Did you hear the saying “Keep Austin weird” and finally decide that you want to check out what the eclectic city is all about? Austin, the capital of Texas, is a great vacation destination for families, couples, and single explorers. If you are looking for the best things to do in Austin, look no further. This guide breaks down the top Austin attractions for you.
Top Austin Attractions for Nature Lovers
If you are looking to explore some nature, the Boardwalk Trail at Lady Bird Lake is a good option. The Boardwalk Trail wraps around the entire lake and is great for hiking, biking, and jogging. It is a 10.1-mile trail and if you’re interested in exploring the water afterwards, you can grab a boat rental from a company like Austin Sailboat Rentals.
The Zilker Botanical Garden is another great Austin tourist attraction. Located near downtown Austin, this stunning natural garden takes up 26 vast acres. Here you can explore natural and exotic wildlife and fauna. There are rose gardens, Japanese gardens, waterfalls and more. For some adventure, you can also check out the Hartman Prehistoric Garden, which recreates a prehistoric world where dinosaurs roamed.
For exploring nature, the McKinney Falls State Park is a tourist attraction in Austin that shouldn’t be missed. This park features a 2.8-mile Onion Creek Trail that is a smooth hike, even for someone pushing a stroller. At the park, you can hike, camp, job, rock climb, fish, bike, and even picnic. It’s the perfect spot in Austin to spend a relaxing day.
Nature lovers will also love the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. This 279-acre botanical garden is just 10 miles from Austin and is managed by the University of Texas. Here you can view over 700 species of plants that are native to Texas. There are outdoor sculptures, walking trails, and special educational exhibits to take in while visiting this top Austin tourist attraction.
The Austin Zoo is another one of the top things to do in Austin. This zoo sits on 15 acres of land and has about 300 animals across 100 different species. The Austin Zoo’s main goal is to rescue and rehabilitate animals, so they take animals from facilities that aren’t able to keep them. The small entrance fee goes a long way to helping rehabilitate the zoos’ inhabitants.
Things to Do in Austin: Guide to Local Museums
For some history lessons, the Bullock Texas State History Museum is the Austin attraction for you. Founded by Texas Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock, this museum is comprised of three floors. The first floor takes visitors through the founding of Texas. The second floor explains how the state of Texas was formed, and the third floor looks at potential opportunities. There’s also a 200-person theater where you can catch one of the special presentations.
History lovers will also enjoy the Neill-Cochran Museum House. In fact, this is one of the top vacation ideas for those who enjoy exploring old plantation style homes. This one was built in 1855 and sits on 18 acres of land. Venturing through the house allows you to take in a bit of Texas history as the home formerly served as home base for Lieutenant Governor of Texas Fletcher Stockdale, the Federal Army under George Custer, and the Texas Asylum for the blind.
The Blanton Museum of Art is another attraction in Austin that will captivate art lovers. Located at the University of Texas, this museum holds over 17,000 pieces of art. From European to Contemporary American art, you can see it all here.
While not explicitly a museum, the South Congress Avenue is a great place to explore in Austin for some local culture. As one of the hottest and hippest places in Austin, South Congress Avenue serves as home to a range of boutiques, shops, music venues, art galleries, food trucks and Austin restaurants. If you are looking for somewhere to spend a day exploring in Austin, this is a great option.
The Best Austin Restaurants for Your Texas Vacation
As far as places to eat go, Thundercloud Subs is one of the best Austin restaurants to grab a bite to eat. They have six different locations throughout the city of Austin and you can enjoy subs with fresh meats and freshly baked bread. They have a variety of eclectic sub offerings and even have vegetarian options.
Okay, we admit it. The Texas Farmers' Market at Mueller isn’t an Austin restaurant, but it’s one of the top Austin attractions on any given Sunday. There are live music and entertainment options and you can peruse the offerings of over 40 different local vendors while stocking up on fresh fruit, veggies, and artisan foods to take back to your hotel or Airbnb.
East Side Café is a great Austin restaurant to take in some trendy local food. They offer an American comfort food inspired menu and everything is made fresh to order daily. Some fan favorites are the jalapeno cornbread and scrumptious quesadillas.
If you are looking for a trendy Austin restaurant, Teo's is the place to go. This café and gelateria has a nice patio and with free Wi-Fi, it’s a great place to grab some gelato or enjoy a nice cup of coffee. While they have normal gelato flavors like Dark Chocolate and Strawberry, if you are feeling really adventurous, you can try flavors like Popcorn, Olive Oil, and Blue Cheese.
Now that you know the top Austin attractions and activities, where to first? Will you stroll through the Bullock Texas State History Museum or visit the stunning Metropolitan Park? Whatever you choose to do, you are in for a great vacation if you visit Austin, Texas.