With everything from wild mountain ranges to hip and trendy bars, Austin is one of the most vibrant cities in Texas.
It welcomes more than 27 million visitors per year, and it hosts all kinds of concerts, festivals, parades and government events as befitting the state capital.
It has a dual identity, too.
While it’s home to many patriotic landmarks and solemn memorials, its unofficial slogan is “Keep Austin Weird,” and it lives up to that promise with funky shops, colorful murals, secret speakeasies and one-of-a-kind neighborhoods with lots of atmosphere.
Are you ready to experience everything that this fun and unique city has to offer?
Here are just a few things to do in Austin, Texas.
Disclaimer: This article may contain affiliate links. If you make a booking through these links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
1. Greetings From Austin Mural
Start your vacation right with the “Greetings From Austin” mural.
Located in the heart of the city, it’s a painted wall that resembles a cheerful, life-sized postcard, and it’s the perfect selfie spot for tourists.
The mural contains images of iconic Austin landmarks such as the Texas State Capitol and the University of Texas Tower.
It’s free to visit and take photos, so you can pose with it as many times as you’d like to get an Instagram-worthy photo.
When you’re done, step sideways into the Roadhouse Relics studio.
The owner is the one who painted the mural, and he makes all kinds of signs and art prints that can be purchased as souvenirs.
Address: 1720 S 1st St, Austin, TX 78704, United States
2. Lady Bird Lake
With glittering waters and tree-lined shores, Lady Bird Lake is one of the most beautiful attractions in Austin, and it can offer hours of entertainment for outdoor enthusiasts.
The first thing to know about the lake is that motorized boats are prohibited.
However, you’re free to rent a canoe, kayak or paddleboard, so the ban is actually a good thing that keeps the area calm and clear for tourists.
If you prefer to stay dry, there are enjoyable activities for you as well.
You can hike or bike one of the many trails that encircle the lake; you can walk a paved, picturesque boardwalk; you can even take a cruise along the water.
Lady Bird Lake is one of the major points of interest in Austin, so you should definitely put it on your list.
As long as you don’t mind mud in your water shoes, you’ll have a great time.
Address: 1820 S Lakeshore Blvd, Austin, TX 78741, United States
3. Museum of the Weird
With its eye-popping colors and brain-bending oddities, the Museum of the Weird is one of the most unique things to see in Austin.
It’s the only place in the city where you can find shrunken heads next to melted wax figures next to gigantic statues of movie monsters.
Its bright yellow walls are decorated with splashy, vintage-style posters, so the assault on your retinas will begin as soon as you enter.
From there, you can check out weird antiques, psychic trinkets, taxidermy animals, deformed skulls and many other odds and ends.
Nothing is off-limits at the Museum of the Weird.
It’s the kind of place where you’ll leave the building, blink in the sunlight and wonder what just happened.
You should definitely schedule a visit if you’re wondering where to go during your vacation!
Address: 412 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701, United States
4. Zilker Park
Hills are covered in wildflowers.
Nature trails wind through babbling brooks and charming little footbridges.
Multiple lakes are scattered across the park, including an all-natural, spring-fed lake with water so clear and mild that it’s used as a swimming hole all year long.
Popular pastimes include hiking, cycling, fishing, boating, paddling and touring the local gardens and sculpture exhibits.
If you’ll be there on the weekend, you can take advantage of free-to-the-public events like outdoor movie nights and plays in the park.
There are commercial activities as well; Zilker Park hosts everything from music festivals to holiday light shows.
Are you looking to enjoy yourself this weekend?
Consider a trip to Zilker Park.
It’s one of the best, most beautiful attractions in Texas, so it’s a must-see while you’re down south.
Address: 2207 Lou Neff Rd, Austin, TX 78746, United States
5. Blazer Tag Adventure Center
Many of the tourist attractions in Austin are best visited on sunny, summery days.
But what if you’re headed to Texas in the winter?
You might be wondering what to do.
The answer is Blazer Tag.
Hailed as the largest laser tag arena in Texas, Blazer Tag offers three entire floors of ramps, towers, corridors and bridges.
Rather than playing a rinky-dink game of tag in a small, enclosed area, you’ll immerse yourself in an amazing tactical landscape like something out of a video game or military exercise.
When you’ve defeated the other team, you can relax at a cafe that offers pizza, burgers, nachos, cheese sticks and funnel cakes.
You can also get nostalgic with an arcade that boasts everything from pinball machines to good old skee-ball.
Blazer Tag is one of the top places to visit in Austin, so give them a call if you want some exciting possibilities for a vacation, birthday party or corporate event.
Address: 1701 W Ben White Blvd, Austin, TX 78704, United States
6. Downtown Austin
With its gleaming buildings and waterfront views, Austin has one of the most recognizable skylines in the entire state of Texas.
However, there are just as many fun things to see on the ground!
Shops and restaurants line the sidewalks.
Malls, museums, art galleries and performance theaters offer a fun night on the town.
A farmer’s market provides fresh produce and artisan crafts every week.
There’s a boardwalk for sightseeing and a river for kayaking.
The state capitol building is available for tours.
You can rent cars, bikes and boats to follow every whim and explore every trail.
Whether you’re looking to shop ’til you drop or stuff your belly until you explode, downtown Austin has it all.
It’s a must-do while you’re in the city for any length of time.
7. Terry Black’s Barbecue
In Texas, it isn’t a good platter of ribs unless it’s as big as your face.
Thankfully, Terry Black’s Barbecue knows how to serve up a worthy portion of dripping, sauce-slathered pork.
Everything is cooked in gigantic smoke ovens that tenderize the meat until it practically falls off the bone.
The menu includes ribs, briskets, sandwiches, sides and even a salad or two, and there are drinks and desserts when you’re craving something sweet after stuffing your face.
The restaurant has a cafeteria-style setup, so even if there’s a wait for your ribs, you can start munching on potato salad and mac and cheese as soon as you arrive.
No one goes hungry at Terry Black’s Barbecue.
It’s one of the best restaurants in Texas, so if you’ll be near the Austin or Dallas area, make sure to loosen your belt buckle and stop by!
Address: 1003 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704, United States
8. Austin Nature and Science Center
Are you traveling to Texas with kids?
You won’t want to miss the Austin Nature and Science Center.
While it offers family-friendly fun that can be enjoyed by all ages, it holds a special kind of magic for children.
Maybe it’s because of the wildlife center that houses everything from birds to bobcats.
Maybe it’s because of the “dino pit” where little paleontologists can dig up their own rocks, fossils and gemstones.
Maybe it’s just the fact that the Austin Nature and Science Center makes learning fun.
It isn’t a dull place where you have to listen to tour guides drone on and on about things that you don’t care about.
At this destination, you can enjoy education and entertainment all rolled into one, so it should please parents and kids alike.
Address: 2389 Stratford Dr, Austin, TX 78746, United States
9. Circuit of the Americas
If you feel the need for speed, there’s no better place to get the wind whipping through your hair than Circuit of the Americas.
Though it was built as a professional racetrack, it’s expanded to include an amphitheater, observation tower and various sports facilities, so it’s easily one of the top destinations in Austin.
Plan a trip in the spring to enjoy the IndyCar Classic.
Visit in the winter to watch the Formula One Grand Prix.
Go anytime to marvel at the glass floors and ceilings of the observation tower, or check their schedule to see when they’ll be hosting concerts, rugby matches, motorsport events or go-kart races.
There’s always something exciting to do at Circuit of the Americas, which is why it’s one of the most fun things to do in Austin.
Call today to see what they’ll be hosting tomorrow!
Address: 9201 Circuit of the Americas Blvd, Austin, TX 78617, United States
10. Toy Joy
When traveling to Austin, you might hear the locals say that they want to “Keep Austin Weird.”
It’s a rallying cry meant to support the small, one-of-a-kind businesses that give Austin its eclectic charm.
Toy Joy is one such business.
Crazy and colorful, it’s home to all kinds of fun, quirky toys, including vintage collectibles that you can’t find anywhere else.
You’ll have your pick of board games, kaleidoscopes, finger traps, wind-up figures, lava lamps, stuffed animals and more!
It does offer “traditional” toys, so if you’re looking for something familiar to occupy your kids in the backseat, you can find the usual dolls and puzzles to keep them entertained.
However, the true strength of Toy Joy lies in its unique and kitschy trinkets.
Whether you’re shopping for souvenirs or just letting out your inner child for awhile, you’ll love the unforgettable shelves of this toy store.
Address: 403 W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701, United States
11. Texas State Capitol
You can’t visit Austin without checking out the Texas State Capitol.
Not only is it the most important seat of government in Texas, but at more than 300 feet tall, it’s even bigger than the famous capitol building of Washington D.C.!
Tours are available if you’re interested in the grand architecture of the building or the politics within it.
If not, you can check out the different photos, videos and exhibits that have been arranged for visitors.
The highlight is a gigantic Lego model of the capitol that required more than 65,000 blocks to complete.
You’ll definitely want to visit the Texas State Capitol if you’re headed to Austin.
It’s one of the major points of interest of the city, so even if you don’t spend hours and hours there, you’ll want to drop by just to say that you saw it.
It’s almost like a prerequisite if you’re looking for things to do in downtown Austin.
Address: 1100 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701, United States
12. Congress Avenue Bridge
Congress Avenue Bridge is an iconic landmark in Austin.
Not only does it form an important part of the city skyline, but it’s also home to the largest bat colony in Texas.
Have you ever seen a dark cloud of bats scattering through the air like something out of a gothic horror movie?
This is your chance!
Experts say that as many as 1.5 million bats could be living in the nooks and crannies of the bridge’s concrete structure.
They sleep during the day, but at night, they take flight.
Visitors to Austin can watch thousands and thousands of bats soaring through the sky.
They’re a remarkable sight, especially if you stand on the pedestrian portion of the bridge and get a bird’s eye view of their rise.
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Austin, you won’t want to miss Congress Avenue Bridge when the sun goes down.
The bat migration is something that has to be seen to be believed.
Address: Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704, United States
13. Lake Travis Zipline Adventures
If you’re going to hurl yourself through the air at 30 miles per hour, you might as well book the best, and that’s Lake Travis Zipline Adventures.
They boast the longest and fastest ziplines in the entire state of Texas!
Their lines aren’t the only things that they have going for them, however.
They also offer food, lodging and transportation for guided tours through the beautiful scenery of Austin.
Whether you’re looking to rent a cabin for the weekend or just lounge on a private beach for the afternoon, this company can arrange everything for you.
Do you dare to fling yourself off the tree tops?
Do you dream of sunbathing on a quiet, unoccupied stretch of sand?
Call Lake Travis Zipline Adventures.
You could be having an exhilarating near-death experience as early as this weekend!
Address: 14529 Pocohontas Trail, Volente, TX 78641, United States
14. Hippie Hollow Park
If you’ve always wanted to go to a nude beach, Hippie Hollow Park is something to put on your Austin bucket list.
It isn’t officially known as a nude beach.
In fact, it isn’t really a beach at all.
Located on the rocky shores of a limestone outcropping, it’s more of a place to sit, socialize and sunbathe rather than a splash in the water.
However, it does have a “clothing optional” rule, and many people take advantage of that and let their nether regions breathe.
Texas hippies have been doing it since the ’60s and ’70s, and today, visitors like to throw off their coats and join the fun as well.
Do you believe in body positivity?
Do you like the thought of cracking open a beer and soaking up the sun with like-minded individuals?
Visit Hippie Hollow Park and let it all hang loose!
Address: 7000 Comanche Trail, Austin, TX 78732, United States
15. Sixth Street
Sixth Street is one of those “love it or hate it” places in Austin.
Known to locals as the Dirty Sixth, it has a thriving nightlife scene that includes everything from microbreweries to dance bars, so it’s a source of food, drink, art, live music and spontaneous tattoos.
On the other hand, Sixth Street can be a pretty overwhelming place.
The lights glitter like it’s Vegas instead of Austin, and it’s definitely an adult-oriented neighborhood where the best action happens after the kids go to bed.
It’s part of downtown Austin, too, so it’s always loud and lively.
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Austin, however, you can’t beat Sixth Street for sheer opportunity.
There’s always something going on, and it’s usually boozy.
You should give it a try if you like having a good time and are decent at holding your liquor.
Address: 115 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701, United States
16. Texas Memorial Museum
Located on the University of Texas campus, the Texas Memorial Museum is a celebration of natural science.
Its programs and exhibits are devoted to geology, zoology, paleontology, herpetology, ichthyology and more.
Fossils are preserved behind glass. Specimens float in jars, and dinosaur bones rise to dizzying heights.
There are even chairs shaped like scaled-up models of vertebrae!
Special events are frequently held at the museum, too.
If you’re intrigued by the thought of touching meteorite rocks or feeding little critters from wildlife shelters, there’s something on the schedule for you.
Make use of travel hacks to get free or discounted admission.
The best things to do in Austin aren’t always centered around roller coasters.
Sometimes, they’re located within places like the Texas Memorial Museum, and they’re educational and entertaining.
Address: 2400 Trinity St, Austin, TX 78705, United States
17. Wonder Bar
If Instagram opened a bar, it would be Wonder Bar.
Filled with colorful, whimsical props that range from carousel unicorns to stripper poles in ball pits, it’s a dream destination for people who like to take cool and unique photos for social media.
Snuggle with a gigantic teddy bear.
Put on a pink cowboy hat and ride a spring-operated spaceship.
Get a “printed drink” in a tall, funky glass that’s just begging to be photographed.
There’s a bar area with fuzzy, colorful upholstery that will delight your eyes and your taste buds.
There’s a dance floor if you like to groove.
There are even secret rooms with more props if you want to go on a selfie tour!
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Austin, it doesn’t get more novel than the Wonder Bar.
It’s one of the best tourist attractions for anyone with a smartphone camera.
Address: 11500 Rock Rose Ave suite d, Austin, TX 78758, United States
18. McKinney Falls State Park
McKinney Falls State Park is one of the hottest tourist spots in Austin.
In the summertime, this is quite literal; temperatures can climb high in Texas, so people flock to the streams and pools of state parks to get a little relief.
In terms of activities, however, McKinney Falls State Park is still pretty hot.
It boasts more than 80 campsites, and you’ll have the option of sleeping under the stars or living the life of luxury in a wooden cabin.
You can also swim, fish, hike, bike, picnic, bird watch and even geocache.
Amenities are available if you want them.
Otherwise, you can enjoy the rugged natural beauty of McKinney Falls State Park by exploring it in your own way.
It’s one of the major points of interest in Austin, so you won’t be alone.
Thousands of visitors flock to its scenery each year, and thousands more are subjected to the vacation photos of their friends and family as they explain, “This is where we rented a paddleboat, and this is where Johnny scraped his knee on the rocks…”
Address: 5808 McKinney Falls Pkwy, Austin, TX 78744, United States
19. Pinballz Arcade
If you’ve always lamented the fact that you can’t find old-fashioned arcades anymore, Pinballz Arcade is a must see destination.
It’s a cozy little place that offers all of the best retro games, and with a relaxed, open atmosphere that includes a “bring your own beer” policy, adults can enjoy it just as much as kids.
A plush carpet will sink under your shoes as soon as you enter.
Dark lighting will make the pinball machines glow.
You’ll be transported right back to childhood as the chimes and jingles of high scores fill the air.
Once you’ve beaten the games, you can mosey on over to Pinzball Lake Creek for even more fun.
It’s a secondary location that offers laser tag, escape rooms, bumper cars and virtual reality simulations, so there’s a little something for game enthusiasts of all types.
Pinballz Arcade is definitely one of the best things to do in Austin, so if you’re looking for the city’s best tourist attractions, put this one on your itinerary.
It can offer hours of tipsy, nostalgic fun!
Address: 8940 Research Blvd, Austin, TX 78758, United States
20. Austin City Limits Music Festival
Austin is known as the “Live Music Capital of the World,” and the Austin City Limits Music Festival is a celebration of that.
Held every year over the course of two weekends, it brings together literally hundreds of musical acts, and it’s always a crazy good time.
The concerts go all day long. They start at 10AM and end at 10PM.
Multiple stages are in operation at any given time, and the music coming from them could be rock, jazz, country, electronic or hip hop.
In addition to the music, there’s always food and drink for hungry revelers, and there are special booths for arts, crafts, games and other fun things.
If you like music, you won’t want to miss the Austin City Limits Music Festival.
It’s the southern version of Coachella.
Book your tickets early so that you can guarantee yourself a spot at this amazing annual event.
21. Austin Public Library
You wouldn’t normally see a library on a list of tourist attractions, but the Austin Public Library isn’t an ordinary place.
Its gleaming, high-tech building is home to everything from a cafe to a rooftop garden where you can relax outdoors with a cup of tea and a good book!
The inside is equally impressive, however. Local artwork hangs on the walls, and there are dozens of soft, comfortable reading nooks tucked between bookshelves and computer stations.
With six floors in total, you can also wander between story rooms, game rooms, hangout spaces and demonstration tables.
There’s a giant chess set on one floor and a keyboard on another.
Special events are always going on for kids, teens, adults and even seniors.
The Austin Public Library is one of the coolest places to visit in the city.
In fact, it might be one of the coolest places to visit in the entire state of Texas.
Whether you’re looking for leisure or excitement, there’s a room that can meet your needs.
Address: 710 W Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78701, United States
22. Emma Long Metropolitan Park
Despite the abundance of lakes and ponds near Austin, it can be difficult to find a good spot for swimming.
Emma Long Metropolitan Park is where you’ll want to go to splash.
Open every day of the year, Emma Long Metropolitan Park is a beautiful and family-friendly location for swimming, biking, camping, picnicking and sightseeing.
The water is always mild, and there’s a sandy shoreline for catching tadpoles and building sandcastles.
You can be forgiven for thinking that you’re in Florida rather than Texas.
Do you hate sand in your shoes?
You can also hike, bike and camp on dry land.
Do you love wildlife observation?
See if you can spot the native birds and fish of Austin.
Emma Long Metropolitan Park isn’t a wild and crazy place, but it can offer a fun time for families who just want to enjoy a sunny day together.
Bring a basket lunch; slip off your shoes at the wooden docks. Stay awhile.
Address: 1600 City Park Rd, Austin, TX 78730, United States
23. Hatchet Alley
If you’re wondering what to do in Austin on a rainy day, consider Hatchet Alley.
It offers more than 12,000 feet of indoor recreational space, and activities include everything from axe throwing to football bowling.
You’ll find lots of fun stuff to do here, and since it isn’t weather dependent, it can be enjoyed anytime!
Test your strength with bocce ball.
Toss some bean bags with friends, or attempt to throw an axe at a bullseye.
You can even try “football bowling,” an inventive game that combines precision passing with good old-fashioned bowling.
Walks-in are accepted at Hatchet Alley, but you can also call ahead and reserve lanes if you’re in a big group.
That might be best if you’re traveling with kids or colleagues.
Either way, you’re sure to have fun with this indoor entertainment space.
Schedule your visit for this weekend and get half-off beer on Friday!
Address: 443 A Bastrop Hwy, Austin, TX 78741, United States
24. Austin Visitor Center
Southerners are known for their hospitality, and nowhere is this more apparent than the Austin Visitor Center.
As soon as you walk in, you’ll be greeted like an old friend, and the staff will tell you all about the attractions, events, programs and hidden gems of the city.
You might also enjoy the gift shop within the visitor center.
It’s the best place to buy souvenirs and knickknacks, so if you want an “I (Heart) Austin” shirt to add to your collection, this is where you’ll find them.
Additionally, you can make travel plans with the help of the staff.
They can arrange everything from food tours to zipline adventures, and they’ll do it with a local’s knowledge, so you’ll get good deals and avoid the usual tourist traps.
Swing by the Austin Visitor Center if you’re new to the city and wondering what to do.
It’s a place that can provide answers, so it’s worth the trip!
Address: 602 E 4th St, Austin, TX 78701, United States
25. Texas Governor’s Mansion
The Texas Governor’s Mansion is an architectural marvel.
Originally built in the 1800s, it’s housed every single Texas governor since its creation, and it’s weathered everything from crazy storms to arson attempts from anarchist groups.
Free tours are available, but they only take place on certain days, so you’ll need to call ahead.
Once you’re inside, you can enjoy a peek behind the governmental curtain as you explore the rooms, halls, furnishings, offices and stairways of Texas’s most prominent politician.
If you’re interested in the history and legacy of the great state of Texas, put the Texas Governor’s Mansion on your list of Austin attractions.
It’s one of the top places to see when you’re in the area, and if you time things right, you won’t have to pay a penny for the experience!
Address: 1010 Colorado St, Austin, TX 78701, United States
26. Typhoon Texas
Located a few miles north of Austin, Typhoon Texas is a water park that can provide a rollicking good time during those hot southern afternoons.
There are rides, slides, pools and splash pads as far as the eye can see, and best of all, there’s a little something for the whole family.
Toddlers will enjoy the pint-sized playgrounds with gentle jets and streams.
Older children can fling themselves down plastic tubes with names like “The Gunslinger” and “The Bronc Buster.”
Teenagers can snap endless selfies as they drift down canals on gigantic floats, and mom and dad can lazily wave at the kids as they sip cocktails and munch on tacos.
If you’re ready to be blown out of the water, Typhoon Texas is one of the best tourist attractions in the Austin area.
It’s technically located outside of the city limits in a nearby town called Pflugerville, but don’t worry: It’s worth the gas!
Address: 18500 TX-130 Service Rd, Pflugerville, TX 78660, United States
27. Sculpture Falls
Considered one of the hidden treasures of Austin, Sculpture Falls is tucked deep within a greenbelt.
It’s surrounded by trees on all sides, and you’ll have to hike through all kinds of forests, tide pools and mini-waterfalls just to get there.
Some visitors get distracted or confused by the other waterfalls and miss Sculpture Falls completely!
If you have a good map, however, you can make it to your destination, and it’s one of the most amazing things to see in Austin.
It’s more of a horizontal waterfall than a vertical one, and it pours across the rocks and into a neat little swimming hole.
Take a dip if you want a refreshing cool-down after your hike, or go cliff-diving off the bluffs if you’re a thrill-seeker looking for a good time.
It takes a little effort to reach Sculpture Falls, but it’ll be worth the trouble.
It isn’t as well-known as other Austin attractions, so you can escape the crowds of major tourist hubs, and you can enjoy the satisfaction of being “in” on the secret.
Not everyone makes it to Sculpture Falls. Can you?
Address: Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail, Austin, TX 78746, United States
28. Firehouse Hostel and Lounge
If you’re looking for a place to stay in Austin, consider the Firehouse Hostel and Lounge.
It’s located on the top floor of an old, abandoned firehouse, and it has more secrets than its blocky building would suggest.
You see, there’s a speakeasy hidden in the depths of the firehouse.
That’s where the “lounge” part comes in.
While the world-weary travelers are sleeping upstairs, the party animals are living large in a secret bar that can only be accessed by pulling a latch on an out-of-the-way bookcase.
Some people stay in the hostel with no idea that the lounge exists.
Others come specifically for the lounge as part of scavenger hunts or city tours that go off the beaten path.
Regardless of how you find it, the Firehouse Hostel and Lounge is one of the top destinations in Austin, so you won’t want to miss it.
Put on your Sherlock Holmes hat and get to searching!
You could be enjoying craft drinks in a speakeasy tonight.
Address: 605 Brazos St, Austin, TX 78701, United States
29. Rainey Street Historic District
The Rainey Street Historic District is one of the most unique places to go in Austin.
Formerly a residential neighborhood of old bungalows and southern-style ranch houses, it’s been converted into a hip, trendy community with bars, bistros, pubs, cafes, restaurants and even a speakeasy or two.
Lights are strung between houses and porches that have been transformed into outdoor dining spaces.
Live music spills out of the buildings.
In true Texas style, you’re never far from a cold beer, especially at night when the sun sets and the cowboy boots get propped up on tables.
The Rainey Street Historic District is located in downtown Austin, so if you’ll be touring the hot spots of the city, consider a detour into one of the coolest little neighborhoods in Texas.
You won’t regret it!
Address: Rainey Street, Austin, TX 78701, United States
30. Elisabet Ney Museum
Elisabet Ney was a famous sculptor who spent the first half of her life in Germany and the second half in Austin, Texas.
Her works are displayed everywhere from the U.S. Capitol Building to the Smithsonian Museum, but her largest collection is gathered in the Elisabet Ney Museum.
Her most well-known pieces are probably her busts.
She created likenesses of many famous figures, and they’re startlingly lifelike even though they’re made of stone.
Other works include statues, fountains and ornaments.
There are also portraits and artifacts from Elisabet Ney’s life, so if you’re a history buff, you might enjoy taking a trip through the personal timeline of a German-American artist.
The absolute best thing about the Elisabet Ney Museum, however, is that it’s free.
You don’t have to pay a dime to enjoy it.
If you’re thinking about what to see in Austin on a limited budget, this is the destination for you!
Address: 304 E 44th St, Austin, TX 78751, United States
31. Barton Creek Square
Do you need shoes, shawls or souvenirs? Are you dying for a smoothie? Are your nails crying out for a manicure?
Barton Creek Square is an indoor shopping center that offers everything from bookstores to fashion boutiques.
Whether you’re looking for a movie theater to enjoy the latest blockbusters or a food court to get your grub on, this mall has it all.
It’s been recently renovated, too. The mall will welcome you with gleaming surfaces and glass handrails.
If you enjoy upscale shopping experiences, this is one of the best places to see and explore.
Consider a trip to Barton Creek Square if your wallet is burning a hole in your pocket during your trip to Austin.
It’ll offer hours of entertainment as you wander the shops and explore everything, and if you play your cards right, you might even get a giant pretzel out of the deal!
Address: 2901 S Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin, TX 78746, United States
32. Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken
It’s tough to live up to a name like “world famous,” but Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken rises to the challenge.
Originally based in Memphis, Tennessee, it’s expanded to several other southern states, and it’s converted thousands to its menu.
What’s so special about Gus’s?
For starters, it’s a southern buffet through and through.
Whether you’re craving coleslaw, baked beans, potato salad or fried okra, you can find some finger-licking goodness on the menu.
It’s also completely devoted to fried chicken.
It doesn’t serve any other kind of meat, and it refuses to bow to customers who want things baked or steamed.
At Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, you go greasy or you go home. That’s the Texas way.
If you want to experience it while you’re in Austin, look for a red rooster on the outside of a brown brick building.
Address: 117 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, TX 78701, United States
33. Zilker Botanical Garden
Zilker Botanical Garden is located within Zilker Park, which we’ve already covered as one of the best destinations in Austin.
However, this attraction is such a show-stopper that it deserves special attention!
You see, Zilker Botanical Garden isn’t a singular garden.
It’s actually a series of gardens, and they include everything from oriental tea houses to butterfly trails filled with colorful monarchs.
You can rest among water lilies in a picturesque gazebo; you can run around rose bushes or walk under the shady paths of oak groves.
You can even meet a dinosaur!
There’s a “prehistoric garden” filled with life-sized dinosaur sculptures and other fun things.
Kids and adults can both appreciate such novelties.
If you’re looking for the best travel destinations in Austin, you should definitely swing by Zilker Botanical Garden.
You can experience it as part of Zilker Park, or you can make a separate trip for it.
Either way, the Ornithomimus is waiting for you!
Address: 2220 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78746, United States
34. Pioneer Farms
Who needs a boring history museum when you could experience a living history museum?
At Pioneer Farms, the volunteers wear high-buttoned dresses and top hats as they take you through guided tours of farms and villages from the 1800s.
You can pet animals, listen to stories and ride in horse-drawn buggies as you learn all about Texas history.
Pioneer Farms also hosts a number of special events.
For example, ghost tours are available for fans of haunted barns and taverns, and culture studies are frequent at the Tonkawa encampment.
If you don’t know a lot about Texas’s original Native American inhabitants, this is your chance to learn.
Pioneer Farms is a must-see if you’re a history buff who will be traveling to Austin.
It’s fun for all ages, and it’s much more unique than other museums that cover the same topics.
When you’re scratching behind the ears of a donkey as you enjoy a lesson on hand-churning butter, you’ll be glad that you stopped here.
Address: 10621 Pioneer Farms Dr, Austin, TX 78754, United States
35. Laguna Gloria
Owned by an art community, Laguna Gloria is a historic house that was designed to resemble an Italianate-style villa in the early 1900s.
It was originally the home of a prominent Texan philanthropist, but today, it functions as a museum and art gallery for contemporary works.
The coolest thing about Laguna Gloria is that it’s primarily outdoors.
While you can tour the fun, decorative interior of the house, it’s the grounds that offer dozens of statues and sculptures along green walking trials.
Visitors come from all over to see the creative work on display.
Some people even book weddings so that they can say “I do” among tall moss pillars or between gigantic stone fountains.
If you’re looking for fun tourist places in Austin, consider Laguna Gloria.
It’s worth the price of admission just for the photos that you’ll get to take of the city’s coolest contemporary art.
Address: 3809 W 35th St, Austin, TX 78703, United States
36. Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail
The Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail is a big name for a big place.
Stretching for more than 10 miles in total, it winds around Austin’s Lady Bird Lake and passes all sorts of stunning sights.
If you enjoy the wild natural beauty of untamed places, you’ll love hiking through the thick, overgrown fields and fully-shaded tree groves.
If you prefer a smoother path, you can stick to the paved roads and footbridges that are well-traveled by bikers, joggers, dog walkers and stroller pushers.
Since you’ll be traveling around Lady Bird Lake, you can stop at any time and enjoy its amenities.
Rent a kayak; buy some duck feed; hop aboard a leisurely water cruise.
The sky is the limit at the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail.
There’s a reason why it’s considered one of the top things to do in Austin, so don’t hesitate to put it on your list.
Address: Lady Bird Lake, First Street Bridge at Lady Bird Lake, Austin, TX 78701, United States
37. Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park
With its peaceful lakefront views, the Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park is a great place to escape the urban frenzy of Austin.
You’ll be able to “get away from it all” without actually venturing too far from the fun stuff of the city.
You can just take a break from it for a while.
The water is calm and pretty. The wooden docks are a great place to sit and fish.
Folks usually bring their dogs to run around the open fields and catch Frisbees, and it isn’t uncommon for swans to come up to picnickers and ask for food.
Local events include nature tours, birdwatching trips, gardening shows and more.
Check their schedule to see if something fun is happening while you’re in Austin, or give them a call to ask about private arrangements for a big family or work group.
You don’t have to leave the city to get away from the steel bridges and high-rise apartment buildings.
Serenity can be found in a nice little park like the Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park!
Address: 614 N Commons Ford Rd, Austin, TX 78733, United States
38. Infinite Monkey Theorem
There’s a mathematical theory that a monkey hitting random keys on a keyboard will eventually type something amazing like a love poem or the collected works of Shakespeare.
This is the basis of the Infinite Monkey Theorem, an urban winery that strips away all pretenses and functions as a sleek, minimalist and surprisingly chic place.
Its converted warehouse is both fashionable and functional.
Its wine bar serves all kinds of fresh, original creations, and its taproom is open to tours and tastings.
Special events include everything from “Trivia Tuesday” to “Silent Disco Night.”
This is in addition to a regular rotation of bands, artists, yogis and guest speakers who are constantly flitting in and out.
No matter when you’re traveling to Austin, you can find something fun going on at the warehouse.
Head over to the Infinite Monkey Theorem this week.
It should already be on your Austin bucket list, and with a regular schedule of awesomeness, there’s no reason to wait!
Address: 702 Shady Ln, Austin, TX 78702, United States
39. Deep Eddy Pool
At first glance, the Deep Eddy Pool might seem like any other public pool.
When you do a little digging, however, you’ll learn that it’s actually a historic Austin landmark with a lot of fun activities to offer.
For starters, the Deep Eddy Pool is one of the oldest man-made pools in Texas.
It was originally built during the Great Depression, and since the architects made sure that it was fed by springs instead of artificially filled with water, it’s continued to be a fresh, clean and chemical-free pool since the 1930s.
There are also neat things on the schedule.
Every summer, for example, there are movie nights where they play big-screen favorites while the audience floats on pool tubes!
If you’re looking for fun, unique things to do in Austin, consider the Deep Eddy Pool.
There’s a reason why it’s survived so long as a beloved spot for locals and tourists alike.
Address: 401 Deep Eddy Ave, Austin, TX 78703, United States
40. Cathedral of Junk
The Cathedral of Junk is one of the most unique things to see in Austin.
It’s the kind of thing that would make a list of “Top 10 Bizarre Roadside Attractions in Texas,” but what makes it even stranger is that it isn’t meant to be a tourist trap.
It’s just a weird thing in one guy’s backyard!
His name is Vince Hannemann, and he started building the cathedral in the ’80s.
He constructed it with bottles, circuit boards, lawnmower wheels, old TVs, ladders, kitchen utensils, pool toys, household knickknacks and more.
Over the years, he’s turned it into an elaborate structure with stairways, corridors and hidden passages where visitors can get lost in sheer piles of stuff.
The Cathedral of Junk is on private property, so you’ll need to call ahead if you want a tour.
Vince Hannemann will let you into his backyard and show you around.
It’s definitely one of the stranger places to go in Austin, but it’s also the kind of thing that you just can’t pass up!
Address: 4422-4424 Lareina Dr, Austin, TX 78745, United States
Visiting other parts of Texas? Why not check out some of the things to do in Amarillo?
41. Austin Bouldering Project
Everything is bigger in Texas, including their rock-climbing facilities.
The Austin Bouldering Project offers more than 50,000 square feet devoted to people who like a little height.
Not only is it the largest indoor rock-climbing destination in the United States, but it’s one of the largest in the entire world!
Classes and workshops are available for climbers of every skill level.
Additionally, there are things like yoga rooms and gymnastic rings for fitness enthusiasts.
Do you hate the thought of missing leg day while you’re on vacation?
Have you always wanted to try a barre class?
They’ve got you covered.
The Austin Bouldering Project does have some restrictions, and visitors will have to sign a waiver before they can participate in any activities.
If you’re okay with that, however, it’s definitely a top tier choice in Austin attractions.
Address: 979 Springdale Rd #150, Austin, TX 78702, United States
42. Austin Zoo
The Austin Zoo is a small nonprofit that focuses on animals more than visitors.
While it welcomes guests who want to enjoy lions, monkeys, bears, wolves and alligators, its primary purpose is the care and rehabilitation of its residents, so it isn’t a “showy” kind of zoo with lots of attractions.
Instead, it offers the chance to see and interact with animals in a healthy, non-damaging way.
For example, if you want to feed the giant tortoises, you’ll need to follow strict rules while in their habitat.
If you want to learn about the cougars, you’ll need to time your visit so that you’re available during their scheduled training and feeding times.
The Austin Zoo isn’t one of the bigger zoos in Texas.
However, it’s a good organization with a good cause, so you can feel good about spending your money there.
It’s going to a nice sanctuary for the animals of Texas.
Address: 10808 Rawhide Trail, Austin, TX 78736, United States
If you want to experience Austin like a local, you’ll need to visit the Drag.
That’s what residents call Guadalupe Street, a stretch of land just outside of the University of Texas campus that has an old-school vibe despite its new-school population.
You see, most of the buildings in the Drag are older.
Some parts of the neighborhood even have a run-down look.
Rather than trendy bars and clubs, it has an odd assortment of bookstores, record stores, dormitories, antique shops and co-ops.
Despite this, young college students love the Drag, and there are always crowds ready to party.
It’s a great place to grab a drink and have a little fun.
If you’re the type of traveler who likes to throw away the map and go where the road takes you, the Drag is one of the best things to do in Austin.
It isn’t as glitzy and glamorous as other attractions, but it’ll give you a taste of real, authentic Austin nightlife!
44. Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve
Open every day from sunrise to sunset, the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve is one of the last parts of Austin that remains untouched and undeveloped by civilization.
It’s the perfect place for rugged, natural sightseeing, and it’s a must-do for anyone interested in the native flora and fauna of the state.
Hiking trails weave through cliffs and tree groves.
Waterfalls cascade over the rocks.
From a distance, you might hear the cry of the golden-cheeked warbler, an endangered species that makes its habitat on the protected land of the preserve.
You’ll have to follow strict rules while touring the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve.
It’s one of those natural, carefully-tended sites where visitors are expected to conduct themselves properly.
If you can be responsible, however, the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve is definitely at the top of our list of Austin attractions.
Where else can you get a natural experience like this?
Address: 805 N Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin, TX 78746, United States
45. Cathedral of Saint Mary
Originally built in the 1800s, the Cathedral of Saint Mary is one of the oldest churches in Austin, and it has a deep, rich heritage thanks to its Irish Catholic roots.
It doesn’t shy away from those roots, either.
Every holiday season, the Celtic Cultural Center of Texas hosts a concert that brings together hundreds of Irish and Scottish musicians.
It’s a noted cultural event in both Austin and the Irish Catholic community.
You don’t have to wait for Christmas to enjoy the cathedral, however.
It still holds mass regularly, and its gothic architecture includes many features to gawk at, including towers, spires, crosses, rose windows, interior domes and stained glass fixtures.
Consider a trip to the Cathedral of Saint Mary if you’re looking for awesome things to do in Austin.
You don’t have to be Catholic to feel moved by its beautiful design, long history and cultural significance.
Address: 203 E 10th St, Austin, TX 78701, United States
46. Austin Aquarium
Home to thousands of birds, reptiles, amphibians and sea creatures, the Austin Aquarium is one of the best places to visit for animal lovers.
Not only can you admire them in gigantic tanks and pools, but you can pet, play and take pictures with them through special interactive programs!
The marine life is the main attraction of the aquarium, of course, and you won’t be disappointed by all of the tropical fish and softly-glowing jellyfish.
However, there are also sloths to cuddle and lemurs to monkey around with, and there are visitor feeding programs for sharks, otters, string rays, tortoises, parakeets and honey bears.
If you’re wondering what to do while traveling near or through Austin, consider a trip to the Austin Aquarium.
It offers a rare chance to get up close and personal with Texas’s wildlife, and the kids might even learn a thing or two while they’re there.
Address: 13530 N Highway 183 Suite #101, Austin, TX 78750, United States
47. Mayfield Park
With its quaint little cottages and gardens, Mayfield Park feels like a setting from another time.
It’s only fitting that it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.
Stepping into this park is like stepping into a flower-filled prairie during a trip across colonial America in your covered wagon.
The grasses are long and green.
The ponds have water lilies daintily resting on the surface.
The air is always sweet with the fragrances of roses, daisies and brown-eyed Susans, and the trees provide plenty of shade for walking or lounging on the soft ground.
Another fun thing about the park is that it has a sizable peacock population.
These amazingly colorful birds just wander the grounds without a care in the world, leaving visitors to gawk at their bright plumage and blase attitude.
Enjoy a blast from the past with a visit to Mayfield Park.
From the poppies to the peacocks, it’ll offer amazing sights for anyone in Austin who can find it.
Address: 3505 W 35th St, Austin, TX 78703, United States
48. Uncommon Objects
Austin can be a quirky city, especially when you’re knee-deep in a place like Uncommon Objects.
It’s basically an attic sale filled with everything under the sun, and when we say everything, we mean everything.
Guitars are propped against bookshelves and marble statues.
Purses and carnival masks hang on the walls.
Old jewelry is displayed with dishes, perfumes, figurines, music boxes and decorative tins.
Some of the stuff is bizarre, including taxidermy animals with strange expressions and mysterious artifacts that can’t be opened or identified.
Other things are valuable, one-of-a-kind items that you won’t believe you stumbled across.
If you like thrifting, you’ll love Uncommon Objects.
It’s the kind of place where you could spend hours just sifting through the goods and laughing with your travel partners about what you’ve unearthed.
Make sure to stop by during your trip to Austin!
Address: 1602 Fortview Rd, Austin, TX 78704, United States
Formerly known as the Austin’s Children Museum, Thinkery started as a roaming collection of exhibits, activities and programs that were designed to engage with children from all over Texas.
They eventually settled in a permanent location, but their mission remains the same.
They want to help young people develop their minds and imaginations through STEAM-based learning.
Visitors to Thinkery can build, mold, cook, craft and experiment in various labs and workshops.
There’s a “spark shop” with child-safe tools and a “light lab” where they can hit all kinds of buttons and switches.
There are places for clambering on playground equipment and places for resting on floor pillows and listening to a story.
Your little one doesn’t have to be an Einstein to have fun at Thinkery.
If they enjoy trying new things, making new friends and maybe even getting a little messy, they should love all of the nifty stuff to do at this children’s museum.
Address: 1830 Simond Ave, Austin, TX 78723, United States
50. Snake Island
Snake Island is such a hidden gem that some lifelong residents of Austin don’t even know about it.
There are no maps or signs pointing in its direction, and it isn’t acknowledged on the city’s official parks and recreation site.
What is Snake Island?
It’s basically a small, uninhabited island sitting in plain sight off the coast of Lady Bird Lake.
It isn’t illegal to visit, but since swimming isn’t allowed in the water, you’ll need to take a canoe or kayak to get there.
Once you’ve arrived, you can explore the island to your heart’s content.
It’s never crowded, so you can walk, picnic, sunbathe or paddle around the coast.
If you like rare or abandoned things, you can check out all of the debris left behind by other adventurers over the years, including swings, trapezes, picnic benches and fire pits.
There’s even a single, lonely grave for a dog named Squiggles.
If you’re looking for unusual things to do in Austin, hop on a boat and check out Snake Island.
When even the locals don’t know about a place, you’ve definitely found a treasure.
Address: Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail, Austin, TX 78741, United States
51. Texas State Cemetery
The Texas State Cemetery is a love letter to the state.
Known as “The Arlington of Texas,” it’s a beautiful, ceremonial area reserved for only the most prominent of Texans.
War heroes are buried here. So are governors, senators, authors, astronauts and famous soldiers and revolutionaries.
Eventually, a former president George W. Bush and his wife Laura will join; they’ve already reserved plots.
A cemetery might seem like an odd choice in tourist attractions, but this is no ordinary burial ground.
Many of the graves have elaborate headstones that are shaped with Texan themes and colors, and state flags are everywhere.
Memorials are dedicated to Confederate soldiers. Famous residents have statues.
The Texas State Cemetery is one of the proudest places in the state.
People come from all over just to pay their respects and fill themselves with patriotism.
If you’d like to experience this atmosphere for yourself, make time for a visit.
Address: 909 Navasota St, Austin, TX 78702, United States
52. Omni Barton Creek Resort and Spa
Covering more than 4,000 acres, the Omni Barton Creek Resort and Spa is almost like a city in its own right.
It has rooms, pools, spas, restaurants, golf courses and fitness centers, so everything that you need for a fun vacation is just a stone’s throw away.
Do you want to pamper yourself during your Austin vacation?
Rent a lavishly-decorated suite.
Are you desperate to de-stress?
Schedule a massage and put yourself under the talented hands of a professional.
The swimming pools are open all year. The steam rooms never run out of steam.
The cafes have such mouthwatering aromas that you’ll be hungry every minute of the day.
If you’re looking to have a good time in Texas, consider the Omni Barton Creek Resort and Spa.
It’s one of those Austin attractions that has it all, so whether you’re looking for four-star restaurants or beautifully-tended golf courses, the Omni can provide.
Address: 8212 Barton Club Dr, Austin, TX 78735, United States
53. Mount Bonnell
Say goodbye to Austin with a trip to Mount Bonnell.
At 775 feet tall, it offers the highest observation points in the city, so you can spread your arms and shout farewell as you take in panoramic views of the buildings, lakes, hills and rocks.
You’ll need to climb 102 stairs to reach the tallest point of the mountain.
When you find the summit, there’s a pavilion with a little rest area where you can catch your breath, eat a snack, take photos or simply hold hands with a lover and watch the sun set.
The fun doesn’t have to stop just because it’s dark outside, however.
Since you’re away from the light pollution of the city, Mount Bonnell is a fantastic spot for stargazing.
You can admire the cosmos or even the distant, glittering dots of the Austin skyline.
One thing is for sure: Mount Bonnell will be the perfect way to end your vacation.
If you want to leave Austin on a high note, make the climb.
Address: 3800 Bonnell Dr, Austin, TX 78731, United States
Start Planning Your Trip To Austin
Are you ready to experience all of the weird, wonderful places of Austin?
This list doesn’t even cover half of them, but it should be enough to get you started.
Pack your bags and ready your passports! Austin awaits!