16 Best Things To Do in Austin, Texas: Top-Rated Attractions 2022
This article will tell you about some of the best things to see in Austin (Texas). Known worldwide as “The Live Music Capital of the World,” Austin has the most concert halls per capita in the United States. The city hosts several music and film festivals, including South by Southwest (SXSW).
In addition to its large and dynamic film and music scene, Austin has an authentic personality, a balanced contrast between Texan culture and the sophistication of America’s great cosmopolitan cities. From its famous Texas Barbecue and Tex-Mex cuisine, museums of contemporary art and urban art, large green areas, and its commercial heart in Downtown.
1. Visit the Texas Capitol
The Texas State Capitol is, without a doubt, one of the essential things to see in Austin. It is a 19th-century limestone building that took the position as the tallest capitol in the country and today receives millions of tourists who want to know a little more about the history of Texas.
And why not? Take a look at the beautiful gardens and climb the dome for a stunning view of the city. Guided tours are offered daily for free. Tours last 30 minutes and repeat every 30-45 minutes throughout the day. If you need the time to be done in Spanish, you should contact them in advance to request it since, by default, the tours are done in English.
2. Take a stroll through Congress Avenue Historic District
Congress Avenue is an iconic street that runs through Downtown Austin. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and spans ten blocks from the Ann W. Richards Bridge to the Texas Capitol.
It is a dynamic commercial artery, where you will find restaurants and cafes, museums and shops, and iconic buildings such as cinemas such as the Paramount Theater (1915) and the State Theater or the historic Old Bakery and Emporium, now converted into a souvenir shop.
3. Go shopping in SoCo: South Congress District
Congress Avenue also extends to the south of the city, where it takes the name of South Congress District or SoCo, as the locals call it.
It also covers about ten blocks from S Congress Avenue with Nellie St. to Johanna St. It is a commercial district full of restaurants, clothing stores, bars, cafes, and hotels, among others.
Go shopping at Allen’s Boots, where you can choose from 4,000 different styles of cowboy boots, have ice cream at Amy’s Ice Creams, a local chain.
Enjoy a live music concert at the Continental Club or stay at a legendary roadside motel like the Austin Motel. Grab a coffee at Jo’s Cafe and take your photo in their famous “I love you so much” tag. Of course, you will not lack options!
4. Learn at Bullock Texas History State Museum
Knowing a little about the history of Texas will be a unique experience that you can experience by visiting the facilities of the Bullock Museum of Texas State History, called in English as Bullock Texas History State Museum.
The museum has a wide variety of exhibitions that will transport you to the era of French and Spanish colonization.
On the other hand, it has a cafe within its facilities where you can buy snacks during breaks. Those minutes will be precious for you to process all the information collected. Just make sure you get there early so you can get a good seat and enjoy all the exhibits.
5. Enjoy art at the Blanton Museum of Art
For those who appreciate art, the Blanton Museum of Art is a must-see in Austin. Suppose you feel like visiting a museum that includes public works of modern and contemporary art, both American and Latin American, in its collection. In that case, the Blanton Museum of Art will be a wonderful experience.
It is located within the campus of the University of Texas, so you can visit the facilities of the academic institution and then feast your eyes on more than 18,000 works from all styles, periods, and continents.
Another point that I must highlight about the Blanton Museum of Art is its vast collection of works, and an example of this is “Austin.” This work is symbolic of the city and was made by Ellsworth Kelly. On Thursdays, access is always free so take advantage of it!
6. UT Tower
The UT Tower is a tower part of the University of Texas. This tower is quite famous in the heart of the city for two reasons: it is a symbol that honors the people who receive the President’s Staff Awards, which is held every year, and two, because they turn on orange lights at night to celebrate who won, making the tower light up everything around them.
But if you don’t have the opportunity to visit the tower in May, with the help of a tourist route, you can see the university campus and take a photo without any problem.
7. Vibrate at the Circuit of the Americas
If you are a fan of Formula 1, visiting the Circuit of the Americas will be your dream come true. The circuit was built in 2012 and has since become one of the most used centers for F1 racing.
If you manage to visit it during a race, get ready to enjoy a fantastic event with live music, performances by international artists, and endless entertainment that only a fan will notice. The circuit is outstanding and innovative! The space is well distributed, so you will locate an area to enjoy the race without any problem.
8. Sixth Street Historic District
If you want to leave out the historical sites, Sixth Street will be like breathing fresh air for you. The Word entertainment fits perfectly with what the Sixth Street Historic District represents, an urban area full of options so you can enjoy your vacation to the fullest.
Bars, restaurants, cafes, nightclubs, shops, malls, markets, and many other things await you on Sixth Street.
Plus, if you go at a reasonable time of year-especially when music festivals kick off across Texas on Sixth Street, you’ll enjoy live music concerts at nightclubs, restaurants, and bars.
Don’t miss Historic Sixth Mural, a trendy mural that marks the beginning of the street, on the corner of S IH 35 Frontage Rd.
Are you looking for accommodation in Austin? I recommend the Hotel San Jose (2*) or the Austin Motel (3*) in the SoCo and the Fairmont Austin (4*) if you want to afford the luxury.
9. Relax at McKinney Falls State Park
Planning a weekend of endless fun at McKinney Falls State Park will be the best decision you ever make. This state park is one of the best things to see in Austin since it has everything you need, so you can enjoy it with your friends and family without having to plan much.
You can take long walks in the park, swim in the rivers and natural wells, connect with the fauna, and even bring a barbecue to enjoy a family lunch. The best thing about this site is that you can safely pitch a tent for camping. It will be a rudimentary experience that will help you release the stress of the routine in a matter of hours!
10. Zilker Metropolitan Park
If you liked the last option, let me tell you that Zilker Metropolitan Park is another jewel that you will not be able to ignore. Austin is a city with a wide variety of entertainment offerings, but sometimes visiting the great outdoors can be the best way to end your trip.
That is why I have chosen the Zilker Metropolitan Park.
It has an ample green space that will immediately purify your lungs. Also, if you have brought your dog or cat with you, you can walk it freely through the meadows.
You can also play volleyball, swim in the pools, visit botanical gardens, tour the entire area by train, and even enjoy music at the Zilker Hillside Theater.
11. Dance at ACL – Austin City Limits Festival
Austin City Limits is an alternative music festival, which has been held annually since 2002. It takes place during the first two weekends of October in Zilker Park. There, spread over eight different stages, you can listen to rock, indie, hip hop, or electronic music groups.
If you enjoy live music the festival atmosphere and visit the city in October, you cannot miss it. In past editions, legendary bands such as The Cure or Guns n’ Roses, emerging artists such as Billie Eilish or the spectacular Rosalía, and artists as big as The National or Radiohead have played.
12. Ann W. Richards Bridge Bats
The Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge is very popular in Austin, but it has nothing to do with its aesthetics or architecture.
At the beginning of March, one of the world’s largest urban colonies of bats settled under the bridge. It seems that the shape of the bridge and the climate of Austin favor its reproduction.
Thus, every evening 1.5 million bats come out from under the bridge to hunt insects and feed their young, forming an awe-inspiring spectacle. Bats migrate to Mexico every winter.
Another famous bridge is the Pennybacker Bridge, better known to its locals as the 360 Bridge. This is a perfect place to watch the sunset over the city.
Austin is known as “City of the Violet Crown” precisely because of the colorful glow of light created on the hills just after the sun goes down. Come in trekking boots because you will have to do some exercise to reach the top and enjoy the spectacular light.
13. Discover street art in Austin
Visit Austin’s most iconic murals and street art. Like the “ATX” (Austin Texas) symbol on W 5th St and N Lamar Blvd, the “ Howdy Austin Mural ” on W 6th St and Nueces St, “ Historic 6th Street Mural ” on the corner of S IH 35 Frontage Rd, ” Greetings from Austin Mural ” on S 1st St at Annie St or the ” You’re My Butter Half Mural ” on E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.
The HOPE Outdoor Gallery is another place to admire murals, located on Baylor Street in the Clarksville neighborhood. Also known as “Castle Hill,” it is an open-air terrain on three different levels, full of murals and graffiti.
It seems that in January 2019, it closed to the public, and there is an armed guard at the door. The Word is that HOPE will create another arts park at Carson Creek Ranch. You will find the information on their website.
14. Experience South by Southwest – SXSW
The part music festival, part film festival, and part comedy festival, South by Southwest, known by its acronym, SXSW, is one of the most significant events of the year in Austin. It takes place annually in mid-March, and events are spread across movie theaters, concert halls, parks, and outdoor spaces.
Since its inauguration in 1987, the festival has not stopped expanding and growing, both in the number of attendees and participants. If you happen to visit Austin in March, you’ll notice the festive atmosphere throughout the city. Try to attend the premiere of one of the festival films or a concert if you can.
15. Spend a night at the Austin Motel
Austin Motel is a historic roadside motel that has been completely refurbished while retaining its 70s aesthetic. It has all the elements and design that the motels had, including a “diner,” Joann’s Fine Foods, where you can have brunch or dinner. Any photo you see will remind you of a movie in which you will never know if a crime or infidelity was committed in your room.
Neon-lit canopies, cheerful and colorful rooms, walls lined with impossible prints, there’s no shortage of swimming pool with its bar counter and its red and white rubber sun loungers. Located on South Congress Avenue, you’ll be a 20-minute walk from Downtown Austin.
16. Try an authentic Texas Barbecue
Franklin Barbecue is probably the most famous barbecue restaurant in Austin. Run by married couple Aaron & Stacy Franklin, it is ideal to try the famous Texas Barbecue and Tex-Mex cuisine.
You better come hungry because breakfast here is based on “breakfast tacos.” And don’t forget to try their signature dish, “brisket” (beef skirt), which is said to have “sold out” daily since the day the restaurant opened in 2009.
Terry Black’s Barbecue is another city’s most famous barbecue joint. Try their meat platters with ribs, brisket, turkey, or pulled pork and their more traditional side dishes like coleslaw, mac-n-cheese, cream corn, pinto beans, green beans, or Mexican rice.
Frequently Asked Questions: Best Things To Do in Austin, Texas
How do I spend a day in Austin?
Explore Austin’s museums, like Blanton Museum of Art, The Bullock Texas State History Museum, or Harry Ransom Center. Take a sunset boat tour to watch the bats fly under Congress Avenue. Go kayaking on Lady Bird Lake. Watch the sunset from the 360 Bridge overlook.
Is Austin worth visiting?
Austin is known for its incredible music, delicious restaurants and food trucks, excellent university, and vibrant tech scene. It’s a city on the move, where people who love the outdoors, warm weather, and succulent BBQ flock to live.
Why is Austin Texas weird?
The origins of Austin’s unique culture have been claimed to be the product of unusually cheap housing prices following the end of a housing boom in the 1980s, combined with the location of the University of Texas at Austin in the city.
What is the best month to visit Austin Texas?
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.
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