Austin is the most popular destination for tourists in Texas. Approximately 20 million people visit the city each year.
If you’re heading to Austin this year for a vacation, you need to know what you should do during your stay in Texas.
There are so many places to see and things to do in Austin. You can never be bored in this unique urban sprawl.
Check out our travel guide on Austin below to get the most out of your experience in the State Capitol. Let’s get started!
1. Take A Free Tour Around the State Capitol
Did you know that Texas is the largest state in the United States? The building that best reflects the mighty state is the Texas State Capitol.
If you spend a few hours in the city, you’ll surely spot the magnificent structure. The State Capitol building has something for political geeks, history nerds, and architectural junkies to enjoy.
If you want to learn about the building’s history, you need to go on one of the guided tours. Ensure you don’t leave without a visit to the gift shop either to get a souvenir of your trip.
2. Cycle Around Lady Bird Lake
You don’t find many lakes bang in the middle of a city. But, Austin isn’t your average city.
The beautiful Lady Bird Lake is a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the urban center. Once you arrive at the lake, you’ll immediately feel like your in a nature reserve rather than at the heart of a major city.
Cycling around the lake is a charming way to enjoy your surroundings. You can also hop on a boat or jog the surrounding lake.
Alternatively, stroll around the lake at your own pace. The calm waters will help you escape the chaos of the city.
3. Enjoy the Sunset on Mount Bonnel
There is nowhere better in Austin to experience the sunset than at the top of Mount Bonnel. In Covert Park, you’ll find a romantic refuge for Instragmmable moments.
Enjoy the breathtaking views of the city and the surrounding landscape around Austin. Make sure you’re fit enough to get to the top.
While the trek up the 102 steps is enjoyable regardless of the weather. You should select a clear day to capture the best sights of the city.
If you’re thinking about moving to Austin, learn more about how here.
4. Stroll Around the SoCo District
The unofficial slogan of the city is “Keep Austin Weird.”
Even though the SoCo District is a few miles from downtown Austin, it is central to how Austinite’s see themselves.
The abbreviation is short for “South Congress.”
This neighborhood is home to boutique shops, hipster coffee shops, and independent art galleries. You can spend a couple of hours shopping for trendy gear and browsing vintage clothes.
Is shopping not really your thing? In the evenings, the district has plenty of charming bars where locals and tourists gather together.
5. Experience Live Music on Sixth Street
Austin is famous for music. It is nicknamed the “Live Music Capital of the World.”
And yet, Austin doesn’t just live in the shadows of past greats, such as Willie Nelson.
You can experience the best up-and-coming musicians on Sixth Street. Also called “Dirty 6th” by locals.
This icon neighborhood has been the epicenter of the music scene in Texas since the early seventies.
6. Visit the LBJ Library
You may think that a visit to a library sounds pretty dull. Maybe not how you want to spend your vacation.
But, this isn’t any ordinary library.
The LBJ Library is dedicated to the 36th president of the United States. The local boy from Stonewall, Texas, Lydon B. Johnson’s library is worth a visit.
You’ll discover interesting items, such as the presidential papers and historical photographs for the sixties.
Your kids will especially enjoy the replica of the Oval Office. This can give you a sobering sense of the power of the office of POTUS (President of the United States).
7. Take a Dip in Barton Springs Pool
Locals will tell you that Austin can get extremely warm at the height of summer. You need somewhere to escape the heat.
Find relief from the heat by taking a dip in Barton Springs Pool. The swimming pool is near Zilker Park.
The pool is also where the Hollywood actor Robert Redford learned to swim as a child.
But, it’s not just celebrities you might be sharing the pool with. The pools are also thriving with wildlife, such as the endangered salamanders.
8. Art Galleries for Culture Vultures
Did you enjoy the independent art galleries in the SoCo District? There is plenty more art for culture vultures.
You should check out the Mexic-Arte Museum. The gallery is dedicated to Mexican and Latin American art.
You will discover incredible paintings of the Mexican revolution, as well as, examples of indigenous culture.
The Blanton Museum of Art is housed in the University of Texas. It has over 18,000 pieces of art. These include works from Rubens and Poussin.
9. Bullock Texas State History Museum
The mission of the museum is to tell the “Story of Texas.”
One hell of a story it is! This incredible museum allows you to travel through the rich and varied history of Texas.
This is far from the boring museums you’re probably used to. There are three floors here. The first floor is dedicated to “land”, the second “identity” and the third “opportunity.”
The interactive museum experience provides you with a unique approach to unearthing the essence of Texas.
10. Spot the Bats Flying at the Congress Avenue Bridge
Did you know that Austin is home to the biggest bat colony in North America?
There are reportedly one and a half million bats in the area. The Congress Avenue Bridge is the main home of bats.
The mass exodus from the crevices of the bridge structure each night is an experience which never fails to impress onlookers.
A glimpse of these wonderful creatures is not easy to capture on your smartphone. But, it will stay with you forever!
11. Eat Texan BBQ Grill
Austin has a global reputation as one of the best places to get a BBQ grill in the world.
Some of the best haunts downtown are only for the extremely committed. You can wait for hours to get your mouth around the brisket.
If you have the stomach to stand in line, then you’ll be rewarded with some delicious dishes.
12. Wander Around the Botanical Gardens
If you find yourself in Austin during the spring, you can enjoy the beauty and charm of the botanical gardens. The park is over 26 acres of land.
Head down to the Zilker Park, you can explore the gardens with the flowers in bloom. There are several themed sections of the gardens, such as Japanese gardens.
Take down a picnic while you’re nearby. You can go to nearby Zilker Park to enjoy the warm weather and have a bite to eat.
13. Farmers’ Market at Mueller
This is one of the most famous farmers’ markets in Texas. If you’re in Austin on a Sunday morning, head to Mueller Park to browse the freshest produce.
You can get artisan ingredients, as well as, a wide range of fruit and veggies. There are also dozens of activities, such as music shows to enjoy as well.
14. See a Show at the ZACH Theatre
ZACH Theatre is one of the oldest in the country. Founded in 1932, the theatre has been a mainstay of the city for generations.
The picturesque location of the theatre is the edge of Lady Bird Lake. Here you can enjoy one of the five hundred performances held here each year.
The theatre also runs outreach projects which support educational programs for children. Therefore, when you buy a ticket for a performance, you’re also supporting the good work they do in the community.
15. Have a Day at Austin Zoo
Austin Zoo is a particularly ambitious zoo. They want to rescue animals and educate the public about animal welfare at the same time.
The 15-acre zoo is home to more than 300 animals and around 100 species. The animals include lions, bears, and monkeys.
Sadly, many of the animals are recovering from abuse and cruelty. However, the zookeepers are doing everything they can to help the mistreated animals.
Kids always enjoy taking the train which travels around the zoo. You can spot the animals are you ride around the park.
Things to do in Austin
There are so many things to do in Austin. When you’re on vacation here, it can be quite overwhelming.
Our guide on what to see while you’re in Texas can help you to determine how to spend your time wisely.
There are probably too many things to do here in only one trip to Austin. You may need to save some for your next visit as well.
If you have any other tips on what to do during a visit to Austin, share them with us in the comments below.