50 Things to do in Austin

Austin has to be one of the most fun places to live!   And yes, the summers are hot, but there are lots of great ways to beat the heat.   Below is a list of of some of our favorite places to go - both in and out of doors :o)

Enjoy!

1 ●● Discover Dinosaur Tracks in Leander
Check out the actual dinosaur tracks along a riverbed in Leander! A short hike off the road can bring you to some pretty clear tracks - not roped off or anything - just lying there smack in the middle of a creek bed! 

There is one set of fossilized dinosaur footprints on the downstream side of the bridge, and another on the opposite side of the creek. 

Free.

More Details and an update on creek levels


2 ●● Swim in Austin's natural springs and pools
Austin has a number of natural pools that are just perfect for cooling off during the hot Texas summers. Since these pools are spring-fed, they often are wet when all other pools are dry! Below are four of our favorites.

Lost Creek Swimming Hole
Located off of Lost Creek Boulevard, in South Central Austin, this swimming hole is supposedly very popular.  We have not made it out yet, but it is on our list of places to visit first this summer!

Hamilton Pool
If you have never visited Hamilton Pool you seriously need to go. If you have only been in the last few (drought) years, you really need to re-visit! With the creeks full, the 45 foot waterfall is absolutely incredible!

Hamilton Pool Preserve is a historic swimming hole where Hamilton Creek spills out over limestone outcroppings to create a 50 foot waterfall.  The pool's water level stays pretty constant, even during periods of drought. 

After cooling off in the pool, take a nice short (.6 mile) hike out to the Pedernales river for a change in scene.

New rules:  Fees are $26 ($15 entry, $11 online fee) per carload and reservation must be made ahead of time
More details

Krause Springs
Krause Springs is a well-known camping and swimming site located in Spicewood, Texas approximately 30 miles west of Austin. 

There are 32 springs on the property, and several feed the man-made pool and the natural pool which flows into Lake Travis.

Go and enjoy for the day or bring camping gear and spend the night!

Entrance is $7 for adults and $5 per child.  Camping is $14 per adult and $6 per child.
More details

Barton Springs Pool

Three acres in size, the pool is fed from underground springs and is an average 68 degrees year round. With all the beautiful trees, clear water, and diving board, this is certainly a favorite! 

Be sure to bring a mask and snorkel to check out all the fish life. 

Moss makes the bottom a bit slippery for young children and non-swimmers.

Entrance is $3 for adults, $2 for juniors and $1 for children
More details

Blue Hole in Wimberley
The Blue Hole, spring-fed by Cypress Creek, has long been known as a beautiful and refreshing swimming hole in Wimberley.  

Lush green lawns, a fun rope swing and cool clear water make visiting this swimming hole a must!

Entrance is $9 for adults and $5 for youth 4 - 12
More details



Jacob's Well in Wimberley

Located 40 minutes or so west of Austin, this artesian spring is a constant 68 degrees, which makes it a perfect swimming hole - especially for hot Texas days! This cool spring has a 'well' that is 23 feet deep and 12 feet wide.  Just perfect for jumping in.

More details




Camp Ben McCulloch
Located near Driftwood in Hays County, this privately owned campground hosts a prime swimming hole with a rope swing.  

After a rainy season, the river flows pretty quickly, so bring a raft and play by the river.  

The camp also has a nice playscape and tables for a picnic lunch

Entrance is free
More details


3 ●●  Check out Austin's Weirdest: The Cathedral of Junk
The Cathedral of Junk is most definitely one of Austin's weirdest.  Plunked down in a very normal South Austin neighborhood, this structure is something to behold!

Since this is located in someone's backyard, you need to call ahead to make an appointment to check it out!

Gather a big group of friends, and enjoy climbing through the structure!


Free

More Details!



4 ●● Explore Zilker Metropolitan Park

Zilker Park, located in downtown Austin, is Austin's central park.  This is the location of many of Austin's outdoor events.  

However, even with no event going on, this park is a great place to hang out and have fun.  Nestled between Town Lake to the north and Barton Springs to the south, there is a plethora of things to keep a family busy. 

More Details!



Ride the Zilker Zephyr
Running through the whole park is the Zilker Zephyr, a miniature train that rides arounds the perimeter of the park and under two tunnels, perfect for the younger crowd.

Adult $3, Child: $2

Dive into Barton Springs Pool 
Three acres in size, the pool is fed from under ground springs and is on average 68 degrees year round. With all the beautiful trees, clear water, and diving board, this is certainly a favorite!  Be sure to bring a mask and snorkel to check out all the fish life.  Moss makes the bottom a bit slippery for young children and non-swimmers.  

Adult: $3, Junior (12-17): $2 Child: $1

Zilker Botanical Garden 
Located on 30 acres in downtown Austin, this park has many "themed" gardens including a rose garden, pre-historic garden and native gardens. 

While this park is quieter in nature than many others, it is still a fun place for kids who like to explore!

Adult: $2, Child: $1

Play at Zilker Playground
Zilker Park has a wonderful large playground, complete with a fire engine to climb on.  It also has the Zilker Zephyr, a mini train that takes tours around the park.  Located on the premise is Barton Springs Pool, some of the coldest water in Texas!  Also in the park is the Austin Nature Center Splash exhibit, with a quick walk-though hands on demonstration about the Edwards Aquifer.  

Free


More details!

Take the dogs to Barking Springs


Just downstream of Barton Springs, the fence line ends and the waters from Barton Springs pour out from the pool and return to the river.  

This small area is perfect for those four legged creatures uninvited to the main pool.

Free

Check out the Austin Nature and Science Center
Located on the western edge of Zilker Park, this has been one of our families long time favorite summer places! The Austin Nature & Science Center is dedicated to the exploration of the the natural world.
The Center includes a Dino Pit for digging up fossil recreations, wildlife exhibits with rescue animals, a pond for fish feeding and many paths to explore.   


Bring native plants, leaves or bones to be identified, then turn them in to t
he Trade Counter to exchange for other items.   The counter is open from 10am to 1pm Wednesday - Friday. 

The center is free but donations are accepted.

Free



5 ●● Ride your bike at the Veloway
The Veloway is Southwest Austin's first trail exclusively for bicycles and rollerblading, making it the perfect place for young bikers.  

No worries about cars pulling out, and if you have two children who ride at different speeds, it is pretty easy to coordinate a hook-up (there are multiple length routes, the longest is 3.1 miles) 

Free
More details


6 ● Discover the Outdoor Art of Austin


Hope Outdoor Gallery

Check out this huge wall of grafitti located at 11th street and Baylor Street, one of the largest in the US. 
This project was developed to provide muralists, graffiti artists and community groups the opportunity to display large scale art pieces driven by inspirational, positive and educational messaging.If you take the time to explore, you will find some fascinating art.  And turn around and get a great view of Austin. There is parallel parking along Baylor Street, though space may be somewhat limited depending on the time. It looked like there was a lot (maybe even free?) on the corner of 12th and Lamar that is a short walk away.  

Murals of Austin
Our family recently discovered the "Murals of Austin" geocache, which took us on a tour of many of the murals of Austin.  It took a couple of trips, but we managed to find them all -- and in doing so, discovered what a treasure of murals Austin has.
If you want to get started on some of Austin's more famous murals, below are some of the more famous ones:Greetings from Austin, located on the southern wall of Roadhouse Relics at 1720 S. First Street, "You're My Butter Half" at 2000 E. MLK Jr. Blvd.
There are many, many more in and around Austin.  If you have the time and inclination, check out the Murals of Austin geocache, which will take you to many throughout Austin!


"Jeremiah the Innocent", known to most as the "Hi, How are you" frog?"located south side of the building located at the corner of 21st and Guadalupe, across from The University of Texas at Austin. 

Free
Bee Cave Sculpture Park
The Bee Cave Sculpture Park weaves through a 7 acre natural setting, showcasing a combination of permanent and rotating sculptures. In addition to the fantastic art, you will find a spring-fed pond and some of the largest oak trees in the city

 Summer Extra - Enjoy Shrek at the Zilker Hillside Theater
July 8 -August 13, 2016
Thur - Sun evenings.  Start: approx 8:30
Go once, and I bet you quickly find it becomes an annual tradition!

There is no better way to enjoy a musical than to sit outside on a beautiful summer evening. Head early to the Hilltop theater, save your spot with a blanket, and then head to Barton Springs to cool off before the show!

Located just across from Barton Springs Pool in beautiful Zilker Park, the natural amphitheater is nestled among a grove of giant 100 year old Pecan trees and is home to numerous locally produced musical and dance oriented events.    



● Summer Extra - Nature Nights at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
The Wildflower Center features amazing wildflowers, incredible native plant gardens, award-winning architecture and beautiful Hill Country trails.  Run up the observation tower, for a great view of Southwest Austin, stroll through the butterfly garden, or explore a forest trail. 

On Thursday evenings beginning June 9th, the Wildflower Center teams up with HEB for Nature Nights.   Each evening features interactive presentations, hikes with experts in their fields, and nature crafting for kids of all ages.  Subjects include Butterflies, Humming Birds, Birds of Prey and more!  

Admission is free! 

More information including dates and details!


● Summer Extra - Visit Barton Springs on a Full Moon Night
Seriously, if you haven't done this before, you really need to check this out. This is just about as quintessentially Austin as it gets. 

On evenings with a full moon, the pool fills to capacity.  And waves of howling will start from one end of the pool to the other. Everyone, and I mean everyone, participates.  I saw three year olds howl at the moon, and I saw senior citizens throw back their head as well.  It was one of the most bizarre, entertaining and fun nights - and very, very Austin.  

Summer full moons: June 20, July 19 and August 18.


Please note:  All prices are estimates and are placed here for planning purposes only.  To verify exact admission, please visit the web page of the attraction.

34 comments:

  1. Thank you for visiting this page. If you have a favorite place that isn't listed here, please let me know by leaving a comment below!!

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    1. You can race slot cars on a miniature replica of Austin's famous Circuit of the Americas at Races2U. www.races2u.com

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    3. You can race slot cars on a miniature replica of Austin's famous Circuit of the Americas at Races2U. www.races2u.com

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  2. I just came across this list, wow! I'm pinning it now. :)

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  3. I used to live in Austin in college and love going back with my kids to visit friends. This is such a great list and I am going to use it on our upcoming visit! We love riding the Zilker Zepher and playing at Zilker park when the kids need to get some energy out!

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  4. I am very happy to visting this blog, I really liked it, Thanks for share..Pool Builders Birmingham AL

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  5. What a great list! I'd have to add some of the great coffee shops and breakfast taco places, like Houndstooth Coffee or Juan in a million.

    Great list of things to do in Austin!

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  6. Just moved to town and am so happy to find this! We have two weeks of summer vacation left and we are going to take advantage of this list! Thank you!

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  7. You guys have no horseback riding on here! I think the quintessential Texan experience is riding a horse. MaverickHorsebackRiding.com accommodates children of all ages as well as special needs riders.

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  8. can you add Austin Sailboat Rentals right in downtown Austin on Ladybird lake? Great for kids and families! Visit website at www.austinsailboatrentals.com and their Facebook page with tons of pictures and videos. 5 star customer ratings on both Trip Advisor and Yelp.

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  9. Great list. I would add three things: Tour of KUT Studios (1st Thursday of each month, at 11 A.M. Signups are limited to 25 per tour), Elisabet Ney Museum and The Umlauf Sculpture Garden.

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  10. You have a really great list here. There is always a lot to do here in Texas.

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  11. Thankyou for the list and detailed description of each. Very helpful :)!

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  12. A hop on hop off guided sightseeing and historical tour started in Austin on April 3rd 2014. The tour is done from a double decker bus, which is a lot of fun and provides excellent views of the downtown sights. It stops near most of the items in this list. The stops are near the downtown entertainment district (6th Street), the LBJ Library, the Texas Longhorns Stadium, the Bullock Museum, the State Capitol, the Blanton Museum, South Congress SOCO, the restaurants on Barton Springs, Zilker Park, the Zilker Botanical Garden, and the Barton Springs pool. You can get off and self explore the different areas and hop back on when the bus comes back around.

    The website is DoubleDeckerAustin.com

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  13. Two things missing:

    1) Go sky diving (indoor) at iFly on Research Blvd.

    2) Hike the Brushy Creek Regional Trail. It goes past the splash pad in Ceder Park.

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  14. My son loves the bouncy house places. His favorite is kids n play by highland mall.

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  15. I tried a visit of the Circuit of the Americas, it was great!

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  16. I don't know if it was mentioned already but how about Graffiti park. It's pretty cool

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  17. How about during winter? What is there to do there?

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  18. Check out the Winter Things to Do page http://www.austintop50.com/p/winter-things-to-do.html

    if you are interested in Winter events:

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  19. Thank you so much for this blog, and this post especially! We are moving from California to Texas next year and I have been so nervous and clueless about what it's like over there. Thank you thank you thank you!

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  20. Just got back from this new craft distillery called, Crystal Creek Moonshine. Didn't expect much going in... but my oh my was I surprised!
    It immediately made my top 10 list of things to do in Austin. They are really small and just launched. Really fun time! 100% add Crystal Creek Moonshine to that list!

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  21. Take a running tour that samples beer!

    http://www.cityrunningtours.com/austingroupruns#texasbeer

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  22. Hello.I love austin.bee there several times.I love to cook Caribbean food indoor outdoor.trying to make connections.let me know.I will cook samples first for people to try.wanna get out of arlington.thanks

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  23. Austin Segway Tours by Gliding Revolution. http://www.glidingrevolution.com

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  24. Can you post this in a one-pager list?
    I'd love to print it and keep it in on my fridge for quick reference!

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    1. Great idea, Jane! Right now, the easiest way to make a printable list is to use the Pinterest buttons to make your own customized summer bucket list - and then print out the list and post it on the fridge.

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  25. I didn't do any of these things when I was in Austin! This is a great list I wish I would have found earlier! I also wish I would have worked for SpinGo before I went there so that I could have known about local events happening each night https://www.spingo.com/austin-texas

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  26. These are some great things to do in Austin. I am planning for a trip this summers and Austin will be surely on my bucket list. Thanks for sharing.

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  27. Thanks for the tips! Been trying to find some new stuff around town I haven't done yet and this helped :).

    Can't believe I've never seen the Hope mural area!

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  28. Love this List! Definetly a place I check when looking for something I can post on https://www.yobored.com/ and get my friends out enjoying the city!

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