14 Best Things To Do In Austin – Attractions, Tours & Sights

(Last Updated On: January 19, 2023)

Austin is the Texas State Capitol and is a very popular destination among tourists.

Austin has a humid subtropical climate characterized by long, hot summers and short, mild winters, with warm spring and fall transitional periods.

This inland city, bordering the Hill Country region, is considered the Live Music Capital and stands up to this title year after year.

Home to the University of Texas Austin campus, Austin is known for its eclectic live-music scene centred around country, blues and rock.

Its many parks and lakes are popular for hiking, biking, swimming and boating.

South of the city, Formula One’s Circuit of the Americas raceway has hosted the United States Grand Prix.

1. The Texas State Capitol Building

Texas State Capitol Building

The Texas State Capitol Building, recognised as an important National Historic Landmark, is a remarkable facility and one not to miss when visiting Austin.

The Texas State Capitol and grounds are located on a hilltop overlooking downtown Austin.

The red granite building with it’s amazing dome, which you can visit by climbing four flights of inlaid marble stairs, also has a great gift shop and cafeteria to stop by at.

With 17 surrounding monuments to admire, together with wonderfully landscaped gardens and a free guided tour to take advantage of, you can learn all about the Texas history of the area from friendly, well-informed guides.

Address: Texas State Capitol Building, 1100 Congress Ave, Austin, Texas 78701

2. Lady Bird Lake

Lady Bird Lake

Lady Bird Lake is a wonderful body of water in the centre of this busy city.

The Lake is a section of the Colorado River that runs through downtown Austin and was created by the building of the Longhorn Dam in 1960.

Popular with runners, bikers and those just out for a leisurely stroll, it’s worth taking the family out for an afternoon here.

Stroll around the waterfront with its many bridges that cross the calm waters.

The lake’s banks are bounded by the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail that is over 10 miles long and makes a complete circuit of the lake.

The Roy Butler hike and bike trail is mostly flat so great for leisure or a bike tour.

There is also paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing and boat rentals to enjoy, which are popular activities around Lady Bird Lake.

Address: Lady Bird Lake, First St Bridge, Austin, TX 78701

3. Austin Aquarium

Austin Aquarium

The Austin Aquarium opened in 2013 and is located about 20 miles north of downtown Austin.

One of the best things to do in Austin for families, the Austin Aquarium welcomes everyone to enjoy an immersive and interactive experience.

There are thousands of species to see at this Austin City Aquarium.

Among the exhibits featured throughout the aquarium are a wide variety of amphibians, an interactive lorikeet and parakeet aviary, and a variety of cold water and tropical fish.

The Aquarium also features sharks, a stingray touch tank and a rain forest with hundreds of reptiles.

Great for nature lovers, the Austin Aquarium provides children and families access to the excitement and learning opportunities of the ocean.

Address: Austin Aquarium, 13530 US-183 #101, Austin, Texas 78750

4. Mayfield Park

Mayfield Park

Mayfield Park is a historic cottage with 2 acres of colorful cottage gardens and a nature preserve in west Austin, Texas.

The Park is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and the entire estate was presented to the city of  Austin in 1971.

The Mayfield Preserve has a 21 acre natural area that surrounds the park containing outdoor activities, walking and hiking trails, and wildlife habitats.

Visitors can enjoy the natural beauty of Mayfield Park seeing towering palm trees, lush gardens and colourful peacocks roaming the park grounds.

These all surround the lily and koi fish filled ponds.

You can fill a morning or an afternoon simply wandering around the gardens enjoying the sights and the aromas.

Address: Mayfield Park, 3505 W 35th St, Austin, TX 78703

5. Zilker Botanical Garden

Zilker Botanical Garden

Zilker Botanical Garden is nestled within Zilker Metropolitan Park in the heart of downtown Austin.

Composed of theme gardens such as rose, herb and Japanese gardens that are interconnected with streams, waterfalls and Koi-filled ponds.

The Hartman Prehistoric Garden recreates a local dinosaur habitat.

The gardens are open to the public most days year-round and are enjoyed by thousands of visitors.

Address: Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, Texas 78746

6. Congress Avenue Bridge

Congress Avenue Bridge

From March to October, 1.5 million bats emerge nightly from narrow crevices in the underside of the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge.

Home to the largest urban bat colony, the Congress Bridge is one of the must see things to do in Austin.

They usually start to emerge from the bridge around 20 minutes before sundown.

The walkway on the east side of the bridge offers the best vantage point for watching the bats emerge and fly eastward over Lady Bird Lake.

The hillside below the Congress bridge is a little more kid-friendly since you can spread out a blanket and even have a picnic while you wait.

Address: Congress Avenue Bridge, Congress Ave, Austin, Texas 78704

7. Barton Springs Pool

Barton Springs Pool

Barton Springs Pool is a recreational outdoor swimming pool that is filled entirely with water from natural springs.

It is located on the grounds of well-kept Zilker Park in Austin, Texas.

The pool measures three acres in size, and is fed from underground, with an average temperature of 68-70 degrees, ideal for year-round swimming.

Depths of the Barton Springs pool range from 0’ to 18′ with surrounding grassy areas for patrons to lounge upon.

There is a nominal entrance fee to use the pool.

The grounds also feature a bathhouse and an educational exhibit which explains about the history and biology of the Barton Springs.

Barton Springs Pool is a favorite among visitors and Austin residents alike

Address: Barton Springs Pool, 2201 William Barton Dr, Austin, Texas 78746

8. Austin Nature & Science Center

Austin Nature & Science Center

Centrally located on the western edge of Zilker Park and established in 1960, the Austin Nature & Science Center’s mission is to provide hands-on educational exhibits.

The Austin Nature & Science Center offers a range of nature-based programs, workshops, and a fantastic activity where you can dig for dinosaur fossils.

There are a variety of temporary and permanent exhibits including the Naturalists Workshop, bird watching, accessible trails around the pond system, and more.

Through its Birds of Prey exhibit, the center allows visitors to witness them up close, as well as providing the opportunity to learn more about them in the process.

There is a Frost Trail that is a permanent, self-guided exhibit which offers a tour of 45 tree specimens.

This is a great day out and the exhibits are open to the public during regular visitor hours with no entrance fee.

Address: Austin Nature & Science Center, 2389 Stratford Dr, Austin, Texas 78746

9. Austin Zoo

Austin Zoo

Located on the southwest edge of Austin, Texas, Austin Zoo draws visitors from around the world to learn about rescued animals and spend quality time outdoors.

The mission of the Zoo is to assist animals in need through rescue, rehabilitation and education.

African lions and Bengal tigers stretch out in the big cat habitats while monkeys and marmoset swing from tree to tree in the monkey areas.

In addition to wild creatures, the zoo houses domesticated animals such as a miniature donkey, pot-bellied pigs and llamas.

Address: Austin Zoo, 10808 Rawhide Trail, Austin, Texas 78736

10. Laguna Gloria

Laguna Gloria

The Contemporary Austin Laguna Gloria is the former home of Clara Driscoll and the site of a 1916 Italian-style villa.

Today, Laguna Gloria visitors can see evidence of Clara’s interests in the details of the three-story villa, with its stucco and masonry exterior.

Located only five miles from downtown Austin and right on beautiful Lake Austin, Laguna Gloria is now a historic landmark and a piece of Texas history.

Picturesque paths guide visitors through the landscaped grounds, where there is a Roman fountain and Venetian statues.

The museum offers a private tour of the villa and grounds at weekends, or you may wander at will.

The site also features a contemporary outdoor sculpture park with works by renowned international artists.

Laguna Gloria is a beautiful, peaceful setting for this sculpture park.

Address: Laguna Gloria, 3809 W 35th St, Austin, Texas 78703

11. Sixth Street

Sixth Street

Sixth Street is a historic street and entertainment district in Austin, Texas.

It’s located within the city’s urban core in downtown Austin.

Sixth Street starts between Congress Street and Interstate 35 and is known as the center of the musical action in Austin.

The area is a buzz of activity with shops, restaurants, bars, entertainment areas and live music venues.

During the day, you can take a walk here to admire the various historic and uniquely designed buildings.

In the evening it’s destination for locals and tourists alike, with rooftop bars, fabulous live country music, and late-night restaurants and food trucks.

On Friday and Saturday evenings there is restricted vehicular traffic on Sixth Street and the area might not be suitable for young kids at night.

Address: Sixth Street, Austin, TX 78701

12. Lake Travis

Lake Travis

Lake Travis is a reservoir on the Colorado River which covers almost 30 square miles.

One of the best things to do in Austin when visiting is a trip to Lake Travis with so much to see and do.

Located on the eastern shores of the lake is Waterloo Adventures, an on-the-water waterpark and challenge course.

Waterloo features a 600 foot water playground offering more than 20 obstacles, including climbing walls, monkey bars, slides, hurdles, balance beams and bridges.

Located on the north shore of Lake Travis is the Lake Travis Zipline Adventures that has 5 zip lines.

Lake Travis has over 50 boat rentals operating on the Lake, from stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, jet skis, wakeboard boats, pontoons, sail boats and party barges.

The lake can have depths of over a hundred feet and stretches for almost sixty miles that gives boaters space and depth to enjoy the water in a variety of boat rentals.

Many of the coves and inlets on Lake Travis are perfect for fishing and there are plenty of guide services around the lake to help you find the best spot.

There is also Scuba diving opportunities in the fresh waters of Lake Travis which is a great opportunity to see Austin nature at its best.

In the evening sunset views can be enjoyed from the iconic Oasis multi-level restaurant giving the most spectacular views of lake Travis and the surrounding Texas hill country.

There are so many fun things to see and do here for all the family.

Address: Lake Travis, 4370 Mansfield Dam Park Rd., Austin, Texas 78732

13. Rainey Street

Rainey Street

Rainey Street is an entertainment hot spot of bungalows that have turned into bars, high-end hotels and live music venues in a tucked-away corner of downtown Austin.

There are some great Austin food options on Rainey Street ranging from casual street food to haute cuisine.

If you’re not into the overly boozy atmosphere that is Sixth Street, Rainey Street is a much better option.

Austin residents and visitors come here to relax, have fun, and soak up the live music Austin is famous for.

Address: Rainey Street, Austin, Texas 78701

14. South Congress Avenue

South Congress Avenue

This vibrant neighborhood, located just south of downtown Austin, is walkable and trendy,

South Congress has so much character and boasts boutiques, shops, eateries, galleries and live music venues.

There’s also the iconic Continental Club that opened its doors in 1957 in South Congress Avenue.

The Continental Club has some outstanding live music every single night of the week.

For shoppers there’s the famous Allens Boots, with it’s giant, cherry red cowboy boots sign out front.

There are over 4,000 boots on display here that allows visitors to get fitted for a requisite pair of cowboy boots.

Address: South Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas 78704


When did Keep Austin Weird start?

Keep Austin Weird was said by the librarian Red Wassenich while on the phone with a local radio station in 2000.

A slogan was created by the Austin Independent Business Alliance to promote small businesses in Austin, Texas.

Now a ‘trademark,’ Keep Austin Weird can be seen on T-shirts, hats, and some of the bumper stickers in the city.

What is Austin City Limits?

Austin City Limits is a state-of-the-art, 2,750-person capacity live music venue that hosts approximately 100 concerts a year.

Austin City Limits is taped in the Moody Theater at 310 W. Willie Nelson Blvd., Austin, Texas.

Concert ticket sales for Austin City Limits at the Moody Theater can be got online.

Is there a famous barbecue restaurant in Austin?

Austin food is delicious, especially barbecue.

Franklin Barbecue is a barbecue restaurant located in Austin, Texas, founded in 2009 by Aaron Franklin.

Long lines form early at Franklin Barbecue, for brisket, pulled pork and other meats at this famous spot.

Where is the Austin Visitor Center?

The Austin Visitor Center is located on the ground floor level of the Austin Convention Center.

It provides information about local attractions, museums, tours and more.

You can also book an Austin City guide.


  • Tamara M

    Hey there! My name is Tamara, welcome to my little world! I’m a 20-something-year-old from Toronto, Canada (though I’m rarely there) and I’m super passionate about exploring the world, photography, and cooking delicious plant-based recipes. I created this blog to share my favorite places, adventures, restaurants, accommodations, and travel tips with all of you and keep a bit of a travel diary for myself.

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