"Keep Austin Weird" is one of the famous sayings in town, so you know you're up for a good time when visiting this Texan city! We've been dying to visit for years, and finally made our way over this July. After 4 days, we can say there are so many fun things to do in Austin, Texas, and we can definitely understand why it's loved by so many people!
We spent a full holiday weekend in Austin, exploring the city inside and out, with the help of a local friend. With his awesome recommendations, we truly experienced an incredible few days in this city, and can't wait to go back!
In the meantime though, we're going to share with you where to eat, how to get around, and all of the fun things to do in Austin, Texas. So let's dive right in!
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Where is Austin Located?
As the capital city of Texas, Austin is located exactly where one may imagine- in the center of it all. Austin's convenient location is what also makes it the perfect place to base your Texas travels, since you can easily reach the most popular cities in Texas within just 1-3 hours.
Austin lies 195 miles south of Dallas, 100 miles north east of San Antonio, and 165 miles west of Houston.
How to Get to Austin, Texas
Being so centrally located, it is super easy to get to Austin! You can either fly to Austin, rent a car from another nearby city, or take a bus from most big cities in Texas.
As Houston was the cheapest airport for us to fly into, we decided to rent a car from the Houston airport, and we drove to Austin.
Where Do You Fly to to Get to Austin?
Austin has its own airport (AUS), which is just 10 miles south east of the center of the city, and 15 minutes drive away.
Cities in Texas that fly direct to Austin Bergstrom Airport include Amarillo, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Harlingen, Houston, Lubbock, and San Angelo.
Other US cities that fly to Austin include Albuquerque, Asheville, Aspen, Atlanta, Auburn, Baltimore, Boise, Boston, Burbank, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Colorado Springs, Columbus, Detroit, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Grand Rapids, Hayden, Honolulu, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Kerrville, Knoxville, Las Vegas, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Louisville, Memphis, Miami, Midland, Minneapolis, Nashville, New Oklahoma City, Orlando, Orleans, Newark, New York, Oakland, Pheonix, Philadelphia, Portland, Raleigh, Reno, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Tampa, Tulsa, Washington DC, Westchester, and Wichita.
Austin doesn't have a lot of international connections, but it does have flights from Cancun, Frankfurt, London, Mexico City, Monterrey, Ontario, Puerto Vallarta, San Jose Cabo, Santa Ana, Toronto, and Vancouver.
Flight Tip: Using Skyscanner you can put from "your city" to "the US". This way you can see which is the cheapest airport in the area to fly to. Also, you can check the calendar to see which are the cheapest dates to fly to Austin each month!
Taking a Bus to Austin
If you would like to visit Austin from another nearby city, a very affordable option can be to take a bus. We typically use Flix Bus in the US, as it is the most budget friendly, and has a lot of different departures around the country. (Keep in mind for the cheapest prices you should book far in advance).
Here are a few popular routes to look into:
Fun Things to Do in Austin, Texas
Now that you know the basics, here are some fun things to do in Austin, Texas.
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Fun Things to Do in Austin, Texas #1: Explore the Nightlife
One of the most fun things to do in Austin, Texas is to simply check out its booming nightlife. The city is full of bars, and has a mix of bars with live music, dance clubs, and even some rooftop bars. (You can skip to the nightlife section to learn more)
A great way to experience the nightlife in Austin is by going on a pub crawl. You can find a variety of pub crawls from live music pub crawls to haunted pub crawls! Here are a few fun ones that we recommend:
Fun Things to Do in Austin, Texas #2: Swim at Barton Springs
When you visit Barton Springs, you seriously won't believe it's in the middle of a big city. This is a tiny slice of paradise, and has the option for two totally different experiences.
The public part of Barton Springs vs the municipal pool of Barton Springs
On one side, you have the municipal pool, which is a private area of the springs. It's $10 to get in, and there are bathrooms with showers, a diving board, and plenty of greenery to relax on.
On the other side, is the public area. Here you'll find people with their pets, own drinks, picnics, and floating devices. This is the free area, which has a bit more of a fun but wild crowd. You'll find rope swings, music playing, and overall a super fun vibe. If you want the best waters, and a bit more a chill vibe, simply walk further down. Here is where you'll also find kayak rentals.
Fun Things to Do in Austin, Texas #3: Rent a Boat
One of the most fun things to do in Austin, Texas that we experienced was renting a boat with our friends, and this is how we spent our Fourth of July.
Lake Austin is about 45 minutes outside of the city, and is full of people renting boats, doing water sports, and swimming. We charted a boat for the entire afternoon with a slide and brought our drinks and snacks for a pretty epic day.
Other than renting a boat, Lake Austin is a great place to do any kind of water activities, swim, or to simply sine on the water, and is a great way to spend the day outside the city of Austin.
Here are a few boats that you can charter on Lake Austin:
Fun Things to Do in Austin, Texas #4: Watch the Sunset at the Oasis on Lake Travis
Looking for the ultimate sunset spot in Austin? Well, just 20-25 minutes outside of Austin is the beautiful Lake Travis, where you'll find a number of great restaurants and places to stay.
But the best part of this area (in our opinion) is Oasis, a massive restaurant located overlooking the lake. It has multiple levels both indoors and outdoors, and features a platform jutting out to get that perfect picture during sunset.
In addition to watching the sunset we saw a bachata class happening, and heard there are many other fun things to enjoy at Oasis. This is definitely a place we'll have to go back for to join their special events and grab some drinks!
Fun Things to Do in Austin, Texas #5: Go Kayaking at Lady Bird Lake
Lady Bird Lake is a reservoir right in the middle of Austin that is popular for recreational activities, one of the most popular ones being kayaking! Here are a few different kayak tours that you can take there and around the area:
Fun Things to Do in Austin, Texas #6: Check Out the Most Instagrammable Spots in Austin
Austin has some really cute corners, and is full of color! So grab your camera and check out these fun spots that we came across:
- The "I Love You" Wall: the most iconic spot for people to take a picture in the city
- Tau Ceti: the corner of a building that is a 3D rainbow mural
- Revival Coffee: an adorable pink cafe
- Cute Nail Studio: a nail place painted in pastel colors (just down the street from Revival Coffee)
- Austin Motel: don't miss out on the peculiar shape of its sign
- "You're my Butter Half" Mural
- "Greetings from Austin" Mural
- "Love from Austin" Mural
Austin is full of cute Instagrammable spots.
Fun Things to Do in Austin, Texas #7: Take a Bike Tour
A great way to explore the best that Austin has to offer is by bike, and what better way to do it then in a group! It's a great way to see some of the best spots in the city, meet new friends, and get some exercise in all at the same time.
Fun Things to Do in Austin, Texas #8: Rent a Beer Bike
If you are a big group, one of the most fun things to do in Austin, Texas is to rent a pedal bar. These are BYOB, and give you a large bar to make your own drinks, while pedaling as a group for your own moving bar. Some of these even include a pub crawl!
Fun Things to Do in Austin, Texas #9: Visit the Texas Capitol
As far as sightseeing goes, you can't miss out on visiting the Texas Capitol. Not only is it free of charge to explore on your own, but they also offer free guided tours as well.
From Monday to Friday tours start at 9:30 am, and the last one is at 12:30 pm. Saturdays and Sundays the first tour goes at 12:30 pm, with the last tour at 3:30 pm. Tours go every 30-45 minutes, and last about a half hour.
Fun Things to Do in Austin, Texas #10: Mckinney Falls State Park
Located just 25 minutes outside of Austin is another one of the best swimming spots in the area. McKinney Falls State Park has a set of waterfalls and pools to enjoy that are suitable for all ages. Entrance is $6 for anyone 13 and over, and reservations must be made in advance. The park is open from 8 am to 10 pm.
Fun Things to Do in Austin, Texas #11: Go Tubing on the River
One of the things we loved most about Texas was all of the great places to go tubing! Just outside Austin you can head to the Comal River next to Gruene, and rent tubes that go all the way down the river like a giant natural lazy river.
You can grab drinks beforehand, and float down to the endpoint for around 4 hours, making it the perfect half day activity to add to your list of fun things to do in Austin, Texas.
Here are a couple of river tubing tours you can sign up for in advance:
Fun Things to Do in Austin, Texas #12: Explore the Caverns
Did you know that there is an extensive cave system in Texas? Head just 40 minutes outside of Austin an you'll find Inner Space Cavern, which is a well-preserved cave that was found in 1966. but was hidden for 14,000 years before that!
Go an hour and a half outside Austin and you'll then find the biggest cavern in Texas, Longhorn Cavern. This was one of the coolest cave tours we have ever taken, and something we highly recommend checking out if you have time. The cavern was used in the past as a nightclub, restaurant, and concert hall, and now has guided tours to learn all about it.