Austin is Texas’ state capital and likely its most liberal city. Many refer to it as the San Francisco of the South particularly because of the abundance of urban art, music, and hippie culture. It’s a destination favored by music lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and foodies. In addition, Austin is also a great college town with plenty of cafés to hang out, cheap eateries to try, and bars and clubs to unwind. Here are some suggestions regarding attractions and things to do in Austin.
4 Things to Do in Austin
Visit the State Capitol
The Texas State Capitol is a must-see attraction when visiting Austin. It’s a stunning piece of architecture that’s full of history. Take a self-guided tour and check out the House and Senate chambers to hear your elected officials at work. You can also gaze up and admire the stunning Italian Renaissance-style cupola from the inside or you can explore the rotunda and see if you can pick out the portraits of former presidents of the United States. If the weather permits, pack a basket and picnic off one of the designated areas around the grounds and explore the surrounding park afterwards where you’ll find works of art that are associated to Texas history. The Capitol also offers guided tours for free, which are run on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on weekends from noon to 3:30 p.m. The tour covers information about the Capitol, Texas history, and the Texas legislature.
Enjoy the Great Outdoors
Outdoor enthusiasts would love this item in our things to do in Austin list. It has a number of urban parks and contains plenty of hiking and cycling trails in and around the city. Some of the most popular ones include Turkey Creek Trail, a 2.8-mile loop trail that offers plenty of shade and scenic views of the surrounding hill countryside and Riverplace Nature Trail, a 3.5-mile trail suitable for moderate to experienced hikers that features views of wildlife, wildflowers, and a waterfall.
Austin also has a number of water-related activities. One of the best ways to cool off during the peak summer months is to head down to Barton Creek and float along the river but if you’re looking for something a bit more active, rent a kayak and paddle along the Colorado River. It offers incredible views of the downtown skyline and is a great way to explore Austin. Several locations along the riverbank like Live Love Paddle, Rowing Dock, or Texas Rowing Center, rent kayaks or paddle boats. The weekday rates usually begin at $10 for single boats and $15 for tandems per hour. Weekend rates are slightly more expensive and start at $15 per hour.
Eat to Your Heart’s Delight
There is no shortage of great eateries in Austin, particularly for carnivores. Austin is known for their great burger bars, flavorful barbecue joints, and breakfast taco stands. Visit the original Hopdoddy Burger Bar and try one of their handcrafted burgers. Their menu includes traditional Angus beef, but it also has lamb, bison, and sushi-grade tuna as alternatives. Don’t forget to add a side of their truffle fries and try one of their dessert shakes. Not in the mood for burgers? You can join the crowd lining up for one of Franklin’s famous brisket plates or sandwiches. Many critics consider Franklin’s smoked brisket as the best one in the world. This barbecue joint is only open for lunch starting at 11 a.m. and often sells out so queue up early. Tacos, particularly breakfast tacos, are somewhat of an Austin specialty as well. Most taco joints started out with modest locations like Torchy’s Tacos at the Trailer Park on South First Street while some like Maria’s Taco Express and Joe’s Bakery and Coffee Shop have been Austin institutions for decades.
Watch Live Music
Austin is dubbed as the “live music capital of the world” so a stay in Austin isn’t quite complete without hearing at least one live musical performance. If you want to experience live music at its best, catch any one of the performances playing at the Moody Theater. This is the same venue used by the Austin City Limits music series and often has a lineup of established artists and the best of local talents. If you want a more intimate or perhaps a larger variety of options, check out the many bars and pubs located on Sixth Street.
To help you plan your itinerary when visiting Austin, go to Visit Austin where you will find information on restaurants, events, and hotels in Austin.