bowling.

You’ll find lots of fun stuff to do here, and since it isn’t weather dependent, it can be enjoyed anytime!

Test your strength with bocce ball.

Toss some bean bags with friends, or attempt to throw an axe at a bullseye.

You can even try “football bowling,” an inventive game that combines precision passing with good old-fashioned bowling.

Walks-in are accepted at Hatchet Alley, but you can also call ahead and reserve lanes if you’re in a big group.

That might be best if you’re traveling with kids or colleagues.

Either way, you’re sure to have fun with this indoor entertainment space.

Schedule your visit for this weekend and get half-off beer on Friday!

Address:  443 A Bastrop Hwy, Austin, TX 78741, United States

24. Austin Visitor Center

Austin Visitor Center & Gift Shop

Austin Visitor Center & Gift Shop

Southerners are known for their hospitality, and nowhere is this more apparent than the Austin Visitor Center .

As soon as you walk in, you’ll be greeted like an old friend, and the staff will tell you all about the attractions, events, programs and hidden gems of the city.

You might also enjoy the gift shop within the visitor center.

It’s the best place to buy souvenirs and knickknacks, so if you want an “I (Heart) Austin” shirt to add to your collection, this is where you’ll find them.

Additionally, you can make travel plans with the help of the staff.

They can arrange everything from food tours to zipline adventures, and they’ll do it with a local’s knowledge, so you’ll get good deals and avoid the usual tourist traps.

Swing by the Austin Visitor Center if you’re new to the city and wondering what to do.

It’s a place that can provide answers, so it’s worth the trip!

Address:  602 E 4th St, Austin, TX 78701, United States

25. Texas Governor’s Mansion

Texas Governor's Mansion

Ms S. Ann / Shutterstock

The Texas Governor’s Mansion is an architectural marvel.

Originally built in the 1800s, it’s housed every single Texas governor since its creation, and it’s weathered everything from crazy storms to arson attempts from anarchist groups.

Free tours are available, but they only take place on certain days, so you’ll need to call ahead.

Once you’re inside, you can enjoy a peek behind the governmental curtain as you explore the rooms, halls, furnishings, offices and stairways of Texas’s most prominent politician.

If you’re interested in the history and legacy of the great state of Texas, put the Texas Governor’s Mansion on your list of Austin attractions.

It’s one of the top places to see when you’re in the area, and if you time things right, you won’t have to pay a penny for the experience!

Address:  1010 Colorado St, Austin, TX 78701, United States

26. Typhoon Texas

Typhoon Texas Austin

Typhoon Texas Austin

Located a few miles north of Austin, Typhoon Texas is a water park that can provide a rollicking good time during those hot southern afternoons.

There are rides, slides, pools and splash pads as far as the eye can see, and best of all, there’s a little something for the whole family.

Toddlers will enjoy the pint-sized playgrounds with gentle jets and streams.

Older children can fling themselves down plastic tubes with names like “The Gunslinger” and “The Bronc Buster.”

Teenagers can snap endless selfies as they drift down canals on gigantic floats, and mom and dad can lazily wave at the kids as they sip cocktails and munch on tacos.

If you’re ready to be blown out of the water, Typhoon Texas is one of the best tourist attractions in the Austin area.

It’s technically located outside of the city limits in a nearby town called Pflugerville, but don’t worry: It’s worth the gas!

Address:  18500 TX-130 Service Rd, Pflugerville, TX 78660, United States

27. Sculpture Falls

Sculpture falls

Si Vo / Shutterstock

Considered one of the hidden treasures of Austin, Sculpture Falls is tucked deep within a greenbelt.

It’s surrounded by trees on all sides, and you’ll have to hike through all kinds of forests, tide pools and mini-waterfalls just to get there.

Some visitors get distracted or confused by the other waterfalls and miss Sculpture Falls completely!

If you have a good map, however, you can make it to your destination, and it’s one of the most amazing things to see in Austin.

It’s more of a horizontal waterfall than a vertical one, and it pours across the rocks and into a neat little swimming hole.

Take a dip if you want a refreshing cool-down after your hike, or go cliff-diving off the bluffs if you’re a thrill-seeker looking for a good time.

It takes a little effort to reach Sculpture Falls, but it’ll be worth the trouble.

It isn’t as well-known as other Austin attractions, so you can escape the crowds of major tourist hubs, and you can enjoy the satisfaction of being “in” on the secret.

Not everyone makes it to Sculpture Falls. Can you?

Address:  Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail, Austin, TX 78746, United States

28. Firehouse Hostel and Lounge

Firehouse Hostel and Lounge

Firehouse Hostel and Lounge

If you’re looking for a place to stay in Austin, consider the Firehouse Hostel and Lounge .

It’s located on the top floor of an old, abandoned firehouse, and it has more secrets than its blocky building would suggest.

You see, there’s a speakeasy hidden in the depths of the firehouse.

That’s where the “lounge” part comes in.

While the world-weary travelers are sleeping upstairs, the party animals are living large in a secret bar that can only be accessed by pulling a latch on an out-of-the-way bookcase.

Some people stay in the hostel with no idea that the lounge exists.

Others come specifically for the lounge as part of scavenger hunts or city tours that go off the beaten path.

Regardless of how you find it, the Firehouse Hostel and Lounge is one of the top destinations in Austin, so you won’t want to miss it.

Put on your Sherlock Holmes hat and get to searching!

You could be enjoying craft drinks in a speakeasy tonight.

Address:  605 Brazos St, Austin, TX 78701, United States

29. Rainey Street Historic District

Rainey Street Historic District

Kelly Jobe / Shutterstock

The Rainey Street Historic District is one of the most unique places to go in Austin.

Formerly a residential neighborhood of old bungalows and southern-style ranch houses, it’s been converted into a hip, trendy community with bars, bistros, pubs, cafes, restaurants and even a speakeasy or two.

Lights are strung between houses and porches that have been transformed into outdoor dining spaces.

Live music spills out of the buildings.

In true Texas style, you’re never far from a cold beer, especially at night when the sun sets and the cowboy boots get propped up on tables.

The Rainey Street Historic District is located in downtown Austin, so if you’ll be touring the hot spots of the city, consider a detour into one of the coolest little neighborhoods in Texas.

You won’t regret it!

Address: Rainey Street, Austin, TX 78701, United States

30. Elisabet Ney Museum

Elisabet Ney Museum

Kushal Bose / Shutterstock

Elisabet Ney was a famous sculptor who spent the first half of her life in Germany and the second half in Austin, Texas.

Her works are displayed everywhere from the U.S. Capitol Building to the Smithsonian Museum, but her largest collection is gathered in the Elisabet Ney Museum .

Her most well-known pieces are probably her busts.

She created likenesses of many famous figures, and they’re startlingly lifelike even though they’re made of stone.

Other works include statues, fountains and ornaments.

There are also portraits and artifacts from Elisabet Ney’s life, so if you’re a history buff, you might enjoy taking a trip through the personal timeline of a German-American artist.

The absolute best thing about the Elisabet Ney Museum, however, is that it’s free.

You don’t have to pay a dime to enjoy it.

If you’re thinking about what to see in Austin on a limited budget, this is the destination for you!

Address:  304 E 44th St, Austin, TX 78751, United States

Looking to explore other parts of Texas? Why not check out some of the things to do in Corpus Christi  & some of the fun things to do in Fredericksburg, TX ?

31. Barton Creek Square

Barton Creek Square

Barton Creek Square

Do you need shoes, shawls or souvenirs? Are you dying for a smoothie? Are your nails crying out for a manicure?

Barton Creek Square is an indoor shopping center that offers everything from bookstores to fashion boutiques.

Whether you’re looking for a movie theater to enjoy the latest blockbusters or a food court to get your grub on, this mall has it all.

It’s been recently renovated, too. The mall will welcome you with gleaming surfaces and glass handrails.

If you enjoy upscale shopping experiences, this is one of the best places to see and explore.

Consider a trip to Barton Creek Square if your wallet is burning a hole in your pocket during your trip to Austin.

It’ll offer hours of entertainment as you wander the shops and explore everything, and if you play your cards right, you might even get a giant pretzel out of the deal!

Address:  2901 S Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin, TX 78746, United States

32. Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken

Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken, Austin TX

Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, Austin TX

It’s tough to live up to a name like “world famous,” but Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken rises to the challenge.

Originally based in Memphis, Tennessee, it’s expanded to several other southern states, and it’s converted thousands to its menu.

What’s so special about Gus’s?

For starters, it’s a southern buffet through and through.

Whether you’re craving coleslaw, baked beans, potato salad or fried okra, you can find some finger-licking goodness on the menu.

It’s also completely devoted to fried chicken.

It doesn’t serve any other kind of meat, and it refuses to bow to customers who want things baked or steamed.

At Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, you go greasy or you go home. That’s the Texas way.

If you want to experience it while you’re in Austin, look for a red rooster on the outside of a brown brick building.

Address:  117 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, TX 78701, United States

33. Zilker Botanical Garden

Zilker Botanical Garden

pakul54 / Shutterstock

Zilker Botanical Garden is located within Zilker Park, which we’ve already covered as one of the best destinations in Austin.

However, this attraction is such a show-stopper that it deserves special attention!

You see, Zilker Botanical Garden isn’t a singular garden.

It’s actually a series of gardens, and they include everything from oriental tea houses to butterfly trails filled with colorful monarchs.

You can rest among water lilies in a picturesque gazebo; you can run around rose bushes or walk under the shady paths of oak groves.

You can even meet a dinosaur!

There’s a “prehistoric garden” filled with life-sized dinosaur sculptures and other fun things.

Kids and adults can both appreciate such novelties.

If you’re looking for the best travel destinations in Austin, you should definitely swing by Zilker Botanical Garden.

You can experience it as part of Zilker Park, or you can make a separate trip for it.

Either way, the Ornithomimus is waiting for you!

Address:  2220 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78746, United States

34. Pioneer Farms

Pioneer Farms

Who needs a boring history museum when you could experience a living history museum?

At Pioneer Farms , the volunteers wear high-buttoned dresses and top hats as they take you through guided tours of farms and villages from the 1800s.

You can pet animals, listen to stories and ride in horse-drawn buggies as you learn all about Texas history.

Pioneer Farms also hosts a number of special events.

For example, ghost tours are available for fans of haunted barns and taverns, and culture studies are frequent at the Tonkawa encampment.

If you don’t know a lot about Texas’s original Native American inhabitants, this is your chance to learn.

Pioneer Farms is a must-see if you’re a history buff who will be traveling to Austin.

It’s fun for all ages, and it’s much more unique than other museums that cover the same topics.

When you’re scratching behind the ears of a donkey as you enjoy a lesson on hand-churning butter, you’ll be glad that you stopped here.

Address: 10621 Pioneer Farms Dr, Austin, TX 78754, United States

35. Laguna Gloria

Laguna Gloria

Einahpets32 (Stephanie) / flickr

Owned by an art community, Laguna Gloria is a historic house that was designed to resemble an Italianate-style villa in the early 1900s.

It was originally the home of a prominent Texan philanthropist, but today, it functions as a museum and art gallery for contemporary works.

The coolest thing about Laguna Gloria is that it’s primarily outdoors.

While you can tour the fun, decorative interior of the house, it’s the grounds that offer dozens of statues and sculptures along green walking trials.

Visitors come from all over to see the creative work on display.

Some people even book weddings so that they can say “I do” among tall moss pillars or between gigantic stone fountains.

If you’re looking for fun tourist places in Austin, consider Laguna Gloria.

It’s worth the price of admission just for the photos that you’ll get to take of the city’s coolest contemporary art.

Address:  3809 W 35th St, Austin, TX 78703, United States

36. Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail

Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail

Trong Nguyen / Shutterstock

The Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail is a big name for a big place.

Stretching for more than 10 miles in total, it winds around Austin’s Lady Bird Lake and passes all sorts of stunning sights.

If you enjoy the wild natural beauty of untamed places, you’ll love hiking through the thick, overgrown fields and fully-shaded tree groves.

If you prefer a smoother path, you can stick to the paved roads and footbridges that are well-traveled by bikers, joggers, dog walkers and stroller pushers.

Since you’ll be traveling around Lady Bird Lake, you can stop at any time and enjoy its amenities.

Rent a kayak; buy some duck feed; hop aboard a leisurely water cruise.

The sky is the limit at the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail.

There’s a reason why it’s considered one of the top things to do in Austin, so don’t hesitate to put it on your list.

Address: Lady Bird Lake, First Street Bridge at Lady Bird Lake, Austin, TX 78701, United States

37. Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park

Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park

Austin Parks and Recreation Department

With its peaceful lakefront views, the Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park is a great place to escape the urban frenzy of Austin.

You’ll be able to “get away from it all” without actually venturing too far from the fun stuff of the city.

You can just take a break from it for a while.

The water is calm and pretty. The wooden docks are a great place to sit and fish.

Folks usually bring their dogs to run around the open fields and catch Frisbees, and it isn’t uncommon for swans to come up to picnickers and ask for food.

Local events include nature tours, birdwatching trips, gardening shows and more.

Check their schedule to see if something fun is happening while you’re in Austin, or give them a call to ask about private arrangements for a big family or work group.

You don’t have to leave the city to get away from the steel bridges and high-rise apartment buildings.

Serenity can be found in a nice little park like the Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park!

Address:  614 N Commons Ford Rd, Austin, TX 78733, United States

38. Infinite Monkey Theorem

The Infinite Monkey Theorem

The Infinite Monkey Theorem

There’s a mathematical theory that a monkey hitting random keys on a keyboard will eventually type something amazing like a love poem or the collected works of Shakespeare.

This is the basis of the Infinite Monkey Theorem , an urban winery that strips away all pretenses and functions as a sleek, minimalist and surprisingly chic place.

Its converted warehouse is both fashionable and functional.

Its wine bar serves all kinds of fresh, original creations, and its taproom is open to tours and tastings.

Special events include everything from “Trivia Tuesday” to “Silent Disco Night.”

This is in addition to a regular rotation of bands, artists, yogis and guest speakers who are constantly flitting in and out.

No matter when you’re traveling to Austin, you can find something fun going on at the warehouse.

Head over to the Infinite Monkey Theorem this week.

It should already be on your Austin bucket list, and with a regular schedule of awesomeness, there’s no reason to wait!

Address:  702 Shady Ln, Austin, TX 78702, United States

39. Deep Eddy Pool

Deep Eddy Pool

Steve Hopson (SteveHopson on en.wikipedia) / CC BY-SA

At first glance, the Deep Eddy Pool might seem like any other public pool.

When you do a little digging, however, you’ll learn that it’s actually a historic Austin landmark with a lot of fun activities to offer.

For starters, the Deep Eddy Pool is one of the oldest man-made pools in Texas.

It was originally built during the Great Depression, and since the architects made sure that it was fed by springs instead of artificially filled with water, it’s continued to be a fresh, clean and chemical-free pool since the 1930s.

There are also neat things on the schedule.

Every summer, for example, there are movie nights where they play big-screen favorites while the audience floats on pool tubes!

If you’re looking for fun, unique things to do in Austin, consider the Deep Eddy Pool.

There’s a reason why it’s survived so long as a beloved spot for locals and tourists alike.

Address:  401 Deep Eddy Ave, Austin, TX 78703, United States

40. Cathedral of Junk

Cathedral of Junk

PiercarloAbate / Shutterstock

The Cathedral of Junk is one of the most unique things to see in Austin.

It’s the kind of thing that would make a list of “Top 10 Bizarre Roadside Attractions in Texas,” but what makes it even stranger is that it isn’t meant to be a tourist trap.

It’s just a weird thing in one guy’s backyard!

His name is Vince Hannemann, and he started building the cathedral in the ’80s.

He constructed it with bottles, circuit boards, lawnmower wheels, old TVs, ladders, kitchen utensils, pool toys, household knickknacks and more.

Over the years, he’s turned it into an elaborate structure with stairways, corridors and hidden passages where visitors can get lost in sheer piles of stuff .

The Cathedral of Junk is on private property, so you’ll need to call ahead if you want a tour.

Vince Hannemann will let you into his backyard and show you around.

It’s definitely one of the stranger places to go in Austin, but it’s also the kind of thing that you just can’t pass up!

Address:  4422-4424 Lareina Dr, Austin, TX 78745, United States

Visiting other parts of Texas? Why not check out some of the things to do in Amarillo ?

41. Austin Bouldering Project

Austin Bouldering Project

Austin Bouldering Project

Everything is bigger in Texas, including their rock-climbing facilities.

The Austin Bouldering Project offers more than 50,000 square feet devoted to people who like a little height.

Not only is it the largest indoor rock-climbing destination in the United States, but it’s one of the largest in the entire world!

Classes and workshops are available for climbers of every skill level.

Additionally, there are things like yoga rooms and gymnastic rings for fitness enthusiasts.

Do you hate the thought of missing leg day while you’re on vacation?

Have you always wanted to try a barre class?

They’ve got you covered.

The Austin Bouldering Project does have some restrictions, and visitors will have to sign a waiver before they can participate in any activities.

If you’re okay with that, however, it’s definitely a top tier choice in Austin attractions.

Address:  979 Springdale Rd #150, Austin, TX 78702, United States

42. Austin Zoo

Austin Zoo

Michael Ransburg / Shutterstock

The Austin Zoo is a small nonprofit that focuses on animals more than visitors.

While it welcomes guests who want to enjoy lions, monkeys, bears, wolves and alligators, its primary purpose is the care and rehabilitation of its residents, so it isn’t a “showy” kind of zoo with lots of attractions.

Instead, it offers the chance to see and interact with animals in a healthy, non-damaging way.

For example, if you want to feed the giant tortoises, you’ll need to follow strict rules while in their habitat.

If you want to learn about the cougars, you’ll need to time your visit so that you’re available during their scheduled training and feeding times.

The Austin Zoo isn’t one of the bigger zoos in Texas.

However, it’s a good organization with a good cause, so you can feel good about spending your money there.

It’s going to a nice sanctuary for the animals of Texas.

Address:  10808 Rawhide Trail, Austin, TX 78736, United States


bigbirdz / CC BY

If you want to experience Austin like a local, you’ll need to visit the Drag.

That’s what residents call Guadalupe Street, a stretch of land just outside of the University of Texas campus that has an old-school vibe despite its new-school population.

You see, most of the buildings in the Drag are older.

Some parts of the neighborhood even have a run-down look.

Rather than trendy bars and clubs, it has an odd assortment of bookstores, record stores, dormitories, antique shops and co-ops.

Despite this, young college students love the Drag, and there are always crowds ready to party.

It’s a great place to grab a drink and have a little fun.

If you’re the type of traveler who likes to throw away the map and go where the road takes you, the Drag is one of the best things to do in Austin.

It isn’t as glitzy and glamorous as other attractions, but it’ll give you a taste of real, authentic Austin nightlife!

44. Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve

Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve austin

Open every day from sunrise to sunset, the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve is one of the last parts of Austin that remains untouched and undeveloped by civilization.

It’s the perfect place for rugged, natural sightseeing, and it’s a must-do for anyone interested in the native flora and fauna of the state.

Hiking trails weave through cliffs and tree groves.

Waterfalls cascade over the rocks.

From a distance, you might hear the cry of the golden-cheeked warbler, an endangered species that makes its habitat on the protected land of the preserve.

You’ll have to follow strict rules while touring the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve.

It’s one of those natural, carefully-tended sites where visitors are expected to conduct themselves properly.

If you can be responsible, however, the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve is definitely at the top of our list of Austin attractions.

Where else can you get a natural experience like this?

Address:  805 N Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin, TX 78746, United States

45. Cathedral of Saint Mary

Cathedral of Saint Mary

amadeustx / Shutterstock

Originally built in the 1800s, the Cathedral of Saint Mary is one of the oldest churches in Austin, and it has a deep, rich heritage thanks to its Irish Catholic roots.

It doesn’t shy away from those roots, either.

Every holiday season, the Celtic Cultural Center of Texas hosts a concert that brings together hundreds of Irish and Scottish musicians.

It’s a noted cultural event in both Austin and the Irish Catholic community.

You don’t have to wait for Christmas to enjoy the cathedral, however.

It still holds mass regularly, and its gothic architecture includes many features to gawk at, including towers, spires, crosses, rose windows, interior domes and stained glass fixtures.

Consider a trip to the Cathedral of Saint Mary if you’re looking for awesome things to do in Austin.

You don’t have to be Catholic to feel moved by its beautiful design, long history and cultural significance.

Address:  203 E 10th St, Austin, TX 78701, United States

46. Austin Aquarium

Austin Aquarium

Andrea Izzotti / Shutterstock

Home to thousands of birds, reptiles, amphibians and sea creatures, the Austin Aquarium is one of the best places to visit for animal lovers.

Not only can you admire them in gigantic tanks and pools, but you can pet, play and take pictures with them through special interactive programs!

The marine life is the main attraction of the aquarium, of course, and you won’t be disappointed by all of the tropical fish and softly-glowing jellyfish.

However, there are also sloths to cuddle and lemurs to monkey around with, and there are visitor feeding programs for sharks, otters, string rays, tortoises, parakeets and honey bears.

If you’re wondering what to do while traveling near or through Austin, consider a trip to the Austin Aquarium.

It offers a rare chance to get up close and personal with Texas’s wildlife, and the kids might even learn a thing or two while they’re there.

Address: 13530 N Highway 183 Suite #101, Austin, TX 78750, United States

47. Mayfield Park

Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve

Faina Gurevich / Shutterstock

With its quaint little cottages and gardens, Mayfield Park feels like a setting from another time.

It’s only fitting that it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.

Stepping into this park is like stepping into a flower-filled prairie during a trip across colonial America in your covered wagon.

The grasses are long and green.

The ponds have water lilies daintily resting on the surface.

The air is always sweet with the fragrances of roses, daisies and brown-eyed Susans, and the trees provide plenty of shade for walking or lounging on the soft ground.

Another fun thing about the park is that it has a sizable peacock population.

These amazingly colorful birds just wander the grounds without a care in the world, leaving visitors to gawk at their bright plumage and blase attitude.

Enjoy a blast from the past with a visit to Mayfield Park.

From the poppies to the peacocks, it’ll offer amazing sights for anyone in Austin who can find it.

Address:  3505 W 35th St, Austin, TX 78703, United States

48. Uncommon Objects

uncommon OBJECTS

uncommon OBJECTS

Austin can be a quirky city, especially when you’re knee-deep in a place like Uncommon Objects .

It’s basically an attic sale filled with everything under the sun, and when we say everything, we mean everything .

Guitars are propped against bookshelves and marble statues.

Purses and carnival masks hang on the walls.

Old jewelry is displayed with dishes, perfumes, figurines, music boxes and decorative tins.

Some of the stuff is bizarre, including taxidermy animals with strange expressions and mysterious artifacts that can’t be opened or identified.

Other things are valuable, one-of-a-kind items that you won’t believe you stumbled across.

If you like thrifting, you’ll love Uncommon Objects.

It’s the kind of place where you could spend hours just sifting through the goods and laughing with your travel partners about what you’ve unearthed.

Make sure to stop by during your trip to Austin!

Address:  1602 Fortview Rd, Austin, TX 78704, United States

49. Thinkery


Lost_in_the_Midwest / Shutterstock

Formerly known as the Austin’s Children Museum, Thinkery started as a roaming collection of exhibits, activities and programs that were designed to engage with children from all over Texas.

They eventually settled in a permanent location, but their mission remains the same.

They want to help young people develop their minds and imaginations through STEAM-based learning.

Visitors to Thinkery can build, mold, cook, craft and experiment in various labs and workshops.

There’s a “spark shop” with child-safe tools and a “light lab” where they can hit all kinds of buttons and switches.

There are places for clambering on playground equipment and places for resting on floor pillows and listening to a story.

Your little one doesn’t have to be an Einstein to have fun at Thinkery.

If they enjoy trying new things, making new friends and maybe even getting a little messy, they should love all of the nifty stuff to do at this children’s museum.

Address:  1830 Simond Ave, Austin, TX 78723, United States

50. Snake Island

Snake Island

Patrick Lewis / flickr

Snake Island is such a hidden gem that some lifelong residents of Austin don’t even know about it.

There are no maps or signs pointing in its direction, and it isn’t acknowledged on the city’s official parks and recreation site.

What is Snake Island?

It’s basically a small, uninhabited island sitting in plain sight off the coast of Lady Bird Lake.

It isn’t illegal to visit, but since swimming isn’t allowed in the water, you’ll need to take a canoe or kayak to get there.

Once you’ve arrived, you can explore the island to your heart’s content.

It’s never crowded, so you can walk, picnic, sunbathe or paddle around the coast.

If you like rare or abandoned things, you can check out all of the debris left behind by other adventurers over the years, including swings, trapezes, picnic benches and fire pits.

There’s even a single, lonely grave for a dog named Squiggles.

If you’re looking for unusual things to do in Austin, hop on a boat and check out Snake Island.

When even the locals don’t know about a place, you’ve definitely found a treasure.

Address: Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail, Austin, TX 78741, United States

51. Texas State Cemetery

Texas State Cemetery

Fotoluminate LLC / Shutterstock

The Texas State Cemetery is a love letter to the state.

Known as “The Arlington of Texas,” it’s a beautiful, ceremonial area reserved for only the most prominent of Texans.

War heroes are buried here. So are governors, senators, authors, astronauts and famous soldiers and revolutionaries.

Eventually, a former president George W. Bush and his wife Laura will join; they’ve already reserved plots.

A cemetery might seem like an odd choice in tourist attractions, but this is no ordinary burial ground.

Many of the graves have elaborate headstones that are shaped with Texan themes and colors, and state flags are everywhere.

Memorials are dedicated to Confederate soldiers. Famous residents have statues.

The Texas State Cemetery is one of the proudest places in the state.

People come from all over just to pay their respects and fill themselves with patriotism.

If you’d like to experience this atmosphere for yourself, make time for a visit.

Address:  909 Navasota St, Austin, TX 78702, United States

52. Omni Barton Creek Resort and Spa

Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa

Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa

Covering more than 4,000 acres, the Omni Barton Creek Resort and Spa is almost like a city in its own right.

It has rooms, pools, spas, restaurants, golf courses and fitness centers, so everything that you need for a fun vacation is just a stone’s throw away.

Do you want to pamper yourself during your Austin vacation?

Rent a lavishly-decorated suite.

Are you desperate to de-stress?

Schedule a massage and put yourself under the talented hands of a professional.

The swimming pools are open all year. The steam rooms never run out of steam.

The cafes have such mouthwatering aromas that you’ll be hungry every minute of the day.

If you’re looking to have a good time in Texas, consider the Omni Barton Creek Resort and Spa.

It’s one of those Austin attractions that has it all, so whether you’re looking for four-star restaurants or beautifully-tended golf courses, the Omni can provide.

Address:  8212 Barton Club Dr, Austin, TX 78735, United States

53. Mount Bonnell

Mount Bonnell

Say goodbye to Austin with a trip to Mount Bonnell .

At 775 feet tall, it offers the highest observation points in the city, so you can spread your arms and shout farewell as you take in panoramic views of the buildings, lakes, hills and rocks.

You’ll need to climb 102 stairs to reach the tallest point of the mountain.

When you find the summit, there’s a pavilion with a little rest area where you can catch your breath, eat a snack, take photos or simply hold hands with a lover and watch the sun set.

The fun doesn’t have to stop just because it’s dark outside, however.

Since you’re away from the light pollution of the city, Mount Bonnell is a fantastic spot for stargazing.

You can admire the cosmos or even the distant, glittering dots of the Austin skyline.

One thing is for sure: Mount Bonnell will be the perfect way to end your vacation.

If you want to leave Austin on a high note, make the climb.

Address: 3800 Bonnell Dr, Austin, TX 78731, United States

Start Planning Your Trip To Austin

Are you ready to experience all of the weird, wonderful places of Austin?

This list doesn’t even cover half of them, but it should be enough to get you started.

Pack your bags and ready your passports! Austin awaits!

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Outdoor adventures, insightful museums, and lively dance halls await.

fun places to visit near austin

As the state capital of Texas, Austin lures those from near and far with its vast array of culture and history. Known as the "Live Music Capital of the World," you're sure to find plenty of places here to grab a drink and hear some tunes, but you'll also find scenic hiking trails, world-class art, and plenty of tasty food to keep you coming back time and time again. Whether you're a museum lover or an outdoor enthusiast, here are the 30 best things to do in Austin, Texas.

Watch the bats emerge at Congress Avenue Bridge.

From late March through early fall, the largest urban bat population in North America can be seen emerging from under the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge every night. Thousands of bats flutter through the sky, eating bugs along the way, while bat lovers watch from the bridge or below on Lady Bird Lake.

Tour the Texas Capitol building.

Taking a free, guided tour of the Capitol is one of the best things to do in Austin — especially if you're a history lover. The Texas Capitol building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986 and is one of the largest capitol buildings in the country.

Have life-changing Tex-Mex cuisine.

You can't come to Texas and not try some Tex-Mex cuisine – a delicious blend of Mexican classics with Texas twists, found across the state. Austin has some real gems, including Matt's El Rancho , Juan in a Million , and Fonda San Miguel .

Attend SXSW.

Every March, Austin welcomes creatives from around the world for film screenings, music, exhibitions, speakers, and all things tech, education, and culture. SXSW is a great opportunity to bring your creative ideas to the table and turn that dream into a reality. Keynotes have included Michelle Obama, Willie Nelson, and Mark Cuban.

Visit the Blanton Museum of Art.

With more than 19,000 works in the permanent collection, the Blanton is known for its European paintings, modern and contemporary American and Latin art, and a wide range of prints and drawings. Don't forget to snap a picture of Ellsworth Kelly's "Austin," a stone building with colorful glass windows that's a must for your Instagram feed.

Make a splash at the Barton Springs Pool.

Austin's favorite swimming hole is definitely Barton Springs , a three-acre pool fed from underground springs. The pool keeps an average temperature of 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, comfortable for year-round swimming. Recent years have seen record attendance, with visitor numbers almost at 800,000 people per year.

Spend some time on South Congress.

South Congress, or SoCo, is a lively district south of Lady Bird Lake full of great restaurants, boutiques, vintage shops, bars, and live music venues. Visitors and locals alike love this part of the city. The famous "I Love You So Much" mural is found here at Jo's Coffee , and Monkey See Monkey Do is a treasure trove of vintage toys and gifts.

Buy a pair of cowboy boots.

If you're ready to hit the honky tonks, getting a fresh pair of authentic cowboy boots is a must. Allens Boots has a large selection, while Heritage Boot Co. offers handmade, vintage-inspired cowboy boots. Want to customize a pair of boots to fit your style? Texas Custom Boots can help you out.

Shop the Austin City-Wide Vintage Sale.

Held at the Palmer Events Center almost every month, the Austin City-Wide Vintage Sale is the place to find anything vintage and collectible. Since 1977, decorators, designers, college students, families, and anyone looking for unique items head to the sale for everything from furniture and kitchenware to vintage jewelry and art.

See art in nature at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum.

In 1985, 20th-century American sculptor Charles Umlauf and his wife Angie Umlauf donated their home, Charles' studio, and hundreds of sculptures to the City of Austin. Today, the Umlauf is a museum in a garden setting complete with over 2,000 drawings and 273 sculptures by the artist.

Visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

On 284 acres in the Hill Country, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center boasts beautiful gardens of Texas native plants, trails, an arboretum, and a savanna meadow where you can learn about karst landscapes. The center has recorded sightings of more than 143 species of birds, 15 species of mammals, and 1,800 species of insects.

Lounge by Lady Bird Lake.

Paddleboard, kayak, or canoe your way across Austin's Lady Bird Lake for views of the skyline and outdoor recreation right in the city. Take a hike or bike ride along the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail, which borders the lake, or float down the Lady Bird Lake Paddling Trail .

Attend ACL.

Austin is known for its live music scene, and Austin City Limits Music Festival , held in Zilker Park, is a must for music lovers. More than 100 performances take place across eight stages each year. Past performers have included Radiohead, Lionel Richie, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Head to Rainey Street.

In downtown Austin, this strip of bungalow-houses-turned-bars is a popular destination for drinks, delicious grub, and of course, live music. Lucille Patio Lounge , Half Step , and The Container Bar are all great places for a cocktail or two.

Visit McKinney Falls State Park.

Within Austin's city limits is an outdoor oasis that's perfect for unplugging from technology and connecting with nature. Visitors can hike, bike, boulder, stay overnight at one of 81 campsites, or swim in Onion Creek. Check out "Old Baldy" while you're here. It's one of the oldest bald cypress trees in Texas and is more than 500 years old and 103 feet tall.

Cheer on the Longhorns at a game.

Texans are passionate about football, and Austin's University of Texas brings the school spirit every season. In a sea of burnt orange, enthusiastic fans cheer on the Longhorns with storied chants and the "Hook 'Em" hand symbol swaying through the air. Just bring along a comfortable stadium seat .

Hang out in Zilker Metropolitan Park.

Austinites love spending time in Zilker Metropolitan Park , located in downtown Austin near Lady Bird Lake. The park's 351 acres are great for picnicking, meeting a new dog friend or two, disc golf, hiking, biking, and even paddling. The Barton Springs Pool is also located here.

Learn your Texas history at the Bullock Texas State History Museum.

Known as the official history museum of Texas, the Bullock is the place to learn about the story of Texas. See the 300-year-old ship of French explorer La Salle that sank in Matagorda Bay, numerous Indigenous artifacts, and more.

Have a night on Sixth Street.

While Sixth Street tends to be a bit rowdy, it's long been the place to party in Austin. The street closes to through traffic from Thursdays through Saturday nights, meaning there's lots of people parading up and down the street in search of cheap drinks, entertainment, and that late-night slice of pizza.

Go dancing at Broken Spoke.

Put your dancin' boots on and head to Broken Spoke , a dance hall that's been open since 1964 and has seen performances from legends such as George Strait, Garth Brooks, and Dolly Parton. They even offer dance lessons for those new to two-steppin'.

Visit the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum.

On the University of Texas campus, the LBJ Presidential Library houses 45 million pages of historical documents, 650,000 photos, and 5,000 hours of recordings from President Johnson's political career. There are also over 54,000 objects to see, such as the desk used for the signing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Hike Mount Bonnell.

Among the top things to do in Austin is get a bird's-eye view of the metropolis at Mount Bonnell , one of the city's highest points at 781 feet. After climbing 102 stairs you'll reach the top, where you can take in breathtaking views of downtown and the 360 Bridge. A pavilion and viewing deck allow you to rest up before descending.

Visit the Harry Ransom Center.

Hone into your intellectual side at the Harry Ransom Center , which houses almost 1 million books, over 42 million manuscripts, millions of photographs, and 100,000 works of art. Highlights include some of Einstein's unpublished notes and calculations on general relativity, original works by Frida Kahlo, and Jack Kerouac's notebook from writing "On the Road."

Eat craft barbecue.

Texas is known for its unbeatable barbecue scene, and Austin is home to some of the best 'cue in the state. Leroy and Lewis , Distant Relatives , Valentina's Tex-Mex Barbecue , and La Barbecue are just a few of the top BBQ joints.

Visit a honky tonk.

For a true Texas experience, visiting a honky tonk is a must-do activity, and Austin has some of the best. Strap on your boots and head to the dance floor for country music and a good time. The White Horse , Sam's Town Point , Giddy Up's , and The Little Longhorn Saloon are all great for a boot-scootin' good time.

Stay over in style.

While the live music and dining scene in Austin is thriving, the city is also home to some great hotels. Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt , Heywood Hotel , and Austin Proper Hotel are all gorgeous, while Lake Austin Spa Resort stuns on Lake Austin.

Sip your way through local breweries.

You can't be the "Live Music Capital of the World" and not have great beers to go alongside an evening of fun. Thankfully, Austin is packed with one-of-a-kind breweries across the city. Jester King offers up top-notch farmhouse ales in Hill Country, while Pinthouse , St. Elmo , and Austin Beerworks are just a few of the big hitters in town.

Go mural hopping.

Across the city, vibrant murals don the walls of buildings, displaying everything from Janis Joplin and Willie Nelson to an enormous golden-cheeked warbler. One of the most fun things to do in Austin is a self-guided tour of the best street art around town.

Grab a glass at local distilleries.

Austin and the surrounding Hill Country area are home to a number of great distilleries, and many of them have excellent tasting rooms where you can relax and have a cocktail. Desert Door Distillery , Deep Eddy Vodka , and Garrison Brothers are all fantastic distilleries just outside of town.

See a show at the Paramount Theatre.

Since 1915, patrons have been coming to this storied theater to see performances from legends like Harry Houdini, Duke Ellington, and Katharine Hepburn. Today's shows include musical performances, magic shows, interviews, and more.

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12 Top-Rated Day Trips from Austin, TX

Written by Brad Lane Updated Mar 8, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

Author Brad Lane has enjoyed a few reporting trips to Texas for PlanetWare and always bases his travels out of Austin.

Austin has it all. That doesn't mean it's not fun to get away every now and then. Part of the appeal of the capital city is its proximity to many other beautiful places to visit. Perhaps most notable is the Texas Hill Country, easily accessible from Austin, and many other day trip destinations where you can enjoy the rolling scenery and rich German heritage.

Longhorn standing in a bluebonnet field near Georgetown in the Texas Hill Country

Many of the best day trips from Austin also lend access to nearby outdoor attractions. Hiking trails at Hamilton Pool in Dripping Springs or Pedernales Falls in Johnson City , are worth the short drives all on their own. And, thanks to Austin's winter-less climate, these outdoor destinations are hot spots throughout the year.

For another big city to explore outside of Austin, San Antonio is an 80-mile drive. Close enough to cover in a day, a few top attractions in San Antonio include the San Antonio Riverwalk and The Alamo.

Plan your sightseeing adventures with our list of the best day trips from Austin.

1. New Braunfels

2. georgetown, 3. fredericksburg, 4. san antonio, 5. hamilton pool preserve, dripping springs, 6. palmetto state park, 7. inks lake state park, 8. wimberley, 9. johnson city, 10. la grange, 11. round rock, 12. colorado bend state park.

New Braunfels

New Braunfels is approximately an hour southwest of Austin in the Texas Hill Country , and a top spot to get away from the city. The town retains its German heritage, dating to its founding in 1845, with cultural celebrations and authentic storefronts. And, exploring this culture is easy on the pedestrian-friendly, shaded sidewalks of the central business district.

The stunning Texas Hill Country surrounding New Braunfels also offers several ways to get outside. Visitors have easy access to the Comal River , which runs through the city, as well as the Guadalupe River nearby. Tubing, fishing, and wandering the banks are popular ways to spend the day.

Schlitterbahn Waterpark offers another popular aquatic attraction in New Braunfels. This massive water park features sections fueled by the spring-fed water of the Comal River nearby.

For an authentic taste of New Braunfels, Naegelin's Bakery , in the heart of the city, is the oldest bakery in Texas. Naegelin's features traditional fares and German-inspired items like pretzels and strudels. Further north, The Gruene Historic District in New Braunfels is the place to head for artisan crafts and antiques.

Waterfall at Blue Hole Park

The charming city of Georgetown is 30-minutes north of Austin and home to one of the most beautiful town squares in Texas. Local shops and restaurants comprise the historic facades of downtown Georgetown and sell everything from baked goods to antique collectibles.

This picture-perfect town square hosts several cultural events, including First Fridays in Downtown . These community block parties include the entire district enjoying art shows and the beautiful weather outside.

Surrounded by the beautiful Texas Hill Country , Georgetown is also a gateway to exploring outdoors. Blue Hole Park is one of the most popular places to visit on summer days in Georgetown. This lagoon and public space is five blocks north of the historic district and features swimming areas and waterfalls.

Another popular natural feature in Georgetown is one of the best caverns in Texas . The Texas Highway Department discovered Inner Space Cavern while constructing Interstate 35 in 1963. The cave has provided guided tours nearly ever since. These underground tours don't involve any crawling and take place on gravel walkways through lighted passageways.

Historic public library in Fredericksburg

The German village of Fredericksburg offers some of the best scenery the Texas Hill County has to offer, less than two hours west of Austin. This photogenic small town displays its German heritage on the streets. It's a lovely spot to walk through on a sunny day, and this part of Texas receives over 300 days of sunshine every year.

Local shops and restaurants line Main Street in Fredericksburg, as well as colorful storefronts that ring with history. Walking this Main Street corridor is often a memorable part of any Fredericksburg visit.

Off Main Street, the National Museum of the Pacific War features artifacts, exhibits, and airplanes dedicated to the Asia- Pacific War.

One of the best ways to get outside in Fredericksburg is by visiting the nearby Enchanted Rock State Natural Area . Visitors see the massive pink dome from miles on the horizon, and it's less than a 30-minute drive from Fredericksburg to reach the monolith. Enchanted Rock is one of the best state parks in Texas and features campgrounds and a summit hiking trail, and is worth a day trip on its own.

San Antonio Riverwalk

San Antonio , the second largest city in Texas, beckons for day trips from Austin. About a 1.5-hour drive away, its vibrant streets are fun to explore and full of things to do.

The centerpiece of many visits is the San Antonio Riverwalk , featuring stone walkways and many restaurants on the water. Visitors can hop on a boat and tour the San Antonio River to take in this cultural epicenter of the city.

The Alamo is also nearby for those interested in the history of the city. And spread throughout the urban environment are other significant cultural landmarks, including San Antonio Missions National Historical Park . The San Fernando Cathedral , in the heart of the city, also entices some historical intrigue.

Art and culture are vibrant in San Antonio. The Pearl District offers perhaps the most concentrated taste of this creativity. With several historic buildings, the trendy Pearl District neighborhood is also known for some of the best restaurants in the city.

Where to Stay: San Antonio offers several places to stay for weekend visits, with some of the most luxurious options close to the Riverwalk.

Hamilton Pool

Hamilton Pool offers one of the coolest places to visit for a day trip from Austin. This coveted grotto is home to one of the best waterfalls in Texas and a great swimming hole to beat the summer heat. Hamilton Creek cascades into a narrow canyon to create this Texas Hill Country attraction. Visitors from Austin can reach the preserve within a 45-minute drive.

Thanks to its photogenic charm and surreal nature, Hamilton Pool is a very popular hiking destination near Austin , especially on the weekends. The preserve requires guests to make reservations before visiting to prevent overcrowding. Only one vehicle is allowed per reservation, and reservations are available for morning and afternoon time slots.

Hamilton Pool Preserve and the surrounding grotto are well worth the day trip on their own. The encompassing town of Dripping Springs , however, gives even more reason to visit. Live music is easy to find in Dripping Springs on the weekends, and several unique eateries and local shops line the historic city streets.

Palmetto State Park

For a refreshing escape into a tropical landscape, the uniquely forested acres of Palmetto State Park are an hour's drive southeast of Austin. Dwarf palmetto plants give this state park its name and vibrant atmosphere, and it's the San Marcos River that allows such abundant growth. Swiftly moving throughout the heart of the park, the San Marcos River is also the reason for many day trips.

Visitors swim and fish in the San Marcos River within the park, and canoeing and tubing are just as popular. The state park also rents stand up paddleboards and tandem kayaks. The park is also home to an oxbow lake that features a fishing pier. For land-based things to do, hiking trails like the Palmetto Interpretive Trail offer the best view of the park's namesake flora.

Palmetto State Park does offer campgrounds for those interested in spending the night. Otherwise, the natural landscape is only an hour outside of the city , which makes for easy day trips. The park also offers daily bike rentals for children and adults.

Address: 78 Park Road 11 S, Gonzales, Texas

Read More: Best State Parks in Texas

Inks Lake

Several great state parks are accessible for day trips from Austin. Approximately 50 miles northwest of downtown, Inks Lake State Park is one such popular day-use and overnight destination.

The 830-acre lake is a reservoir on the Colorado River and part of the Central Texas Highland Lakes that stretch towards Austin. In downtown Austin, Lady Bird Lake is also one of these Highland Lakes on the Colorado River.

The state park is one of the best lakes in Texas and is popular with boating, fishing, and water skiing. The state park features two fishing piers, fish cleaning stations, and gear to borrow. Surrounding the shores are hiking trails and over 200 campsites to spend the night. The 1.8-mile Pecan Flats Trail provides the best views within the park.

The nearby Longhorn Cavern State Park offers another reason to visit the region. Developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, Longhorn Cavern remains today a popular cave to explore . The park offers guided tours every day of the week, which is the only way to see the inside of the cave.

Cypress Creek in Wimberly, TX

Wimberley is a quaint city in the Texas Hill Country, surrounded by beautiful landscapes and inviting bodies of water. The city has everything for a perfect Austin day trip. Local places to eat and colorful storefronts inhabit Wimberley Square , the main thoroughfare of the town. Modern ranch décor, first-class cookware, and chic boutiques line this charming shopping district.

Wimberley's Market Days offer an excellent reason to visit on Saturdays between March and December. Featuring over 475 booths, Market Days is the largest open-air market in Texas . Fares for sale range from local produce to artisan crafts and include pet items, yard art, and holistic remedies. Market Days is as much a cultural celebration as it is a shopping experience often accompanied by various live music performances.

The great outdoors is also accessible in Wimberley. One of the most popular spots to go is Blue Hole Regional Park on the outskirts of the city (not to be confused with Blue Hole Park in Georgetown). This eye-catching natural space features a spring-fed swimming pool shaded by giant cypress trees. The park also features campgrounds and 3.5-miles of hiking trails.

The Pedernales River at Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park

Johnson City, an hour west of Austin in the Texas Hill Country, is best known as the birthplace of the 36th President of the United States, Lyndon Baines Johnson. Johnson city is also the final resting place of the former president. Visitors explore this legacy and more with a mix of state and national parks in Johnson City.

Lyndon B. Johnson National Park is home to Johnson's birthplace; his boyhood home; and the LBJ Ranch, including the " Texas White House ." The Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site shares the same space with the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm . It's not all LBJ in Johnson City, however — the charming community is also lined with art and opportunity to explore outdoors.

Pedernales Falls is just outside Johnson City and on the way from Austin. Pedernales Falls State Park encompasses this series of limestone waterfalls, which features hiking trails, campgrounds, and swimming spots. To fuel up after an adventure in Johnson City, Main Street , also known as Highway 290, has a selection of community flavors, including local restaurants.

Fayette County Courthouse in La Grange

La Grange offers a slice of small-town paradise an hour east of Austin. Nestled in the foothills of Hill Country, this quaint and somewhat infamous town is also adjacent to the Colorado River . La Grange has received notoriety in the past from music legends like Dolly Parton and ZZ Top. It remains popular today as a day trip from both Austin and Houston.

Upon arrival, this small Texas town feels like it's hundreds of miles away from any big city. The Colorado River offers the central source of recreation in La Grange. It's the same river that passes through Austin but with noticeably fewer crowds.

Another popular way to spend time outside in La Grange is walking up Monument Hill . This state historic site commemorates long-lost Texans and offers a great view of the Colorado River. Monument Hill puts on a particularly good show during sunset.

The centerpiece architectural attraction in downtown La Grange is the Fayette County Courthouse . This stately and century-old building has several local eateries within walking distance. Art galleries that tend to catch the eye are also in proximity to the county courthouse. For those interested in spinning a yarn, the Texas Quilt Museum is kitty-corner to the courthouse.

Round Rock water tower

Round Rock is a quickly growing community just north of Austin, reachable from downtown with a 25-minute drive. Several large employers have attracted families to the area, resulting in many family-friendly tourist attractions. The city also earns its nickname as the Sports Capital of Texas , hosting some of the country's largest youth and recreation sports tournaments.

Visitors often encounter Round Rock by attending one of these sporting events, such as a baseball game at Dell Diamond — home to the Texas Rangers AAA affiliate, the Round Rock Express . But it's usually the city's other things to do that lead to repeat visits.

Old Settlers Park and a charming downtown district lined with local shops comprise some of the other attractions in Round Rock. Round Rock is also home to one of the largest indoor water parks at Kalahari Resorts . This massive indoor water park encompasses over 200,000 square feet of aquatic fun.

Mountain Biking in Colorado Bend State Park

Colorado Bend State Park is an adventure-filled state park accessible with less than a two-hour drive north of Austin. It encompasses over 5,000 acres and offers varied landscapes to explore. Perhaps most notable is the six miles of the Colorado River Shoreline, including more than one gorgeous waterfall.

Trail exploring is popular at Colorado Bend and is worth the two-hour drive. Hikers, mountain bikers, and horse riders all find their own trails. The Gorman Falls Hike is undoubtedly the most popular in the park, achievable with a three-mile round trip.

Colorado Bend State Park is also one of the best places to go camping in Texas , and if you're up for subterranean exploration, be sure to tour its popular caverns.

More Related Articles on PlanetWare.com


Exploring Austin : Before taking too many day trips, check out our visitor's guide to downtown Austin for all the entertainment and attractions within the city . For outdoor lovers who want to take advantage of the beautiful Texas weather, the best hikes in Austin feature easy escapes from the city.


Camping in Texas: The state of Texas encompasses many unique landscapes. Sometimes the best way to see them is to set up on location. For a place to pitch a tent beneath the stars, or park an RV next to a river, our guide to the top places to camp in Texas will send you in the right direction.

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fun places to visit near austin

Top Places Near Austin You Must Visit

fun places to visit near austin

Curious about the best day trips or weekend getaways from the capital of Texas? From tranquil nature preserves to dynamic, historic districts, we reveal the places near Austin you must visit to truly experience Central Texas’s diversity. Dive in to discover where adventure and cultural enrichment lie just a short drive away, all handpicked for travelers like you eager to expand their Austin adventures.

Escaping the Wait: Online Gaming While Traveling

Traveling ofte­n brings moments of waiting – whether in line­s at airports, train stations, or during downtime in hotel rooms. Thankfully, the digital e­ra has opened avenue­s for entertainment fitting conve­niently in our hands. Online gaming provides a delightful escape during the­se intervals, providing travele­rs immersion in virtual worlds, connections with others, and e­njoyable time passing. Taking risks by betting at slots.lv or playing immersive multiplaye­r games provide welcomed distractions, making waits fe­el shorter.

Exploring the Heart of Texas Hill Country

Nestled just a stone’s throw from the bustling center of Austin, Texas Hill Country unveils an oasis brimming with picturesque landscapes and homespun allure. The area offers spectacular vistas and an ambiance that radiates serenity, making it an essential destination for aficionados of nature and those keen on outdoor adventures.

fun places to visit near austin

Begin your journey into the essence of Hill Country by exploring towns like Fredericksburg and Marble Falls, each serving as quintessential examples of what this enchanting region has to offer.

Fredericksburg: A Sip of History

Fredericksburg is a not so hidden treasure renowned for its delightful wine experiences. With more than 50 wineries on hand, this haven promises to impress even the most sophisticated wine aficionado. 

Whether indulging in tastings or embarking on vineyard tours, visitors have plenty of chances to relish the regional tastes and gain insight into the artistry behind winemaking.

Marble Falls: Nature’s Canvas

Situated merely an hour from Austin, Marble Falls presents a delightful appeal for outdoors enthusiasts. The area features numerous activities that contribute to its charm and draw adventurers worldwide.

Visitors to Marble Falls can partake in: Boating, fishing, golfing, hiking, biking, and more. Adventure awaits those who venture into Marble Falls!

Austin’s Natural Wonders: Swimming Holes and State Parks

Just outside the city limits of Austin, a treasure trove of natural beauty is poised for discovery. The tranquil Hamilton Pool Preserve and the exhilarating trails for hikes and biking at Pedernales Falls State Park represent just a few of the exceptional experiences available.

fun places to visit near austin

Hamilton Pool Preserve: Oasis of Serenity

Situated in Dripping Springs, the Hamilton Pool Preserve offers a breathtaking view. It features a calm oasis, with its dome collapsing from an underground river to create a jade-green swimming hole complemented by a 50-foot waterfall, nurturing abundant biodiversity. 

Pedernales Falls State Park: Trails and Falls

Outdoor aficionados seeking a wilderness adventure will find Pedernales Falls State Park an alluring destination. 

Situated near Austin, the state park boasts picturesque pathways that welcome both novice wanderers and experienced trekkers, providing an ideal setting for individuals passionate about nature’s allure at any experience level.

The Allure of Lady Bird Lake and Zilker Park

Nestled in the heart of Austin, Lady Bird Lake , and Zilker Park are two urban treasures offering a vast array of leisure pursuits. From engaging workouts to peaceful nature excursions, these locations promise unforgettable experiences for health buffs and those who revel in the great outdoors.

A Stroll Down South Congress Avenue

Take in the distinctive allure of Austin by meandering along South Congress Avenue , commonly referred to as SoCo. This lively district is a central spot for foot traffic where visitors can discover an array of one-of-a-kind stores and boutiques featuring artisanal goods from Texas, such as custom-made cowboy boots and hats.

Old Austin Motel Sign

Unwinding at Lake Travis and Lake Austin

Shift gears and find tranquility in the peaceful environment of Lake Austin and Lake Travis. These well-liked destinations provide various recreational options, including water sports, boating, fishing, and picnicking, all enveloped by the breathtaking scenery that defines Austin’s natural landscape.

Artistic Retreats: Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Blanton Museum

Art enthusiasts in Austin are treated to exceptional havens like the Blanton Museum and Umlauf Sculpture Garden, where they can immerse themselves in various artistic expressions. These destinations showcase an array of art forms spanning from contemporary European and American pieces to the creations of Charles Umlauf, a renowned 20th-century American sculptor. They offer visitors a unique opportunity to engage with various artworks encompassing Latin American art.

The Thrill of Live Music Capital: Venues and Festivals

Austin, often heralded as the ‘Live Music Capital of the World®,’ lives up to its name by providing a vibrant music scene with numerous venues featuring live music performances nightly. 

fun places to visit near austin

Iconic spots like the Broken Spoke and Paramount Theatre create an atmosphere ripe for memorable musical moments.

Historical Exploration at the State Capitol and LBJ Library

For history enthusiasts, the State Capitol and LBJ Library provide a comprehensive exploration of the heritage of Texas. These notable sites present an insight into the historical importance of the state and its respected position within the Union.

Adventure Awaits in New Braunfels and Schlitterbahn Waterpark

Adrenaline enthusiasts will find their perfect adventure at New Braunfels and Schlitterbahn Waterpark, where river tubing and exhilarating water attractions offer a rush for both thrill-seekers and family visitors.

San Antonio’s Rich Heritage

Just beyond the outskirts of Austin, the storied past of San Antonio beckons. With its historic significance, sites such as the Alamo and the River Walk in San Antonio provide a window into the city’s historical narrative. There’s event some free fun to be had there!

Gruene Historic District: A Step Back in Time

A short journey from Austin will take you to a bygone era in the Gruene Historic District . Celebrated for its authentic flavor. Texas allure, this area draws guests both domestically and abroad, epitomizing the quintessence of small-town life in Texas.

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19 Best Things to Do in Austin

By Mandy Ellis and Jonathan Thompson

Rainey Street Austin

Between sets in the Live Music Capital of the World, Austin’s motley medley of outdoor routes fill up your itinerary fast. Lace up your combat boots or converse to stroll public art installations, get some work done on a lake-view butterfly terrace, or hear a pride of peacocks call to each other by day and watch Austin’s famous bat colony fly by sunset. Don’t fret, there’s always time to shop for cowboy boots ahead of your two-step lesson, grab a locally-inspired craft drink on a shady patio, or dip into one of the city’s naturally chilly swimming holes. Not sure where to start? Here are the best things to do in Austin according to our experts.

Read our complete Austin travel guide here.

This gallery has been updated with new information since its original publish date.

United States Texas Austin Attraction Congress Avenue Bridge

Congress Avenue Bridge Arrow

Crowds gather nightly on the Congress Avenue Bridge, at sunset, to watch Austin’s urban bat colony fly out from their home on the underside of the bridge over Lady Bird Lake . The 45-minute spectacle is one of those only-in-Austin happenings. The colony of Mexican free-tailed bats is the largest in an urban environment in North America—about 1.5 million bats take flight each night to feed (on pesky insects like mosquitoes, making the animal a local hero). Note that the spectacle is seasonal, typically from May through October; during the winter, the bats migrate elsewhere. And even though the whole thing lasts 45 minutes, you get the idea in under five. If you can pair your viewing with another activity downtown —not difficult, as this part of town is extremely lively—it's worth making time to watch.

Continental Club Austin Bar

The Continental Club Arrow

The red front doors and solid black exterior set the tone for this well-worn, slightly gritty concert venue. But the surrounds fit right in with the storied past of the place—it's internationally acclaimed for launching the careers of the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, as well as musicians from all kinds of genres (blues, jazz, rock, country). The crowd varies based on the show (so do the cover charges, so check ahead of time ), but everyone is here for the nightly live music and the bottled beers—usually as part of a night of bar-hopping on the lively South Congress Avenue, or ‘SoCo’ (‘First Thursdays’ are particularly big, when the entire street turns into an enormous block party, with late openings, special offers ,and live music seeming to pour from every doorway).  

Blanton Muesum of Art Austin Gallery

Blanton Museum of Art Arrow

This museum at The University of Texas has a compact collection that does an excellent job covering numerous genres. There are early Renaissance paintings, Roman-era pottery, modern works housed in the contemporary gallery, a vast prints collection, and Native American and Latin American works. It's impossible to miss (as in, you should not skip, as well as it is literally not possible to miss since it's at the front door) Teresita Fernández Stacked Waters : acrylic panels in ombre shades of blue that cover the walls and staircase in the museum's atrium to create a submerged-in-water feeling. 

Firehouse Lounge Austin Bar

Firehouse Lounge Arrow

Tucked behind the fold of a secret bookshelf door in Austin’s oldest fire station built in 1885, Firehouse Lounge harkens history with turn-of-the-century Singer sewing machines holding up tables, an old oxygen tank tucked in the spirits shelf, and rich red damask wallpaper glowing against tiny candles. Black leather benches and slim lacquered wood stools surround the multicolored wood bar for a mix of 1920s speakeasy district meets underground dive bar. As you grab drinks, you hear jazz or blues, or is that a DJ, or maybe rock from their live music stage.Since it’s hiding in a hostel, you’ll find all kinds of atrons, from 20-something travelers and locals all the way to music-loving elders, depending on who’s playing live that night and which old-timey drinks they’re imbibing in.

Barton Springs Pool Austin

Barton Springs Municipal Pool Arrow

This massive public swimming pool, fed by a natural spring, is one of Austin’s most prized outdoor settings. It's set within well-kept Zilker Park, which has lots of shade and lawns for sunbathing, and remains blissfully undisturbed by the city's whiplash growth. Not to mention the water temperature is a cool 68 degrees year-round, making it a much-needed respite during extremely hot summers, and perfectly pleasant in the wintertime, too. The pool is also famously topless-friendly, though sightings are rare. Be prepared for a bit of a walk if you can't park close by, as the parking lot fills up with locals quickly. 

Franklin BBQ Austin TX Exterior Restaurant

Franklin Barbecue Arrow

A standout star within  Austin’s heavyweight barbecue scene , Franklin draws lines that are as epic as its world-renowned brisket. Take a tip from the regulars: come early, come hungry, and come with a collapsible chair (you don't want to stand for three or four hours if you can avoid it). The good news is that you can now preorder  up to six weeks in advance, as long as you’re committed to at least three pounds of meaty treats. Just don’t miss that luscious oak-smoked brisket with its distinctive peppery exterior; it’s tender enough to cut with a spoon.

Read our entire guide to Austin's best barbecue here .

Rainey Street Austin

Rainey Street Arrow

At first glance,  Rainey Street  looks like a sleepy suburban avenue with quiet wooden verandas and picket fences, but at night, it  really  wakes up. Here, the craftsman-era bungalow homes, many dating back to the late 19th Century, have been renovated into a string of hipster-friendly bars and restaurants. Wander around and you’ll see food trucks tucked in alongside renowned nightlife spots like  Half Step , Geraldine’s , Lustre Pearl, Emmer & Rye , and Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden . It’s a spot to relax on a porch or picnic table with your kids or your dog during the day, and party with friends or your significant other at night.

Allen Boots Austin Shop

Allens Boots Arrow

The first thing you'll notice when you walk into this Austin institution on South Congress Avenue is the smell of leather. Then the shelves that house thousands of pairs of cowboy boots, from exotic Caiman crocodile skin to trendy Western booties. Texans will recognize brands like Lucchese and Tony Lama; the uninitiated might gravitate toward Frye. Need a whole head-to-toe look? There are cowboy hats, belts, leather jackets, jeans, and other accessories. If you've never owned cowboy boots, try on a pair even if you have no intention of buying them. It's an experience from beginning to end, right down to the art of removing them. 

A library.

Austin Central Library Arrow

Brilliant bright windows illuminate more than 500,000 books inside the award-winning LEED-certified library with vast views of Lady Bird Lake and Shoal Creek. Its metal and glass exterior striping and industrial structure fit the Seaholm District, and the 37-foot-tall red kinetic sculpture with an enormous cuckoo clock taken over by blackbirds is a must witness. Six stories are cut across by zig-zagged staircases that wiggle up to a rooftop butterfly garden, rotating art exhibits, and a kid’s area with life-sized chess and a technology petting zoo with 3-D printer. Accessible programming from cooking to music to puppet shows happens here, as does reading and work while lounging in the dozens of different types of colorful seating dotting the contemporary concrete, metal, and wood interior.

The White Horse Austin Bar Exterior

The White Horse Arrow

This is perhaps the coolest honky-tonk in Austin. The simple space puts newcomers at ease, while regulars take to the dance floor when live music is playing every night on a very small stage. A photo booth, pool tables, and a small yard with seating allow for breathers between sets. With a full bar that serves whiskey on tap, the energy at this dive never seems to wane; neither does the flow of cheap drinks. And the dynamic crowd is one of the best surprises here—a multigenerational mix of hipsters, ranchers, rockabillies, and bikers convene nightly. 

An outdoor venue.

Meanwhile Brewing Arrow

You may come to Meanwhile’s dark gray warehouse for their ultra-cool, vintage-industrial taproom of 20 rotating beers, but you’re staying a few hours for the rest of their 3.7 acres. Their dog- and kid-friendly patio includes a mod-style live music stage that sets the tone with strings of lights, plenty of picnic seating over woodchips and under shady oaks, and a wooden playground with log bridges and tunnels. You can rent their turf soccer field, dine at some of the city’s best food trucks, or hang out at one of their many free events from workouts to art to differently-abled experiences. Food trucks to pair with beers are sprinkled around the outdoor patio offering some of Austin’s best like Distant Relatives’ pecan- and hardwood-smoked barbecue, Bésame’s rotating ice creams, Pueblo Viejo’s street and breakfast tacos, wood-fired pizza with organic sauces and meats from Side Eye Pie, and Songbird’s sandwiches and salads.

A mural.

"You're My Butter Half" Mural Arrow

Insta-famous East Austin outdoor mural created in 2012 by local designer John Rockwell and the Creative Suitcase team as a love letter to Austin. It’s less tourist-y, but still gets plenty of likes thanks to bright aquamarine paint surrounding a heart between a slice of bread and a pat of butter emoting, “You’re My Butter Half.” The mural lives on the side of the brick United Way Building, and is surrounded by walkable restaurants and coffeeshops like Bennu Coffee, Thunderbird Coffee, Sour Duck Market, Salty Sow, Nixta Taqueria, Birdie’s, Bird Bird Biscuit, Dai Due, Este, and Haymaker. If you need to wait for your photo, pick up delectable coffee or food, or hang out at the picnic table.

Lady Bird River Austin

Kayaking and Paddleboarding on Lady Bird Lake Arrow

Crowds flock to Lady Bird Lake all year to kayak and paddleboard on the Colorado River. Multiple companies, like Rowing Dock and Texas Rowing Center, have kayaks and paddleboards for rent, and the area is dog-friendly. While you're out, check the birds, fish, and other wildlife around the lake, and enjoy the tree-lined shores as well as the striking lakefront homes. If you’re paddling at night, don’t miss bat season from May to October. You can watch 1.5 million of them fly overhead as they head out to hunt. Rentals range from $10 to $20 per hour, or up to $45 for the day. It’s a rather inexpensive way to enjoy Austin’s outdoors without breaking your budget. Active travelers with kids or pets, or those who just want a closer view of the scenery, this activity is ideal for you.

A dish and wine glass.

Birdie's Arrow

Tracy Malechek-Ezekiel and Arjav Ezekiel form the power couple morphing a New York fine-dining background into a strong focus on local artisan farmers and winemakers. The result is lavish-approachable, forever-changing seasonal American menu with French and Italian influences. Don’t miss the handmade pasta of the day (it’s first-come-first-serve until sold out), steak aligned with peppercorn sauce and fingerlings, or swirling seasonal vanilla soft serve with guest appearances by citrus-flavored olive oil or gala apples. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch one of their popups folded in during the year consisting of one-time menus with creative edge.

The Contemporary Austin Museum Exterior

The Contemporary Austin Arrow

The Contemporary is composed of two different venues: The Jones Center, a striking building on a busy downtown street corner, and Laguna Gloria, a 14-acre outdoor site on Lake Austin that houses a sculpture park and 14th century Italianate-style villa. The museum also runs a program called "Museum Without Walls," which aims to bring art out into the community, as well as a public art collaboration with Waller Creek Conservancy, a chain of parks around a restored Waller Creek in downtown Austin. You can cover the small number of artworks at the Jones Center in particular pretty quickly, so this is a stop to add on to an already planned itinerary.

Image may contain Office Building Building Urban Town Metropolis City Architecture Convention Center and Road

Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater Arrow

Musicians of all genres perform in this intimate theater for live tapings of the longstanding PBS concert series, Austin City Limits . If you're lucky enough to snag a ticket through the lottery system, grab a drink at the bar on the outdoor patio overlooking downtown Austin before the show. Then take your seat inside the intimate venue, where the atmosphere is charged as some of the biggest names in music take the stage. They'll often perform stripped-down or acoustic sets, so you can really see their talents shine through.

Whisler's austin bar interior

Whisler's Arrow

East 6th is the coolest place to be in Austin, and Whisler's is the coolest place on East 6th. The cocktails are expertly crafted, particularly in the dedicated Mezcal bar upstairs (Mezcaleria Tobala). They do the basics very well (an outstanding Old Fashioned, for example, and a great hot toddy during the winter months), with some interesting additions that will pique the curiosity (and tickle the taste buds) of more experienced cocktail drinkers. Come here for a night out with a friends, but not the messy kind.

Uncommon Objects Austin

Uncommon Objects Arrow

Completely and utterly idiosyncratic, this is the hippest flea market you will ever visit. Picture a sprawling emporium full of fascinating items you could easily spend hours poring over. With jewelry, retro toys, and neon signs to brighten up your space, it's a  temple to American hipster weirdness and it's absolutely brilliant. There are 24 professional antique sellers permanently based here, so if you're after something specific (or to fill a specific corner in your home), then seek one out for the insider intel. Otherwise, be warned that you could easily lose hours on end in this place.

A trail.

Violet Crown Trail Arrow

Over 13 connected miles of flourishing green spaces start at Zilker Park and the Barton Creek Greenbelt and snake down to Slaughter Creek and Dick Nichols Park. Shortly, when the 30-miles of trail with giant oaks and winding creeks is completed, it’ll be the longest in Central Texas running from downtown Austin to Onion Creek. Manicured and wild trails, paved and smoothed dirt are hiking, biking, cycling, running, or rollerblading options along with walking your dog (or family) amongst wildflowers and wildlife. Favorite spots in Barton Creek like Campbell’s Hole and the Flats as well as climbing walls, creeks and urban wildlands, open green spaces, and off-trail pathways are here to venture into. Trail maps stand at different inflection points, but because Violet Crown is extensive, each piece varies in what you see in the surrounding area.


Hotel Magdalena

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10 Best Day Trips from Austin (90 Minutes or Less!)

My 10 favorite austin day trips with recommendations to help plan your next weekend getaway..

austin texas day trips

Before I moved to Texas, I had only visited Austin. And now, three years after moving here, I still have so much left of this state to explore. I’d say I’ve only seen about a quarter of what this state has to offer.

That isn’t for lack of trying! We’ve done a lot of weekend and day trips around Texas.

We frequently have long weekends in West Texas , as well as the Dallas-Fort Worth area. In 2019 I even went on a nine-day, 54 brewery road trip through north and east Texas.

But that’s not what I’m here to share…

Fun Day Trips From Austin and Central Texas


In this guide, I want to share with you all my favorite day trips around Austin (and San Antonio too!). I’ve listed ten places, and a few of them are still on my list to visit. You’ll get my recommendations along with what’s next on my travel list.

Below, you’ll find a handy dandy map with all ten of my central Texas day trips listed. If you’re up for it, print this bad boy out and put it on your wall to do the whole throw-a-dart-and-go-wherever-it-lands thing.

All ten of these Austin day trips are unique, small towns less than 90 minutes away from downtown Austin. And I’d like to point out that many of these towns, such as Marble Falls , Fredericksburg, or New Braunfels are best enjoyed with more time such as an overnighter or weekend trip.

But that’s up to you to decide! So for now, let’s get into my recommendations and tips for the best day trips around Austin and Hill Country.

orange divider

Southwest, 35min from Downtown Austin, by car 

  • 9 Texas Hill Country Breweries That Are 100% Worth the Drive
  • Top Things To Do, Eat, & Drink on the San Antonio River Walk
  • The Top 9 Spots for Picnics in Austin

I love Driftwood. Literally everything about it screams Hill Country. If you need a quick escape from the city, come out to Driftwood and soak up the serene quietness. Whatever you need to unwind, you’ll find it in Driftwood. Below are my favorite stops.

READ THIS: 9 Breweries in Texas Hill Country Totally Worth the Drive

austin day trips

Things to Do in Driftwood

  • Marvel at the massive and stunning architecture of the Radha Madhav Dham Hindu Temple . Keep an eye out for the free-roaming peacocks!
  • Explore and enjoy local made beer at Vista Brewing, sotol at Desert Door distilling, Stinson Distillery for Texas brand, or try out the wine at Dutchman Family Winery.
  • After you’ve worked up an appetite, head over to Salt Lick BBQ to indulge in heavenly Texas smoked meats. Tip : stop at an ATM first, Salt Lick BBQ is cash only! (They’re also BYOB!)
  • Every Thursday through Sunday, Mercer Street Dancehall hosts local musicians for a night spent two-stepping with locals. Head here on Saturdays if you need a dance lesson !
  • Stop by the Hays County Store for classic Texas eats, happy hour cocktails, and local craft beer. Come on a Wednesday, Thursday, or Sunday for live music!

Dripping Springs

South, 50min from Downtown Austin, by car 

Dripping Springs is the land of the plenty when it comes to Texas craft beer booze. Goodness, there is so much to do (ok, mostly drink) in Dripping Springs. And every bit is delicious. Probably thanks to all of that clean and tasty Texas Hill Country water, LBR.

Some of the original central Texas makers and brewers have been out here, doing their thing for ages. However, there are consistently new breweries/distilleries/wineries/cideries popping up. It’s like a choose-your-own route type of adventure every time I come out here. But for now, below are my picks for your day trip to Dripping Springs.

READ THIS: Drink the Day Away in Beautiful Dripping Springs, Texas

austin day trips

Things to Do in Dripping Springs

  • On your way out to Dripping Springs, stop at Jester King to drink farmhouse ales, Revolution Spirits for gin [my favorite], Argus for cider. (Two more of my favorite breweries that are actually in Dripping Springs include Twisted X and Family Business Beer .)
  • Treaty Oak Distilling is my top recommendation. Dog and family-friendly, they have something for everyone at their gorgeous Texas hill country ranch. Stop at Alice’s Restaurant, if you’re feeling at all a bit hungry.
  • Make reservations to visit Hamilton Pool Preserve, a natural pool that was created when an underground river collapsed thousands of years ago due to massive erosion.


North, 35min from Downtown Austin, by car 

Just a jump, hop, and a skip north of Austin, is one of the most pleasant small towns in central Texas: Georgetown. Known for having the “ Most Beautiful Town Square in Texas “, this is an easy and even family-friendly Austin day trip.

Click here to check out my full guide to Georgetown, Texas.

georgetown texas things to do

Things to Do in Georgetown

  • Explore Georgetown’s Downtown Historic District, known as the c which includes local shops and restaurants.
  • Looking to do some swimming? In Georgetown there are swimming options: swim in Blue Hole Park , which also includes picnic tables and walking trails. Or head out to Lake Georgetown for a proper lake day
  • Hidden for 10000 years, Georgetown’s Inner Space Caverns are one of the best-preserved caves in Texas, and one of the few places where prehistoric remains are found.
  • Stop by Mesquite Creek Outfitters to sip on local beer and wine while you do some shopping for outdoor gear and other Texan goods.
  • Gaze at the moon, stars, and planets through a research-quality telescope during free public viewing nights at the Fountainwood Observatory .


Southwest, 1hr20min from Downtown Austin, by car 

Wine, wine, and more wine! There are more than 30 wineries and tasting rooms in Fredericksburg. In fact, one road alone ( Wine Road 290 ) is home to 18 award-winning wineries! Which means there is a little something for every wino on this Hill Country day trip.

Click here to check out my full guide to Fredericksburg, Texas.

Das Peach House in Fredericksburg

Things to Do in Fredericksburg

  • Of course, visit wineries! Here are some of my favorites: Barons Creek Vineyards, Becker Vineyards, Fat Ass Ranch and Winery, and Pedernales Cellars.
  • Or if you’re more into craft beer like me head to the German-inspired Altstadt Brewery for a delicious cold lager or three and pub fare with mega Old World vibes.
  • Hike up Enchanted Rock, and you’ll find yourself 1,825 feet. You’ll get a view of Hill Country that goes on for miles and miles. In case you have a doubt about how to choose gear for those types of activities to check this link .
  • Pick your own bouquet of Texas wildflowers at Wildseed Farms , the largest working wildflower farm in the country.
  • Once you’ve worked up an appetite, enjoy upscale traditional German fare using local ingredients at Otto’s German Bistro .

Southeast, 50min from Downtown Austin, by car 

Lockhart is officially known as the Barbecue Capital of Texas. You can’t go wrong with any of the four options in this small town of 13,000. Just a short drive southeast from Austin, it’s the perfect Texas day trip for BBQ lovers.

Dr. Eugene Clark Library

Things to do in Lockhart

  • Visit Dr. Eugene Clark Library , the oldest operating library in Texas.
  • Eat in the barbecue capital of Texas at one or all of these spots (just to get you started!): The Original Black’s Barbecue, Kreuz Market, and Smitty’s Market.
  • Stop for a drink or two at The Pearl Bar built in1896, just off the historic courthouse square.

Marble Falls 

West, 1hr10min from Downtown Austin, by car 

Marble Falls is the perfect little Hill Country town to plan your next day trip or overnight escape. The drive is short, but it’s insane how much the scenery changes in just an hour. Just one of the many incredible things about central Texas.

READ THIS: Breweries to Visit and Things to Do in Marble Falls

marble falls things to do-5

Things to Do in Marble Falls

  • Marble Falls has three breweries all in close proximity together. My favorites are Bear King Brewing and Save the World . If you’re a Belgian beer fan, you can’t skip the latter.
  • This town is incredible for vintage shopping daytrippers. There are plenty of stores are the way into town and a few more once you arrive to Marble Falls.
  • If you’re looking for a quick drive to take non-Texans, head to Marble Falls . It’s short, includes lots of scenery, and there’s a cute little town at the end of the route.

New Braunfels 

South, 60min from Downtown Austin, by car

New Braunfels is one of the most authentic German-American communities in the country. This small Central Texas town is a fun destination, with adventures for every type of visitor. Located between Austin and San Antonio, it’s an easy day trip for those coming from either city.

READ THIS: The Complete New Braunfels Travel Guide


Things to Do in New Braunfels

  • New Braunfels has two rivers: the Comal and the Guadalupe. The Comal is “the longest shortest river in the world,” so it’s a short float. The Guadalupe, on the other hand, is the party river and floats can last up to six hours!
  • Krause’s Cafe is a great place to start in New Braunfels. There’s an incredible selection of German beer mixed in with local favorites and pub grub.
  • Bakeries and Breweries are my favorite places to stop in any town, and 2 Tarts is the cutest one in New Braunfels!
  • Soak up the German vibes up at Alpine Haus . This place will make you think you’ve traveled to Germany. There’s classic German dishes and German beer served by an intimidating bartender with a heavy accent.

North, 50min from Downtown Austin, by car 

Salado has all you need for a fun afternoon day trip from Austin, possibly even a weekend trip. With historic lodging, bed & breakfast, plentiful shopping, dining and only a short drive up I35, this charming town should be next on your day trip list.

Click here to check out my full guide to Salado, Texas.

stagecoach Inn

Things to Do in Salado

  • Visit (or stay at!) the historic Stagecoach Inn for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
  • Visit Salado Glassworks or Ro Shaw Clay Studio for classes and locally made art pieces.
  • A must stop is Barrow Brewing Company . Grab a beer and head down to the water to dip your toes in Salado Creek.
  • Cool off in the water either in town at Salado Creek, or 10 miles away at Chalk Ridge Falls Park.
  • End the afternoon with live music at Johnny’s Outback.

South, 45min from Downtown Austin, by car 

San Marcos is has a friendly, college-town vibe with plenty of shops and restaurants. Plus, a sizeable weekend farmer’s market! Side note : this town is one of my favorites on this list.

san marcos texas

Things to Do in San Marcos

  • On Saturdays, head to the San Marcos Farmers’ Market to shop all of the local eats and goods.
  • Grab your tube, and float the day away on the San Marcos River .
  • Eat your fill of kolaches at Dos Gatos Bakery.
  • Re-fuel with a stop at one, or a few, of the many local breweries in San Marcos. Our favorites include Middleton Brewing, Aquabrew, and Roughhouse.
  • Once you’re done at Middleton Brewing, head across the street to Silo Glass and shop pieces from glassblowers, potters, and other local artists.

Southwest, 55min from Downtown Austin, by car

Tucked away in the gorgeous hills of Texas Hill Country is a town full of swimming holes, wine, and enchanting parks. Wimberley sits on prime Hill Country terrain where Cypress Creek meets the Blanco River. It’s home to towering cypress trees and Texas wildflowers.

Click here to check out my full guide to Wimberley, Texas.

things to do in wimberley

Things to do in Wimberley

  • 12 feet wide, and 120 feet deep… Jacob’s Well in Wimberley is a natural spring with clear water and a 10-15 foot ledges to jump off of. Not for the faint of heart! Learn more about tickets and reservations here .
  • Swim in the crystal blue waters at Blue Hole Regional Park.
  • Sip on Tiki drinks and more rum cocktails at Cypress Creek Reserve Rum Distillery.
  • Eat locally sourced, seasonal American menu served in a modern, indoor-outdoor setting at Wimberley’s The Leaning Pear .
  • My tip? For the drive, take FM 32 from Wimberley towards Blanco and drive across the “Devil’s Backbone” on Edwards Plateau for some amazing Texas views.

Ready to start planning your day trip to Austin?

Pin these images below to Pinterest to save this Best Texas Day Trips guide for later!


Founder and owner of Big World, Small Girl: an Austin, Texas-based beer and travel blog that covers everything from brewery interviews to international travel. I've been featured in Bloomberg, Untappd, Good Beer Hunting, and most recently as one of UPROXX's Top Beer Influencers to Follow on Instagram.

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Austin Central Texas

Places To Visit Near Austin

Take a peek at these fabulous places near austin for a day trip..

Places to visit near Austin.

Austin, TX, is known for barbeque and Tex-Mex and is a fun city to play in. It’s a diverse city with so much to do. But you may want to get out and enjoy other parts of Texas. Just minutes outside the borders of Austin is a paradise of hotspots, including scenic drives and wildflowers.

After reading about these places to visit near Austin, I bet you’ll want to skip the busy city altogether.

places to visit near austin

Austin is one of the most visited cities in Texas. In case you’re not aware, Austin is quite a busy city. Interstate 35 can be frustrating when driving into and away from the city. With happenings on 6th Street, the University of Texas, the eclectic live-music scene, and not to mention the Capitol, it’s easy to see why many people flock to the area year-round. But if you want to get out of the busy city to relax and maybe soak up some meditation, there’s much to do outside of Austin that’s worth visiting.

You can drive north to tour a cave, south to play in the river, into the deep Texas Hill Country, or west for antiques. I’ll give you some suggestions after you’ve had enough of the busy city.

I suggest you not get in a hurry when driving in or away from Austin. Take your time, and adjust your schedule to allow more time on the road. If it’s not traffic, it’s construction — consider this your warning.

1. Stop By The Texas Travel Information Center

Before heading out of Austin, your first trip might be to the Texas Travel Information Center . You’ll find a wealth of brochures on things to do near Austin and around Texas, probably more than you want to know! The travel center is at the Capitol Visitor Center, 112 E. 11th St., Austin, TX 78701. Did you know there are only 12 Texas information centers? Most are around the border of Texas, but Austin’s is inside the city.

2. Head To Lake Travis

West of Austin is Lake Travis, a famous lake for locals. There are many great places to eat in Lake Travis , where you can also rent a party boat for the afternoon. However, Lake Austin is also nearby. I’m sure both are busy on weekends.

3. See The View From Mount Bonnell

You can head over to the nearby Mount Bonnell and go for a hike. Once you reach the top, you’ll see a nifty pavilion and jaw-dropping views of Lake Austin and downtown Austin. Plus, visitors get a picture-perfect view of the Colorado River and the illustrious mansions that line its shores from the top of Mount Bonnell.

20 things to do near Austin

Adeina and her friend’s recent visit to Bastrop. Photo Credit: A. Anderson

4. Visit Bastrop

In about thirty minutes, you’ll be in Bastrop, where you can enjoy kayaking on Lake Bastrop, enjoying your favorite beverage just about anywhere in town, and doing lots of shopping. That’s what these two did on a recent girl’s trip.

Related: Things To Do In Bastrop, TX With Kids

20 things to do near austin

5. Head To Deep Texas Hill Country

A few short miles from Austin in Dripping Springs, known for the “Gateway to the Hill Country.” Someone told me it’s the only Hill Country town with all three: wineries, brewers, and distilleries. I think your drinking is covered in this town. I’ll be headed there in a few short weeks and can’t wait to visit the Hamilton Pool Reserve . After looking it up, I’m almost positive you’ll want to see it. I believe reservations are needed.

6. Swing A Putter Or Go Caving In Georgetown

Besides being a small-town charmer, Georgetown has three distinguished 18-hole golf courses, Inner Space Caverns, and Texas’s most beautiful town square. And, if you plan your visit around April, the red poppies are out, and the town celebrates with a Red Poppy Festival.

7. San Marcos

Pack your swimsuit! San Marcos is only thirty minutes from Austin, where you can take a scenic drive on RM 12 NW to 32 – also called Devil’s Backbone for gorgeous views of the Hill Country and spring wildflowers. And while you’re there, dip your toes in the crystal-clear water of the San Marcos River or swim.

NOTE: A reader told me that Devil’s Backbone is a ways from San Marcos but closer to Wimberley.

fun places to visit near austin

8. Pedernales Falls State Park

About 30-40 miles west of Austin is Pedernales Falls State Park , a popular destination for locals and visitors. The park offers camping, hiking, biking, and excellent wildlife viewing. Swimming in the river is allowed, but it’s a rough 1/4 mile walk to get to the area. The admission fee is $6 for people 13 years old and up.

Travel Pro Tip: You MUST buy your entrance pass online, especially if you want to go on the weekend. The park gets super busy then, and they sell out fast.

9. Bee Cave

Less than a 20-minute drive west of Austin, you’ll be in Bee Cave unless the traffic is terrible! This town is new to me. Not that it’s new, but I had not heard of it until an event I was invited to was held there last year. Bee Cave has fantastic places to stay, great shopping, dining, golfing, water sports, and hiking. It’s the perfect place to escape the big city for a day. The Bee Cave Sculpture Park is a sight to see. I have not been there, but the town boasts excitement about it.

10. Blue Hole Regional Park

After wandering through Dripping Springs and doing everything you wanted to in town, drive about 17 miles south to Wimberley.  That’s where the natural spring-fed swimming hole at Blue Hole Regional Park is located. Swimming opens up in May, and you’ll need a reservation. Day passes are $6-$12.

11. Round Top

Set out early and head east on Hwy 290 for Round Top if you love antiques. It’s about an 80-mile car ride, so bring a snack or two and get ready to be dazzled in the antiques. If you plan your visit right, the Round Top Antique Show will be held in January, April, and October. See the site for the exact dates. I can’t believe I’ve never been to this. You’ll want to bring a big enough car for all the cool things you buy!

fun places to visit near austin

About Kim Croisant

Kim Croisant is a freelance writer and owner/writer at Texas Travel Talk and a native Texan living north of Fort Worth. When not writing about travel destinations (not just in Texas), restaurants, and hotels, she is most likely juggling family life, caring for her mother, and raising her grandson. She loves red wine, chips & dip, and travel magazines. Follow her on Instagram @texastraveltalk.

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14 day trips from austin under 100 miles away.

day trips from Austin under 100 miles away

Y’all, there are some really good places to visit are easy day trips from Austin. From cool Texas swimming holes to epic BBQ eateries, I’m covering all the best stuff to do in cities close to Austin.

These little Texas towns have character, food, ice-cold swimming holes, and beautiful hotels (just in case you decide to turn your day trip into a weekend trip from Austin.) I grew up in Texas, so I’ve been visiting these little towns my entire life. And now that I have a family and my own baby boy, I’m excited to introduce my son to these cities near Austin.

ALSO SEE: 27 Ideas To Celebrate Your Birthday At Home

All 14 of these day trips from Austin are under 100 miles away downtown Austin, so you can easily drive there in the morning, enjoy a full day exploring, and get home by bed time. I’m listing them from closest (17 miles) to farthest away (96 miles.) Use the table of contents below to jump to the city that interested you.

14 Day Trips From Austin (Under 100 Miles Away

  • Buda 20 min (17 miles)
  • Lake Travis 30 min (18 miles)
  • Dripping Springs 30 min (24 miles)
  • Driftwood 30 min (24 miles)
  • Georgetown 30 min (28 miles)
  • Spicewood 43 min (36 miles)
  • Wimberley 47 min (37 miles)
  • Gruene 50 min (47 miles)
  • Canyon Lake 1 hr 20 min (65 miles)
  • Luckenbach 1 hr 20 min (73 miles)
  • Fredericksburg 1 hr 30 min (78 miles)
  • San Antonio 1 hr 20 min (81 miles)
  • Round Top 1 hr 20 min (81 miles)
  • Enchanted Rock 1 hr 40 min (96 miles)

14. Buda, Texas  

(17 miles from downtown Austin, approximately 20 minutes)

Day Trips from Austin: Buda

Also see: 22 Things To Do In Buda

First off, it’s pronounced “Byoo-duh,” not “Boo-duh.” 😉 Buda is considered an Austin suburb (one of the fastest-growing ones, too!), and it’s a fun and easy place to explore if you need a very quick day trip from Austin. It’s considered a commuter town, meaning that lots of Buda residents head up I35 into Austin for work, and then drive back down to Buda in the evenings. Buda is a town full of Antique shops and good places to eat and drink.

5 things to do in Buda: 

1. Wander through historic downtown Buda. It’s recognized as a national historic site, full of shops, and there are annual events like South Main Music Nights and the Sip ‘n Stroll. 

2. Go antique-ing at the Old Town Buda Antique Mall.

3. Grab a slice of cake at Sweet Cakes 4 U, one of the top 20 desserts in Austin Texas .

4. Wine and dine at the Buda Mill & Grain Co ., a historic site that has been re-designed for restaurants and retail.

5. Explore the Historic Stagecoach Park, a 51-acre facility with a trail system, wildlife, and lots of open parkland. 

13. Lake Travis  

(18 miles from downtown Austin, approximately 30 minutes)

Day Trips From Austin: Lake Travis

Lake Travis is a reservoir that was formed in 1942 in far west Austin. It’s now a hot spot for boat rentals, water activities, restaurants, breweries, and hotels. If you’re looking for a high-activity day trip from Austin, or you just want a beautiful restaurant with a view, you’ll find it at Lake Travis.  {photo via Lake Travis }

5 things to do at Lake Travis: 

1. Fly over the lake on Lake Travis Zipline Adventures , the fastest and longest zip line in Texas. 

2. Swirl and swip at Bent Oak Winery. 

3. Pack a picnic or fire up the grill at Windy Point Park . You can even camp overnight! 

4. Rent a boat (I love this company) and spend all day out on the water. 

5. Watch the sunset over the lake at the award-winning Oasis Brewery. 

12. Dripping Springs, Texas

(24 miles from downtown Austin, approximately 30 minutes)

14 day-trips from Austin: Hamilton Pool

“The gateway to the hill country” is one of my favorite day trips from Austin. Why? It’s full of some of the best breweries, wineries, and distilleries in this part of the state! 

5 things to do in Dripping Springs: 

1. Visit breweries: Jester King, Family Business Beer Co., 12 Fox Beer, Beerburg Brewing, and Twisted X Brewery are a few of your options.

2. Not into beer? There are also several fantastic distilleries (Deep Eddy, Treaty Oak, and Frog Pond, Desert Door), wineries (Bell Springs Winery, Henley Vineyards), and cideries (Argus Cidery.) 

3. Make a reservation for Hamilton Pool (NOTE: currently closed for COVID-19), a stunning natural pool that was created thousands of years ago. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Hamilton Pool.

4. Go rock climbing and swimming at Reimers Ranch Park.

5. Eat dinner at Alice’s Restaurant: Texas barbecue and comfort food!

Looking for outdoor dining? Here are the 20 Best Patio Restaurants in Austin Texas

11. Driftwood, Texas

A near neighbor to Dripping Springs, but Driftwood is a much quieter place to spend the day. While Dripping Springs is booming in population with lots of housing developments, Driftwood still has a small town feel. It’s most famous for being the home to The Salt Lick Barbecue, but there are plenty of other things to do in Driftwood. 

5 things to do in Driftwood: 

1. Eat a big meal at The Salt Lick. It’s one of the most iconic BBQ spots in Texas!

2. Go wine tasting. Fall Creek Vineyards, Duchman Family Winery, and Driftwood Estate Winery are the trio of wineries you want to target. 

3. Stop by Hays City Store, an adorable gastropub with burgers, wings, tacos, margaritas, and more. 

4. Enjoy a flight of beer at Vista Brewing.

5. Drive through Driftwood during sunset. There are some beautiful views in this Texas town. 

10. Georgetown, Texas

( 28 miles from downtown Austin, approximately 30 minutes)

Day Trips From Austin: Georgetown

Also see: 50+ things to do in Georgetown

Georgetown is to north Austin what Buda is to south Austin: a commuter city that is a charming and fantastic place to visit as an easy day trip from Austin. Georgetown was awarded the Most Beautiful Town Square in Texas, and the entire city is booming in population right now. Locals love the arts and culture, easy access to bike trails and nature, and the fun places to eat and shop. { photo via }

5 things to do in Georgetown: 

1. Walk the downtown square. It’s full of more than 20 historical markers, Victorian homes, shops, and dining. 

2. Go underground into the Inner Space Cavern, a cave that was hidden for 10,000 years. 

3. Fish for largemouth bass and catfish at Lake Georgetown.

4. Eat some of that famous pie from Monument Cafe . Grab dinner, too – it’s one of the best places in eat in Georgetown. (Pizza at 600 Degrees or Mexican food at El Monumento are other favorites.)

5. Enjoy a picnic and swimming at Blue Hole Park. (Temporarily closed due to COVID-19)

9. Spicewood, Texas

(36 miles from downtown Austin, approximately 43 minutes)

Spicewood is a small town but 100% worth the quick drive from Austin! It’s near Lake Travis, so these two places would be easy to combine if you find a few things you want to do in each. Spicewood is known for its beautiful swimming holes with rope swings, fun places to eat, and quiet and relaxing environment. 

5 things to do in Spicewood:  

1. Swim at Krause Springs, a family-owned property with 32 beautiful springs, tent camping, and even RV sites. 

2. Eat your fill at Opie’s Barbecue. 

3. Go wine tasting at the beautiful Spicewood Vineyards.

4. Try on-site spirits, cocktails and food at Iron Wolf Ranch and Distillery .

5. Stay in a treehouse or go on a zipline tour with Cypress Valley Canopy Tours . (The zipline component is currently unavailable due to COVID-19) 

Also see: my staycation at the Hotel Van Zandt

8. Wimberley, Texas

(37 miles from downtown Austin, approximately 45 minutes)

Also see: THINGS TO DO IN WIBERLEY (2021 Edition)

Day Trips From Austin

Oh, how I love Wimberley! It’s one of the most famous little hill country getaways, mostly known for its incredible swimming. (You’ve definitely seen pictures of Jacob’s Well, a swimming hole that looks like it’s infinitely deep, and Blue Hole Regional Park, a wooded swimming area just off of the Blanco River.) But Wimberley is also a darling place for shopping, arts, lodging, music, and so much more.  {photo via AustinTexas.org }

5 things to do in Wimberley

1. Jump into Jacob’s Well (just be sure to make a reservation!)

2. Find a spot to go swimming in the cold blue river. If you can’t get into Blue Hole Regional Park, there are plenty of other places where you can jump in the water. 

3. Hike Old Baldy, a summit that offers a 360-degree view of the area at the top. 

4. Wander through downtown Wimberley. It’s a precious (small) area with shops, restaurants, coffee, wine, and more. 

5. Taste 100% Texan olive oil at Bella Vista Ranch, a ranch that has over 1,200 producing olive trees. 

7. Gruene, Texas

(47 miles from downtown Austin, approximately 50 min)

Things to do in Gruene, TX

One of my favorite old-time Texas towns near Austin, Gruene was originally a German town but is now mostly based in tourism. It’s a precious place for a day trip from Austin or an overnight trip (read about my family’s mother-daughter weekend trip here .)

5 things to do in Gruene:

1. Grab dinner at Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar, a shady indoor/outdoor restaurant located inside a renovated 1878 cotton gin. Get the onion rings!

2. Go two-stepping at Gruene Hall, the oldest continually-run dance hall in Texas. They get some big names to come through and perform there.

3. Float the river with Rockin R River Rides

4. Get ice cream at Rhea’s Ice Cream. All of their ice cream is made from scratch, by hand, in store.

5. Soak up the river culture with shopping in historic downtown Gruene.

6. Canyon Lake

(65 miles from downtown Austin, approximately 1 hr 20 min)

Day Trips From Austin: Canyon Lake

If you’re into watersports and you want a scenic day trip from Austin, go to Canyon Lake! It makes for a beautiful day trip from Austin on a hot summer day.  {photo via }

5 things to do at Canyon Lake

1. Rent a boat and spend the day out on the water. 

2. Take in the views and jump in for a swim at Canyon Overlook Park.

3. Hike the Guadalupe Park Trail , a 2-mile out-and-back trail near Canyon Lake. 

4. Take a guided tour at the Canyon Lake Gorge. In 2002, a historic flood sliced away the earth and created a 64-acre gorge; you can tour it to see waterfalls, lagoons, and fossils. 

5. Catch a show at the Whitewater Amphitheater (well, probably not in 2020…)

5. Luckenbach, Texas

(73 miles from downtown Austin, approximately 1 hr and 20 min)

Day Trips From Austin: Luckenbach TX

Luckenbach is a quirky one! The town was founded in 1849 and nearly became a ghost town in 1960 (it had a whopping population of 3 at the time)…but it became known for its country music culture when Jerry Jeff Walker recorded his 1973 album at the Luckenbach Dance Hall. Since then, it’s been a country music destination.  {photo via Visit Fredericksburg }

3 things to do in Luckenbach, Texas:

1. Stop by the General Store, one of the original buildings of the town. 

2. Listen to some live music at the Luckenbach Dance Hall 

3. Pair your day at Luckenbach with a stop in Fredericksburg, because there’s really not enough to do in Luckenbach to fill an entire day. 😉 

Also see: The Ultimate Austin Bucket List

4. Fredericksburg, Texas

(78 miles from downtown Austin, approximately 1 hr 30 min)

Day Trips From Austin: Fredericksburg

Certainly THE Texas Hill Country destination if you’re into Texas wine, Fredericksburg is known for its beautiful wineries, bachelorette trips, peaches, and fun places to eat. The city has a strong German culture, and recently it’s really become a tourism power house with lots of lodging, spas, arts, music, shopping, night life, antiques, and more! 

5 things to do in Fredericksburg, Texas: 

1. Wineries! Duh. There are more than 50 wineries and tasting rooms in Fredericksburg. If you’re not sure where to start, you can book a wine tour. 

2. Drink authentic German lager at Alstadt Brewery . 

3. Taste jams, jellies, preserves, and sauces at Das Peach Haus . 

4. Go to the National Museum of the Pacific War. 

5. Go peach-picking! Fredericksburg peaches are best in the early summer, but some varietals are available until Labor Day. Use this guide to find places to pick (or buy) peaches. 

3. San Antonio, Texas

(81 miles from downtown Austin, approximately 1 hr 20 min)

Yep, San Antonio is a really easy day trip from Austin! Although Austin’s metro population is approaching that of San Antonio, there are big differences between the two Texas cities. If you’ve been in Austin for a long time, taking a day trip to San Antonio could be just the thing to mix things up a bit. 

5 things to do in San Antonio, Texas:

1. Wander through the Pearl District. It’s a cultural hub with a brewery, restaurants, a gorgeous hotel (Hotel Emma is my top pick if you want to turn this into an overnight stay!) and shopping. 

2. Walk the River Walk. Yep, it’s a bit cheesy, but two margaritas in and that mariachi band will sound reeeeal good. 

3. Explore the Natural Bridge Caverns, the largest commercial caverns in Texas. 

4. Go on a brewery tour – there are lots of good ones in SATX! Roadmap Brewing, Alamo Beer Co., Back Unturned, and Burleson Yard are all within about a ½ mile radius. 

5. Eat Mexican food! San Antonio has a strong Mexican culture. You don’t have to search far to get some killer tacos. 

2. Round Top, Texas

( 81 miles from downtown Austin, approximately 1 hr 20 min)

Round Top is the antique store destination in Texas. If you love home decor and renovation, a day trip from Austin to Round Top needs to be in your future. There are some fun things to round out the day, like coffee, wine, restaurants, and music, but the main goal of this trip should really be antique shopping. 

5 things to do in Round Top:  

1. Start the day with coffee and pastries at Round Top Coffee Shop. 

2. Go antique-ing. From year-round stores to annual events, Round Top is the antique shopper’s paradise. 

3. Listen to classical music from the Round Top Festival Institute . 

4. Grab a slice of pie at Royer’s Pie Haven . 

5. Shop for custom artwork at The Gallery At Round Top.

1. Enchanted Rock

(96 miles from downtown Austin, approximately 1 hr 40 min)

Day Trips From Austin: Enchanted Rock

Enchanted Rock is a really fun spot to visit with kids! It’s a pink granite rock area that covers 640 acres. The highest point is 1825 feet above sea level, so…pretty darn high for central Texas.  {photo via TPWD }

5 things to do at Enchanted Rock

Hiking. There are nearly 11 miles of hiking trails, so you can fill up a big chunk of the day with that. 

2. Bring a picnic from home and enjoy the beautiful scenery during lunch. 

3. Geocache, bird watch, or star gaze. 

4. Go rock climbing.

5. Grab dinner at Hill Top Cafe, an American restaurant inside 1930s gas station. Their slogan is “conveniently located…in the middle of nowhere.”  

I hope this provides some inspiration for you to pan your own day trip from Austin. If you’re willing to drive a bit further, there are tons of other Texas towns that are worth exploring for a fun weekend road trip! 


[…] Also see: 14 Day Trips from Austin(Under 100 Miles Away) […]


[…] you’re looking for more day trips from Austin under 100 miles away, here are 14 good options. Don’t forget to check out my guide to Buda, TX and my guide of things […]


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Home » Travel Guides » United States » Texas (TX) » 15 Best Day Trips from Austin

15 Best Day Trips from Austin

The hipster-cool capital of Texas, Austin is coming to be known as the San Francisco Bay Area of the south east.

If those super-smart techies are migrating to the place, it must have something good going for it.

The rapidly growing state capital has a whole lot of appeal for young people, families and more, for its great restaurants and bars, cool culture, and of course, its excellent day trips.

Sitting on the fringes of Texas Hill country, and being a cosmopolitan hub itself, Austin has plenty by way of theme parks, hiking and nature on offer within just a few hours’ drive.

Here are fifteen of the best day trips from Austin :

1. San Antonio

San Antonio, Texas

There’s so much to do in San Antonio that it would almost be a shame to try to squeeze it all into one day trip.

You’ve got options for nature lovers, history buffs, culture vultures, and of course plenty to keep the kids entertained.

San Antonio’s museums are manifold, covering everything from art to interactive play, and the Japanese tea garden is a lovely spot to spend an hour relaxing.

There are walks along the river to be explored, as well as the excellent local zoo which features tonnes of different animals.

2. Wimberley

Wimberley, Texas

For a small town tucked into Texas Hill country, Wimberley certainly has a lot to offer.

With two perfect swimming holes – Jacob’s Well and Blue Hole – and plenty of nature’s delights to explore, Wimberley definitely merits a spot on your day trip list.

Don’t miss the bizarre but charming “Bootiful Wimberley” boot trail – a map-guided walk to see an artistic display like no other: 48 boots decorated by local artists, spread out across the town.

If you’re visiting between March and December, it’s also worth stopping at the old Wimberley Market on the first Saturday of the month.

3. Johnson City

Johnson City, Texas

Like Wimberley, Johnson City has a lot going for it.

One of its more unique attractions is the Hill Country Science Mill.

A great one for the kids, the science mill aims to inspire an interest in learning, through creating interactive, fun exhibits on topics relevant to everyday life.

The place is built inside of a real life grist mill, making it an all the more fascinating trip.

There are also plenty of local breweries, distilleries and wineries if that’s more your cup of tea, or indeed you might go on a guided safari at the zoo, or walk around one of many of nature’s open spaces in the national and historic parks around.

Waco, Dr Pepper Museum

Perhaps a strange site for a visit, Waco main attraction is an unusual one: the Dr Pepper museum.

The place is of course dedicated to the popular soda, and the site of the museum was in fact the place where the drink was bottled from 1906 until the 1960s.

You can wander through all of the exhibits, including its fun old fashioned soda fountain, and then inevitably purchase some Dr Pepper-themed memorabilia from the shop.

If Dr Pepper doesn’t float your boat, there’s also Magnolia Market nearby, which was featured on the US HGTV show Fixer Upper and has since experienced a rather large increase in popularity.

Sports fans might also enjoy paying a trip to the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.

5. Dripping Springs

Hamilton Pool, Dripping Springs

Dripping Springs has been around a long time, but its natural beauty never fades.

First off, take a walk around the historic district downtown, for a chance to experience some beautiful architecture (as well as some excellent shopping). After that, drive north and encounter some of Hill Country’s finest attractions: its natural pools and parks.

Have a dip in Hamilton Pool and wander round Reimers Ranch Park.

Once you’ve had your fill of nature’s delights, pop down to the Texas Hill Country Olive Company for a little culinary adventure, or check out one of the many local breweries.

6. McKinney Falls State Park

McKinney Falls State Park

Mckinney Falls, at the confluence of Onion and Williamsons Creeks, is a peaceful place to spend the day.

Covering over 700 acres of land, it’s got hiking trails and swimming spots by the bucket load, as well as plentiful local flora and fauna to encourage you to keep your eyes wide open.

The park opened in 1976, and forms part of the El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail.

It’s also conveniently located right in Austin’s backyard, making it a great option for an easy day trip.

7. Canyon Lake

Canyon Lake

Both the lake itself and the town that takes its name are worth taking a day away from Austin to visit.

The so-called ‘water recreation capital of Texas’, the nearby Guadalupe river and the lake offer plenty of water-based activities.

Formed in 1964, the reservoir has a shoreline of roughly 80 miles – providing ample opportunity for hiking, biking and horse riding too.

Activities here include swimming and boating, and there is some excellent fishing on offer too.

8. Fredericksburg

Fredericksburg, Texas

Though it’s a small town smack in the middle of Hill Country, Fredericksburg certainly packs a punch, what with its opportunities for shopping, fine dining and relaxing in beautiful surroundings.

Fredericksburg also plays host to lots of festivals and events as the year goes on, so it might not be as tranquil as you might expect.

Still, there’s fun to be had whatever time of year you head there.

Some of Texas’ best wine offerings come from Fredericksburg, and with more than two dozen wineries on offer you’ll certainly find something you like.

9. Lake Travis

Lake Travis

One of the most popular lakes in Texas, Lake Travis offers plenty in the way of water-based recreation for its visitors.

It stretches for more than sixty miles across a scenic shoreline of hills and grassland.

Activities on offer include boating, canoeing, sailing, windsurfing and water-skiing – and that’s just scratching the surface.

Its deep, clear waters also make for appealing swimming options.

10. Luckenbach


If there was ever a town that epitomised true Texan heart, it’s Luckenbach.

Tucked away in the tranquillity of the state’s Hill Country, this is the place to experience all that is truly Texan.

The tiny town with the crazy history, where ‘everybody’s somebody’ was made famous by a Willie Nelson song.

The town has been something of a ghost town since the 1960s, when its population consisted of just three people, and it was bought by a rancher for $30,000 in 1970. It’s worth visiting on the weekend for its live and local country music.

11. New Braunfels

New Braunfels

New Braunfels often makes it onto best-of lists in Texas, and this isn’t really surprising.

Its main attraction is Schlitterbahn: a wild, sprawling water park, replete with hair-raising rides, pools in every shape, and slides to suit all sorts.

Much of the park is powered by natural water from the Comal River.

However, beyond the water park there’s more to see and do: there’s the retro Railroad Museum, mini golf at Landa Park, the McKenna children’s museum, and Animal World and Snake Farm.

12. Enchanted Rock State Park

Enchanted Rock State Park

Enchanted Rock is one of the biggest natural rock formations in the whole of the United States – and therefore certainly worth a look in.

Since 1970 it has been designated a Natural Landmark, and it towers 425 feet above the ground.

It also has a very interesting history relating to the native peoples of the area.

But the big rock isn’t the only thing to see.

There’s plenty of hiking on offer in its surrounds, and if you’re a keen birdwatcher there’s enough to keep you entertained here.

13. Houston

Houston, Texas

Houston is a fantastic place to go for a change of scene from Austin.

Another big city, but of a totally different vibe and character, Houston also has the advantage of having possibly the most famous Space Centre in the whole of America.

If you do visit, don’t forget to utter the famous phrase: ‘Houston, we have a problem,’ from Apollo 13. As a major city, Houston of course has all the usual options to offer the day tripper too: great restaurants, excellent bars, and a good selection of museums for idle browsing.

Dallas, Texas

Texas’ third most populous city, Dallas is a bit of a dark horse but a truly great option for a day trip from Austin.

Its food and drink scene is always growing, and not just in the Texas barbecue arena.

There’s also always fun to be had in attending a Dallas Cowboys game.

Then of course, there’s the historical significance of the place to attend to: it was, after all, the place where JFK was assassinated in 1963. The Sixth Floor museum is well worth seeing for a history lesson, and to learn more about the tragedy.

15. Marble Falls

Marble Falls

With plenty of outdoorsy options available for the visiting day tripper, Marble Falls is truly a delightful place to visit.

Wholesome activities such as berry picking (depending on seasonal availability) at Sweet Berry Farm, and wandering through the Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge mean that the Marble Falls area is a great hotspot for families.

Many interesting bird species can be found in the wildlife refuge – try to spot the endangered golden-cheeked warbler – or if you just need a place to kick back and relax, there are several natural water features nearby to help you cool off.

15 Best Day Trips from Austin:

  • San Antonio
  • Johnson City
  • Dripping Springs
  • McKinney Falls State Park
  • Canyon Lake
  • Fredericksburg
  • Lake Travis
  • New Braunfels
  • Enchanted Rock State Park
  • Marble Falls

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Home » North America » USA » Texas » 38 Things to Do in Austin, Texas

38 Things to Do in Austin, Texas

By Author Laura Longwell

Posted on Last updated: August 18, 2023

Austin is like nowhere else in Texas. With ubiquitous live music, street art, and a ridiculous amount of breakfast tacos and breweries, the city is brimming with character. There are so many fun things to do in Austin from seeing “Old Austin” classics to checking out newer places to go.

Austin Texas skyline over lake

We’ve been to the Texas capital more times than we can count. On every visit, we’ve been lucky to have my sister, an Austinite, as a guide to explore the best attractions you’ve heard of and many that may not be on your list yet.

Here’s a look at what to do in Austin, as guided by a local.

Swim at Barton Springs Pool

Seek out the street art, visit the texas state capitol, sample craft beer at jester king brewery, have bbq at the salt lick, see esther’s follies, try ranch water at ranch 616, bar hop on rainey street, play a round at peter pan mini-golf, hang out at a speakeasy, see sunset at the oasis on lake travis, watch the congress bridge bats, relax at mozart’s coffee roasters, be surprised at the museum of the weird, play chicken shit bingo, stop for a sip at austin eastciders, explore umlauf sculpture garden, pull up a chair at brew and brew, browse the racks at atown, get festive at lala’s little nugget, see the art at hope outdoor gallery, see a set at parker jazz club, visit a local distillery, go thrifting on guadalupe street, see a show at alamo drafthouse, indulge in tiff’s treats, enjoy the scenery at hamilton pool, spend an afternoon at cidercade, take the plunge at deep eddy pool, eat at pool burger, two-step at the white horse, visit elisabet ney museum, explore by bike or scooter, go on a breakfast tacos crawl, have fun at toy joy, get outside at lady bird lake, see the trail of lights, explore the texas hill country.

People swimming in a natural spring

When we’re looking to escape the Texas heat, Barton Springs is one of our favorite places to go when we visit Austin. Within the 358-acre Zilker Park, Barton Springs is a refuge in the city.

Spanning 3 acres, the Barton Springs Pool is fed by underground springs that stay 68-70 degrees year-round. For reference, that’s about 10-14 degrees cooler than the average swimming pool. Jumping in can be a shock, but we got used to it quickly, and the cold is welcome on a sweltering Texas afternoon.

Barton Springs is open year-round, but it’s closed during the day on Thursdays for regular cleaning.

Wondering where to stay? Vibrant boutique hotel – South Congress Hotel Top-rated convenience – Hyatt Place Downtown Austin Luxury downtown accommodations – Fairmont Austin Customized comfort – The Carpenter Hotel You’ll find more details about where to stay at the end of this article.

Colorful street art mural

Like Nashville , New York, and San Francisco , Austin is known for its street art. In prominent places and tucked away in alleys, we found beautiful works of art all over the city.

fun places to visit near austin

One of the city’s most iconic street art pieces started out as a love note and has taken on a life of its own in merchandise, pop culture, and even as a gif on Instagram. The “I Love You So Much” mural on the side of Jo’s Coffee on South Congress Avenue is one of the most popular places to visit for photos. There is also the “Hi, How Are You?” mural made famous by Kurt Cobain and the postcard “Greetings from Austin” on the side of Roadhouse Relics, just to name a few.

Keep your eyes open for other great works as you walk around the city or put together a tour of your favorites.

Texas State Capitol building

The Texas State Capitol building is one of the top Austin attractions. You can learn about Texas history and visit key areas of the Capitol on one of the free tours that happen throughout the day. If a guided tour is more time that you want to spend, you can do what we did–walk around the rotunda on your own and see the many statues on the grounds outside.

For a top-rated tour of the Capitol and to see other fun places, check out this small group tour .

Circular pattern inside the dome of the Texas State Capitol building in Austin TX

Jester King is one of the area’s best craft breweries and possibly my sister’s favorite place. On the outskirts of the city, Jester King brews farmhouse ales and barrel-aged wild ales on a 165-acre property they call “the farm.”

With over 60 draft options, you could visit over and over and never have the same thing twice. In addition to the beer, you can have cider and wine from Texas and beyond.

There is also a restaurant with a wide selection of appetizers and pizzas to soak up the alcohol. As an interlude from the eating and drinking, check out one of the tours or some of the games available to play.

Sausage and meat cooking over open fire at The Salt Lick

Growing up in Dallas , we learned a thing or two about good BBQ, and Austin is home to some of the best in the country.

One favorite that we’ve returned to again and again is The Salt Lick. Their award-winning brisket , ribs, sausage, and pulled pork are slow-cooked in their famous pits in the Texas Hill Country. Their main location is a half-hour from downtown in Driftwood, or you can visit their restaurant in the airport or in nearby Round Rock.

Other barbecue favorites include Franklin Barbecue (be prepared for the wait), Terry Black’s, and Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew.

Costumed vaudeville performers on stage

With unusual sketches, comedy bits, and some magic thrown in, Esther’s Follies has entertained the city for over 40 years. In five shows each weekend, the modern-day vaudeville show treats viewers to a healthy dose of satire and off-beat comedy. The shows are full of surprises, and one thing we didn’t expect is that they use their windows overlooking Sixth Street to their advantage–some of the action takes place right outside on the street in downtown.

Bottle of Topo Chico next to a glass with a slice of lime

Ranch 616 is the home of Austin’s unofficial cocktail, Ranch Water, so trying it is a must.

With tequila, lime juice, and orange liqueur, Ranch Water’s ingredients bear a striking similarity to those in a margarita, but it’s topped off with many Austinites’ favorite drink–the sparkling mineral water called Topo Chico. It’s light, refreshing, and packs a surprising punch, so make sure to hydrate along the way.

Probably the most unique street in the city, Rainey Street is filled with cute craftsmen houses from the 1930s that have been re-purposed as bars. Everywhere you look there are patios decked out in lights, food trucks, restaurants, and people. So many people. In fact, I hesitated to put Rainey Street on the list of places to see in Austin because it’s such a tourist attraction. Locals do go there, but it’s somewhat infrequent and almost never on the weekends.

If you decide to go, consider an off-peak time and set your expectations accordingly. Check out Half Step for great cocktails, Geraldine’s at Hotel Van Zandt for lunch or happy hour, or Via 313 for Detroit-style pizza.

Large statue of Peter Pan in front of a building with a sign for

For over 75 years, Peter Pan Mini-Golf has contributed to the quirkiness of Austin. The small plot of land hosts two 18-hole mini-golf courses complete with a T-Rex, a castle, a giant tuxedoed pig, and other unexpected creatures. Visitors can bring in a cooler to sip drinks while they navigate around the obstacles and appreciate the throwback that is this family-run course.

Note that parking is limited in the Peter Pan lot, so leave time to find an alternative if you’re meeting people or have a large group.

Hand holding a tiki glass

Speakeasies are a paradise for lovers of craft cocktails . Our favorites (so far) are Midnight Cowboy and Small Victory. Hidden in a former brothel behind a nondescript door, Midnight Cowboy might be one of the only reasons a local would head to Dirty 6th (the strip of raucous bars otherwise known as 6th Street). Its dark leather interior and top-notch service create a welcoming environment to try one of their signature tiki drinks or a classic cocktail.

At Small Victory, there’s no secret buzzer or password, though you may find yourself wondering if you’re in the right place. A couple of doors and a small flight of stairs are the only thing between you and cocktail heaven. They also offer a selection of charcuterie and cheese plates.

Sunset over lakeside restaurant i

Texas sunsets are legendary. About 15 miles from downtown, The Oasis on Lake Travis is one of the best places to see them.

With a multi-deck patio overlooking the lake, the Oasis has unparalleled views. There is a restaurant, but it serves up to 2500 people and doesn’t accept reservations, so set your expectations and patience accordingly if eating there is a priority (though it probably shouldn’t be).

Our best advice is to eat before or after your visit so you don’t have to deal with the wait. Instead, spend your time at the Oasis hitting the bar at Oasis Brewing Company and enjoy your tasty beverage while watching the sky light up at twilight. The secret is that the colors get even better after sunset. It truly is spectacular and one of the best things to do in Austin.

People on bridge overlooking water and boats in lake

Most people may not think bats and big cities go together…unless you live here. In the warmer months, bat watching is actually one of the most fun activities in Austin.

The Congress Avenue Bridge is home to a massive colony of Mexican Free-Tailed Bats—the largest urban bat colony in North America. Not only do they help with the fierce Texas mosquitoes, but they put on a nightly show.

From spring through early fall, the bats start their flight around sunset and continue flying for as long as 2-3 hours. At the height of the season, there may be as many as 1.5 million bats taking to the air above Lady Bird Lake.

Boat under bridge with people standing above

Arrive at least an hour before dusk in order to find parking and get your spot. The Statesman Bat Observation Center adjacent to the bridge is a great place to go, but there are other vantage points along the Butler Hike & Bike Trail and on the bridge itself, though it can get quite crowded.

We’ve watched from the bridge in the past but most recently took to the water to watch the bats from a boat, which puts a fun, more relaxing spin on the evening because you get dinner and drinks, too.

People sitting at picnic tables on a patio by a lake

Mozart’s Coffee Roasters might be the prettiest spot in town to sip a latte. Overlooking Lake Austin, the café is the perfect place to be for a moment of Zen, enjoying a pastry, and watching the boats bob by just a few feet away.

Mozart’s serves gourmet coffees from around the world that are roasted on-site several times a week. From cannolis and macarons to quiches and empanadas, they also offer a wide range of homemade sweet and savory treats. You can enjoy them all in the shade on the patio while taking advantage of the free wifi. If you’re visiting Austin at Christmas , don’t miss the popular annual holiday light show.

Illuminated sign for Museum of the Weird beside a statue of Big Foot

Reminiscent of dime museums and sideshow attractions, the Museum of the Weird is one of the unusual places to visit in Austin. With shrunken heads, Big Foot, and a cyclops pig, you never know what’s around the next corner in this odd space. Keep an eye out for the Wax Museum near the end.

Chicken eating seed standing on a board with numbered squares

Near the top of the list of unique traditions, you’re sure to find Chicken Shit Bingo . For over 20 years, this unusual game has filled Sunday afternoons at The Little Longhorn Saloon.

For a small donation, visitors purchase tickets and eagerly wait to see where the chickens will do their business on a giant bingo board. There’s live music, plenty of beer and cider, and lots of cheering when the chickens get going. It’s definitely one of the things you have to experience here.

Pint of cider on table with Austin Eastciders logo

Austin Eastciders Tap Room has 10-12 different ciders at any given time, ranging from hopped to honey to blood orange. They have a lot of fruit options that focus on flavor without being sweet. The laid-back bar has picnic tables, games, and a dog-friendly patio. Plus, they offer special releases that aren’t available elsewhere.

Bronze sculpture of a child jumping into a pond filled with reeds

Just blocks from the heart of the city, a six-acre oasis houses a beautiful sculpture garden in an ever-changing environment. The Umlauf Sculpture Garden near downtown features the work of sculptor and University of Texas professor Charles Umlauf, who gifted his works, home, and studio to the city for use as an arts destination.

Fifty-nine sculptures and other artworks are on view around the grounds, which are landscaped with ponds and native plants. Adults can explore the works while kids complete “Sculpture Safaris.” There are also regular guided tours.

Computer and root beer on a table

If you’re looking for a great coffee shop, a bar, a place to hang out, or a spot to get some work done, Brew and Brew has you covered on all fronts. In East Austin, this multi-purpose space has a full espresso bar and nearly 40 taps of craft beer and cider, so you can find your drink of choice all day long. There is wifi and a menu including breakfast, several sandwiches for lunch, and bar snacks.

T-shirts and hats on display for sale

Atown is full of personality. From jewelry to clothes to home goods, this shop is packed with fun gifts, treats, and souvenirs. In addition to all the slogan t-shirts you could want, you’ll also find work by local artists and designers. Depending on the time of your visit, you might be able to indulge in complimentary chocolate chip cookies or mimosas while you browse.

Lala's sign surrounded by Christmas ornaments

It’s always Christmas at Lala’s Little Nugget . This local bar is decked out year-round with Christmas lights, reindeer, Santa, and more. With Christmas-themed cocktails like the Snowball and Grandma’s Boozy Eggnog, it’s the ideal place to get into the holiday spirit whether it’s April or December.

Artist spray painting a white design at HOPE Outdoor Gallery

Since 2010, artists have visited the HOPE Outdoor Gallery to add their work to the collection of spray-painted treasures that adorn the walls. Once an abandoned construction project, every inch of the area is decorated with unique images of street art.

Every day, people visit to climb around on the concrete slabs to see the art or to make their own in this unusual public space. From cartoon characters to cats in space, there is all kinds of imagery, and there is always some kind of activity going on. The gallery has become a gathering spot and is used for dance classes, dinner parties, and other fun events.

HOPE Outdoor Gallery is slated to reopen in fall 2023 near the airport.

Jazz trio performing on stage with blue lighting

Five nights a week, Parker Jazz Club comes alive with world-class musical acts. The purpose-built venue has incredible acoustics to showcase the artists. In addition to the greats from across the country who grace the stage, owner Kris Kimura is a frequent performer, choosing from a stunning array of instruments that demonstrate his talent with woodwinds.

The basement jazz lounge serves pizzas and desserts, and it wouldn’t be a proper jazz club without the excellent cocktails from the bar.

Bottles and cocktail at Still Austin Whiskey Co

We love people who are passionate about what they do, and we love good cocktails. Luckily, that makes craft distilleries a perfect fit for our list of things to do around Austin. Seriously, if you’ve never had a chance to take a distillery tour with the distillers themselves, do it—they love geeking out and sharing their passion for making great spirits. There are several distilleries to choose from in Austin and within a half-hour drive of the city.

Still Austin Whiskey Co. is our choice in the city. It’s the first whiskey distillery in the city since Prohibition and keeps true to its roots using Texas grains and botanicals. They’re open for tours and tastings, or you can stop by for a cocktail at the bar and some live music and food trucks. I love their Old Fashioned.

Within a half-hour of downtown, you can find three more great distilleries in nearby Dripping Springs– the famous Deep Eddy Vodka, Dripping Springs Distillery, and Treaty Oak Distilling, which is one of the coolest places to visit near Austin.

People shopping at racks of clothes set up outside Pavement thrift store

Lovers of thrifting, vintage clothes, and finding a bargain will enjoy the strip of thrift stores near W. 29 th Street and Guadalupe Street. At least a half-dozen shops in the area specialize in new and used clothing of different types. You can pay by the pound at Flamingos , look for specialty items at Pavement , and shop til you drop all around the neighborhood. On nice weekends, the racks are often set up outside, too.

Alamo Drafthouse is an institution. It’s known for inventive festivals and for showing first-run and classic movies as well as blockbuster and art house films. It was one of the first movie theaters to add good food and beer to complete the movie-going experience. They even create unique menus to pair with the themes of certain movies. There’s always something new and different there.

The Drafthouse hosts special events throughout the year, but one of our favorite reasons to go is the regular Tuesday night trivia. Pop culture and movie experts will go far in trying to take home the night’s prize.

Tiff's Treats cookie

Tiff’s Treats is the perfect solution to a crummy day or the best way to make a good day even better. I mean, who doesn’t want freshly baked cookies right from the oven? No one.

The owners started the cookie company from their dorm rooms while students at the University of Texas, so indulging in their treats is truly one of the authentic things to do in Austin. At their locations all over the city (and throughout Texas), you can try over 10 varieties of cookies and brownies, plus ice cream and more. (Our favorite is the peanut butter chocolate chip.) Plus, Tiff’s Treats is known for being the first bakery in the U.S. to offer a warm cookie delivery service, so you can also enjoy them in your PJs in your hotel room.

Grotto and pool at Hamilton Pool

Hamilton Pool is one of the most picturesque sites around, and it’s one of the top swimming holes in Texas. Located on a 234-acre nature preserve, it draws people from all over central Texas.

The pool is the result of the collapse of an underground river, so it has a unique formation with a waterfall and even a tiny beach. You can bring a picnic, enjoy the (sometimes very cool) natural spring pool, or relax on the beach.

If Hamilton Pool is on your must do list in Austin, plan ahead—you’ll need to reserve a 4-hour time slot for your visit. Slots per day are limited to protect the ecosystem, which means that the pool always feels like a bit of a private oasis. Bring close-toed shoes or water shoes for the rugged quarter-mile hike from the parking lot and for walking around the swimming area.

Man playing Skeeball

Cidercade is a cool venue offering a unique combination of arcade games, hard cider, and thin-crust pizza. For just $12, visitors can play unlimited games from pinball to Skeeball and more while enjoying food and craft ciders from the team at Bishop Cider. As a bonus, there’s a great patio overlooking the lake.

People at a large swimming pool

Deep Eddy Pool has been a gem in Austin’s crown for over 100 years. This unique, freshwater pool offers wading for kids, lap swimming for adults, and pool-side movies in the summer. It’s a great location to cool off as the water ranges between 66 and 75 degrees.

What makes Deep Eddy so special is that you feel like you’re far away from everything, surrounded by trees at the bottom of a hill. Yet, you’re really just 5 minutes from downtown.

Deep Eddy is filled with fresh well water and isn’t chlorinated. As a result, moss grows on the bottom of the pool and can be bit slick. Consider wearing water shoes to make it a little easier to manage getting in and out.

Two cocktails in tiki glasses

Just a few steps from Deep Eddy, Pool Burger feels like summer. With the smell of grilling burgers and the clank of the cocktail shaker, the vibe is laid back and fun.

Food (there are options for vegetarians, too) comes from the 1968 Airstream trailer, and tiki drinks come to life at the straw-covered stand. Find yourself a spot of shade on the comfy cushions and sip your mai tai slowly.

Band playing on stage at The White Horse

One of the city’s coolest honky tonks, The White Horse in East Austin has live music every day of the week. In addition to the entertainment, they have tacos every night/early morning and whiskey on tap. It’s kind of perfect.

One of the nicest things about The White Horse is that it doesn’t have a particular type of crowd and everyone is welcome. You’ll see people of all generations from hipsters to ranchers to rockabillies, so no one really feels out of place. They all pack the dance floor, and many come for the free dance lessons offered Thursday through Saturday.

See live music venues like The White Horse and more on this music crawl tour of the city .

Sculptures displayed in a room with rustic stone walls

The castle-like stone building that rises from a wild plot of land in Hyde Park was once the studio of renowned European sculptor Elisabet Ney. Built in 1892, the structure that she called Formosa is now a museum dedicated to her life and work.

The Elisabet Ney Museum houses many large-scale works. Subjects of the busts and sculptures range from King Ludwig II of Bavaria (Ney’s benefactor) to Jesus. There are also 19th-century intellectuals, statesmen, and figures from Texas history. Brochures in the museum provide lots of detail about Ney and her work. It is free to visit and definitely worth a stop if you are nearby.

fun places to visit near austin

Getting around can be really easy—just pick up a bicycle or a scooter when you see one. With Bcycle bicycle stands and companies like Lime and Jump offering bicycles and scooters all over the city, you’re never very far from an option that will take you a few blocks or to the other side of the city. Most of them only require an app and a credit card.

For a more organized approach, consider this bicycle tour of Austin highlights or check out this tour that takes you around the city on an e-bike .

Breakfast tacos, chips, queso, and Topo Chico on a table

Trying breakfast tacos is a must when you visit Austin. There are so many great places to try that it’s hard to pick just one. The good news is that many places serve breakfast tacos all day, so you can put together your own taco crawl, if you’re so inclined.

My favorite place for breakfast tacos is Veracruz All Natural . They have several locations, and we like the truck on Manchaca Road because it’s conveniently located at Radio Coffee, so you can easily address all your breakfast needs in one place. Bring your patience because Veracruz is super popular, but the wait is worth it. They’re most well-known for their amazing migas taco.

People waiting for breakfast tacos at Veracruz All Natural food truck

If you can’t make it to Veracruz All Natural, check out Tacodeli or Torchy’s Tacos. For 20 years, Tacodeli has met Austinites’ tortilla needs, and their breakfast tacos—especially the Otto—are legendary. Torchy’s Tacos, which started out as a food truck, now has 50 locations, so there’s almost always one nearby. Try the queso, too.

Star Wars-themed coffee mugs on a shelf

Toy Joy is not your standard toy store. An Austin institution for over 30 years, Toy Joy stocks thousands of items to appeal to everyone. You can find expected toys like standard board games and stuffed animals alongside less expected gag gifts, costumes, crafts, and more. From Harry Potter to anime, there’s plenty to see here.

People rowing on Lady Bird Lake with buildings in the background

Lady Bird Lake looks a bit more like a river, or at least that’s what I called it until my sister set me straight. It’s actually a section of the Colorado River that has been dammed up. Whatever you call it, it’s the perfect place for outdoor activities and water sports.

Year-round, there are people in kayaks and canoes and on stand-up paddle boards enjoying the lake. Along the banks, you can also rent paddle boats, dragon boats, and other crafts for use. To enjoy the water in a more motorized fashion, check out Capital Cruises, which runs regular excursions. The Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail runs over 10 miles around the lake.

People walking through a tunnel of Christmas lights at night

One of the top holiday traditions in town is the Austin Trail of Lights. This amazing festival fills Zilker Park with more than 2 million Christmas lights.

Along the trail, there are 70 displays and lighted tunnels plus nearly 100 trees lit up in the colors of the season. When you add regular entertainment, food trucks, photos with Santa, and more, it’s clear why the Trail of Lights is super popular.

Typically, about half the nights of the 2-week event are free for the public, which means the trail can get quite crowded. Visitors who want a little more room to move around and perks like easy parking can buy an early-entry ZIP pass or VIP Platinum passes on select nights.

Shops along a street

There is plenty to occupy your time if you’re visiting Austin for a long weekend. But, if you have more time or want to see a side of Texas other than the big city, consider exploring the fun things to do in the Texas Hill Country.

Just a half-hour from Austin is the little town of Dripping Springs, Texas , which is certainly worth a stop. You can get a hint of Tuscany at the Texas Hill Country Olive Oil Company, enjoy the scenery at Pedernales Falls State Park , and splash down in the natural swimming hole of Jacob’s Well.

If you have a little more time to spare, visit Fredericksburg about 90 minutes away. Founded by German settlers, Fredericksburg has its own unique culture that you might not expect in the heart of Texas. This German town is packed with dozens of wineries and has a cute downtown shopping area. You’ll also find wildflower gardens, historic sites, and the world-class National Museum of the Pacific War . Plus, it’s right by Luckenbach, Texas , the place to go for country music.

Where to Stay South Congress Hotel – A boutique hotel, South Congress Hotel is one of the top places to stay. Some rooms have courtyard or city views, and you can’t beat the rooftop pool bar. Hyatt Place Downtown Austin – A reliable choice for comfortable accommodations, Hyatt Place offers an on-site restaurant, pool, and fitness center. It is within walking distance of most of the main sites. Fairmont Austin – The definition of a luxury hotel, with stellar service, well-appointed rooms, a spa, and five restaurants and bars The Carpenter Hotel – A unique setting in the former carpenter’s union hall near Zilker Park, this boutique hotel has a fabulous cafe, a restaurant serving inventive dishes, and an outdoor pool.

fun places to visit near austin

Laura Longwell is an award-winning travel blogger and photographer. Since founding Travel Addicts in 2008, she has written hundreds of articles that help over 3 million people a year get the most out of their travel. In that time, she has visited nearly 60 countries on 5 continents, often returning to favorite destinations over and over again. She has a deep love of history, uncovering unexpected attractions, and trying all the good food a place has to offer.

In addition to Travel Addicts, Laura runs a site about her hometown of Philadelphia—Guide to Philly—which chronicles unique things to do and places to see around southeastern Pennsylvania. Her travel tips and advice appear across the web.

38 Things to Do in Austin, Texas

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Friday 5th of February 2021

I am lucky to live in Austin. You did an amazing job. Cheers

Laura Longwell

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Family Destinations Guide

10 Best Things to Do Near Austin, TX: Fun Places to Visit Nearby!

By: Author Anika Turner

Posted on Published: July 4, 2020  - Last updated: September 29, 2023

So you’re in Austin, and let’s face it – the city’s cool, but who can resist the allure of exploring beyond? 

I’ve sauntered my way through Texas, and I can vouch that some of the best things to do near Austin, TX are not to be taken lightly. 

The city is pretty much a gateway to Texas’ greatest hits. 

Think vintage Americana melding with natural sights that’ll have your camera working overtime. 

And because of its primo location, you don’t have to venture far to get a taste of Texas’ legendary history and those “Oh, wow” landscapes. 

Whether it’s for the ‘Gram or pure wanderlust, stepping outside Austin’s borders is like treating yourself to an all-you-can-experience buffet of Americana.

Discover the best attractions near Austin by checking out my tips and reviews below. 

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Best Things To Do In Near Austin, TX Compared 

Looking for the best things to do near Austin, TX? 

Check out our top picks for family-friendly fun below.

Editor’s Choice

San Antonio Alamo, Tower & River Cruise Tour

San Antonio Alamo, Tower & River Cruise Tour

San Antonio Alamo Tower & River Cruise Tour is a combination of bus, boat, and viewing tower experience that showcases the city’s highlights.

  • Family-Friendliness: 4/5
  • Affordability: 3/5
  • Accessibility: 5/5
  • Fun Factor: 4/5
  • Educational Value: 4/5

#2nd Best Choice

Texas Hill Country and LBJ Ranch Tour

Texas Hill Country and LBJ Ranch Tour

Texas Hill Country and LBJ Ranch Tour is a scenic drive through vineyards, orchards, and historic towns that explores the legacy of President Lyndon B. Johnson.

  • Family-Friendliness: 5/5
  • Affordability: 4/5
  • Accessibility: 3/5
  • Fun Factor: 3/5
  • Educational Value: 5/5

#3rd Best Choice

Six Flags Fiesta Texas

Six Flags Fiesta Texas

Six Flags Fiesta Texas is a theme park with thrill rides, shows, and activities for all ages that opened in 1992 in San Antonio.

  • Accessibility: 4/5
  • Fun Factor: 5/5
  • Educational Value: 2/5

Here are the top 10 things to do near Austin.

1. San Antonio Alamo, Tower & River Cruise Tour (Editor’s Choice)

San Antonio, TX (289) 271-9767 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Ratings Criteria

  • Historical significance: The San Antonio Alamo holds immense historical significance as the site of the Battle of the Alamo during the Texas Revolution. 
  • Scenic river cruise: You can enjoy the beautiful views, learn about the history and culture of the area, and even spot some local wildlife.
  • Crowds: The Alamo is a popular tourist destination, so it can get quite crowded, especially during peak tourist seasons. 
  • Time constraints: The tour may have time constraints due to the combination of visiting the Alamo, the tower, and taking a river cruise. 

Why We Recommend Going Here

The San Antonio Alamo, Tower & River Cruise Tour should be at the top of your family’s travel list. 

The Alamo, a legendary symbol of Texas, takes you back to the thrilling Battle of the Alamo. 

As you explore its hallowed grounds, you’ll sense the bravery and sacrifice that shaped American history. 

But the adventure doesn’t stop there.

Hop on a river cruise along the enchanting San Antonio River, where the city comes alive in vibrant colors. 

Marvel at the stunning Tower of the Americas, a soaring icon that offers breathtaking views of the cityscape. 

It’s the perfect backdrop for your Instagram-worthy family photos.

Distance from Austin

The distance between Austin, TX, and San Antonio, where the Alamo, Tower & River Cruise Tour is located, is approximately 80 miles. 

It’s a manageable drive of around 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on traffic and the route you take.

Recommended Hotel Near San Antonio Alamo, Tower & River Cruise Tour: Grand Hyatt San Antonio

Related: Best Things to Do in Austin

2. Texas Hill Country and LBJ Ranch Tour

1343 Hallmark Dr San Antonio, TX 78216 (800) 341-6000 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

  • Scenic beauty: This tour provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the area and enjoy the tranquility of the countryside.
  • Historical and cultural insight: The LBJ Ranch, also known as the Texas White House, offers a glimpse into the life and legacy of President Lyndon B. Johnson. 
  • Travel time: The Texas Hill Country is located outside of Austin and requires a significant amount of travel time to reach. 
  • Limited activities: If you’re looking for a more action-packed itinerary or a variety of entertainment options, this tour might not be the best choice.

If you’re seeking a delightful blend of history, scenic beauty, and good ol’ Texas charm, the Texas Hill Country and LBJ Ranch Tour should be at the top of your list.

This tour is like a time machine that transports you back to the days of Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th President of the United States. 

The Texas Hill Country is renowned for its stunning landscapes, and this tour allows you to immerse yourself in its natural splendor.

Furthermore, the tour guides are incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about sharing the stories and anecdotes that bring the LBJ Ranch to life. 

Their enthusiasm is infectious, making the journey all the more captivating for visitors of all ages.

The distance between Austin and the LBJ Ranch is approximately 68 miles, which translates to roughly an hour and a half drive depending on traffic conditions.

Recommended Hotel Near Texas Hill Country and LBJ Ranch Tour: DoubleTree by Hilton San Antonio Downtown

Related: Best Restaurants in Austin

3. Six Flags Fiesta Texas

17000 IH-10 West San Antonio, TX 78257 (210) 697-5050 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

  • Thrilling rides: If you’re an adrenaline junkie or enjoy amusement park experiences, this is a great place to visit and have a fun-filled day with friends or family.
  • Entertainment options: From live music to spectacular shows, there’s always something happening at Six Flags Fiesta Texas.
  • Crowds and wait times: Being a popular amusement park, Six Flags Fiesta Texas can get extremely crowded, especially during weekends and holidays. 
  • Additional expenses: Food, drinks, parking, and souvenirs can all contribute to a higher overall cost, potentially impacting your budget for the day.

If you’re looking for an unforgettable family getaway, let me introduce you to Six Flags Fiesta Texas—the ultimate thrill-seeker’s paradise. 

With heart-pounding roller coasters, dazzling live shows, and attractions for all ages, Six Flags Fiesta Texas has it all.

Nothing quite matches the adrenaline rush you’ll get from conquering the twists and turns of Batman: The Ride or soaring through the sky on Superman: Krypton Coaster. 

The sheer variety of rides, from gentle spins to mind-bending drops, ensures everyone in the family finds something to enjoy.

Beyond the rides, the park boasts incredible shows and entertainment, captivating audiences with acrobatics, music, and special effects. 

You can take a breather and enjoy a spectacular live performance before diving back into the adrenaline rush.

Six Flags Fiesta Texas is located in San Antonio, Texas, which is approximately 80 miles southwest of Austin. 

It’s a relatively easy and scenic drive for 1.5 to 2 hours, making it a great day trip or weekend excursion for families visiting Austin.

Recommended Hotel Near Six Flags Fiesta Texas: Home2 Suites By Hilton San Antonio At The Rim, Tx

Related: Best Restaurants in Bastrop

Related: Best Family Resorts Near Austin

4. San Antonio Aquarium

San Antonio Aquarium

6320 Bandera Rd Leon Valley, TX 78238 (210) 310-3210 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Looking for more family-friendly options besides exploring the best things to do in Austin with kids ?

Why not pay a visit to the San Antonio Aquarium?

Home to thousands of intriguing creatures, this aquatic museum also has interactive exhibits and family-friendly attractions.

From San Antonio’s lakes to the world’s deep oceans, the aquarium will take you on a memorable underwater adventure.

Our personal favorites include the moray eels, jellyfish, and blacktip reef sharks.

You and your kids will also have a blast touching the facility’s friendly mammals, especially its latest addition: Kiwi the sloth.

Not to mention, it has an incredible medley of activities for the whole gang, like Mermaids at the Aquarium.

From Austin, take I-35 S to get to San Antonio Aquarium.

Travel time is 1 hour and 18 minutes, and the distance is around 83 miles.

Recommended Hotel Near San Antonio Aquarium: Comfort Inn and Suites Fredericksburg

5. Blanco State Park

Blanco State Park

101 Park Rd 23 Blanco, TX 78606 (830) 833-4333 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Blanco is home to some of our favorite attractions near Austin, Texas.

And, to me, there’s no attraction in this city more appealing and well-known than Blanco State Park.

From canoeing to camping, the state park has a host of cheap activities for everyone.

This state park is a fun and family-oriented outdoor recreation area in Blanco.

And, guess what?

It has plenty of activities that showcase the beauty of nature.

You may paddle, boat, fish, or swim on the water.

Plus, it also has exciting land experiences for visitors of all ages, including geocaching, wildlife spotting, camping, hiking, and taking picnics.

There are special events and junior ranger programs for the little ones at this park as well.

The fastest way to this state park from Austin is via E Hwy 290.

The route is 51.1 miles long and has a travel time of 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Recommended Hotel Near Blanco State Park: Blanco Riverside Cottages

Related: Best Water Parks in Austin

6. Morgan’s Wonderland

Morgan’s Wonderland

5223 David Edwards Dr San Antonio, TX 78233 (210) 495-5888 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Morgan’s Wonderland is, in my opinion, one of the can’t-miss things to do and see near Austin with kids.

Known as the first ultra-accessible theme park in the world, Morgan’s Wonderland offers a world of fun to guests of all abilities and ages.

Morgan’s Wonderland is simply one-of-a-kind.

After all, it’s the world’s first-ever theme park designed mainly for those with special needs.

Plus, it’s totally wheelchair accessible and is free for folks with special needs.

Of course, the park has a variety of attractions to appease everyone.

Highlights include rides, gardens, an amphitheater, a playground, and an 8-acre fishing lake.

Morgan’s Wonderland is 68.2 miles away (1 hour and 4 minutes of driving) from Austin.

Recommended Hotel Near Morgan’s Wonderland: Best Western Garden Inn

7. Blue Hole Regional Park

Blue Hole Regional Park

333 Blue Hole Ln Wimberley, TX 78676 (512) 660-9111 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

The Texas Hill Country is famous for its refreshing swimming holes.

And, Wimberley’s Blue Hole is among the best and cool places to go for a dip in Texas.

Be mesmerized by the sight of sparkling, spring-fed blue water encircled by old-growth, towering cypress trees.

Aside from sightseeing and swimming, the park also has tons of activities to offer to its visitors.

The park has miles of trails, an amphitheater, a sand volleyball court, a basketball court, a playscape, a community pavilion, and picnic areas.

Blue Hole Regional Park is 38 miles away from Austin, with a travel time of 46 minutes, via I-35 S.

Recommended Hotel Near Blue Hole Regional Park: Comfort Inn & Suites San Marcos

Related: Best Beaches Near Austin, TX

8. Enchanted Rock State Park

Enchanted Rock State Park

16710 Ranch Rd 965 Fredericksburg, TX 78624 (830) 685-3636 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

No list of the top places to see near Austin is complete without Enchanted Rock State Park.

Designated in 1970 as a National Natural Landmark, this natural rock formation has an interesting history with early settlers and native people.

With stunning sunset views and an easygoing vibe, it’s also one of the most romantic places to visit in Texas.

Hiking is, no doubt, the park’s most popular recreational activity.

But, there are plenty of other outdoor activities available in the park, including rock climbing, bird watching, and camping.

And, did I mention that the views there are nothing short of breathtaking?

The Enchanted Rock State Park is 96.4 miles away from Austin via TX-71 W.

Travel time is around 1 hour and 43 minutes.

Recommended Hotel Near Enchanted Rock State Park: Comfort Inn and Suites Fredericksburg

9. Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch

Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch

26515 Natural Bridge Caverns Rd San Antonio, TX 78266 (830) 438-7400 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

The Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch offers an extraordinary experience for everyone.

Not only is it home to African creatures, but it’s also a unique drive-through experience.

With miles of fun driving pathways, this wildlife ranch lets you see an array of exotic creatures without leaving your vehicle.

Over 40 species of animals call this ranch home, including lions, wildebeests, rhinos, zebras, ostriches, and giraffes.

Driving I-35 S is the fastest way to the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch from Austin.

Distance is 66.8 miles and travel time is around an hour.

Recommended Hotel Near Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch: Crowne Plaza Hotel San Antonio Airport

10. San Antonio Grand Historic Tour

San Antonio Grand Historic Tour

1343 Hallmark Dr San Antonio, TX (800) 341-6000 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Trace the historic roots of San Antonio with a half-day coach tour.

We love this tour because it passes by countless historic sites as well as modern-day attractions.

One of my favorite stops on the tour is La Villita, the first neighborhood in San Antonio.

Plus, it includes stops at Hemisfair Park, the Alamo, and Saint Joseph Parish.

For foodies, you’ll also be treated to a ast lunch at a top-notch Mexican restaurant.

On top of it all, the tour comes with a well-versed guide who’ll share an informative breakdown of the city’s history.

The tour starts at La Villita Historic Arts Village, which is an hour away from Austin.

I suggest that you take I-35 S (79 miles) since it’s the fastest route to San Antonio.

Recommended Hotel Near La Villita Historic Arts Village: Hyatt Regency San Antonio Riverwalk

Activity Guide 

Comparing attractions: which one is right for you.

Venturing out from the vibrant city of Austin, TX, you’ll find an abundance of engaging activities that will create lifelong memories.

The San Antonio Alamo, Tower & River Cruise Tour is an immersive journey into Texas’s rich history. 

My family and I marveled at the heroic tales of the Alamo and took in the stunning cityscape from the tower.

Alternatively, the Texas Hill Country and LBJ Ranch Tour provided a tranquil and educational experience. 

As we roamed around the picturesque ranch, our guide shared captivating anecdotes about the life of President Lyndon B. Johnson.

For the thrill-seekers, Six Flags Fiesta Texas promises a day of adrenaline-pumping excitement. 

I still remember the whooshing sound of rollercoasters, my kids’ infectious laughter, and the endless fun we had during our visit.

Whichever option you lean towards, ensure it resonates with your family’s interests and budget. 

The beauty of Austin’s surroundings lies in its variety, and there’s always an adventure waiting to suit you.

How I Picked The Activities

As a seasoned travel writer, I’ve spent considerable time exploring and writing about the best things to do near Austin, TX. 

I engaged in countless conversations with locals, soaking up their firsthand experiences and valuable suggestions. 

Concurrently, I conducted thorough online research, cross-verifying facts and diving into multiple sources to ensure authenticity. 

I combed through reviews, ratings, and testimonies, piecing together a well-rounded perspective of each attraction.

Our Rating Method 

I rate these attractions based on the following criteria: 

  • Family-Friendliness: I use this criterion to assess the family-friendly appeal of every activity. Is it suitable for families with kids? Is it safe, engaging, and fun for children? I ask myself these questions in order to rate family-friendliness. 
  • Affordability: This is used to evaluate the attraction’s affordability. Will visitors get a lot of bang for their buck? Is it free or cheaper compared to the other options? Does it offer discounted rates, special promotions, or free entry? I consider these factors when rating affordability.
  • Accessibility: This evaluates the activity’s accessibility. Is it easily accessible by public transportation? Are there plenty of parking spaces available? Is it wheelchair accessible? I ask myself these questions when assessing the attraction’s accessibility.
  • Fun Factor: I use this to evaluate how enjoyable the attraction is for visitors. Will it create positive and memorable experiences? Is it engaging, fun, and exciting? I use these questions to evaluate this criterion. 
  • Educational Value: This assesses the educational benefits of the activity. Does it provide learning opportunities to kids? Will it teach visitors lessons in science and history? I ask myself these important questions when rating educational value. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some family-friendly activities near austin.

Families can enjoy a day at the Austin Zoo, explore the exhibits at the Thinkery children’s museum, or embark on a scenic train ride through the Hill Country aboard the Austin Steam Train.

Where Can I Experience Nature Near Austin?

Apart from the Greenbelt, visit McKinney Falls State Park to hike, swim, and explore beautiful waterfalls. The Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve offers serene hiking trails, and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center showcases native plant species in a tranquil setting.

What Are Some Popular Cultural Attractions Near Austin?

Explore the historic sites of San Antonio, such as the Alamo and the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. You can also visit the LBJ Presidential Library in nearby Stonewall or immerse yourself in Texan history at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin.

What Are Some Popular Food And Drink Options Near Austin?

Explore the culinary scene in nearby towns like Lockhart, known for its famous BBQ, or Fredericksburg, where you can enjoy German-inspired cuisine and visit local wineries. You can also find unique dining experiences in the charming towns of Wimberley or Dripping Springs, just outside of Austin.


I can honestly say there’s no shortage of amazing experiences for families seeking the best things to do near Austin, TX. 

From history-rich tours to adrenaline-pumping adventures, there’s something for everyone. 

Although each activity has its own charm, the San Antonio Alamo, Tower & River Cruise Tour stood out as our top choice. 

This immersive tour truly showcases Texas’s deep-rooted history, natural beauty, and captivating culture. 

Compared to other options, its unique blend of historical education, scenic river cruising, and stunning panoramic views make it an unforgettable family adventure. 

So, pack your bags; adventure awaits just beyond Austin’s city limits.

55 Fun Things To Do In Austin With Kids (2024)

Austin Texas is an AMAZING city that’s full of sunshine, food, music, and good times. But if you’re visiting Austin with kids and looking for family-friendly activities in Austin, there are obviously some criteria you’ll have in place. You’ll want the adventures to be age appropriate (duh), most likely ending earlier in the day, and activities that will hold your kids’ attention for as long as possible. Here are 55 crazy fun things to do in Austin with kids! 

Almost any time of year is a good time to visit Austin with kids. Summer is obviously one of the most popular times for families to take vacations, but if you can swing a fall or winter trip, the cold weather months are actually a great time to visit Austin. Why? It’s less expensive and less crowded!   

Regardless of when you choose to plan your family trip to Austin, these kid-friendly Austin activities will help get you started in planning an unforgettable vacation. 

And if you need summer ideas in Austin, here's my Austin summer bucket list . It's absolutely packed with fun activities to do with kids in the hot Austin summers!

55 Fun Things To Do In Austin With Kids

Things To Do In Austin With Kids

1. See The Congress Bridge Bats

How to see the bats in Austin

The largest urban bat colony in the world resides right here in Austin Texas, and every evening at dusk you can watch 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerge for their nightly feeding!

Kids love to watch this (because bats are so cool!) and it’s a fun, family-friendly activity to do in Austin because it’s also really fun for adults. Note that this only happens in the summer months, from late March-early October. 

Austin Bats

It’s really fun to get some tacos at Veracruz All Natural (there’s a walk-up window at The Line hotel, which is next to the Congress Avenue bridge) and enjoy tacos and queso for dinner while you wait for the bats to come out of their hiding spot and watch the sunset.

If you're looking for more details on exactly how to see the Austin bats, read this.

WEBSITE | 132 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

2. Visit a Dripping Springs Brewery (+ Playground!)

things to do with kids in Austin

There’s a certain brewery culture in Austin, Texas: most of the craft breweries in Dripping Springs (a short 20-minute drive from Austin) have massive properties with playscapes and plenty of open space for kids to run around.

The adults can enjoy a delicious glass of craft beer in the Texas Hill Country, the kids can enjoy a fun play space, and everyone can eat pizza or burgers or bbq.

Best Breweries In Austin

Here’s a map of all of the breweries in Dripping Springs that have playgrounds , but if you’re new to the area, Jester King is one of the most award-winningest breweries in the country. 

WEBSITE | 13187 Fitzhugh Rd, Austin, TX 78736

3. Go To The Bob Bullock Museum

Best museums in Austin Texas

Yes, it’s a museum…but it’s actually really fun! The Bob Bullock Museum is in central Austin (adjacent to The University of Texas) and it tells the story of Texas. They have a WWII airplane, a miniature version of the Alamo, and all sorts of artifacts from Texas’s history.

And there’s an IMAX theater, which is always a kid-favorite thing to do in Austin. Be sure to stop at the gift shop for some Austin souvenirs!

WEBSITE |  1800 Congress Ave., Austin, TX 78701

Related: 21 Epic Day Trips From Austin With Kids

4. Kayak in Lady Bird Lake

Go Kayaking in Austin | Things to do in Austin with kids

The central body of water in Austin is called Lady Bird Lake, and it’s constantly busy with kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, and cruise boats going up and down the river to see the bats at the Congress bridge.

(And yes, you can even kayak in Austin in the winter months! ) If you’re visiting Austin with kids, renting a couple of double kayaks is a really fun thing to do in Austin with kids on this super hot days we get here.

The Rowing Dock is a great place to rent kayaks and canoes. They have a free parking lot, and you can rent kayaks, canoes, SUPs, and pedal kayaks by the hour or by the day. 

WEBSITE | 2418 Stratford Dr, Austin, TX 78746

5. Kids Rock Climbing at Crux Climbing Center

Crux Climbing Center | Things to do in Austin with kids

Crux Climbing Center has a kid-friendly rock climbing wall in Austin .

It's very safe and secluded from the rest of the gym. It’s actually a completely separate room that's just for kids.

You can get a day pass at Crux and visit with your kids and enjoy a few hours of activity. Psst: this is a great thing to do with kids in Austin on a rainy day!

WEBSITE |121 Pickle Rd #100, Austin, TX 78704 

6. Go On A Walk Around The Lake

Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk

Don’t feel like renting a kayak or a canoe? Just go on a walk around the lake! The Hike & Bike Trail is a totally customizable trail. I've enjoyed many beautiful mornings and afternoons with my little ones just wandering around the lake, biking on the trail , or enjoying a quiet stroller walk. 

You can park underneath the Mopac Bridge or in the parking lot at Auditorium Shores and walk pretty much any length between ½ a mile and 10 miles, depending on which bridge you use to cross the water and make your own loop.

The trail around Lady Bird Lake offers a beautiful view of the Austin skyline, and it’s a fun, popular place to spend time in Austin on the weekends. You can even rent bikes and bike around the trail! 

650 W Riverside Dr

7. Eat Some Austin BBQ


Listen: if you’re going to visit Austin with your family, you absolutely must check out one of our iconic barbecue restaurants!

Getting some BBQ is a great kid-friendly thing to do in Austin because, quite frankly, it's just delicious for all ages.

From legendary spots like La Barbecue and Franklin to newcomers like LeRoy and Lewis and Interstellar, there are so many amazing places to get some Texas brisket, pork ribs, and delicious sides like mac n cheese, slaw, and banana pudding. Check out the best bbq restaurants in Austin here.

WEBSITE | 900 E 11th St, Austin, TX 78702

8. Pinballz

This old-school arcade in Austin is always a winner with groups of kids! There are actually a few locations now, but the original arcade in central Austin is definitely where it’s at.

You can do this on a hot summer afternoon when you need some air conditioning, or on a colder winter day when you need some indoor activities to do with kids in Austin. 

WEBSITE | Original Pinballz, 8940 Research Blvd

9. Go to the Alliance Children's Garden

Things To Do In Austin With Kids

If you’re looking for FREE things to do in Austin with kids, the Alliance Children’s Garden is one of our crown jewels! It’s a beautiful playground and park near downtown, and it’s seriously so cool. 

Alliance Childrens Garden

It has turf-covered mounds (the “hill country”), super fun cement slides, a sand pit, all sorts of cool climbing walls, and lots of swings. It’s next to the Liz Carpenter splash pad, so if you’re in Austin on a hot summer day you can bring a change of clothes and let the kids run through the fountains. 

WEBSITE |1000 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704

10. Visit Rodeo Austin (March)

Rodeo Austin

Rodeo Austin occurs every single March! It happens during spring break, so it’s a great kid-friendly Austin activity to do while school is out.

It has live music with world-renowned artists, a competition, an epic carnival and fair, and lots of food. Both the carnival/fair and the rodeo portion are both very fun for kids of all ages! 

WEBSITE | 9100 Decker Lake Rd, Austin, TX 78724

11. Go to ACL Festival (October)

Things To Do In Austin With Kids

If you’re in Austin during the month of October, Austin City Limits Music Festival is a must-do with kids! It’s actually free for kids 8 & under if they go with an adult with a wristband. If you're going this year, here are my top 10 tips for ACL Fest.

Of course, it’s a totally different experience to do ACL with kids versus just going alone as an adult, so be sure that you’re up for treating ACL Fest as a family affair.

But if you decide to take the kids, there’s the Austin Kiddie Limits portion of the festival with kid-friendly performances, food, and other activities. 

WEBSITE | 2207 Lou Neff Rd, Austin, TX 78746

12. Jump In Barton Springs

Things To Do In Austin With Kids

This is one of the BEST things to do in Austin with kids! Barton Springs is one of our incredible local swimming holes . It's a 3-acre pool in south Austin that’s naturally spring-fed, so it remains 68 degrees year-round.

It feels amazing to jump into that cold water on a hot summer day in Austin. Admission is very inexpensive (even free if you go super early in the morning) and there’s a very shallow area where young ones can walk around, as well as a much deeper area where big kids can jump in and swim.

When you’re done, head down the road and get bbq at Terry Black’s on Barton Springs Rd. 

WEBSITE | Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704

13. Jump In Deep Eddy Pool

If you’re in Austin with very young kids , Deep Eddy is a better alternative to Barton Springs. And if you want even more ideas, here are 15 of the best Austin swimming holes.  

Deep Eddy has a beach-style entry on one side, and it’s a cement-lined swimming pool (Barton Springs has a dirt/rock floor with some plants growing from it’s very slippery in certain spots) and Deep Eddy is just a bit easier for families with babies/toddlers.

Just like Barton Springs, it’s spring-fed and stays nice and cold all year round! After you swim, be sure to stop at Pool Burger (it’s just across the parking lot - you can walk there from the pool) to grab some burgers and fries, and cocktails for lunch. 

WEBSITE | 401 Deep Eddy Ave, Austin, TX 78703

14. Visit Another Austin Swimming Hole

jacob's well

When it comes to swimming holes in Austin, you will never go wrong with anything on this list . These splashy swimming holes provide a great way to cool off here in Austin, thanks to Mother Nature.

Visit one of the top swimming holes in (and near Austin), you can escape the summer heat. Check out gems in Austin like the magnificent Blue Hole, which is just outside of Wimberley, 45 minutes south of Austin.

And of course, the Barton Creek Greenbelt's Twin Falls and Sculpture Falls sections (which are kept as local secrets).

Of course, Barton Springs and Deep Eddy (mentioned earlier) are always fun, but if they’re a bit crowded, branch out a bit!

WEBSITE | 1601 Spyglass Dr

15. Watch Some Improv at Hideout Kids

You and your kids will both adore the wonderful improv shows that Hideout Kids has to offer!

The Family Maestro, which has been performing for both children and adults for 27 years (it's the longest-running Maestro in the WORLD!) with actual children performing alongside the adults. It’s funny and interactive and a wonderful way to spend the afternoon with your kids in Austin. 

WEBSITE | 617 Congress Ave., Austin, TX 78701

16. Zilker Botanical Garden

Austin Activities For Babies

Zilker Botanical Garden is located within Zilker Metropolitan Park in the center of downtown Austin…that’s why it’s sometimes called “the jewel in the heart of Austin”.

It’s a really beautiful garden, and if you enjoy visiting Botanical gardens in various cities around the country, be sure to check this one off your list! Visit the Taniguchi Japanese Garden, Riparian Streambed, and the stunning Rose Garden.

All of these gardens are also connected by streams, waterfalls, and ponds filled with lots of Koi...it’s a great place for kids to release some energy and run around for a bit.

WEBSITE | 2220 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78746

17. Visit The Thinkery

Visit The Thinkery | Things to do in Austin with kids

Families always enjoy learning and laughing together at Austin's interactive children's museum, The Thinkery. Located across the street from Mueller Lake Park , it’s known as a place where scientists and families can interact together.

There’s never a shortage of enjoyable and interesting indoor and outdoor activities, hands-on play, and special exhibits for your children here. 

Before you visit, check their website for any updates; The Thinkery frequently changes its permanent exhibitions, all of which are created for hands-on learning.

Learn more about fluid mechanics and the relationships between water and sound at Currents' interactive water activity stations, or engage your kids to maintain a healthy living at Fresh! Farmers' Market! If you want to explore the beauty and effects of colors, light, and shadows, go with Light Lab.

There’s also a super fun outdoor playground where your kids can play in a small stream with stones or climb around on the custom-designed playscape. 

WEBSITE | 1830 Simond Ave, Austin, TX 78723

18. Spend A Morning At An Austin playground

Austin playground | Things to do in Austin with kids

There are dozens of playgrounds in Austin where your family can bring picnic blankets and your favorite breakfast/lunch tacos, coffee, burgers, or sandwiches. From Round Rock all the way down to Circle C, there are incredible public parks in Austin.

One of the newest favorites of locals is the EPIC two-acre Alliance Children’s Garden with a playground area boasting fun and exciting giant rope playscape, climbing walls, cement slides, a “hill country” garden with tunnels, and much more!

But this playground often gets really crowded, especially on weekends. If you’d prefer a more peaceful and less crowded park, check out this list of fun playgrounds in Austin .

One great option? Go to the Roy G. Guerrero playground. This park has giant green space, a fenced-in playground area, and lots of free parking. Whichever location you choose, visiting a playground in Austin is one of the best things to do with toddlers and young kids. And it’s free! 

WEBSITE | 1000 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704

Related:  The Best Playgrounds In Austin (With Parking Info!)

19. Take a trip to Waterloo Greenway

Best Breakfast Spots In North Austin

Waterloo Greenway is a new and BEAUTIFUL public park in Austin, consisting of walking and biking trails, playscapes, open green spaces, and a flowing creek.

Cement slide at Waterloo Park

Your kiddos will definitely love the wide variety of natural and cultural areas that they’ll find throughout the Waterloo Greenway, from butterfly gardens and winding paths to the creek that connects them.

WEBSITE | 1111 Red River St, Austin, TX 78701

20. Go Out For Pizza at Homeslice

home slice pizza

Homeslice is a pizza restaurant in SoCo that offers some of the best New York-style pizza in Austin. It’s kind of iconic, and it’s definitely a very kid-friendly thing to do in Austin.

Both the SOCO location and the north location have a spacious patio in the backyard and indoor seating. Their New York-style pizza has a crisp, stone-baked crust and it’s served in giant slices that are so big that diners usually fold them down the middle so they can eat it...in the typical NY-style way.

Worth note: the SOCO location is much more iconic, but the North location has an outdoor playscape, which is great if you’ve looking for a kid-friendly Austin restaurant experience. 

WEBSITE | 501 E 53rd St, Austin, TX 78751

21. Take them to Laguna Gloria for the Afternoon

The Contemporary Austin

This is such a gem and one of the best things to do in Austin with kids if you want to get away from the crowded, touristy areas! Although it's only five miles to downtown, visiting The Modern Austin - Laguna Gloria truly makes you feel as though you’ve left the hustle and bustle of the city behind.

The 0.4-mile out-and-back trail is fun, especially if you’re lucky enough to visit on a cool, sunny afternoon.

Laguna Gloria is perfect for outdoor activities that kids love like bird-watching, hiking, and walking. If your kids are old enough to run around a bit on their own, you can rest here on a bench, look out over the water, and just feel the calming surroundings.

Bonus: it’s free to enter all day Thursdays if you don't want to pay an entrance fee!

WEBSITE | 3809 W 35th St, Austin, TX 78703

22. Peter Pan Mini Golf

Peter Pan Mini Golf is a famous spot in Austin where you can see a giant T-Rex that’s watching over Lamar and Barton Springs. The park has developed a reputation as an excellent spot for families and kids of all ages to enjoy a very Austin-y day!

It’s one of those “keep Austin weird” types of spots. Also, if you want a private golf course for your family, you can rent their East Course for two hours. After you’re done eating, walk down the street to Terry Black’s for some Austin bbq. 

WEBSITE | 1207 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704

23. Eat at Kid-Friendly Austin Restaurants

Sour Duck Market

One of the best things about Austin? There are tons of kid-friendly restaurants to choose from . But it can be really hard sometimes to decide where to go (especially when your kids are already hungry and having a tantrum.)

Here are some of our top choices: Sour Duck Market , which offers a huge outdoor area and incredibly distinctive farm-to-table Austin cuisine. Another one is Patrizi's , a family-run food truck that serves some of the city's best homemade pasta and is located in a spacious area where kids can play.

Also, you can’t go wrong with Easy Tiger East since there’s a big open, grassy area there, along with several picnic tables that are shaded and a ton of yard activities like big Jenga, cornhole, and ping pong, plus some of the tastiest food menu for kids…and an awesome list of craft beers for you! 

Or just use this guide + map to the best kid-friendly restaurants in Austin to find one near you.

WEBSITE | 1814 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Austin, TX 78702

24. Austin Duck Adventures

Start your day with Austin Duck Adventures! You’ll start at the Austin Visitor Center before boarding the amphibious bus, which takes you around Austin.

You’ll get a chance to have a 75-minute sightseeing experience, which includes Lake Austin, the Governor's Mansion, Historic Sixth Street, and the State Capitol.

Tickets for kids start at $25.50 (children under 2 are free) and go up to $39.50 for adults, with some discounts offered to students, seniors, and members of the armed forces.

WEBSITE | 602 E 4th St, Austin, TX 78701

25. Inner Space Cavern

Inner Space Cavern | things to do in Austin with kids

Inner Space Cavern is the best-preserved cave to explore in Texas! It’s also one of the most comfortable caves to explore, with easy-to-see pathways and a constant temperature of 72 degrees (keep in mind that it can sometimes feel like 80 degrees with the humidity).

It was hidden for more than 10,000 years, but it was found by a core drilling team from the Texas Highway Department.

It’s actually only been public since 1966! But since then, tens of thousands of people have walked through this cave. The cave features stunning formations, spacious halls, and prehistoric animal bones.

Note: it’s not good for strollers, so plan this Austin kid activity for little ones who can walk on their own.  

WEBSITE | 4200 S I-35 Frontage Rd, Georgetown, TX 78626

26. Get Tickets To The Austin Zoo

Austin Zoo

Since Austin Zoo is a non-profit zoo, its main goal is to help animals in need via conservation, education, and rescue.

Austin Zoo is located pretty far out in the hill country (pair this trip with a visit to a Hill Country brewery + playground! ) where you and your kids can visit to learn about animals up close, spend some time outdoors with cute animals, and have fun.

Be aware that at some times not all species are placed in their designated areas since the well-being of these rescued animals is the top priority of the Austin Zoo management.

WEBSITE | 10808 Rawhide Trail, Austin, TX 78736

27. Watch a Round Rock Express Baseball Game

The Round Rock Express is the Triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers and a Minor League Baseball team in the Pacific Coast League.

They have their home games at the Dell Diamond in Round Rock, Texas. These games are typically about three hours long…but you can leave at any time, which is the beauty of bringing kids to a baseball game.

However, on some nights, after the game, there’s a gorgeous fireworks displays and live music, so do some research before you get your tickets to see if it’s a firework game. 

WEBSITE | 3400 E Palm Valley Blvd, Round Rock, TX 78665

28. Kalahari Waterpark

Kalahari Waterpark

One of the world’s biggest indoor waterparks is Kalahari Waterpark, located in Round Rock, TX. This 223,000-square-foot indoor waterpark is jam-packed with family-friendly entertainment. A wave pool, an adult swim-up bar, private cabanas, a waterfall, and a kiddie pool area are among the 30 waterslides, 20 pools, and available whirlpools.

There are plenty of other fun things to do here with your children, including Tom Foolery's Adventure Park and Themed Adventure Escape Rooms where your family can enjoy the difficulties of each room and try the puzzles.

Kalahari has multiple restaurants and eateries, including a pizza restaurant that’s located inside the waterpark. If you stay overnight at the resort, you get free waterpark admission on both your check-in day and your check-out day!

WEBSITE | 3001 Kalahari Blvd, Round Rock, TX 78665

29. Pikopye’s Town

Pikopye's Town | Things to do in Austin with kids

Pikopye's Town is the most darling imaginative indoor play "town" in South Austin and Lakeway. Your little ones can gather here to play and imagine a child-size town that has an immersive play experience with a restaurant, hair salon, car repair shop, bakery, and so much more.

Parents can unwind, work, and enjoy refreshments. Another fun perk to this place is both the store and play area have eco-friendly and non-toxic toys (so you don’t need to worry about your babies/toddler chewing on the toys.) 

There are also options for semi-private or private play here. Throughout the day, time slots can be allocated for two-hour sessions...and they book out really early, so make those reservations far in advance!

The toys are cleaned and sanitized before they’re put back in their spaces for the next session. They also offer a lot of healthy snacks here to choose from (plus coffee and nitro cold brew!!)

WEBSITE | 2919 Menchaca Rd Suite 205, Austin, TX 78704

30. Ride The Cedar Rock Railroad

Cedar Park Railroad | Things To do In Austin With Kids

The wonderful quarter-scale Cedar Rock Railroad transports passengers on a very fun 1.4-mile train ride through the park's lush fields and woods. It’s suited for all ages and will definitely give you a memorable experience! It is located approximately north of FM 1431 on County Road 175 (Sam Bass Rd. ), so just a bit north of Austin

If you want to have a birthday party or private activity with your family, you can book a private trip with them! It’s a fun way of throwing any kind of celebration, or even just a simple day of family bonding.

WEBSITE | 390 Borho, Leander, TX 78641

31. Shop and Story Time At Bookpeople

BookPeople kids area

Bookpeople is the biggest independent bookshop in Texas that has been a mainstay of Austin since 1970.

Local Austinites absolutely adore this shop, and it’s a popular place for authors to do book signings on national tours. The store features two stories full of books, magazines, and fun little souvenirs and presents.

There’s a kid's section upstairs with a beautifully curated selection of children's literature. They even do storytime at the BookKids amphitheater upstairs!

WEBSITE | 603 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

32. Take Them To A Restaurant With A Playground

Austin restaurant with a playground | Things to do in Austin with kids

It might be challenging to eat out with young children if the restaurant atmosphere isn't kid-friendly. On certain days, we just want to let the kids go crazy while we *actually* get to enjoy a leisurely meal outside. One of the best parts about living in Austin with kids is the abundance of awesome Austin restaurants with playgrounds! There are sooo many restaurants in Austin that offer unique playgrounds that kids will enjoy, plus yummy food like burgers, fries, pizza, and Tex-Mex cuisine.

Be sure to try Garbo’s, Hat Creek Burger, Central Market, or Whole Foods Domain or Downtown. 

WEBSITE | 4001 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78756

33. Family-Friendly show at ZACH theater

Things To Do In Austin With Kids

ZACH is a nonprofit company that provides intimate theatrical experiences to spark the imagination, uplift the soul, and involve the neighborhood.  It’s a professional producing theater with over 250 performers, musicians, and designers that create and present a diverse show and a lot of family-friendly shows, plays, and musicals. 

Check out their Family Series for totally kid-friendly productions. These shows are shorter than their Mainstay Series, so little ones won’t get too fidgety. And they’re fun and engaging for all ages. Definitely a bucket list of items for things to do in Austin with kids. 

WEBSITE | 202 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

34. See a Movie at Alamo Drafthouse

Alamo Drafthouse | Things to do in Austin with kids

Seeing a movie at Alamo Drafthouse is the perfect summer activity for kids in Austin! These movie theaters are located all over Austin (and beyond!) and have really comfy chairs, a yummy food menu that’s delivered straight to you during the menu, and local craft beer for the adults.

Alamo even offers special age-friendly showings (look for those when you're buying your tickets) the tallow for kids to be noisy in the theater.

And they offer special $5 movie showings every summer on select days so that everyone can create memories at the theater with their family. Because those movie tickets add up when you're purchasing for a whole family!

Make sure to check their sites to know the list of movie shows and schedules. 

WEBSITE | 1120 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

35. Climb to the Top of Mount Bonnell

Sunset at Mount Bonnell in Austin

Mount Bonnell is Austin's tallest “mountain” (ok, not really a mountain…but this is Texas so we’re going to call it a mountain) and it’s an excellent place to take the kids in Austin. It's one of the most beautiful hiking spots in Austin. 

Climb stairs for about 5 minutes and you’ll reach the top, which offers breathtaking views of the Colorado River.

It can get a little crowded during peak hours because this is a very popular spot for tourists in Austin.

Also, keep in mind that if you’re climbing Mount Bonnell with very little ones (toddlers and young kids), 

WEBSITE | 3800 Mount Bonnell Rd; Austin, Texas 78731

Related:  A Map Of Where To Watch The Sunset In Austin

36. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Wildflower Center | Things to do in Austin with kids

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, located in south Austin but owned by The University of Texas at Austin, is a wonderful place for kids of all ages to explore.

The botanical garden features more than 900 species of native Texas plants in both garden and natural settings and is home to a breadth of educational programs and events.

For children who are interested in learning about nature and the outdoors, the Wildflower Center offers youth classes and events.

Their informal weekly "nature play" activities, summer camps, and formal classes are all part of their environmental education.

Whether you get tickets to visit on your own on a sunny Austin afternoon or you participate in some of their children's programming, the Wildflower Center is definitely going to become one of your favorite things to do in Austin with kids. 

WEBSITE | 4801 La Crosse Ave, Austin, TX 78739

37. Go Hiking at Enchanted Rock

Enchanted Rock is a must-do bucket list item for families in Austin. The route is lovely to explore at any time of the year (and it’s open all year!) Note that it’s a little bit of a drive from Austin, but once you get there, the average hiking time at Enchanted Rock is 49 minutes. So it’s not too long of a hike. Simple paths like Frontside Trail and Interpretive Loop are great for kids. 

Enchanted Rock is a very popular place to visit in Austin with kids, so be prepared to run into lots of other people while exploring.

WEBSITE | Austin, TX 78726

38. Horseback Riding

Do your kids enjoy riding horses? One of the most enjoyable kids' activities in Austin is definitely horseback riding! Maverick Horseback Riding features lessons, trail rides, and more. They even have a children’s intro to horsemanship class! 

WEBSITE | 5766 Balcones Drive Austin, TX 78731

39. Say Hi to the Peacocks at Mayfield Preserve

Things To Do In Austin With Kids

Explore the Mayfield Preserve park and its surroundings to meet their beautiful peacocks freely roaming around the area.

Leisurely trek to Lake Austin and enjoy a view of the water. If you want to bring food or drinks, there are covered picnic tables here. Bring the kiddos, take a hike, and enjoy your meal while viewing the fascinating peacocks. This is a great FREE thing to do in Austin. 

WEBSITE | 3505 W 35th St, Austin, TX 78703

40. Museum of Ice Cream

The Museum of Ice Cream (that giant pink building located at the Domain NORTHSIDE in north Austin) is a must-do activity for your kids in Austin! It’s a multi-sensory experience that’s all about ICE CREAM! Eating it, playing with it, learning about its history, and so much more.

Not to be missed: the enormous pool with lots of huge sprinkles, a diving board, and a slide. 

Of course, you can’t visit the Museum of Ice Cream without eating some ice cream! They have tons of ice cream flavors throughout the experience, and it’s always an unforgettable experience for your kids in Austin. 

WEBSITE | 11506 Century Oaks Terrace #128, Austin, TX 78758

41. Austin Nature & Science Center

austin nature and science center

A visit to the Austin Nature & Science Center is a must if your kids love exploring the great outdoors. Bonus: this place is completely FREE!

The ANSC is devoted to the study of the natural environment and it’s located on the western edge of Zilker Park. It’s great for a morning of fun leisure activities and interactive educational exhibits. If you care about raising children who have an understanding and love for the environment, this place is for you.

WEBSITE | 2389 Stratford Dr, Austin, TX 78746

42. Indoor Skydiving at iFly

At iFly Austin, you can let your kids experience how the free fall feels!  Without a parachute or an airplane, kids can actually safely experience the thrill of skydiving.

You can "fly" indoors thanks to the vertical wind tunnel that lifts you. They’ll figure out how to float in the air after just a few "flights," and they’ll be able to move independently. (It’s very fun to watch.)

Of course, a trainer is on-site to assist your children if they need it. This is a fun, CRAZY experience to have in Austin and kids absolutely love it. 

WEBSITE | 13265 US-183 Hwy Suite A, Austin, TX 78750

43. Drive to Sweet Eats Fruit Farm

Things to do in Austin with kids

A visit to Sweet Eats Fruit Farm, located in Georgetown (30 min north of Austin) is an excellent thing to do near Austin with kids.

It's a terrific spot for families because there are so many family-friendly activities here! Horseback rides, zip lines, pumpkin toss slingshots, hay rides, a petting zoo, etc., all of which are appropriate for all ages. In the spring and summer, you can pick your own fruit (paying only for what you take). 

It’s a great spot to visit year-round! Events include the Fall Festival, Christmas Festival, Sunflower Festival, Easter Egg Hunts, plus other non-holiday events.

WEBSITE | 14400 E State Hwy 29, Georgetown, TX 78626

Related:  Autumn Bucket List: 15 Fun Fall Activities in Austin

44. Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum

Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum is a beautiful sculpture garden in the middle of Austin. The American sculptor Charles Umlauf's artistic creations are the focus of this museum and outdoor sculpture garden.

If you’re looking for things to do in Austin for slightly older children, Umlauf could be an excellent option. (It’s not quite as carefree as something like the Nature and Science Center where you can just let the kids run around and go crazy.)

However, Umaluf does do a good job of trying to make this experience as kid-friendly as possible.

For instance, kids 12 & under are free, and they offer storytime for little ones. Also, all of the statues are lightly waxed in case the kids want to (gently) touch them. 

WEBSITE | 605 Azie Morton Rd, Austin, TX 78704,

45. See A Drive-In Movie at Blue Starlite

This is such a fun thing to do in Austin with kids! A drive-in movie theater experience is incredibly fun (compared to today's traditional theaters) because it’s a very different experience.

Blue Starlite Drive-in is the first and only little urban drive-in in the world! It’s where independent movies, cult classics, and family favorites are shown on a big screen.

This is not your average mega-sized drive-in theater; instead, it offers a cozy, Austin-inspired atmosphere with only 15 to 20 parking spaces. This is definitely an Austin summer activity you’ll want to do again and again. 

WEBSITE | 2015 E M. Franklin Ave, Austin, TX 78723

46. Big Top Candy Shop on South Congress

big top candy shop

One thing’s for sure: every kid loves candy… who can resist??

One of the BEST things to do on South Congress with kids is to bring them to the historic Big Top Candy Shop.

Let them enjoy the vintage soda fountain and indulge in the 300+ varieties of bulk candy and 2,000+ varieties of wrapped candy being offered in the shop.

WEBSITE | 1706 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

47. Hike to Twin Falls and Go Swimming

Things To Do In Austin With Kids

If your kids love adventure and water, this needs to be on your list!

Twin Falls is a swimming hole in the Barton Creek Greenbelt. If you park at Barton Creek Greenbelt Trailhead at Mopac and 360, it’s just about a ½ mile (downhill) hike to get there.

Keep in mind that the water is typically flowing and lovely in the late spring/early summer months, but it can be completely dried up in the late summer/fall months.

48. Get Ice Cream at Amy’s

amy's ice creams

Iconic Austin kid-friendly activity here! Amy's Ice Cream serves mouth-watering homemade ice creams, and they’ve been an Austin staple since 1984.

Currently, they have over 13 branches in Austin, one of which is at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport! Kids love it for all of the flavors and mix-ins (there are thousands and thousands of variations available.)

Try Amy's famous Mexican Vanilla ice cream (it tastes like cake batter) and add your favorite candy cookie or fruit to any more than 350 flavors! 

WEBSITE | 1301 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

49. Mt Playmore

Mt Playmore

This is the largest playscape in Texas! A playground is always a great spot to take the kids, but on the hottest and coldest days of the year, you might want an indoor option.

Mt Playmore is the perfect thing to do in Austin with kids. They have a HUGE "Texas-sized" playground, a toddler room, a kid-friendly restaurant, and even an arcade.

If you need things to do with kids in Austin on a rainy day, Mt Playmore is for you.  { Photo: Mt Playmore }

WEBSITE | 13609 N Interstate Hwy 35, Austin, TX 78753

50. visit A Coffee Shops With A Play Space

Brentwood Social House

Yep, Austin has a bunch of amazing coffee shops with playgrounds or indoor play spaces! Here's a map of them so you can find one near you.

If you're both exhausted and , head to one of these cute coffee shops where you can treat yourself to an iced latte while the little ones run around.

51. Chaparral Ice

Ice skating is a super fun thing to do in Austin with kids!

Chaparral Ice is one of the best family-run ice rinks in Austin, offering hockey and figure skating lessons as well as party packages for all age groups.

WEBSITE | 2525 W Anderson Ln. #400, Austin, TX 78757

52. Bowling at Highland Lanes

Bowling in Austin

Highland Lanes is a terrific place to have a good time with your kiddos in Austin.

If you’re visiting with your kids, they offer pumpers, small bowling balls, and even “ramps” for the really young ones who aren’t big enough to roll the bowling ball down the lane. 

WEBSITE | 8909 Burnet Rd, Austin, TX 78757

53. Blazer Tag

South Austin is home to the locally owned and family-managed entertainment venue Blazer Tag.

It’s the biggest laser tag arena in Texas, as well as a fully equipped arcade with more than 60 games, including both old favorites and brand-new favorites.

Of course, it can’t be a kid-friendly activity in Austin without pizza…so yes, you can order your typical event-space pies here. 

WEBSITE | 1701 W Ben White Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

54. Bumper Cars at Epic Fun

Epic Fun is a multi-attraction amusement complex, located in Southwest Austin. Kids absolutely love the arcade games, bumper cars, ropes course, laser tag, bowling, and more!

They have a restaurant on-site with standard kid-friendly food, so you can make a full day of hanging out at Epic Fun.  

WEBSITE | 7101 W, State Hwy 71 Suite D, Austin, TX 78735

55. Central Austin Library

The Coolest Libraries in Austin

Want to check out one of the best FREE things to do in Austin? Visit the Austin public library!

We’re lucky to have an incredible central library (that’s been called one of the World’s 100 Greatest Places by Time Magazine.) You can spend a full morning climbing the floating staircases, exploring the children’s wing, walking on the rooftop butterfly garden, and even eating in the indoor library cafe.

There are story times, thousands of kids' books, and even an outdoor screened-in children’s porch.

WEBSITE | 710 W Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78701

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Enchanting Texas

31 Best Things to do in Austin, Texas

Planning a trip to the Lone Star State Capital and looking for the best things to do in Austin, Texas?

Read our epic list of Austin attractions from the Texas Capitol and University of Texas campus to live music venues on Rainey Street and the beautiful Lake Travis.

Austin is the state capital of Texas.

The city is located on the banks of the Colorado river in the Texas Hill Country.

Austin, Texas downtown skyline views over the Colorado River

Austin, TX is famous for many things: its amazing live music scene, swimming holes such as the Deep Eddy Pool, and delicious cuisine!

And of course, the ‘Keep Austin Weird’ slogan!

Read More: 25 Famous Quotes about Austin, Texas

Austin is also home to the University of Texas and several tech companies like Apple, Amazon, Google, Adobe, and Oracle.

It is often nicknamed ‘Silicon Hills’ because of the presence of these giants. 

Related Austin City Guide & Posts Perfect Weekend in Austin Itinerary 32 Best Day Trips from Austin Austin to Big Bend National Park Road Trip Guide

Because of the university and the tech sector, you will find a young population and vibrant nightlife in Austin, TX.

You can listen to country music, blues, and rock or visit a comedy club.

There are also many clubs and pubs in the city and events like Halloween, New Year’s Eve, St Patrick’s Day are celebrated with great parties. 

Austin’s location also makes it popular with outdoor explorers.

The city is located near many state parks and lakes – these are popular for hiking, biking, swimming, and even boating.

Plus the many parks within the city – a result of Austin’s green space initiative – are perfect for picnics and biking.

Also Read: 21 Best Road Trips from Austin, Texas

Austin is one of the best cities to visit in Texas

Where to stay in Austin

Austin is pretty unique.

Its different neighborhoods have different identities.

Rainey Street is generally raucous and best if avoided for families.

However, if you are in the city to celebrate a birthday or just party with your friends, then definitely stay here!  

Families can stay in Downtown Austin or in East Austin to stay closer to the attractions and walk everywhere.

South Congress Avenue is another vibrant neighborhood that has good hotels and is safe and family-friendly. 

You can also stay close to the airport while you visit Austin to remain within budget and get perks like free parking.

Best Things to do in Austin

Funky Austin is definitely one of the best cities to visit in Texas .

It has the perfect blend of historic and cultural attractions, a vibrant urban scene, as well as romantic places that make for perfect date nights in Austin !

Here is our list of favorite fun things to do in Austin, TX:

Watch the bats fly at Congress Avenue Bridge 

The Congress Avenue Bridge bats are easily the #1 tourist activity in Austin!

Few people know that the city is home to the largest migratory Mexican free-tailed bat colony in the world.

This is also the largest urban bat colony in North America.

The Mexican free-tailed bats spend winter in Mexico and summer in Austin.

Crowds gather to watch the bat flight at Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin

From March to October, nearly one and a half million bats emerge at dusk from under the Congress Bridge.

They usually start to emerge about 20 minutes before sunset and fly eastward toward Lady Bird Lake. 

The walkway on the east side of the Congress Avenue Bridge offers the best vantage point for watching the bats.

You can also watch from the hillside under the bridge.

Watching the bats emerge from under the bridge is a memorable experience and a long standing Austin tradition.

The fluttering bats darken the sky and seem to block all light when they emerge and are amazing to see.

Also Read: Best Places to see Bats in Texas

Take a tour of the Texas State Capitol in Central Austin

The Texas Capitol is a striking building and one of the must-see attractions when visiting Austin.

The Capitol building is recognized as a National Historic Landmark.

The Capitol is both a patriotic and picturesque site and we recommend it for every Texan.  

Texas state capitol building in Austin is a must visit attraction

It is built from red granite which comes from Granite Mountain near Marble Falls in the Texas Hill Country.

Built-in Italian Renaissance Revival style of architecture, the building is famous for its iconic dome.

Visitors can tour the capitol building and learn about the rich architecture, history, and stories of Texas from friendly knowledgeable guides.

The free tours generally last about a half-hour.

The tours take visitors up four flights of marble stairs to the beautiful dome. 

The Capitol grounds are beautifully landscaped and spread over an area of 22 acres.

There are over 17 amazing sculptures and monuments on the premises.

The Capitol is open to the public every day except for major holidays. 

The domes interior of Texas State Capitol in Austin

You can also stop at the Visitor Center and gift shop or dine at the Capitol Grill after your tour.

The Visitor Center has plenty of excellent exhibits.

We recommend keeping aside an hour to an hour and a half to see the Capitol building.

Related: 40 Best Places to Visit in Texas

Stop by the Austin Visitor Center

The Austin Visitor Center is located near the capitol building and it’s the perfect place to stop by for maps, souvenirs and photo-ops!

The Visitor Center often hosts live music performances.

The Visitor Center gift shop is full of Texas themed memorabilia, souvenirs, toys and more.

This is also the starting point for several Austin tours including downtown walking tours that offer a perfect introduction to Austin history, the hop-on hop-off tours, and Austin City Limits Studio tours.

ATX Sign in Downtown Austinis a popular photo op

Explore Rainey Street Historic District by day

Rainey Street Historic District is a street of historic homes in downtown Austin.

Most of the historic homes have now been renovated into bars, restaurants, and cafes.

We recommend exploring the street on foot during the day for families.  

Have brunch at Banger’s Sausage House and order a draft beer from their vast menu.

You can also have contemporary Mexican, French, Italian, American, and many other cuisines here.

On weekends, you will find drinks and cocktail specials throughout the street.

Rainey Street also has many food trucks – our favorites include the Happy Lobster and Masala Dhaba.

Visit the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center and look at the educational exhibits dedicated to Latino Culture as well as Latin American Art by local artists.

Walk the Tejano trail through Austin’s historically Hispanic neighborhoods including the famous East Cesar Chavez St and understand how these first neighborhoods shaped the city’s identity. 

The many activities on Rainey Street make it a popular attraction in the city.

Independence Day fireworks in Austin Texas

Party on Rainey Street at night

Rainey Street by day and by night are poles apart.

This is the city’s premier entertainment district and the nightlife here is legendary.

On a visit here, you will know why Austin is known as the live music capital of the world!

Local bands play here every week, live music spills out from cafes and night clubs, and free shows are the norm!

Travel Tip – For a nighttime treat after all the partying and drinking, stop at Little Lucy’s food truck for Mini Donuts. 

Also Read: 14 Best Things to do in Austin at night

Austin is also famous for its music festivals.

During SXSW, you will find celebs performing and enjoying themselves on the dance floor in Rainey Street.

Visiting Rainey Street on special occasions and festivals is a treat.

Halloween, New Years’ Eve, Spring break, St Patrick’s Day, Pride Week, or homecoming are some of the busiest times of the year. 

In fact, Rainey Street makes Austin one of the best spring break destinations in Texas!

6th Street in Austin is famous for its live bands bars clubs and street food

Or enjoy nightlife at Sixth Street

If you are looking for an alternative to Rainey Street, check out Sixth Street: Austin’s other nightlife hub!

This is one of the most iconic streets in Austin.

See the local bands play at The Parish or at Maggie Mae’s.  

There are many other fun things to do on Sixth Street besides the nightlife, drinking, and dancing.

The Historic Driskill Hotel is located there. This hotel has the reputation of being haunted and yet, makes a great date night!

We especially love the cowboy style decor here. 

The Wild West themed Buffalo Billiard bar is perfect to play pool, darts, or spend an evening with friends.

You belong to the Wildflowers Mural in Austin Texas

Check out the murals in the city

Austin is a city famous for its colorful murals.

The downtown area is littered with intricate works of art, each one more eye-catching than the last.

One of the most popular murals in Austin is the “Greetings from Austin” mural .

It features a vintage postcard design with iconic Austin landmarks like the Capitol building and the bat bridge.

Visitors to the city often take photos in front of the mural, and it has become one of the most Instagrammed spots in Austin.

You can also book a private tour to see all the murals in the city.

Greetings from Austin mural is one of the best things to do in the city

Attend a concert at South by Southwest 

South by Southwest or SXSW is Austin’s premier visual arts and music festival.

This is one of the best times to visit the city as a host of events take place in different locations. 

While the music and concerts are what’s talked most about, the festival actually focuses on films and movies.

That is something for everyone at the festival. 

It is an incredible and amazing experience with a vibrant atmosphere.

Crowds attending music concert in Austin Texas

You can see celebrities on the streets and listen to live performances by your favorite bands.

Lively parties are held throughout the city.

We recommend getting the tickets early If you are planning to attend the festival. 

Attend the Austin City Limits Music Festival

The Austin City Limits (ACL) Music Festival is an annual event that celebrates the best in live music.

It features a wide range of musical styles, from rock and pop to country and folk.

The festival attracts music lovers from all over the world.

Can’t make it to the festival? Attend a taping of the Austin City Limits Live TV show at Moody Theater.

This is the show that brought Austin to fame as the Live Music Capital of the world.

See the exhibits at the Blanton Museum of Art

The Blanton Museum of Art in Austin is one of the finest art museums in America.

The museum’s collection includes works by European masters such as Luca Cambiaso and Parmigianino, as well as Latin American artists and a gallery devoted to Prints and Drawings of masters such as Picasso.

The museum also has an excellent collection of modern and contemporary art comprising of sculptures, photographs, as well as paintings.

Its diverse exhibits are a favorite of art lovers.

See a Formula One race in Austin

South of the city of Austin, you will find Formula One Circuit of the Americas Raceway.

It has hosted the United States Grand Prix and is a must-visit if you are a race car enthusiast. 

Besides Formula One, many other races are held here including the IndyCar Classic, Motorcycle Grand Prix of the Americas, and Nascar. 

The Circuit of the Americas is not just a racing but also an entertainment destination.

The amphitheater is a popular outdoor concert venue.

You can find many famous bands performing here. 

The entire family can also go-kart at the racetrack. This is especially popular with the kids.

You can also see the entire circuit on a guided shuttle tour which stops at all the attractions. 

La Patisserie is right next door to the Greetings from Austin mural

Explorer SoCo and its attractions

SoCo stands for South Congress – one of Austin’s most trendiest neighborhoods.

It known for its eclectic mix of bars, restaurants, art galleries, and shops.

SoCo is also home to a number of music venues, including the the Continental Club.

Visitors to SoCo can find anything from vintage clothing to handmade jewelry to locally sourced food.

The district is also home to a number of iconic Austin institutions such as Amy’s Ice-cream.

Enjoy the beauty of the Zilker Botanical Gardens 

Located in the center of Zilker Park, Zilker Botanical Garden is one of the prettiest sites in Austin.

Spread over an area of 26 acres, the garden has a varied topography. 

Austin Texas skyline view from the trails at Zilker Park

The park is an oasis for nature lovers and very beautiful on a hot summer day.

Inside the garden, you will find many individual themed gardens such as rose gardens, cacti and succulents gardens, herb gardens, and Japanese gardens. 

The Japanese Garden has many zen features including streams, waterfalls, and Koi ponds.

Zilker Botanic Gardens are open to the public year-round and receive thousands of visitors each year. 

Walkthrough a dinosaur habitat

A special attraction of the Zilker Botanical Gardens is the Hartman Prehistoric Garden.

The garden has an interesting history. Over 100 dinosaur fossils were discovered here. 

The area surrounding the tracks was recreated as it would have been in the times of the dinosaurs: you will find giant ferns, conifers, and palms.

Waterfall in the Prehistoric Park at Zilker Botanical Garden in Austin Texas

The garden also has a lifelike sculpture of Ornithomimus, one of the dinosaurs who made the tracks. 

However, you won’t find any dinosaur tracks as they were reburied to prevent deterioration.

Kids love walking through the garden and imagining life in the era of the prehistoric beasts.

Travel Tip! Want to see real dinosaur tracks near Austin? Visit the Heritage Museum of Texas Hill Country located in Canyon Lake which is home to over 200 dinosaur footprints!

Take a dip in Barton Springs Pool

The beautiful Zilker Metropolitan Park is home to one of the best attractions in Austin, Barton Springs Pool.

This is an amazing place to spend time with friends and family on a nice sunny day.

This large pool is fed by underground natural springs and hence is always around 68 to 70 degrees warm. 

Swimming in the pool is a year round activity and quite popular with locals and visitors alike.

Barton Springs Creek swimming pool in Austin Texas is a perfect summer travel destination

The crystal clear water always looks spectacular. You can also spot colorful fish and shellfish in the pools. 

You have to pay an entry fee to use the Barton Springs Pool but it is definitely worth it.

Lifeguards are present on duty and swimming in Barton Springs pool is safe. 

Understand the history of the Lone Star State at the Bullock Museum

Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, located a few blocks north of the capitol building, is a fascinating place to visit.

Here you will find several exhibits dedicated to Texas history. 

The galleries have over four centuries of texts, photographs, and artifacts.

They tell the story of the indigenous people of Texas and European colonization to the current impact of ranching and oil & gas on the economy of Texas. 

The Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin, Texas

The abundance of artifacts, as well as interactive exhibits, also make it a favorite with kids.

You can learn more about the Republic of Texas, the Bush family, NASA space exploration, and many more facets. 

Also Read: 10 Best German Towns near Austin, Texas

Visit the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum 

LBJ Presidential Library in Austin is located close to the state capitol building.

It is on the grounds of the University of Texas Austin campus and is the Presidential Library for the 36th President of the US, Lyndon Baines Johnson. 

The museum does an amazing job of displaying the accomplishments of the President.

Here you can see a vast collection of original historic documents and artifacts.

You can also see the presidential limousine and learn about the life of Lady Bird Johnson.  

LBJ Statue

At the top floor is a replica of the Oval Office as it was during President Johnson’s times.

This is one of the best parts of the museum.

We recommend keeping aside at least 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours to see the museum and make sure that you visit the top floor. 

Take a stroll around Lady Bird Lake

Lady Bird Lake is a large reservoir in the center of the city.

It is the #1 destination for outdoor lovers.

The Ann and  Roy Butler hike and bike trail at Lady Bird Lake is a favorite with runners, joggers, bikers, and families out for a leisurely stroll. 

The Lonestar River Boat Cruise and people paddle boarding across Lady Bird Lake in Austin Texas

We especially love taking the kids out on the boardwalk for an afternoon of fun.

The boardwalk trail is 7250 feet long and has nice views of the city – you can discover all of it on a guided bike tour.

You can often spot turtles and a variety of birds from the boardwalk.

You can also find boat rentals as well as paddleboard, kayak, or canoe gear shops near the lake.

Hike up to Mount Bonnell

Mount Bonnell, located in Covert Park, is the highest point in Austin.

It is 775 feet high and has just stunning views of the area.

Long stairway up to Mount Bonnell in Austin Texas

From here you can see panoramic vistas of the city skyline, Lake Austin, and the river snaking through the city. 

Hiking up to Mount Bonnell is one of the most popular things to do in Austin.

The hike is 0.3 miles but has an elevation gain of 200 feet.

It takes about 30 minutes round trip and is of moderate difficulty.

Once you reach the top you can explore the summit and have a picnic at one of the picnic tables on top. 

This is also a very popular spot for seeing the sunset.

We definitely recommend visiting Mount Bonnell if you are looking for free fun in the city. 

Amazing views on top of mount Bonnell in Austin

See the peacocks at Mayfield Park

Mayfield Park, located close to Mount Bonnell, is a historic 23-acre estate.

The park is a lush natural paradise and is most famous for its free roaming wild peacocks.

The peacocks look the best after spring showers when they show off their beautiful feathers. 

On a stroll through the park you can see the beautifully landscaped gardens, charming stone walls, and koi ponds.

The historic cottage which served as the residence of owner Mary Mayfield Gutsch is also located on the grounds.

The park is free to the public.

Explore the waterfalls along Barton Creek Greenbelt

The Barton Creek Greenbelt runs through the heart of Austin, Texas.

The green spaces along the greenbelt offer a variety of recreational opportunities, including hiking, biking, and swimming.

You can also enjoy the beauty of waterfalls year-round at the Barton Creek Greenbelt.

Most popular are Twin Falls and Sculpture Falls located at the south end of the trail.

Have fun at the Austin Nature and Science Center 

This science museum located near zilker Park has a variety of hands-on exhibits, nature and recreation activities, education programs, and cool exhibits for kids of all ages.

The best part is that it has free admission and is a great way to spend a couple of hours in the city. 

The indoor science center has a variety of exhibits that kids can touch.

The Elisabet Ney Museum in Austin Texas has stunning architecture

The center also has a large outdoor dinosaur dig where kids can try being a paleontologist and look for dinosaur bones. 

The center also has a small zoo with a trail in the woods.

Kids can see rescued animals like bobcats, owls, and turtles here.

The Creek area is also popular and the center is a great free thing to do in Austin with kids. 

See the animals at the Austin Zoo

The Austin Zoo is a favorite with the kids.

This private zoo does an excellent job at animal conservation.

All the animals here are rescued. You can not only see the animals but also read their stories.

The zoo has a variety of animal species including big cats, monkeys, bears, tortoises, zebras, parrots, and more.

There is a reptile exhibit which has a variety of snakes.

The highlight of our visit is the free roaming peacocks. They are just beautiful to see. 

Kayaking and swimming in the clear natural spring water of Barton Creek in Austin is a popular summer activity

Visitors can ride the zoo train for an additional fee.

The zoo also has a petting section where kids can feed goats, sheep, deer, alpacas, and llamas.

This is definitely a fun way to spend time with the kids in Austin. 

See the city with Austin Duck Adventures

These are by far one of Austin’s most popular tours.

Visitors can sit in the amphibious vehicles and see downtown Austin as well as cruise the beautiful Lake Austin. 

The tour includes knowledgeable guides that share fun facts and stories about the city’s history, popular tourist attractions, and landmarks.

The most fun part of the tour is when the amphibious vehicles step off land, pack in their wheels, and float on the lake. 

Kids and families especially enjoy duck tours.

The tours are 75 minutes long and you will see all the important sites such as Historic Sixth Street, the Governor’s Mansion, the State Capitol Building, and Bullock History Museum.

Wild flowers during spring at 360 Bridge or Pennybacker Bridge in Austin Texas

Spend a day at the Texas Memorial Museum

The Texas Memorial Museum is a natural history museum located on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin.

The museum houses exhibits on the natural history of Texas, including the state’s geology, paleontology, and wildlife.

Kids can see a variety of dinosaur fossils as well as other prehistoric fossils and learn about Texas Wildlife at the museum.

Be amazed at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden

The Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum is one of Austin’s hidden gems.

Nestled in the heart of Zilker Park, the garden is home to more than 40 sculptures by noted artist Charles Umlauf.

The garden is also a popular spot for picnics, as it features a beautiful view of the city skyline.

Ride the Austin steam train 

The Auston Steam Train is a must for train lovers of all ages.

Kids especially love riding the real vintage passenger steam train and its restored cars.

While the steam engine is being restored, visitors can ride a vintage electric engine currently. 

Related: 33 Best attractions in Texas for kids

The train depot is located in Cedar Park and it operates multiple themed train rides throughout the year.

Most famous is the North Pole Flyer which operates during the holiday season and takes kids to see Santa Claus – it is one of the best holiday events for Christmas in Austin .

See the West Cave Preserve Waterfall

When it comes to the best waterfalls in Texas , a surprising number of them are located close to Austin.

Our favorite is the West Cave Preserve waterfall in Round Mountain, Texas. 

Located in southwest Travis County, about 45 minutes from Austin city center, is one of the city’s top outdoor attractions.

It makes you forget that you are in the Lone Star State and seems to belong in a tropical paradise like Hawaii. 

Here you can follow a short hike in the dense forest of old cypress trees and lush, leafy ferns.

The trail goes down a narrow canyon, follows the creek bed, and ends at a natural cave.

Inside the cave, you will find a lovely 40 foot waterfall that cascades down into the emerald green swimming hole.

The trail is 0.7 miles long and is of moderate difficulty. It is kid friendly and just beautiful.

It is definitely one of the top hidden things to do in Austin and highly recommended. 

Waterfall at McKinney Falls State Park Austin

Enjoy the nature at McKinney Falls State Park

Looking for outdoor activities near Austin?

Visit the beautiful McKinney Falls Park located within the city.

The highlight of the trip is the two waterfalls – Upper McKinney Falls and Lower McKinney Falls!

The park has plenty of hiking trails for all difficulty levels.

The park is also popular for birding, Wildlife watching, historic sites, and wildflowers during spring.

Also Read: 17 Best State Parks near Austin, Texas to Visit Now

See the Texas bluebonnets in the Hill Country

Austin makes the perfect base to go on a Texas bluebonnet road trip around the Hill Country.

Several small town such as Llano, Marble Falls, and Burnet are located close to Austin.

Also the surrounding hills, wineries, and swimming holes in Central Texas makes it a hit with outdoor lovers.

Read our post on Best Places to See Bluebonnets in Texas to plan this trip.

Gorgeous Bluebonnet fields In The Texas Hill Country

Visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and botanical garden

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, located in South Austin, is a favorite with nature lovers.

This is the Texas State Botanical Garden and Arboretum.

No matter when you visit, it has a variety of wildflowers in the bloom.

You will be surrounded by hummingbirds, butterflies, dragonflies, and other beautiful creatures.

The center is very large and a great place to unwind from the stresses of daily life.

Enjoy kayaking in view of the Downtown Skyline of Austin Texas

Liberal Austin is a far cry from the Texan stereotype of rodeos, ranches, hats and cowboy boots, and desert scenery.

It is whimsical, vibrant, and still very Texan!

We hope you liked our post on the best things to do in Austin, Texas.

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fun places to visit near austin

25 Essential Things to Do in Austin with Kids (2024)

L ooking for kid-friendly activities in the Austin area? Austin, Texas has exciting historical sites, engaging museums, and mind-blowingly beautiful green spaces to enjoy. Maybe you’re a local Austinite looking for hidden gems that kids will love or maybe you’re a visitor seeking iconic Austin attractions. Keep reading for my list of the best things to do in Austin with kids!

*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something we have recommended. Please check out our  disclosure policy  for more details. Thank you for your support!

Things to do in Austin TX with kids

1. learn about steam at the thinkery.

Austin’s premier children’s museum, The Thinkery , takes hands-on exploration to the next level. The museum’s exhibits revolve around STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math).

There’s a Kitchen Lab where food meets chemistry and a Light Lab where children can explore color, light, and shadows. Check out the Spark Shop where families discover aerodynamics. It’s the perfect spot for children to learn through play.

For families with younger kids visiting the Thinkery Children’s Museum, there are dedicated play areas where they can play safely and enjoy age-appropriate exploration. There’s Bloom for ages 0 to 3, and the Move! Studio for kids 6 and younger.

2. Explore Zilker Park

Zilker Metropolitan Park is a must-visit destination for families. The park covers over 350 acres in the middle of the city and offers endless outdoor activities. This is where you will find the Barton Creek Greenbelt, an excellent hike and bike trail. There are also kayaks and canoes for rent.

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Austin with kids, no trip is complete without a swim in the icy cold water of Zilker Park’s Barton Springs Pool! A 3-acre recreational pool created by floodgates along Barton Creek, this natural water pool remains a chilly 68 degrees year-round.

During the summer, see what performances are on tap at the Zilker Hillside Theater, or take a ride on a miniature train (the Zilker Zephyr). The park is home to the Zilker Botanical Garden, the Austin Nature and Science Center, a sculpture garden, and more! Plan on spending half a day at the park.

3. See the bats under the Congress Avenue bridge

Austin boasts the largest urban bat colony in the world. On summer evenings, tourists and locals alike line the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge to watch an estimated 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerge in search of food.

Bats usually emerge from under the bridge most evenings and create quite a scene (depending on the weather and time of year).

If you choose to base yourself near the bridge near nightfall, bring something to protect yourselves from falling guano!

Other options are a kayak tour on Lady Bird Lake , riding a Segway , or taking a boat ride to see the bats from a different point of view.

4. Learn about government at the Texas Capitol

The Texas State Capitol is a sight to behold, as it’s the 6th tallest state capitol in the U.S. and larger than the capitol in Washington, D.C. Inside is just as stunning. Free tours are offered daily, departing every 30 to 45 minutes.

It’s the perfect way to introduce older children to the legal system as they have an opportunity to view the Supreme Court and the Senate and House Chambers.

Bring your camera to take in the beautiful architectural details inside and out!

5. Austin Zoo

For family-friendly adventures in Austin, the Austin Zoo should be at the top of your list. Located just a short drive from downtown, it’s one of the best places to get up close with a variety of animals in a setting that feels more like an animal sanctuary than a traditional zoo.

What sets the Austin Zoo apart is its commitment to providing a home for rescued and displaced animals. You’ll encounter creatures from around the world, from tigers and lions to lemurs and macaws. It’s a wonderful opportunity for kids to learn about wildlife conservation and witness these exotic animals up close.

The Austin Zoo is a small sanctuary, so you’ll get through it in about an hour. Plus, the zoo is located near the Barton Creek Habitat Preserve, so you could combine your visit into a nature-filled day exploring the Texas Hill Country.

6. Soak up the local culture with a South Congress Avenue stroll

South Congress is perfect for strolling, eating, and getting a taste of Austin’s character. Kids will have so much fun at Big Top Candy Shop with its treats from floor to ceiling! You can play outdoor games at TOMS shoe and coffee shop or play dress-up at Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds (a costume shop).

Of course, there are plenty of fun spots in Austin for teens and parents. This is your chance to grab the perfect Texas souvenir at Allen Boots, where you can get personally fitted for boots and hats. Jo’s Coffee Shop is the best place to get delicious coffee and boasts a prime location for people-watching.

7. Have an Old-Fashioned Good Time at Peter Pan Mini-Golf

Peter Pan Mini-Golf has been a beloved landmark in Austin for 75 years, and playing a round is one of the most iconic things you can do here!

Open since 1948, this family-owned business was named a State Archaeological Landmark by the Texas Historical Commission. Why not take the kids for some nostalgic fun?

You can purchase 18 or 36 holes at a time, each with the classic green turf and fantastical sculptures that Peter Pan Mini-Golf is known for. There are picnic tables, and you can bring your own food and drinks (there’s also BYOB, just no glass!).

If you’re bringing kids to visit The Lone Star State capital, and are feeling adventurous, strike out and explore beyond downtown Austin. You will be amazed at the beauty of the Texas Hill Country, and your kids will love it too!

8. Hit all the best Austin food spots

Of course, I need to mention South Congress has some of the most amazing food options in the city.

One of the best things to do in Austin with kids is head to Home Slice for its massive pizza slices. Torchy’s Tacos is an Austin staple. And Hopdoddy Burger Bar is worth the lines that always seem to be out the door and down the street!

For sweet treats, there’s Gelato Paradiso and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, with unique ice cream creations.

This is also the perfect place to check out the food truck scene since Austin’s has become quite legendary in recent years! Don’t miss some of the originals, including Mellizoz Tacos, TX Shawarma, and Gourdough’s (doughnuts) .

If you want traditional Texas staples try Franklin Barbecue, frequently voted one of the best BBQ in Austin . Terry Black’s BBQ and Lamberts Barbecue are also must-tries. For Mexican food, head to Chuy’s, Fonda San Miguel, or Licha’s Cantina.

9. Ooh and Aah at the Dinosaur Park

If you have dinosaur enthusiasts in your family, you’ll want to check out The Dinosaur Park in Bastrop. This prehistoric-themed attraction is a hit with both kids and adults.

Take the Dinosaur Trail and encounter life-size dinosaur replicas hiding among the trees! Kids will love playing I-Spy-A-Saurus and looking for clues along the trail. There are informative signs and displays along the way, including child-size dinosaurs they can climb on for a picture.

You’ll find outdoor pavilions along the trail that are perfect for picnics and birthday parties. There are also indoor exhibits and the Dino Dig, where you can unearth fossils and learn about paleontology. Of course, you will find dinosaur-themed souvenirs at the gift shop.

10. Try a street art scavenger hunt

If you or your kids love street art, Austin is a fantastic place to be. There’s the “Greetings from Austin” mural and the “Before I Die” wall where kids can write about their hopes and dreams.

Austin is a fun place to get a map and go searching for all the spots! For a self-guided tour with the exact locations of many of the most popular street art in Austin, check out this post on Austin’s official website.

If you have tweens and teens who are into selfies, don’t miss the Ice Cream Museum or the Austin Selfie Museum .

11. Head up to Mount Bonnell for sunset views

Historic Mount Bonnell is the perfect spot for a panoramic view of Austin and the surrounding area. It only takes about 10 minutes to climb to the top, and seeing the city from this perspective is stunning.

Plan to arrive close to sunset before heading out for a bite to eat. The entire experience shouldn’t take more than 15 or 20 minutes.

12. Take a Swim in One of Austin’s Local Swimming Holes

One of the best things to do in Austin, Texas for kids is experience one of the area’s amazing natural wonders. A memorable way to explore is taking them swimming! 

About 45 minutes from the city is Hamilton Pool Preserve, a beautiful natural lagoon that has become quite popular. You need to make reservations to visit during the busy summer season (May to September). Also, make sure to wear good water hiking shoes, because it’s a 10–15-minute walk to reach it.

After an easy hike, you’ll come upon the collapsed grotto and waterfall at Hamilton Pool Preserve. It’s absolutely beautiful and it’s perfect for the whole family.

Small children enjoy wading along the pebble beach, and braver big kids can venture further into the depths of the natural pool for a swim.

That’s not the only natural swimming spot to consider! Of course, you can always head to Barton Springs Pool in Austin’s Zilker Park. A short drive away, there’s Krause Springs in Hill Country with 32 springs and two swimming pools.

The Blue Hole at Wimberley is a section of Cypress Creek that’s perfect for spending the day playing and swimming.

Texas State Parks are another great place to spend the day. McKinney Falls State Park offers a day full of outdoor fun, with hiking, biking, historic ruins, and a fun swimming grotto.

13. Visit the essential museum of Texas history, The Bullock Texas State History Museum

The Bullock Museum tells the history of Texas through its collection of artifacts, photos, and hands-on experiences. Kids will love the IMAX movie theatre, the La Belle shipwreck exhibition, and the ability to trace the state’s history through interactive exhibits.

The Bullock Texas State History Museum is open every day from 10 AM to 5 PM, and there’s free admission for kids ages 3 and under.

14. Inner Space Cavern

If you’re looking for a unique excursion that will make a lasting impression, take a guided tour of Inner Space Cavern in Georgetown.

Explore caverns and natural wonders underground, then head up to the Inner Space Mine and pan for gemstones.

15. Hike at Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center

For more outdoor activities for kids of all ages, head to Round Mountain northwest of Austin. Here, the Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center is a unique wildlife and nature preserve that features 2 distinct ecosystems: a savanna and a lower, more diverse canyon biosphere.

Not only is Westcave stunning to see, but there’s a lot you can learn about nature. The preserve is very popular and reservations should be made in advance.

You can see the park through guided tours, and there are a few different ones to choose from!

There are great educational programs for homeschoolers, daytime and nighttime hikes, as well as hikes themed around photography or bird watching. You won’t want to miss exploring the lush grotto and seeing the 40-foot waterfall!

16. Head to an Austin Waterpark or Splash Pad

During the summer months, one of the best things to do in Austin with kids is get in the water! In the greater Austin area, you can visit a splash pad that’s perfect for younger kids in every neighborhood near downtown. And Austin’s water parks are great for families with kids of different ages.

Just a short drive north is Typhoon Texas in Pflugerville, where you can enjoy a day of play at the combined water and adventure parks. There is also Rock ‘N River Water Park in Round Rock. Or you can take the family to the indoor Splash Shack in Cedar Park any time of year!

Also, about an hour south of Austin is the ever-popular Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels. This is the original Schlitterbahn , a 70-acre outdoor water park resort along the banks of the Comal River, known for having over 40 diverse water attractions that appeal to all kinds of visitors.

17. Austin Nature & Science Center

If you’re looking for free things to do in Austin, Texas with kids, an excellent choice is the Austin Nature & Science Center inside Zilker Park! This nature center is a great place to take the kids if you want to burn an hour or two.

There are hands-on activities both indoors and outdoors. The hiking trails feature local wildlife and fun installations.

18. Kayak on Lady Bird Lake

A great way to do some sightseeing in Austin is on a kayaking tour of Lady Bird Lake . Along both shores of the lake, you can find multiple vendors offering hourly rentals of kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards. They also provide life jackets and wet bags if you need them.

19. Visit the Cathedral of Junk

The Cathedral of Junk is undeniably one of the best things to do in Austin, Texas with kids! This quirky attraction offers an unforgettable experience for families.

It’s all made of 60 tons of found objects and is the brainchild of the artist, Vince Hannemann. You’ll see the Cathedral of Junk on his private property which he opens to the public. He doesn’t charge visitors for entry, but donations are appreciated.

You can meet Vince and explore what he’s created. The whole place is like a unique playground for kids. They can climb, crawl, and wander through this towering structure made entirely of recycled materials. This is a great stop for anyone looking for Weird Austin, but especially kids who are interested in art.

20. See the Peacocks at the Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve

Austin has so many beautiful green spaces where you can enjoy nature, and all of them are unique. Take Mayfield Park, for example. A big reason families visit is for the resident peacocks! Plus, it’s free to visit.

These gorgeous birds roam freely throughout the park and are known for their calm nature. Kids can often get surprisingly close to the birds, making it a unique opportunity for young animal lovers to observe and interact with wildlife in a safe environment.

The park itself is worth the visit, boasting beautiful gardens, peaceful lily ponds, and picturesque walking trails. You can explore archways into hidden gardens, watch the Koi fish in the pond, or explore stone structures. Mayfield Park is also a great spot for family photos and picnics.

21. Visit the Austin Steam Train Museum

One of the best family things to do in Austin is head to the Austin Steam Train Association Museum and ride a vintage train! The museum itself is a treasure trove of vintage railcars and artifacts. You’ll get a glimpse into the rich history of railroading in Texas and how it helped shape the state.

Most people visit the museum to go on themed train rides. Whether it’s a seasonal holiday ride like the North Pole Flyer or a Wild West adventure on the Hill Country Flyer, the whole family will have a blast. Kids can dress up, enjoy onboard entertainment, and take in the Texas Hill Country scenery.

22. Austin Aquarium

The Austin Aquarium is your chance to get up close and personal with a variety of marine life and exotic animals. It’s a small, local aquarium and the perfect size for a family. You can explore interactive exhibits featuring colorful fish, sharks, reptiles, birds, and more. There might even be animals that you can touch and feed!

23. Austin Toy Museum

For kids and adults who never grew up, the Austin Toy Museum is a must-visit location. You’ll find the storefront along Congress Avenue in downtown Austin, making it a quick, convenient stop for visitors and locals alike.

Parents will love introducing their kids to the toys they grew up with in the 80s and 90s. And kids will have fun playing vintage video and arcade games!

There’s an admission fee that gives you access to unlimited gameplay. Adults can stop by the bar inside for a local craft beer.

24. Dart’em Up

Laser tag can be a little too intense for younger players, but Dart’em Up is the solution! This unique foam dart arena is one of the coolest things to do in Austin with kids ages 5 and up.

It’s a new spot that’s become a popular destination for families, offering hours of fun with arcades, video games, ping pong, their amazing foam dart arenas, and more! Head to the armory to upgrade your weapon and enjoy hour-long games with friends.

Looking for a date night idea? There are adults-only nights with beer and wine! Just check the Dart’em Up website for times, because they hold different hours every season.

25. Austin’s

Austin’s is a fantastic family entertainment center in the Austin area, known for its exciting activities that cater to all ages. This sprawling destination offers a thrilling mix of amusement park rides, arcade games, and delicious pizza.

The park’s outdoor attractions include go-karts, bumper boats, and a miniature golf course, but that’s just the beginning. Indoors, you’ll also find a massive arcade with every game you can think of, as well as a rock-climbing wall!

Austin’s is known for its top-notch buffet that includes fresh pizza and a quality salad bar. There’s even a full bar with screens for watching the game while the kids play.

Where to Stay in Austin

  • Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa – This AAA Four Diamond luxury resort is located a half-hour west of downtown. With world-class golf, tennis, and spa facilities, as well as a variety of dining options, it’s a great option for families traveling with kids and teens and one of the best family resorts in Texas !
  • Hyatt Regency Austin – This property has a central location downtown, about 15 minutes walking to South Congress. There’s an outdoor pool and a 24-hour fitness center, and some rooms have river and downtown views!
  • Fairmont Austin – This upscale property has gorgeous swimming pools, a coffee shop, and a fitness center. Some rooms offer beautiful city views.
  • We have also stayed at the Embassy Suites Downtown which has a convenient location and great free breakfast.

Try Out All the Fun Family Things to Do in Austin!

When you’re looking for things to do in Austin with kids, I encourage you to strike out and explore beyond downtown Austin. You’ll be amazed at the beauty of the Texas Hill Country, and your kids will love it too!

Looking for more Texas things to do? Don’t miss these posts:

  • 15 Fun Things to Do in San Antonio with Kids
  • San Antonio at Christmas
  • best weekend getaways from Dallas.

The post 25 Essential Things to Do in Austin with Kids (2024) appeared first on Kids Are A Trip™ .

Looking for kid-friendly activities in the Austin area? Austin, Texas has exciting historical sites, engaging museums, and mind-blowingly beautiful green spaces to enjoy. Maybe you’re a local Austinite looking for hidden gems that kids will love or maybe you’re a visitor seeking iconic Austin attractions. Keep reading for my list of the best things to...


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  6. 15 Best Attractions in Austin, Texas Right Now

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  1. Westcave Preserve near Austin, Texas. It’s one of the best places to hike near Austin #austin #tx


  1. 19 Epic Day Trips from Austin

    While the Round Rock of today is more or less a suburb of Austin, the city has its own history dating back to 1848, along with a slew of fun things to do. Visit Round Rock's very own bat colony, explore its cute downtown center, check out a park or two, find the round rock that the city is named for, and-most importantly, if you ask us ...

  2. 32 Interesting Day Trips from Austin, Texas

    Best Cities to Visit on a Day Trip from Austin. Several Texan cities are also located close enough to see on a day trip from Austin. They are home to popular urban attractions, shopping, nightlife, and a great culinary scene. Here are the best cities near Austin, Texas. San Antonio. San Antonio is the gem of Texas.

  3. 17 Fun Weekend Getaways from Austin (Road Trip Ideas!)

    Garner State Park. Encompassing more than 1700 acres of beautiful Texas Hill Country, nearly 3 miles of the stunning Frio River, and roughly 16 miles worth of trails, Garner State Park is absolutely one of the best weekend getaways from Austin! Whether you'd like to hike, camp, float the river, or simply enjoy a picnic and a swim, Garner ...

  4. 26 Best Things to Do in Austin

    Kyle McCarthy|Sharael Kolberg December 4, 2023. Ranking of the top 26 things to do in Austin. Travelers favorites include #1 Zilker Metropolitan Park, #2 Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail at ...

  5. THE 15 BEST Things to Do in Austin

    Things to Do in Austin, Texas: See Tripadvisor's 403,405 traveler reviews and photos of Austin tourist attractions. Find what to do today, this weekend, or in July. ... Fun & Games (38) City Tours (30) Nature & Wildlife Areas (8) ... Other Top Attractions around Austin. 2024. Inner Space Cavern. 719. 24 mi away. Georgetown. Caverns & Caves. 2024.

  6. 50 Fun Things to Do in Austin, Texas

    22. Fall brings exciting events to Austin. Tune in for this year's hybrid edition of the annual Texas Book Festival, held November 11-12; explore galleries, museums and artist workshops around Austin at the Austin Studio Tour, November 4-19; and get a jump on your holiday shopping at the Blue Genie Art Bazaar, running from November 17 through Christmas Eve.

  7. 10 Must-Do Adventures Near Austin, Texas

    Adventure by Sarah Vaughn. The Barton Creek Greenbelt runs through south Austin, and the 12-mile trail is the lifeblood of the city's urban outdoor adventures. Take a break from the Texas heat with an easy 1.5 mile hike on the Greenbelt to Sculpture Falls, a large swimming hole that is always a refreshing 70 degrees. Adventure by David Duyker.

  8. 28 Best Things to Do in Austin, Texas Right Now

    Stroll the stunning Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Zilker Botanical Gardens, rent a canoe or kayak the tranquil waterways (including Lady Bird Lake), and cool off in the Barton Springs Pool. Or bring ...

  9. 53 Best & Fun Things To Do In Austin (Texas)

    Address: 1720 S 1st St, Austin, TX 78704, United States. 2. Lady Bird Lake. Skylar Dawn / Shutterstock. With glittering waters and tree-lined shores, Lady Bird Lake is one of the most beautiful attractions in Austin, and it can offer hours of entertainment for outdoor enthusiasts.

  10. 30 Best Things to Do in Austin, Texas

    13 Best Places to Visit in Texas, According to a Local ... located in downtown Austin near Lady Bird Lake. The park's 351 acres are great for picnicking, meeting a new dog friend or two, disc golf ...

  11. 12 Top-Rated Day Trips from Austin, TX

    4. San Antonio San Antonio Riverwalk. San Antonio, the second largest city in Texas, beckons for day trips from Austin.About a 1.5-hour drive away, its vibrant streets are fun to explore and full of things to do. The centerpiece of many visits is the San Antonio Riverwalk, featuring stone walkways and many restaurants on the water.Visitors can hop on a boat and tour the San Antonio River to ...

  12. Austin.com Top Places Near Austin You Must Visit

    Here are the top places near Austin you must visit. Stand out from the crowd with our advertising deals! Subscribe. Like. Follow. Join 250,000+ Followers. Free Fun In Austin. Free Fun Calendar; ... There's event some free fun to be had there! Gruene Historic District: A Step Back in Time.

  13. 19 Best Things to Do in Austin

    Our top recommendations for the best things to do in Austin, Texas, with pictures and travel tips. Find fun things to do, best places to visit, unusual things to do, and more for couples, adults ...

  14. 10 Best Day Trips from Austin (90 Minutes or Less!)

    Lockhart is officially known as the Barbecue Capital of Texas. You can't go wrong with any of the four options in this small town of 13,000. Just a short drive southeast from Austin, it's the perfect Texas day trip for BBQ lovers. Dr. Eugene Clark Library in Lockhart, Texas.

  15. 25 Best Day Trips From Austin (2024)

    Wimberley. Wimberley, TX. (512) 847-0025. Visit Website. Social Media. Open in Google Maps. A sweet little village in Texas, Wimberley is ideal for a one-day trip from Austin. What was once home to a trading post, Wimberley is now a small region nestled in the midst of nature that you can enjoy at your own pace.

  16. Places To Visit Near Austin For The Day

    8. Pedernales Falls State Park. About 30-40 miles west of Austin is Pedernales Falls State Park, a popular destination for locals and visitors. The park offers camping, hiking, biking, and excellent wildlife viewing. Swimming in the river is allowed, but it's a rough 1/4 mile walk to get to the area.

  17. 14 Day Trips From Austin Under 100 Miles Away

    It makes for a beautiful day trip from Austin on a hot summer day. {photo via } 5 things to do at Canyon Lake. 1. Rent a boat and spend the day out on the water. 2. Take in the views and jump in for a swim at Canyon Overlook Park. 3. Hike the Guadalupe Park Trail, a 2-mile out-and-back trail near Canyon Lake. 4.

  18. 15 Best Day Trips from Austin

    As a major city, Houston of course has all the usual options to offer the day tripper too: great restaurants, excellent bars, and a good selection of museums for idle browsing. 14. Dallas. Texas' third most populous city, Dallas is a bit of a dark horse but a truly great option for a day trip from Austin.

  19. 38 Things to Do in Austin, Texas (2023)

    Two-step at the White Horse. The White Horse features regular live music. One of the city's coolest honky tonks, The White Horse in East Austin has live music every day of the week. In addition to the entertainment, they have tacos every night/early morning and whiskey on tap. It's kind of perfect.

  20. 14 Fun & Unique Things to Do in Austin, Texas

    2. Explore the Cathedral of Junk. By far one of the most unique things to do in Austin is to visit the Cathedral of Junk. Located in the backyard of the artist Vince Hannemann's house in suburban Austin, this art installation full of 60+ tons of "junk" has been a work in progress since the 1980's!

  21. 10 Best Things to Do Near Austin, TX (2024): Fun Places to Visit!

    Here are the top 10 things to do near Austin. 1. San Antonio Alamo, Tower & River Cruise Tour (Editor's Choice) San Antonio, TX. (289) 271-9767. Visit Website. Social Media. Open in Google Maps. San Antonio Alamo Tower & River Cruise Tour is a combination of bus, boat, and viewing tower experience that showcases the city's highlights.

  22. 55 Fun Things To Do In Austin With Kids (2024)

    Ice skating is a super fun thing to do in Austin with kids! Chaparral Ice is one of the best family-run ice rinks in Austin, offering hockey and figure skating lessons as well as party packages for all age groups. WEBSITE | 2525 W Anderson Ln. #400, Austin, TX 78757. 52.

  23. 31 Best Things to do in Austin, Texas

    Hiking up to Mount Bonnell is one of the most popular things to do in Austin. The hike is 0.3 miles but has an elevation gain of 200 feet. It takes about 30 minutes round trip and is of moderate difficulty. Once you reach the top you can explore the summit and have a picnic at one of the picnic tables on top.

  24. 25 Essential Things to Do in Austin with Kids (2024)

    Things to do in Austin TX with kids. 1. Learn about STEAM at The Thinkery. Austin's premier children's museum, The Thinkery, takes hands-on exploration to the next level. The museum's ...

  25. 7 Fun Things to Do in Austin This Weekend: June 27-30

    6 / Break a Sweat at Battle of the Gyms. Back for its second year, this free outdoor event by Swift Fit Events features members of five local gyms duking it out in an epic fitness showdown. Local trainer Danielle Gertner will lead a community workout at 10 a.m, while the main competition launches at 11 a.m. June 29, 10 a.m., 422 Guadalupe St.