The best things to do in Austin, Texas
Austin is a city with its own identity. It’s part-Texan but also part-funky. There’s plenty to do if you like music, the arts, sport or just relaxing.
Make sure you give yourself enough time to chill out and enjoy the atmosphere of one of the coolest cities in the south of the USA.
Here are a few of the best things to do in Austin.
Music on Sixth Street
Sixth Street is the heart of Austin. Dozens of bars feature live music with small-time musicians giving a taste of their style, fun cover bands that get the crowd dancing and big international acts that make an effort to put Austin on their touring schedule.
You’ll pay a cover charge for the better-known bands but it’s generally free to walk into the other bars and check out a few songs from the up-and-comers. There’s always something happening every night of the week.
If it’s a nice sunny day, there’s almost nowhere better to be in Austin than out at Barton Springs. Just out of town, the river has been dammed to create a large freshwater pool.
There’s a diving board in the middle and plenty of room to do laps (it’s about 300 metres long!). There are also lots of areas to lay back and sunbake.
Entry is just $3 for an adult and there’s food and drink available as well.
Watch the bats
During bat season (spring, summer and early autumn) there’s a tradition where people gather at dusk to watch the bats underneath Congress Avenue Bridge wake up and fly into the night. More than a million bats sleep under the bridge and it’s the largest urban bat colony in the US.
Hundreds of people turn up every night on the bridge, the parks by the river or even in kayaks on the water to watch the spectacle as the bats fly out, creating a long black line towards the sky.
College football game
You’ve obviously got to be in Austin on the right day for this but, trust me, it’s worth it. The stadium at the University of Texas holds more than 100,000 people and the locals take their football very seriously!
Even if you don’t understand the rules of the game, the atmosphere of the crowd makes the event worthwhile. You can read my story about seeing a college football game in Austin.
Ride a pedicab
In the downtown area of Austin you’ll see plenty of pedicabs hoping for your business. Most of the riders are young college students who see it as a good way to earn an income.
It’s not the fastest way to get around, or the cheapest, but it is the most fun. They’ll probably only be willing to take you to other areas of downtown but it’s a fun ride while it lasts.
They’ll weave between traffic, jump on the footpaths and weave between pedestrians, and give you a bit of a tour as they pedal along.
The price is a tip of your choosing although they’ll have suggested amounts if you’re unsure.
Take a walk on South Congress
This is the cool part of town where Texan heritage meets hipster fashion. The street is lined with shops selling clothes, boots and knick knacks.
You can buy some authentic Texas apparel or get something so funky it would look hip in New York. There are also some fun old-style food and candy stores along the way.
The shops are quite spaced-out along quite a few blocks so be prepared to do a little bit of walking.
For more information, find out why they want to keep Austin weird.
8 thoughts on “The best things to do in Austin”
There’s a reason that Austin’s motto is “Keep Austin Weird!” Great guide for a great city. Hope you enjoyed your visit.
Thanks Amy – yeah, I had a great time in Austin. It was one of my favourite US cities… lots of fun… and a little bit weird 🙂
Hi Turtle. Nice post about Austin!
I’m glad you mentioned the bats because I’m not sure that there are too many other cities out there where you see such an incredible spectacle like when those bats emerge to go on their nightly feed. When we first moved to Texas, we met our first Texan friends there.
I haven’t been on the Pedicabs before. It sounds like a nice way to experience downtown Austin.
Have a great day!
Thanks for the comment, John. The bats were really cool – certainly something a bit unique!
It’s always interesting to see what people classify as the Best Things to do in Austin. I’m surprised the Food Trailers didn’t make your list. Austin leads the nation in that category.
Sounds like a good reason to head back and try a few more things so I can update the list!! 🙂
Watching the bats seems like a really cool thing to do! I had no idea that was a thing. I’ll definitely check it out next time I’m down in Austin. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for your article on Austin. I love this city, It’s an awesome escape for me, especially when I need live music. I do recommend visiting the lovely city I live in too the next time you’re in Texas, San Antonio. It’s nearly as wierd, just more Tex-Mex!