10 Best Things to Do in Austin

What is Austin Most Famous For?

    The dizzying array of things to do in Austin mean that, Even in a place as unique and remarkable as Texas, the state capital stands out as a thrilling destination. Austin is known for outstanding food, great live music venues, and its general weirdness. Its rapidly rising in popularity as a place to live and visit, thanks to a fantastic culture and friendly locals.

    There are few remarkable landmarks in Austin. However, the experiences you can have and the memories you can make puts the city firmly on the bucket lists of many travellers. To help you get the most out of your visit, we’ve picked out the must-see things to do in Austin.

    What are the best things to do in Austin?

    1

    Start the day in Holly

    Grab a breakfast taco

    Once mostly a Latino area of Austin, Holly has become one of the trendier parts of the city. It’s a fun alternative nightlife destination and contains a number of great coffee shops, food trucks and restaurants. The northern part of the area, along East 7th Street, has an industrial and commercial feel to it, with a couple of small shopping malls. Possibly the area’s star attraction is Juan in a Million, a restaurant on East Cesar Chavez Street. The breakfast tacos there are legendary.

    • Food
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    photo by Steve Snodgrass (CC BY 2.0) modified

    2

    Must-See: Texas Capitol

    See the history of the Lone Star State

    They say that everything’s bigger in Texas, and they’re not wrong. The golden dome of the Texas State Capitol is about 22 feet taller than the dome of the Capitol Building in Washington DC. Built in 1885 in an Italian Renaissance Revival style, the imposing building is in the middle of a lovely 22-acre park, which also contains a number of statues and monuments. You can take a 30-minute guided tour of the building for free, which details the history of Texas and the state’s legislature.

    Location: 1100 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701, USA

    Open: Monday – Friday from 7am to 10pm, Saturday – Sunday from 9am to 8pm

    Phone: +1 512-463-4630

    • History
    • Photo
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    3

    See the iconic street art

    Impressive designs and inspirational messages

    Austin has a great variety of street art of all sizes and styles, spread right across the city. Looking around the more famous of them is a great way to explore the city, but that’s a lot of walking. Head to the HOPE Outdoor Gallery, just west of downtown Austin, for the densest concentration of artistic graffiti. Recognised as among the top artistic destinations in Texas, every surface seems to have several overlapping designs, many of which share inspirational messages. Please note that HOPE Outdoor Gallery is currently in the process of relocating - we'll update you on the new place when it's confirmed. Meanwhile, the many other artworks around Austin are still available.

    Location: 1101 Baylor St, Austin, TX 78703, USA

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    • Unusual
    4

    Queue up for brisket at Franklin Barbecue

    It’s worth the wait

    The food scene in Austin is fantastic, and one of the most famous places to eat is Franklin Barbecue in Central East Austin. Only open for lunch, expect long lines. In fact, you could quite easily end up waiting for all four hours that it’s open and still not get to the served! The lucky ones that do get served can enjoy the finest juicy smoked brisket. If you don’t want to wait, check out La Barbecue in Holly or Freedmen’s in West Campus.

    Location: 900 E 11th St, Austin, TX 78702, USA

    Open: Tuesday – Sunday from 11am to 3pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +1 512-653-1187

    Map
    • Food

    photo by A Vandalay (CC BY 2.0) modified

    5

    Must-See: Bullock Texas State History Museum

    The story of Texas

    This museum was designed to tell “the Story of Texas”, and does so across 3 floors of interactive exhibits. Each floor has a different theme, coving the Texan land and identity. The star attraction is the 400-seat IMAX theatre, which shows new and classic movies. Be sure to check out the original NASA Mission Control consoles and oil field drill bits on the 3rd floor. Head to the Story of Texas Café for local comfort food and snacks.

    Location: 1800 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701, USA

    Open: Monday – Saturday from 9am to 5pm, Sunday from noon to 5pm

    Phone: +1 512-936-8746

    • Families
    • History

    photo by LoneStarMike (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    6

    Take a dip in Zilker Park

    Bring a picnic and your swimsuit

    The 351-acre metropolitan park south of the Colorado River from downtown Austin is packed with fun things to do. There are beautiful picnic sites, playgrounds, volleyball courts, botanical gardens, an outdoor theatre and a nature centre. The star attraction, however, is the Barton Springs Pool. Formed by natural springs and spanning 3-acres, the water here is at a constant temperature of about 20°C throughout the year. It’s a popular place for Austinites to relax and cool off in summer.

    Location: 2100 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704, USA

    Open: Daily from 5am to 10pm

    Phone: +1 512-974-6700

    • Couples
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    photo by Wordandgesture (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    7

    Watch the bats fly from Congress Avenue Bridge

    Over a million of them take flight every evening

    About 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats roost under the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge, making it among the largest urban bat colonies in the world. Come to the bridge at dusk to see them all take to the sky to feed. You can watch from on the bridge or the nearby riverbanks and there are even boat tours which provide a unique perspective. It’s quite a dramatic sight and a real must-see for Austin.

    Location: Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704, USA

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    photo by Stuart Seeger (CC BY 2.0) modified

    8

    Dinner and a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse

    Enjoy classic meals delivered to your seat

    There are several of these popular cinemas around Austin. The uniquely offer the opportunity to have a ‘dinner and a movie’ date not only in the same place, but at the same time. Alongside excellent projector and audio equipment showing new and classic movies, you can get pizzas, burgers, salads, and other dishes delivered right to your seat. Don’t miss out on the Royale with Cheese burger, especially if Pulp Fiction is showing!

    Location: 320 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701, USA

    Phone: +1 512-861-7020

    Map
    • Couples
    • Food

    photo by Mike Prosser (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    9

    Listen to live music at The Continental Club

    A legendary venue in the live music capital of the world

    Austin is known as the live music capital of the world, and The Continental Club is the live music capital of Austin. The iconic venue on South Congress Avenue opened its doors in 1955 and has since welcomed legends like Robert Plant and Wanda Jackson. It’s quite a modest place with a small stage, but its reputation is massive and it still hosts great roots, rock, country, swing, blues and rockabilly acts every night.

    Location: 1315 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704, USA

    Open: Monday from 6pm to 2am, Tuesday – Friday from 4pm to 2am, Saturday – Sunday from 3pm to 2am

    Phone: +1 512-441-2444

    Map
    • Couples
    • Nightlife

    photo by Tangledupinbleu chs (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    10

    End the day bar-hopping on Dirty Sixth

    Half a mile of clubs, bars and regrets

    Sixth Street between Congress and Interstate 35 is locally known as Dirty Sixth. Lined with bars and clubs, it has a reputation for being the place where drunken mistakes are made most evenings. Even so, it’s one of those things to do in Austin that you've just got to try, even if it’s just once. Coyote Ugly is particular popular with the local students, so expect wild parties. For something more sophisticated, Midnight Cowboy is a reservation-only lounge. Go to Esther’s Follies if you want a laugh – it’s an excellent comedy club.

    • Nightlife

    photo by Charlie Llewellin (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    Ben Reeves | Compulsive Traveler

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