1) Texas State Capitol
When the Texas State Capitol was completed in 1888, it was the seventh largest building in the world. Now, of course, knocked way off that list, the home of the Texas Legislature and the Office of the Governor is still the sixth-tallest state capitol in the country, and, at 308-feet-tall, is actually taller than the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. Today, visitors can explore the building for free, seven days a week. A new tour leaves from the South Foyer every 20 minutes.
2) Baylor Street Wall Art
This is one of those Austin stops that uniquely captures the essence of Austin. Once slated to be a condo project that ended up not materializing, the concert foundation has become a canvas for local graffiti artists. It is constantly changing, just like the city. While there be sure to climb to the top to get a great view of the city. Location: 11th & Baylor Street
Rocket Electrics gives you a one-of-a-kind way to explore the city. These are not your regular ol’ bikes. They’re electric powered so when you need some extra oomph, no peddling necessary. You can rent them to explore on your own or take a tour, we highly recommend the Live Music Tour!
The Congress Bridge plays home to the largest urban bat colony in North America. About 1.5 million Mexican free tail bats call the Congress Bridge home from Spring to early Fall as they migrate north. Each night around dusk the bats start their evening flight. It normally starts with a single bat leaving the bridge and quickly turns into a steady flow of countless bats in search of food. It’s one of those things that is truly unexplainable until you see it first hand.
One of the best ways to check out Downtown Austin is from the water. Lady Bird Lake (or Town Lake as some locals call it) runs from the Westside of the city, all the way past Highway 35 into East Austin. The water is calm enough for a peaceful day trip or a sunset paddle. Be sure to bring your beverage of choice and a waterproof camera or ziplock bag for your phone; you’re going to want to take pictures! The Rowing Dock is located on the Southern shore of the lake just West of MoPac (Loop 1), and they offer a wide selection of kayaks, canoes, and Stand Up Paddleboards for rental at competitive prices.
6) Zilker Park
Zilker Park is a 351 acre, dog-friendly park situated in the heart of Austin. It serves as a hub for many special events such as ACL, SWSW, The Zilker Kite Festival and many more. The park offers many different types of fun outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, jogging, kayaking, paddle boarding, and kayaking.
Central Texas is often referred to as the gateway to the Hill Country, and with those hills come beautiful trails, streams, and greenbelts that are absolutely perfect for outdoor adventures.
Thrill seekers; come one, come all! This thrilling adventure over Lake Travis will get your blood pressure pumping. Even with the lake levels low, the views while zip-lining are absolutely incredible and it’s a one-of-a-kind experience. Be prepared to reach speeds of 60 mph.
9) Float the San Marcos River
Just 30 minutes south of Austin, the San Marcos river is the ultimate destination for the dog days of summer. Pack up a cooler (no glass), a waterproof bag for the items you don’t want to get wet, and our friends at Austin Tour Company will take care of the rest! Floats are available Friday-Sunday all summer long.
And last but surely not least….
10) Swimming Holes
Barton Springs Pool
Barton Springs Pool is situated at the grounds of Zilker Park. It is a must-go-to place in the summer to cool off, with a 68 degree temperature all year round.
Hamilton Pool Preserve
The closest thing to an oasis you’ll likely ever see. This swimming hole sits in a natural grotto carved out of limestone, and is complete with a small beach area and a 50-foot waterfall! Admittance is around $15 per vehicle, and the park usually reaches occupancy by 10am on hot summer days, so arrive early. It’s also a good idea to call before you head out as the preserve is often closed for swimming due to high bacteria levels (most commonly in the days following a rainstorm).
I almost don’t even want to share this with you, as it’s one of my favorite places on earth. But hey, welcome to Austin- I suppose you have just as much a right to enjoy this gem as I do. This family-owned property in Spicewood Springs is what dreams are made of. Natural springs fill a concrete swimming pool on the upper part of the property and the runoff flows via waterfall into the lagoon-like swimming hole down below. You definitely don’t feel like you’re in Central Texas when you spend a day out here.
This is easily one of the most popular hiking trails in the city. Unfortunately, it has been many moons since water was at bottom of the greenbelt, but it still makes for a great hike. There are over seven miles of trails that you can hike, run, or bike.