49 Best Things to Do in Austin
From nature hikes to water activities and a bustling nightlife, there are plenty of things to do in Austin that fit every taste and budget. Austin is known as the live music capital of Texas, and the entertainment doesn’t stop there. The city is packed full of diverse cultural influences and creative minds.
Did you know Austin is an ideal destination for those who love the outdoors? Nestled in the Texas Hill Country, the city offers a warm, pleasant climate during much of the year. It also features eclectic food and drink options, unique art exhibits, breathtaking public spaces and so much more. If you’re planning a visit, here are 49 cool things to do in Austin.
Jump to Section
- Foodie Things to Do in Austin
- Romantic Things to Do in Austin
- Free Things to Do in Austin
- Unique Things to Do in Austin
- Family-Friendly Things to Do in Austin
- Historic Things to Do in Austin
- Sporting Events to Attend in Austin
- Best Things to Do in Austin at Night
Foodie Things to Do in Austin
1. Cooking Classes
Cooking classes in Austin are a fun and unique way to spend time while you’re visiting Central Texas. Talented local chefs can help you master everything from international cuisines to gourmet menus to down-home Austin fare. Find interactive cooking classes near you, or opt for online cooking classes if you’re looking for an engaging night in.
2. Private Chef Experiences
Private chefs in Austin are ready to accommodate a gourmet fine dining experience for you and your guests. They handle the shopping, prepping, cooking and even kitchen clean-up, and they bring it all right to you. Enjoying a five-star meal from one of the many talented private chefs near you is one of the most delicious things to do in Austin.
3. Virtual Classes or Tastings
You don’t have to leave the house if you’re looking for things to do in Austin. Virtual experiences are perfect for those who have mobility issues or simply want to take a break from big city life. Online mixology classes will teach you how to mix eclectic craft cocktails, or you can opt for virtual whiskey tastings or virtual wine tastings led by world-class sommeliers and scotch stewards. If you don’t drink alcohol, try spicing up your morning joe with tips and tricks from online coffee classes.
4. Try a Bloody Mary at Casino El Camino
If you’re a fan of bloody marys, you’ll definitely want to stop by this Austin gem. Located on historic East Sixth Street downtown, Casino El Camino offers a tomatoey beverage that is nothing short of a masterpiece. Ingredients vary, depending on the cook’s mood and supplies that day. The end result is a snackable concoction that may include a slider, bacon or even a corn dog.
5. Take a Self-Guided Food Truck Tour
The city boasts several eateries on wheels, some of which serve the best BBQ in Austin. Visiting them is one of the most fun things to do in Austin if you love exploring local eats. The Thicket Food Park, Arbor Food Park and Saint Elmo Food Truck Park are a few destinations to check out, and they each boast unique flavors from exclusive restaurants you can only find in Texas’ capital city.
6. Eat Brunch at the Park
The Park is an Austin restaurant well-known for its Sunday brunch experience. Enjoy a live DJ on the patio as you indulge in $2 mimosas, with several flavors to choose from. The Park’s elaborate $5 bloody mary bar is an impressive sight to see — with a variety of mixes, garlic-stuffed olives, pickled asparagus and dozens of other fixings.
7. Visit a Brewery
Austin is home to many beer-lovers who have opened their own breweries. Supporting these businesses is time well spent and among the cool things to do in Austin. Stop by St. Elmos, Thirsty Planet or Zilker brewing companies (just to name a few).
8. Say Yes to Fine Wine
Did you know the Texas Hill Country is basically the Napa Valley of the Lone Star State? If you enjoy the finer things in life, indulging in a variety of fine wines is among the cool things to do in Austin. A quick Google search for Austin wineries will steer you in the right direction. Wanderlust Wine Co., Water 2 Wine and Texas Fine Wine are also some options to explore.
9. Dine and Seize Photo Ops at Taquero Mucho
There's a reason Austin is one of the best foodie cities in the country! Taquero Mucho is a tasty Mexican restaurant that boasts a fun and decorative atmosphere, so add it to your list of things to do in Austin. It’s a great dining option if you want to take advantage of some Instagram-worthy photo backgrounds while you’re there.
10. Enjoy a Sweet Treat at Amy’s Ice Creams
Amy’s Ice Creams has been an Austin dessert staple for decades. When your sweet tooth strikes, visiting Amy’s is one of the best things to do in Austin (as it’s the place where you can indulge in a variety of decadent and creamy snacks).
Free Things to Do in Austin
11. Visit Zilker Park
Zilker Park is the home of iconic events like the Austin City Limits Music Festival, an annual kite fest and much more. It’s an epicenter for things to do in Austin, and it’s also a great place to take a scenic walk or enjoy a picnic as you enjoy breathtaking views of the downtown cityscape. If you’re looking for outdoor things to do in Austin, Zilker Park is a must-visit.
12. Take a Self-Guided Mural Tour
Austin is home to many artists who have created larger-than-life displays on the city’s walls and buildings. Taking time to find and gaze upon these creations is one of the most unique things to do in Austin. A stroll down South Congress is a great place to take in some of the most impressive and colorful works of art in the city.
13. Spend an Afternoon Galavanting Around Downtown
Sometimes, vacation itineraries are overrated. Setting off on foot is one of the most fun things to do in Downtown Austin. You never know what kind of adventures you’ll encounter. Chances are, you’ll see musicians playing for tips on street corners as you take in the clamor of the city. Let aromas from local restaurants guide you to the best eateries when hunger strikes.
14. Visit the Blanton Museum of Art
When it comes to free things to do in Austin, the Blanton Museum of Art (which is located on the University of Texas campus) is a great choice. It contains more than 21,000 works in its extensive collection. Traveling exhibitions come and go throughout the year, so there are always fresh items to gaze upon.
15. Attend a Farmers Market
There are several farmers markets in Austin where you can get unique, hand-crafted items from some of the city’s most talented artisans. Check out the Barton Creek Farmers Market, Texas Farmers Market at Mueller, Lone Star Farmers Market or SFC Farmers Market when you’re looking for things to do in Austin.
Romantic Things to Do in Austin
16. Enjoy a Movie Night at Alamo Drafthouse
Alamo Drafthouse is so much more than just another movie theater. In fact, it’s one of the best things to do in Austin. It features interactive movie parties where the audience can celebrate their favorite classic flicks. You can also catch events featuring chef-inspired feasts with menus that are paired to the films.
17. Take Two-Stepping Lessons
When in Texas, why not perfect your two-stepping skills? Cutting a rug with your partner is among the most romantic things to do in Austin. The White Horse is an Austin honky tonk that features intermediate level two-stepping lessons on the first and third Monday of every month at 7 p.m.
18. Pose in Front of “I Love You So Much” Mural
You’ve probably seen the famous “I Love You So Much” mural on Instagram. It’s painted on the side of Jo’s Coffee on South Congress Avenue, and it’s a must-see when it comes to things to do in Austin. Grab your special someone and head to the iconic location for a photo opp that will keep you smiling for years to come. It's a sweet way to end a day of date ideas in Austin.
19. Attend a Drive-In Movie
While Austin is home to several outdoor movie experiences, watching a movie at Blue Starlite is a really cool thing to do in Austin. It provides a truly unique experience with its mini urban boutique drive-in theater setting. Be sure to make plans in advance, as the Blue Starlite only allows 15 to 40 cars per night so each moviegoer can enjoy an intimate evening. Catch childhood favorites, pop culture classics and much more.
20. Plan a Romantic Picnic
With a pleasant climate for much of the year, Austin’s vast assortment of public parks and outdoor spaces are ideal picnic date idea locations. If you’re looking for things to do in Austin, pack your favorite on-the-go meal and enjoy one of the many serene views the city offers (like the Austin 360 Bridge overlook).
Unique Things to Do in Austin
21. Nurture Your Inner Artist at The Contemporary Austin
Formerly known as the Austin Museum of Art, The Contemporary Austin has a collection of exhibitions and commissions, as well as educational opportunities. Looking for creative things to do in Austin? Visit the historic Jones Center location on Congress Avenue, or the 14-acre Laguna Gloria site that provides a unique art-in-nature experience.
22. Rent a Party Barge on Lake Travis
Renting a party barge on Lake Travis is one of the best outdoor things to do in Austin on a hot, summer day. ATX Party Boats has a five-star average rating on Google reviews, so give them a call if you’re in the market for a fun day on the water.
23. Watch the Bats Fly Away
The Congress Avenue Bridge is the largest urban bat colony in the world, making it a must for your list of things to do in Downtown Austin. At sunset, thousands of Mexican free-tail bats can be seen flying away to embark on their nightly hunts. Tourists are able to stand on the sidewalk overlooking Lady Bird Lake for a perfect view of the phenomenon.
24. Take a Hike
If you do a Google search for Austin hiking trails as you’re looking for things to do in Austin, the internet will present you with a variety of destinations. The Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail, Violet Crown Trail and the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail are some of the most highly trafficked.
25. Hit a City Golf Course
The city of Austin has six city-operated golf courses, so if you’re searching for things to do in Austin, get ready to spend a day on the greens! Each course is affordable, uniquely designed and ready to accommodate all skill levels.
26. Ride Scooters Downtown
Do you have a smartphone and a debit card? If so, you’ll be able to access many electric scooters as you look for things to do in Austin. You’ll be able to hop on and zip through the downtown and surrounding areas. There are many options to choose from — like Bird, which costs just $1 to get going and .39 cents per minute after that. Be sure to abide by all of the city’s ordinances regarding electric scooters.
27. Rent a Paddleboard or Kayak on Lady Bird Lake
Lady Bird Lake runs through Downtown Austin, and it’s a hotspot for anyone who is looking to soak up some sunshine or cool off with a refreshing swim. There are many outfitters nearby that rent kayaks and paddleboards by the hour.
28. Go Wild for Wildflowers
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center features magnificent natural eye candy. The organization inspires the conservation of native plants through its gardens and events. This is among the best outdoor options when you’re looking for things to do in Austin.
29. Climb Mount Bonnell
Overlooking Lake Austin, Mount Bonnell is the highest elevation in the city. You’ll have to climb up several stairs to get there, but the astonishing view of surrounding hills and the downtown skyline make the trek worthwhile.
30. Check Out The Barton Creek Greenbelt
The Barton Creek Greenbelt features more than 12 miles of rocky trails that surround an oasis of shallow water. It’s especially popular during the summer months, as friends look for opportunities to gather for fun in the sun.
31. Spend Time With Peacocks in Mayfield Park
Located within walking distance of Mount Bonnell is Mayfield Park, and these two are a power couple when for anyone looking for things to do in Austin. Stop by to witness gorgeous peacocks that roam freely amongst beautifully manicured gardens.
Family-Friendly Things to Do in Austin
32. Play Putt-Putt Golf
Peter Pan Mini Golf, located on Barton Springs Road in Austin, has provided family-friendly experiences since 1948. When it comes to things to do in Austin for all ages, this place is worth checking out. Stop by to enjoy a laid-back day of friendly competition at one of the city’s oldest entertainment staples.
33. Visit the Thinkery
The Thinkery, located in North Austin, is an inspiring place for kids of all ages to learn and explore. It’s one of the amazing things to do in Austin, offering 40,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor activities that are specially designed for families to learn through play.
34. Explore Light Exhibits at Wonderspaces
Wonderspaces has more than a dozen illuminated art installations, and adults can indulge in signature cocktails from the full bar. Even if you’ve been to Wonderspaces before, regular changes are made to the lineup, so there’s always something new to see.
Historic Things to Do in Austin
35. Visit the Texas State Capitol Building
Austin is the capital of Texas, so paying a visit to the historic state capitol building downtown is a must when it comes to things to do in Austin. The doors are open for self-guided tours Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Walk inside and stand in the same building where history has been made while gazing upon the building’s classic architecture.
36. Visit the Bullock Texas State History Museum
Located just blocks away from the capitol building, the Bullock Texas State History Museum is a great place for anyone who wants to learn more about the state’s rich history. Learn all about land, culture, technology and more. There is also a year-round calendar of events for the public to attend.
37. Texas Military Forces Museum
Embark on 45,000 square feet of Texas military history. This museum will teach you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Texas’ militia and volunteer forces dating back to 1823.
38. Pose Next to Iconic Stevie Ray Vaughan and Willie Nelson Statues
Austin is known as a popular destination for live music, and two famous statues commemorate a pair of iconic performers. A statue of Stevie Ray Vaughan is located at 210 Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail, and a Willie Nelson statue can be found at 310 W. Second St.
39. Tour the University of Texas Campus
The University of Texas has a beautiful campus, and when you visit it you’ll walk through the same corridors as legends like Janis Joplin, Matthew McConoughey and Karl Rove. If you’re looking for thing to do in Austin, visit UT in person to experience the unique atmosphere and spirit the university offers.
Sporting Events to Attend in Austin
40. Watch Race Cars Zoom by at The Circuit of the Americas
The Circuit of the Americas is a motor racing track that is home to the Formula One United States Grand Prix, NASCAR’s Texas Grand Prix and the Grand Prix of the Americas. If you have a need for speed or a general affinity for cars and racing, this is a destination you won’t want to skip.
41. Catch a Rugby Game
If you’re a rugby fan, Austin offers a couple of different options for you to enjoy the sport. The Austin Gilgronis, a professional team that competes in Major League Rugby, plays at Bold Stadium (which has more than 5,000 seats). The Austin Blacks are the oldest rugby club in Texas, and you can catch them at their 30-acre site in east Austin called Burr Field.
Austin features the Austin FC, a professional major league soccer team that is a member of the Western Conference. Their home stadium is the Q2 Stadium, located in north Austin.
43. Get Your Fix of the Texas Longhorns
The University of Texas takes part in many competitive sports, all of which are great for sports fans who are looking for things to do in Austin. Be sure to catch a baseball, basketball or football home game while you’re in town (depending on the season).
Best Things to Do in Austin at Night
44. Plan a Night on Rainey Street
The Rainey Street Historic District is a must-visit when you’re searching for things to do in Austin. It consists of a row of bungalow style historic homes that have been converted into bars and restaurants. Indulge in a variety of fun, food and drinks as you make your way down the iconic stretch.
45. Make a Night of It at the Domain
If you’re on the hunt for things to do in Austin at night, the Domain won’t disappoint. It’s a lively mixed-use development in north Austin that features a fun mix of bars, restaurants, shops and residential units.
46. Visit West 6th Street
West Sixth Street is an Austin entertainment district that offers a more toned-down version of the shenanigans down the road on East Sixth. While the roads aren’t blocked off on the weekends, there’s something for every foodie, partier, shopper and tourist in this area.
47. Attend a Concert at Austin City Limits
An evening of entertainment from one of your favorite performers in a state-of-the-art music venue is only a ticket away. The Austin City Limits Moody Theater in Downtown Austin hosts around 100 concerts per year, so there’s sure to be one you’ll love. In addition to Austin City Limits, there are many bars, restaurants and venues that host live music. Check out the lineups at Sam’s Town Point in South Austin, The Continental Club on South Congress Avenue or The Elephant Room downtown.
48. Check Out the East Side
During the past decade, Austin’s east side has livened up with an insurgence of new bars and restaurants. As a result, visiting this area is one of the most fun things to do in Austin. Make your way through the streets that lie east of I-35, and be prepared to discover some great local gems.
49. Attend a Comedy Show
If you’re looking for a good comedy show, Austin has many options that will have you belly laughing the night away. Esther’s Follies downtown offers a hilarious theatrical performance and magic show that has been described as an Austin version of Saturday Night Live. The Velveeta Room and Vulcan Gas Company are other popular comedy venues.
Whether you’re planning a solo trip, romantic getaway or family vacation, there are many things to do in Austin that will provide great memories for a lifetime to come. From majestic works of art to fun outdoor activities, come explore one of the most famous Southern cities in the country.
For even more things to do in Austin and beyond, check out other experiences happening on Cozymeal.