Fun Things to do in Austin
Austin is known for beautiful sunshine-filled days and bluebird skies. The city boasts 205 parks, 14 nature preserves and more than 50 miles of hiking and biking trails. There are rivers for kayaking, a spring-fed swimming hole at Barton Springs Pool and even a grotto with a 45-foot waterfall at Hamilton Pool.
Best time to go
The best times to visit Austin are September to November or March to May, when 70s and 80s are the anticipated daytime temperatures. As temperatures climb into the mid- to high 90s with high humidity, the Texan summer (June through August) is barely tolerable for unaccustomed visitors.
Fun city facts and activities
- These days, visitors are downright spoiled with things to do in Austin. The citys population continues to expand rapidly, and scene long ago reached the kind of hip metropolis status that no other Texan city has been able to beat.
And how could they? Austin has a crowd-pleasing live music history that attracts big-name talent the world over, a diverse restaurant scene that cooks up more than just tacos and BBQ, and lets not forget all that fresh air and access to nature. And with downtown perched by a lake, and just a short distance to nearby swimming holes and hundreds of parks, outdoor recreation ranks high in just about every Austinites weekend plans.
It's no wonder that people aren't just visiting the Texas state capital theyre interested in putting down roots (we see you, Sandy Bullock). Heading this way yourself? Our guide to the best things to do in Austin will keep you on your toes.
Neighborhoods to explore
- Avery Ranch
Circle C Ranch
- Despite a culinary reputation built on barbecue and tex-mex, Austin is no two-trick pony. The capital city has graduated beyond smokey brisket and queso dip, adding a slew of internationally infused concepts to its delicious dining scene. Now yall can chow down on modern twists on South Asian classics, omakase fanned with smokehouse grill techniques and Texas-sized servings of French fare. Basically, all the perks for an unforgettable experience. Dont worry, the mainstays are still here, and you can certainly keep going till your waistbands say stop; starting with taco counters all the way up hot-shot tacos that come with silverware. The spectrum is huge and the flavors are always brilliant. Whatever youre in the mood for, at whatever style or price point, weve got you covered. Here are the best places to eat in Austin right now.
Austin Offbeat activities
Free or cheap things to do
1. Enjoy the Austin City Limits Music Festival
2. Get a bird's-eye view of the city from the top of the O. Henry Museum
3. Visit the Texas State Capitol and explore the grounds
4. Take a walk or bike ride along the city's many trails
5. Spend a day at the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail
6. Watch the bats at the Congress Avenue Bridge
7. Tour the University of Texas at Austin
8. Check out the Blanton Museum of Art
9. Sample local fare at the South Congress Food Trail
10. Take a dip in Barton Springs Pool
Austin seasonal activities
Activities for every season
Austin seasonal activities
Fun things to do in with kids
Free or cheap things to do
1. BABY BLOOMERS AT THE THINKERY
The Thinkery is an amazing childrens museum in central Austin. Its SO fun for both kids and adults! They have a program called Baby Bloomers, which is designed specifically for keeping young ones entertained and engaged. Theyre limiting capacity during the pandemic, so book your reservation early.
2. VISIT THE ZILKER BOTANICAL GARDENS
This is a lovely garden right in the middle of the city (literally right next to Zilker Park, which is a free public park to visit.) Youll have to book reservations, but tickets are really inexpensive. Its a fun place to bring the stroller or wagon and walk around a bit. You can let the toddlers burn some energy and explore the childrens garden, and youll enjoy the beautiful scenery.
3. PICNIC IN ZILKER PARK
Pack a picnic, bring a couple soccer balls, and enjoy the Austin sunshine in Zilker Park! Its a really big, spacious area, so its easy to socially distance. (Note that lots of folks bring their dogs here, so it might not be a good place if your toddler is scared of dogs.) Theres not a playground, but there are endless acres of grassy fields for your little one to toddle around in and (hopefully) get some energy out for a really good nap later in the day.
4. VISIT A LOCAL BREWERY
Most breweries in Austin are kid-friendly! When Im bringing Milo to a brewery, I love going to Jester King, 12 Fox, Family Brewing, or Treaty Oak_these are all in Dripping Springs, so theyre big space in the Hill Country with room for him to run around. If youre looking for a brewery in Austin for toddlers, Meanwhile Brewing has a really large lot with a playscape on it. (Note: most play scapes are closed during the pandemic, but stay tuned as they will hopefully be opening up again in the near future.)
5. WALK THE LADY BIRD LAKE HIKE AND BIKE TRAIL WITH A FRIEND
Grab a friend, put the toddler in a stroller, and enjoy a walk around the lake. This fantastic trail has lots of options (ranging from 1-10 miles) so you can customize your own distance. The lake is set right against a backdrop of downtown Austin, and this is one of my favorite places to go to start or end my day.
6. VISIT AUSTIN ZOO
Let me be honest with you: this is no San Diego Zoo. Its not a wildly impressive zoo, but it is a fun place to kill some time and let Milo move his legs and run around. Its a nonprofit rescue zoo, which I think is a really cool thing.
7. GO TO EMLER SWIM SCHOOL
Sign up for weekly lessons at Emler Swim School! They have locations all over Austin, and this is one of my favorite weekly activities with my toddler. Hes not only having fun and playing in the water, but hes also learning important water safety skills. (4,000 people drown every year, and most are preventable with proper water safety.) I love knowing that Im taking steps to keep him safe around lakes and backyard pools!
8. BOOK A SESSION AT LITTLE LAND PLAY GYM
This one is sooo sweet, and a really fun activitiy to do solo with your toddler! Little Land play gym has a two-hour play session that you can book in advance for kids ages 0 months 12 years. Its a fun place to crawl, climb, wiggle, and explore.
9. VISIT THE DINOSAUR PARK
Its about 45 minutes east of Austin, but a trip to The Dinosaur Park is such a treat for littles! Its an outdoor museum with life-size replicas. Theres also a playground, picnic area, and fossil dig.
10. PLAY-FOR-ALL PARK IN ROUND ROCK
This park was designed to be inclusive of all ages and abilities, so its a really fun place to bring toddlers! (Note that Round Rock is about 30 minutes north of Austin.) This 51,000 square foot park is so much fun!
City data and FAQ
Do you need car to visit Austin?
If your intention is to stay between the southern end of the Drag and the Lake, its possible that you could get by on foot, on scooter, on a bike, using an occasional Uber or taxi.
Brian Whitaker Lives in Austin, TX (2007present)
You'll need a car unless you're just going to stick to downtown. I guess you could take taxis instead of a car, but that probably won't work if you want to get a little bit outside the city like to wimberley, Bastrop or Johnson City
Michael Capochiano Lives in Austin, TX (1994 Present)
Are two days in Austin enough to visit?
I think so, depending on your interests. For outdoor fun, you can head to the surrounding woods or even Hippie Hollow, if youre more adventurous. If the weather is bad, theres the LBJ presidential library, the Bullock Museum, and some good shopping. Austin isnt an A list tourist town, but theres enough to see and do in two days
Anthony Adam Lives in Austin, TX
things to do search ideas
austin things to do, things to do in austin, things to do in austin texas, fun things to do austin, austin things to do today, fun things to do in austin, things to do today in austin, things to do in austin tx, best things to do in austin, things to do in austin this weekend, ice cream museum austin, museum of ice cream austin, free things to do in austin today, comedy shows austin, wonderspaces austin, things to do in austin this week, austin nature and science center, events in austin today, things to do in austin with kids