31 BEST Things to do in Austin [December 2019]

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The sunny, southern city of Austin Texas is a great vacation destination year-round! Whether you’re hoping to get outside to enjoy the warm weather or interested in the indoor city attractions, there’s something for every traveler to enjoy.

Maybe you’re planning a summer family vacation or perhaps you’re looking for some place to relax for a bit of downtime on a solo retreat. Either way, Austin has everything you could need for a special and memorable vacation!

Get started planning today by checking out this list of the best attractions and activities Austin has to offer.

Table of Contents

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Austin!

Finding a good home-base is the key to any successful vacation. Here are our favorite spots in Austin for a comfortable sleep and great amenities to make your stay comfortable and memorable!

Aloft Austin

The Best Option in Downtown Austin

Aloft Austin

Aloft Austin is our pick for the best option in Downtown Austin

  • 500m from the Capitol Building!
  • Amazing amenities

Relax in real style at the Aloft Austin hotel where you can enjoy services such as air-conditioning, a fitness center, onsite restaurant, and bathroom appliances!

Top downtown attractions of Austin are close by, as well as numerous restaurants and shopping centers.

 

DoubleTree by Hilton Austin

The Best Option for Convenience in Austin

DoubleTree by Hilton Austin

DoubleTree by Hilton Austin is our pick for the best option for Convenience in Austin

  • Free shuttle service!
  • Onsite dining and amenities

Enjoy the peaceful garden-like ambiance of the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel when visiting Austin.

With the free shuttle, you can catch a ride to numerous nearby attractions, restaurants, and shopping areas. When you’re tired, head back to enjoy onsite dining, fitness center, and free Wi-fi service!

Trying to plan ahead? Start with the basics with our favorite neighborhoods in Austin!

Hotel Indigo Austin

The Best Option for Entertainment in Austin

Hotel Indigo Austin

Hotel Indigo Austin is our pick for the best option for entertainment in Austin

  • Close to downtown!
  • Live entertainment onsite

Take a dip in the outdoor swimming pool and then order up room service to kick back and relax in your hotel room! Hotel Indigo has all the bases covered for comfort in style.

Top amenities of the Hotel Indigo include a sun terrace and evening entertainment for you to enjoy after a day of sightseeing!

 

The 31 Best Things to do in Austin

 

#1 – Take a Bike Tour around the City

Take a Bike Tour around the City

A great way to sightsee in Austin

  • Pedal-assist E-bikes!
  • See the top landmarks
  • Exercise and sightsee at the same time!

If you’d rather not walk around town, a bike tour is a great option to see more attraction in less time and get a work-out in to boot!

Bike tours include all the most famous landmarks like the Capitol Building and entertainment districts, giving you plenty of opportunities to get some great photos of your trip!

 

Haven’t found what you’re looking for? Try our hotel guide for Austin!

#2 – Explore the Street Art of Austin

Explore the Street Art of Austin

The perfect tour for art lovers

  • Mosaics, sculptures, and more!
  • Signature photos of the city
  • Great local culture experience!

From top art galleries to unique murals decorating city walls, Austin is famous for its vibrant art scene!

Explore all the best places with the help of a local guide on a street art tour through the city for the chance to learn about the local culture and get some amazing photographs!

What sort of trip are you planning? Downtown Austin has incredible hotels for all types of visits!

#3 – Swim in Barton Springs

Swim in Barton Springs

A ‘cool’ thing to do in Austin in summer (Photo Credit – freefuninaustin.com)

  • Escape the heat!
  • Great family activity
  • Learn about native wildlife

Austin is hot, and if you need to take a break to cool down, Barton Springs is the place to go!

These natural springs are the perfect place to splash around and check out the exhibits with information about the history of the springs and their environmental significance.

 

#4 – Day Trip to Texas Hill Country

Day Trip to Texas Hill Country

  • Famous wineries!
  • Beautiful rolling hill landscape
  • Great history tour!

Get out of the city for a day by taking a trip to the Texas Hill Country, known for its excellent wineries and gorgeous natural landscape.

Not only will you get some awesome photos, but you’ll also have the chance to see historic sites such as the Fredericksburg and the LBJ Ranch!

 

Excited to visit Austin? Get excited to take an amazing day trip too!

#5 – Kayak Tour of Bat Bridge

Kayak Tour of Bat Bridge

An amazing spectacle unique to Austin

  • Signature Austin landmark!
  • Unique way to see the city
  • Over 1 million bats!

Austin has earned itself the nickname of “bat city” for the large number of bats who make their home under the Congress Avenue Bridge.

One a kayak tour, you’ll have a front-row seat to witness the amazing spectacle of all the bats flying off at sunset!

 

#6 – Listen to Music at Shady Grove

  • Free on Thursdays!
  • Great Texas food
  • Cool local vibe

Listen to live musicians and enjoy some typical Texas food at the famous Shady Grove restaurant!

The venue has been hosting live music events for more than 26 years running, making it a popular attraction among tourists and locals!

 

#7 – Taste Your Way through the City

Taste Your Way through the City

  • Discover local eateries!
  • Unique flavors
  • Culinary history

If you’re a foodie, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the range of options in Austin!

From classic southern comfort food to a blend of international flavors, you’ll want to make sure you come with an empty stomach to a taste tour of the city!

 

#8 – Browse through Music and Waterloo Records

Browse through Music and Waterloo Records

A great unique Austin store (Photo Credit – timeout.com)

  • Classics and alternative!
  • Huge record store
  • Check out the performance schedule!

If you’re a record collector, make sure you check out the Waterloo Records store of Austin!

This well-stocked quirky store has the big hits and lesser-known artists, as well as sometimes hosting live performances to keep up the energy!

 

#9 – Solve Puzzles in an Escape Room

Solve Puzzles in an Escape Room

  • Perfect rainy-day activity!
  • Numerous storylines
  • Fun mind games

Looking for an indoor activity in Austin? Put your critical thinking to the test in an escape room!

These fun adventures will have you on your toes trying to solve puzzles and crack codes in order to escape in your allotted time.

 

#10 – Play a Game at Peter Pan Mini-Golf

Play a Game at Peter Pan Mini-Golf

Great thing to do in Austin with kids (Photo Credit – Flickr – Keli Ray)

  • Fun family activity
  • Close to Zikler Park
  • Fun sculptures

Looking for an activity to keep kids occupied? You’re in luck because everyone can have fun at the Peter Pan Mini-Golf course.

You can enjoy looking at the handcrafted sculptures while playing your way through the creative courses!

 

#11 – Check out the View from the University of Texas Tower

  • Perfect photo spot!
  • 360-degree view
  • Great way to see the city

The University of Texas Tower is one of the iconic landmarks of Austin, and also offers one of the best panoramic views of the city!

Make sure you book a tour in advance since spots fill up quickly and it’s the only way to gain access to the observation deck.

 

#12 – Learn Local Trivia on a Scavenger Hunt

Learn Local Trivia on a Scavenger Hunt

One of the best things to do in downtown Austin

  • Fun historic facts
  • Unique way to sightsee!
  • You just need a smartphone

Turn a day of sightseeing into a fun puzzle with a smartphone scavenger hunt around the city!

You can see numerous popular tourist attractions, learn about local history, and get some awesome photos to boot as you work your way through each clue in the puzzle.

 

#13 – Learn about History at the Bullock Museum

Learn about History at the Bullock Museum

One of the best museums in Austin (Photo Credit – tshmf.org)

  • See a shipwreck!
  • Texas history
  • Watch an IMAX film

People of all ages can enjoy the displays and activities at the Bullock Museum of Austin!

There’s a chronological history of important Texas events such as the Alamo and Kennedy assassination, as well as the popular renovated shipwreck display!

 

#14 – Try out Indoor Skydiving

Try out Indoor Skydiving

One of the best fun things to do in Austin

  • Great adrenaline rush!
  • No experience required
  • One-on-one instruction

If you’ve ever dreamed of flying, Austin has the answer. The iFLY Austin center allows you to experience weightlessness from the safety on an indoor skydiving facility!

Feel the power of levitation in the vertical wind tunnel with wind speeds up to 175 mph!

 

#15 – Visit Salt Lick BBQ

Visit Salt Lick BBQ

One of the best local tasting experiences in Austin

  • Famous flavors of Texas!
  • Enjoy the countryside
  • Great option for foodies!

If you’re hoping to try a traditional Texas barbecue, then Salt Lick BBQ is the place to go!

Escape the city traffic and venture into the countryside to enjoy the best meat in Texas and visit some local wineries for the ultimate tasting experience!

 

#16 – Check out Jester King Brewery

  • Free weekend tours!
  • Unique brews
  • Try signature local beer!

If you’re a beer fan, Jester King Brewery is the place for you! This unique brewery has been producing some of the most famous drafts in Texas since 2010.

On the weekends you can enjoy free tours and samples to determine your favorite variety!

 

#17 – Go for a Hike in Covert Park

Go for a Hike in Covert Park

A great activity for hikers in Austin (Photo Credit – rootsrated.com)

  • Beautiful natural scenery
  • Perfect sunset!
  • Bring your hiking shoes

Take a break from the city and head up the trail of Covert Park which brings you to a 785-foot peak with excellent views of Lake Austin and the city!

It’s a romantic view, but make sure you remember to bring your bug spray so you can enjoy the scenery in peace.

 

#18 – Take a Tour with a Local Guide

Take a Tour with a Local Guide

  • All the major landmarks!
  • Great photo opportunities
  • Learn the backstories!

Check off all the major attractions of Austin with a local guide who can give you some interesting, lesser-known facts about the famous landmarks!

From great photos to tasty treats, you can get the best of Austin in one go-around.

 

#19 – Check out Zilker Park

Check out Zilker Park

One of the best free things to do in Austin (Photo Credit – TripSavvy)

  • Botanic Gardens
  • Great picnic areas
  • Annual festival and events!

From a fun playground for kids to great walking paths, Zilker Park is the place to be to enjoy the outdoors in Austin!

Rent kayaks to take out on the lake or check out one of the festivities like Blues on the Green which is held in the park every year.

 

#20 – Go for a Cruise on Lake Austin

Go for a Cruise on Lake Austin

The perfect way to enjoy the scenery of Austin

  • Perfect outdoor activity
  • Close to downtown!
  • Great natural scenery

Relax and enjoy a boat ride on one of Austin’s best natural attractions-Lake Austin!

You’ll have the chance to get some great photos capturing the lake scenery and maybe check out one of the lakeside restaurants when the boat ride is finished!

 

#21 – Visit Laguna Gloria

One of the best cheap things to do in Austin

  • Cool outdoor art!
  • Lake Austin waterfront
  • 1916 villa

Combining art, history, and nature, the Laguna Gloria is a must-visit for every traveler coming to Austin.

Enjoy the lovely views of Lake Austin and meander around the unique outdoor sculpture gardens to get some signature pictures of your trip!

 

#22 – Jam out to the Music of Austin

Jam out to the Music of Austin

Things to do in Austin this weekend

  • Live local musicians!
  • Great music diversity
  • Over 270 performance venues!

Austin is sometimes considered to be the “music capital of the world” thanks to its numerous venues and rich history of music.

It would take too long to visit every venue in the city, but you can see the highlights on a music crawl to see a show at some of the top sites!

 

#23 – Visit the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library

One of the more unique things to do in Austin

  • 30-acre site!
  • Important historic documents
  • Unique learning experience

Okay, so a library isn’t the first place you think of to go on vacation, but he Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum of Austin might be an exception!

One of the largest presidential libraries in the country, you can view things like recorded telephone calls, a history of the Vietnam war, and artifacts from around the world.

 

#24 – Bike along Walnut Creek

Bike along Walnut Creek

A great way to get your exercise in Austin

  • Green side of Austin!
  • Stop by local parks
  • Great views of the city

Take a break from the rush of downtown by joining a bike tour along Walnut Creek.

From Lady Bird Lake to Govalle Park, you’ll cycle past numerous parks and along beautiful shady trails for a pleasant outdoor experience of Austin’s natural side.

 

#25 – Check out Austin City Limits Festival

The perfect event for music lovers

  • Every year in October!
  • Huge music festival
  • Over 130 bands

If you happen to be in Austin during October, make sure that you attend the Austin City Limits (ALC) festival in Zilker Park!

It’s a fun time for people of all ages, with all sorts of music genres, fun activities and games, and plenty of food vendors.

 

#26 – Photograph the Capitol Building

Photograph the Capitol Building

  • Top landmark of Austin
  • 22 acres of Capitol grounds!
  • Iconic photos of Austin

One of Austin’s most beautiful landmarks, the capitol building is a great spot to practice your skills as a photographer!

With the help of a professional photographer guide, you can learn about the history of the Capitol while getting some postcard-worthy photos of your trip along the way.

 

#27 – Cool off in the Hamilton Pool

Make a splash on vacation

  • Peaceful natural pool
  • Great summer activity!
  • Nice hiking trails

When the heat of summer becomes too much, pack a picnic and head to Hamilton Pool, located in the Balcones Canyonland Preserve!

Make sure you book a reservation in summer to have a spot at this amazing thousand-year-old natural swimming area!

 

#28 – Day Trip to Fredericksburg

Day Trip to Fredericksburg

A fun historic tour of Texas

  • Great local museums
  • Ride a trolley!
  • Learn about history

The charming historic city of Fredericksburg is an easy day trip from Austin and a great way to take a break from the big city.

Stop by the popular museums, get photos of iconic landmarks, and relax on a trolley ride while a local guide explains the history of the area!

 

#29 – Listen to Music at The Continental Club

A very cool thing to do in Austin

  • Top performance venue!
  • 200-person capacity
  • Open since 1955!

One of the oldest and most famous music venues of Austin, The Continental Club has seen numerous stars on their stage!

Check out the calendar of events and get tickets to a show for a memorable evening during your vacation.

 

#30 – Try out a Local Art Class

Try out a Local Art Class

Let out your creative side on vacation

  • Immerse yourself in local art!
  • Create a unique souvenir
  • Learn from a professional!

In a city so famous for art and music, Austin is a great place to try out a new craft for yourself!

Sign up for an art class, like a beginners’ glass fusion class; no experience is required, and you could discover a whole new side to your own creativity!

 

#31 – Watch the Sunset from Oasis Lake Travis

A great romantic option in Austin

  • Huge Tex-Mex restaurant
  • Annual sunset photo contest!
  • Dancing, food, and more

Located on a hill 450 feet above Lake Austin, the Oasis Lake Travis restaurant has one of the best views in town!

Known for the killer sunsets, you can enjoy the view along with live music, occasional salsa dancing parties, and unique margaritas!

Conclusion

Experience the best of Texas style by coming to Austin for your next vacation! Whether you’re looking for a nice place for a solo retreat or somewhere with enough activities to keep kids occupied, Austin has the perfect balance to fit your trip needs.

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About the Author Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson lives to travel! Born in Washington D.C., Emma is a hotel connoisseur and a staff writer at Hotel Jules. An army brat, Emma got the travel bug early and has never been able to stop. Now, she has proudly visited 70+ countries and plans to visit every country in the world! Passionate about her ukelele (obviously) and her family, Emma eventually wants to retire in Thailand and write a book about all of her travel experiences.