Whether you are visiting for a couple of days or consider yourself a local who is looking for new things to do in Austin, you’re in the right city! I believe it is one of the best tourist cities in all of the U.S. as there is always so much going on.
Here are 10 things you can in Austin today or over the weekend.
1. Barton Springs
The ultimate summer destination in Austin is Barton Springs. It’s steady year-round temperature, grassy lawn and central location make it the perfect destination for locals and visitors alike. The pool is fed from underground springs making it feel more like a natural swimming hole than a typical pool.
Fun fact: The spring is home to the endangered Barton Spring Salamander which receives a cordoned off area of the pool and other natural vegetation and wildlife. The pool can get busy on a hot summer day so if you are adverse to crowds plan to go in the morning or later in the day.
Cost: Residents $2-5, Non-Residents $4-9
2. Jester King Brewery
For a day outside the city center, Jester King Farmhouse Brewery is always a good choice! Located on 165 acres of preserved land, the brewery offers plenty of space and activities to keep you entertained. Accentuated by the natural hill country surroundings, the tasting room and brewery provide a wonderful setting to enjoy time with family and friends.
Cost: Free + purchase of food and beverage
3. Texas Military Force Museum at Camp Mabry
For anyone interested in military history the museum at Camp Mabry is a must see. There are 45,000 square feet of old uniforms, weapons, tanks, and history of the Texas forces dating back to 1823. There are multiple collections and exhibits, and if you have kids, space to run around! Camp Mabry is still an active military base today bringing the history to life right in front of you.
Cost: Free Admission
4. Mozart’s Coffee
Mozart’s Coffee is one of my favorite places to go in Austin and somewhere I always take visitors. The location right along the Colorado River creates a calming environment and perfect setting to gather with friends an watch the sunset.
The cafe is fairly large with a lot of seating both inside and outside on multiple levels. You’ll find visitors stopping for a coffee, business owners having meetings and students studying. On weekend nights local artists stop by to play some live music and during the holidays they host a spectacular Christmas light show.
Cost: Free + purchase of food and beverage
5. Mount Bonnell & the Mayfield Peacock Park
Mount Bonnell is an Austin must see spot that has been popular among tourists for decades. Located just west of the city centre and a short walk up from the parking lot to the top, you can see all of Austin and the surrounding area. Below is the beautiful view of Lake Austin and the green rolling hills. Mount Bonnell is designated as a Texas Historic Landmark and was also recently added to the National Register of Historic Places.
On your drive down the mount back to the city, take a detour to Mayfield Peacock Park. The 24 or so peacocks roam the park freely but are always easy to find. Feel free to wander through the reserve and enjoy this little slice of nature near the city centre. It’s discovering places like this where you feel Austin really earns the “Keep Austin Weird” slogan.
6. See a Play
If you are around from mid Jan – mid Feb, check out one of the many performances during Austin’s Fringe Festival Frontera Fest! Long Fringe is 2 weeks long and consistently rotates between 90 minute shows, while short fringe takes place all month long and you can see every kind of performer come through. No matter what, it’s always an experience.
Cost: Varies per show
7. Zilker Park
There’s no shortage of activities and festivals at Zilker Park all year long. From the yearly Kite Festival, to summer night Blues on the Green and double weekend Austin City Limits (ACL) Festival, Zilker always has something going on.
You can picnic in the park or visit the the Botanic Gardens or Umlauf Sculpture Garden. If you are looking for an sporty activity, you can join one of the many pick up games of soccer or ultimate frisbee organized on a regular basis.
During the holidays a local favorite is to walk through the Trail of Lights and during the summers attend the Zilker Summer Musical, the longest running outdoor donation based musical production in the United States.
8. Peter Pan Mini Golf or Butler Pitch & Putt Par 3 Course
Always a good time for the young and old, Peter Pan Mini Golf is located right in South Austin and as the name implies has a giant statue of Peter Pan! You seriously can’t miss it driving by. With two 9 hole courses to choose from, it’s easy to spend some good time here. Especially if you have fun with the fairy tale themed decor and take more pictures than actually play golf. It’s also one of the only places to have remained cash only, so be sure you bring the green.
For something a slight step up, located about 2 blocks over is the Butler Pitch & Putt Par 3 Course. It’s nothing fancy but the BYOB policy makes it a fun get together. The course has it’s challenging holes but it’s doable for all ages and skill levels making it another local favorite.
Cost: Mini Golf $5-$7, Pitch & Putt $9-11
9. Firehouse Lounge Speakeasy
For a truly unique activity in Austin, visit the (potentially) haunted speakeasy the Firehouse Lounge. Moonlighting as a hostel during the day, the speakeasy comes to life at night behind a hidden bookcase in the hostel lobby.
Both the hostel and lounge are at the site of the Austin’s oldest fire station built in 1885. The atmosphere is warm and inviting and serves up excellent craft cocktails. Everything about it from the red velvet decor, to the low lighting and the entry behind a moveable bookcase feels exactly like a scene out of a movie.
There are historical pictures framed on the walls to display the history of the building and really take you back in time. I asked the bartender about one of the photos of a woman that really caught my eye and he explained they believe she is the ghost that haunts the building!
Cost: Free + purchase of food and beverages
10. University of Texas Campus Tour
Being a proud alumna of the University of Texas (Hook ‘em Horns!), I spent a lot of time on the 40 acres. I am also one of the few that worked as a campus tour guide so I know a thing or two about the history of the universiy and the best spots to see.
While most tours are geared towards incoming students, the university also offers tours geared towards the general public that focus more on specific aspects of the school such as the Tower Tour (where you get to go to the top of the UT Tower), Stadium Tour (to show off our world class facilities) or the landmarks public art tours.
And if you find yourself on the drag or anywhere on campus, be sure to stop by and say hi to all the cute and typically very active turtles in the Turtle Pond! It’s located just behind the Tower and was one of my favorite places as a student to hang out.
So what about you? What are your favorite activities in Austin that I didn’t include? Leave a comment below or send me a message if you have any questions about visiting Austin!
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