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Discovering the Best of Austin: 10 Must-Do Activities in the Texas Capital

Photo things to do in austin

Austin, Texas is a vibrant city that offers a little something for everyone. Known for its live music scene, delicious food, colorful street art, beautiful parks, and thriving craft beer and wine scene, Austin has become a popular destination for travelers from all over the world. In this article, we will explore the various aspects that make Austin such a unique and exciting city to visit. From the live music capital of the world to the stunning views from rooftop bars, there is no shortage of things to see and do in Austin.

Key Takeaways

  • Austin has a vibrant live music scene with a variety of genres to choose from.
  • The city is known for its delicious food trucks and restaurants, offering a diverse range of cuisines.
  • Take a walk through the colorful street art districts to see some of the city’s most unique and creative artwork.
  • Austin has plenty of lush green spaces and parks to explore, perfect for a picnic or outdoor activities.
  • Lady Bird Lake offers a thrilling experience for water sports enthusiasts, with kayaking, paddleboarding, and more.

Explore the Live Music Scene in Austin

Austin is often referred to as the “Live Music Capital of the World,” and for good reason. The city is home to numerous music venues and hosts several music festivals throughout the year. From small intimate clubs to large outdoor amphitheaters, there is a wide range of options for music lovers to choose from.

Some popular music venues in Austin include the iconic Stubbs BBQ, which has hosted legendary acts such as Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash. The Mohawk is another popular venue known for its diverse lineup of indie rock, punk, and hip-hop acts. For those looking for a more intimate setting, Cactus Cafe is a cozy listening room that showcases singer-songwriters and acoustic acts.

In addition to its year-round music scene, Austin also hosts several music festivals that attract visitors from all over the world. The Austin City Limits Music Festival is one of the largest and most popular festivals in the country, featuring a diverse lineup of artists across multiple genres. South by Southwest (SXSW) is another major festival that showcases not only music but also film and interactive media.

To find the best live music experiences in Austin, it’s important to do some research beforehand. Check out local listings and websites dedicated to Austin’s music scene to find out about upcoming shows and events. Don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path and explore some of the smaller, lesser-known venues for a more intimate and unique experience.

Discover the City’s Best Food Trucks and Restaurants

Austin’s food scene is as diverse as its music scene, offering a wide range of culinary delights to satisfy any palate. From food trucks to fine dining establishments, there is something for everyone in this foodie paradise.

Food trucks have become a staple of Austin’s culinary landscape, offering a variety of cuisines from around the world. Some popular food trucks include Torchy’s Tacos, which serves up delicious and creative taco combinations, and East Side King, known for its Asian-inspired street food. For those looking for a sweet treat, Gourdough’s Donuts is a must-visit, with its decadent and over-the-top donut creations.

In addition to its food truck scene, Austin is also home to many acclaimed restaurants. Franklin Barbecue is a local favorite, known for its mouthwatering smoked meats and long lines. Uchi is another popular spot, offering innovative and delicious sushi creations. For those looking for a taste of Texas cuisine, Lambert’s Downtown Barbecue is a great choice, with its upscale take on traditional barbecue dishes.

To find the best food experiences in Austin, it’s important to explore different neighborhoods and try a variety of cuisines. Don’t be afraid to ask locals for recommendations or check out online reviews to get an idea of what each restaurant or food truck has to offer. Austin also hosts several food festivals throughout the year, such as the Austin Food + Wine Festival and the Hot Luck Festival, which are great opportunities to sample a wide range of dishes from local chefs.

Take a Stroll Through the Colorful Street Art Districts

City Number of Street Art Districts Size of Largest Mural Number of Artists
London 3 2,500 sq ft 50
Berlin 5 3,000 sq ft 80
Mexico City 7 5,000 sq ft 120
Melbourne 4 2,800 sq ft 60

Austin is known for its vibrant street art scene, with colorful murals adorning buildings throughout the city. From large-scale murals to small hidden gems, there is no shortage of stunning artwork to discover in Austin.

Some popular street art districts in the city include the East Side, South Congress, and the Hope Outdoor Gallery. The East Side is home to a vibrant arts community, with numerous murals and galleries showcasing local talent. South Congress, or SoCo as it’s known locally, is a bustling neighborhood filled with shops, restaurants, and of course, street art. The Hope Outdoor Gallery, also known as Graffiti Park, is a unique outdoor gallery where artists are encouraged to create and showcase their work.

To find the best street art experiences in Austin, it’s best to explore on foot or by bike. Take a stroll through the different neighborhoods and keep an eye out for colorful murals and artwork. Many local artists also have Instagram accounts where they showcase their work and provide updates on new murals or installations. Taking a guided street art tour is another great way to discover some of the hidden gems and learn more about the artists behind the artwork.

Visit the Lush Green Spaces and Parks in Austin

Despite being a bustling city, Austin is also home to numerous parks and green spaces where visitors can escape the hustle and bustle and enjoy some outdoor activities. From hiking trails to swimming holes, there are plenty of opportunities to connect with nature in Austin.

One of the most popular parks in Austin is Zilker Park, which spans over 350 acres and offers a wide range of activities for visitors of all ages. The park is home to Barton Springs Pool, a natural spring-fed pool that is perfect for swimming on hot summer days. Zilker Park also hosts several events throughout the year, including the Austin City Limits Music Festival and the Zilker Kite Festival.

Another popular park in Austin is Lady Bird Lake, which offers stunning views of downtown Austin and is a favorite spot for kayaking, paddleboarding, and canoeing. The Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail, which loops around the lake, is a great place for a leisurely walk or bike ride.

To find the best outdoor experiences in Austin, it’s important to plan ahead and check the weather forecast. Some parks and trails may have limited hours or require reservations, so it’s best to do some research beforehand. Austin also has a number of guided outdoor adventure companies that offer activities such as rock climbing, zip-lining, and paddleboarding, which can be a great way to explore the city’s natural beauty.

Experience the Thrill of Water Sports on Lady Bird Lake

Lady Bird Lake is not only a great spot for outdoor activities, but it is also a popular destination for water sports enthusiasts. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced athlete, there are plenty of opportunities to get out on the water and enjoy some adrenaline-pumping fun.

Kayaking and paddleboarding are two of the most popular water sports activities on Lady Bird Lake. There are several rental shops located along the lake where visitors can rent kayaks or paddleboards by the hour or for the day. The calm waters of the lake make it an ideal spot for beginners to learn and practice their skills.

For those looking for a more intense workout, dragon boating is a great option. Dragon boating is a team sport that involves paddling in sync to propel a long boat through the water. There are several dragon boat teams in Austin that offer introductory sessions for beginners.

To find the best water sports experiences on Lady Bird Lake, it’s best to check with local rental shops or sports clubs for availability and pricing. It’s also important to wear appropriate safety gear and follow any rules or regulations set by the city or park authorities.

Discover the Rich History and Culture of the Texas Capital

Austin has a rich history and culture that is worth exploring during your visit. From historical landmarks to cultural institutions, there are plenty of opportunities to learn about the city’s past and present.

One popular historical landmark in Austin is the Texas State Capitol, which is the largest state capitol building in the United States. Visitors can take guided tours of the building to learn about its history and architecture. The Bullock Texas State History Museum is another great place to learn about the history of Texas, with exhibits that cover everything from Native American culture to the oil boom.

In addition to its historical landmarks, Austin is also home to several cultural institutions. The Blanton Museum of Art is one of the largest university art museums in the country and features a diverse collection of artwork from around the world. The Mexic-Arte Museum showcases contemporary Mexican and Latin American art, while the Harry Ransom Center houses a vast collection of literary and cultural artifacts.

To find the best historical and cultural experiences in Austin, it’s best to plan ahead and check the opening hours and admission fees for each attraction. Many museums and cultural institutions offer discounted or free admission on certain days or times, so it’s worth checking their websites for any special offers.

Shop for Unique Finds at the Local Markets and Boutiques

Austin is known for its unique shopping scene, with a wide range of markets and boutiques offering everything from handmade crafts to vintage clothing. Whether you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind souvenir or a trendy new outfit, there are plenty of options to choose from in this eclectic city.

One popular market in Austin is the HOPE Farmers Market, which takes place every Sunday and features local vendors selling fresh produce, handmade crafts, and artisanal food products. The South Congress Avenue shopping district is another great place to find unique shops and boutiques, with its mix of vintage clothing stores, art galleries, and independent boutiques.

For those looking for a more upscale shopping experience, The Domain is a popular outdoor shopping center that features high-end retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Louis Vuitton. The Second Street District is another great option, with its mix of local boutiques, art galleries, and upscale restaurants.

To find the best shopping experiences in Austin, it’s best to explore different neighborhoods and check out local markets and boutiques. Many neighborhoods in Austin have their own unique shopping districts, so it’s worth venturing off the beaten path to discover some hidden gems. Austin also hosts several craft fairs and pop-up markets throughout the year, which are great opportunities to support local artisans and find unique handmade goods.

Get a Taste of the Craft Beer and Wine Scene in Austin

Austin has a thriving craft beer and wine scene, with numerous breweries and wineries offering a wide range of delicious libations. Whether you’re a beer connoisseur or a wine lover, there are plenty of opportunities to sample some of the best craft beverages that Austin has to offer.

Some popular breweries in Austin include Jester King Brewery, which specializes in farmhouse-style ales made with locally sourced ingredients, and Austin Beerworks, known for its crisp and refreshing lagers. For those looking for a unique beer experience, Blue Owl Brewing specializes in sour-mashed beers that are tart and refreshing.

In addition to its breweries, Austin is also home to several wineries that produce a variety of wines from locally grown grapes. The Texas Hill Country is known for its vineyards and wineries, with many offering tastings and tours. Some popular wineries in the area include Duchman Family Winery, which specializes in Italian varietals, and Fall Creek Vineyards, known for its award-winning wines.

To find the best craft beer and wine experiences in Austin, it’s best to check out local breweries and wineries’ websites for tasting room hours and tour availability. Many breweries also offer guided tours where visitors can learn about the brewing process and sample different beers. Austin also hosts several beer and wine festivals throughout the year, such as the Austin Beer Festival and the Texas Wine and Food Festival, which are great opportunities to sample a wide range of craft beverages.

Attend a Festive Event or Festival in the City

Austin is known for its lively event and festival scene, with something happening almost every weekend. From music festivals to cultural celebrations, there is always something to celebrate in this vibrant city.

One of the most popular events in Austin is South by Southwest (SXSW), which takes place every March and showcases music, film, and interactive media. The Austin City Limits Music Festival is another major event that attracts visitors from all over the world, featuring a diverse lineup of artists across multiple genres.

In addition to its music festivals, Austin also hosts several cultural celebrations throughout the year. The Pecan Street Festival is a biannual event that celebrates local art, music, and food. The Zilker Kite Festival is another popular event that takes place in Zilker Park and features colorful kites of all shapes and sizes.

To find the best event and festival experiences in Austin, it’s best to check out local event listings and websites for upcoming events. Many events offer discounted or early bird tickets, so it’s worth planning ahead and purchasing tickets in advance. Austin also has a number of event venues and theaters that host concerts, plays, and other performances throughout the year, so it’s worth checking their schedules for any upcoming shows.

Enjoy the Stunning Views from the City’s Best Rooftop Bars and Venues

Austin offers stunning views of the city skyline, and one of the best ways to enjoy these views is from one of the city’s rooftop bars or venues. Whether you’re looking for a romantic spot for a date night or a lively atmosphere for a night out with friends, there are plenty of options to choose from.

One popular rooftop bar in Austin is The Oasis on Lake Travis, which offers panoramic views of the lake and the surrounding hill country. The bar is known for its stunning sunsets and is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. Another popular rooftop bar is Azul Rooftop Lounge, located in the heart of downtown Austin. The bar offers breathtaking views of the city skyline and features a pool and cabanas for a luxurious experience.

In addition to rooftop bars, Austin also has several rooftop venues that host events and parties. The Belmont is a popular rooftop venue that hosts live music performances and DJ sets, while The Rooftop on 6th is known for its lively atmosphere and stunning views of downtown Austin.

To find the best rooftop experiences in Austin, it’s best to check out local listings and websites for rooftop bars and venues. Many rooftop bars have limited seating or require reservations, so it’s worth planning ahead and calling ahead to secure a spot. It’s also important to dress appropriately for the occasion, as some rooftop bars have dress codes or restrictions on certain types of clothing or footwear.

Austin truly has something for everyone, from its vibrant live music scene to its delicious food, colorful street art, beautiful parks, and thriving craft beer and wine scene. Whether you’re a music lover, a foodie, an art enthusiast, or an outdoor adventurer, there are plenty of opportunities to explore and experience all that Austin has to offer. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture and rich history of the capital of Texas. Austin’s unique blend of southern charm and progressive spirit make it a must-visit destination for travelers of all interests. Whether you’re strolling along the famous South Congress Avenue, taking a dip in the refreshing Barton Springs Pool, or enjoying a night out on the iconic Sixth Street, you’ll find yourself captivated by the energy and diversity of this city. With its friendly locals, stunning natural beauty, and endless array of activities, Austin is sure to leave a lasting impression on all who visit. So come and discover why Austin is known as the Live Music Capital of the World and experience the magic for yourself.


What are some popular outdoor activities in Austin?

Some popular outdoor activities in Austin include hiking and biking on the numerous trails, swimming in Barton Springs Pool, kayaking and paddleboarding on Lady Bird Lake, and visiting the Zilker Botanical Garden.

What are some must-visit attractions in Austin?

Some must-visit attractions in Austin include the Texas State Capitol, the LBJ Presidential Library, the Bullock Texas State History Museum, and the Blanton Museum of Art.

What are some family-friendly activities in Austin?

Some family-friendly activities in Austin include visiting the Austin Zoo, exploring the Thinkery children’s museum, watching the bats fly out from under the Congress Avenue Bridge, and playing at the Austin Nature and Science Center.

What is the best time of year to visit Austin?

The best time of year to visit Austin is in the spring (March to May) or fall (September to November) when the weather is mild and there are many outdoor events and festivals.

What is the food scene like in Austin?

The food scene in Austin is diverse and vibrant, with many options for Tex-Mex, barbecue, and farm-to-table cuisine. Some popular restaurants include Franklin Barbecue, Torchy’s Tacos, and Uchi.

What are some nightlife options in Austin?

Some nightlife options in Austin include live music venues like the Continental Club and the Mohawk, rooftop bars like the East Side Showroom and the Oasis on Lake Travis, and the famous Sixth Street entertainment district.