What to do in Austin- A Local's Guide
Updated: May 24, 2020
Austin is a very vibrant and eclectic city! There is always something to do! Whether you're searching for a spot to relax out of the heat or a fantastic taco spot, I've got you covered! I grew up in Austin and I still find it one of my favorite cities in the world! Here are some of my favorite things to do!
What to Do:
Visit Zilker Park
Zilker Park is an Austin local favorite. With over 350 acres of land dedicated for outdoor activities, there's something to do for each person you're traveling with!
Spend your day at Barton Springs- a natural pool that stays a crisp 68 degrees F year round. It is the perfect spot on a hot, summer's day. There is an entry fee of $5 per adult if you're local, and $9 for people from out of town. This is cash only. BUT- if you make it to Barton Springs between 5-8 AM, entry is free. After 8 AM, there are lifeguards on duty all day long to ensure everyone is safe. Just a warning, Barton Springs has a list of items that are banned: no coolers, no glass bottles, no hard balls or frisbees, no alcohol, and no smoking. Also, Barton Springs is a very free spirited environment, you might see people doing yoga on the hills, playing a guitar, or even roaming around topless. There is a kids friendly swimming area on the left side of the pool at entry.
After a long day of swimming, enjoy a musical theater performance on the Zilker Hillside Theater. Located just across Barton Springs, lay out a blanket, grab a picnic, and enjoy a free show that the park sets up every year! We have been going to these shows for years and have seen The Little Mermaid, Fiddler on the Roof, Beauty and the Beast, West Side Story, and The Music Man. This is very kid friendly. The shows are usually in the second half of summer break and from Thursdays to Sunday and start around 8 PM. Click here for more information.
Another fun activity in Zilker Park is to take a walk (or run) along Lady Bird Lake. The lake spans over 10.1 miles and has the best views of the Austin Skyline. If running isn't your thing, rent a Stand Up Board or Kayak. Please do not swim in the water! Stand Up Board rentals are $20 an hour from the Rowing Dock ATX
Go to South Congress
South Congress is my favorite street in Austin! This street is the absolute vibe of the entire city. There are so many food stops and unique stores. Spend some time walking up and down the street. Enjoy the views of the Texas Capitol, the live music from street performers, and have some Tacos at Torchy's Tacos!
- Get coffee at Jo's Coffee (take a selfie at their mural)
- Seafood at Perla's Restaurant (very nice outdoor patio!)
- Pizza at Home Slice- This pizza is delicious!
- Visit Allen's Boots- Channel your inner cowboy and take a look at these works of art!
- Enjoy some Tacos at Torchy's Tacos- yes, this is the original location and the tacos are so good!
- Stop by Kendra Scott's Flagship store for some shopping and Frosé!
- Have a cupcake from a food trailer- Hey Cupcake!
- Take a selfie with the Willie for President Mural!
- Enjoy some ice cream at Amy's Ice cream
Visit the "Greetings from Austin" Mural
This is located just around the corner from South Congress! It's a cute stop for a photo opportunity. Austin is really known for its murals and this one is iconic!
The address is:
1720 S 1st Street
Austin, TX 78704
Click here to view in Google Maps
Visit Bob Bullock Museum
Want to know more about Texas History? This is the museum for you! The Bullock Museum does a fantastic job of creating an interactive timeline of Texas history, including Texas artifacts and an IMAX theater. This is the perfect museum for kids! The museum is open Monday- Saturday 9AM-5 PM and Sunday from 12 PM-5 PM. Admission is $13 for adults and $9 for kids. Click here to view their website.
Visit Blanton Museum
This is a great art museum with art from all over the world! The rooms are separated by continent and have a wide variety of classical and modern art. The Blanton Museum is open from Tuesday- Friday from 10AM-5PM and Saturday 11 AM-5 PM and Sunday 1 PM-5 PM. Admission is $12. Click here for more information.
Go to Hamilton Pool
A little drive outside of Austin and you will find yourself in the beautiful hill country! In the middle of nowhere is Hamilton Pool: A historic swimming hole with a 50 foot waterfall. It's best to get here early as there is a limit to how many cars can enter into Hamilton Pool a day. There is a $15 fee per car that enters into the park. There are toilets in the car park. Grab a cooler and make the quarter mile walk to the swimming hole! Make sure to always check the Hamilton Pool website in advance as sometimes there is no swimming allowed due to bacteria levels in the water. Hamilton Pool is open from 9 AM-6 PM daily. Click here for more information.
Go to 6th Street
6th Street has quite the reputation in Austin. As locals refer to it as "Dirty 6th" it is the street of bars and live music! On any Friday or Saturday night, this street is filled with people bar hopping and having a good time!
Visit the Capitol
One of the most beautiful buildings in Austin is the Texas State Capitol. The largest Capitol in the US, the Texas Capitol is completely free to enter in! There are even Free walking tours that begin in the foyer. Learn about the ins and outs of government in Texas. For more information, click here!
Sunset at Mount Bonnell
Mount Bonnell is the perfect place to end your day in Austin! There are gorgeous views over the lake and the sunset here is incredible! It's the perfect place to grab a picnic, open a bottle of champagne, and cheers to a fantastic day! Click here for the exact location!
Pennybacker Bridge lookout
Another great spot for sunset! Overlooking the 360 Bridge, the sunset here is just amazing! Make sure to head out here a little early as it does get busy for sunset! There is parking just near the trail. It takes about 10 minutes to hike up.
The address is:
Texas State Highway Loop 360
Austin, Texas 78746
Click here to view on Google Maps
Where to eat:
Torchy's Tacos- an Austin classic! The original location is on South Congress and it is always busy! The queso is outstanding and I love the fried avocado taco!
The Salt Lick- The BEST BBQ in Texas! Located in Driftwood Texas, The Salt Lick is an institution. On any Saturday night there is about a two hour wait just for a table. Luckly, the Salt Lick always has live music to enjoy while you wait. The Salt Lick is BYO, so grab a cooler of your favorite summer beverages to enjoy while you eat! The Salt Lick is also cash only! Also, make sure to save room for dessert! Their Peach Cobbler is insanely good!
Voodoo Doughnuts- These donuts are so good, and the names are even funnier! This donut shop is located on 6th street and is perfect for a sweet stop. Voodoo is also cash only!
Amy's Ice cream- One of the best Ice Cream shops in Austin. It's perfect on a hot day! I love that you can add ingredients to "mash" into your ice cream!
Hula Hut- An Austin institution! The best TexMex food on the water. This Hawaiian themed restaurant serves some darn good TexMex! And don't forget to have a margarita here! They're great!
Mozarts Cafe- located right next to Hula Hut, this little cafe on the water is so relaxing! Their coffee and cakes are delicious! Enjoy the peaceful atmosphere with a book in hand!
The Shady Grove- located just near Zilker Park, this place has the best vibe! They usually have some live music too! You must have their margaritas and queso! So delicious!
Where to stay:
Driskill Hotel: This hotel is one of the most historic hotels in Austin! Former US presidents like Lyndon B. Johnson were regulars here. It's a beautiful hotel and so quintessential Texas! This is definitely a splurge, but so worth it! Click here to view their website!
San José Hotel- This fun hotel is located in the heart of South Congress! Just entering the hotel, you feel like you've entered into a quiet park away from the hustle and bustle of SoCo! It's a great location!
Austin Motel: This fun motel is exactly why we say "Keep Austin Weird!" It's also located on South Congress and has a more party vibe to it!
I hope you found this guide to Austin useful on your trip! Tell me, what are your favorite things to do in Austin?
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