Some people think Austin is only about UT and state government, but let me assure you, there are many fun things to do in Austin Texas!
We live just a few miles outside Austin, and with kids always looking for something fun to do, we've spent a lot of time at Austin's attractions!
Let's start with fun things to do in Austin Texas...
As I mentioned, we live a few miles outside Austin and have often taken our kids to Austin for some fun. So, I'll start with our favorite family-oriented things to do in Austin Texas...
Zilker Park is a very cool place to visit. It is a large park next to Laby Bird Lake (formerly known as Town Lake).
It has many fun activities for families, including the Barton Springs Pool that I talk about below, the Zilker Park train ride, a playground for the little ones, and canoe rentals. The Zilker Botanical Gardens are worth a visit too, and it's free. Zilker Park is also the location of the famous Austin City Limits music festival.
When we go to Zilker Park, we spend the whole day there!
Barton Springs are natural underground springs that feed the Barton Springs Pool, one of Austin's famous attractions. In my mind, Barton Springs counts as one of the "cool" things to do in Austin Texas, but the 68°F water doesn't seem to bother my kids at all.
It is located within Zilker Park.
The bats under the Congress Ave. bridge is another of Austin's well-known attractions.
From late March to early November, the bats emerge from under the bridge at sunset to go bug-hunting along Lady Bird Lake. The best month to see the bats is August, when more than 1 million bats emerge. Apparently they eat more than 20,000 pounds of bugs per night!
We went to see the bats on our first day ever in Austin, and made our first Texan friends there.
The Austin bats are a spectacle to see! Go to the south-side of the bridge to see them and be there at least 30 minutes before sunset.
One of our visitors submitted this great alternative way to to go see the bats!
Volente Beach is the only waterpark in Austin. It is situated next to Lake Travis and it has several fun water slides, a "little kids" area, and a sandy beach!
We have been there several times, and we just love it!
The Austin Zoo is a very special zoo because it is a "rescue zoo" that provides a home to animals that have been neglected.
They have about 100 species of animals that includes lions, tigers, jaguars, monkeys, reptiles, and some domestic animals like goats and pigs.
You can buy food at the zoo for $1 and feed the goats. This is always a hit with the kids!
The Bob Bullock museum tells the story of Texas with three floors of excellent exhibits.
The first floor exhibits show what Texas was like before it became Texas, how Native Americans lived, and the arrival of Europeans. The second floor exhibits show how Texas became a state, and its role in the Civil War. The third floor exhibits focus on economic development in Texas, including the oil industry.
Austin's only IMAX theater is also inside the museum. We've been there several times.
The Texas State Capitol was the first Austin attraction we ever visited. It is a magnificent granite building surrounded by beautiful, well-maintained lawns.
Outside are several monuments honoring a variety of people, including those who fought at The Alamo, fire fighters, Confederate soldiers, and more. As you enter the building, there is a painting of the famous Davey Crockett on the right. Inside you can go into the Texas House Chamber and the Senate Chamber.
If you'd like to get a glimpse into Texas history, visit the State Capitol!
If you have kids, the Austin Children's Museum is a must-visit. Their mission is all about entertaining kids in a way that also educates. Their exhibits are interactive, i.e. the kids get to play with the exhibits instead of merely watching.
Kids usually have a great time there!
Hamilton Pool is a fantastic swimming hole with its own waterfall!
It is much more than just a swimming hole. The rock formations and the setting is simply stunning.
It's also a great place for hiking or a picnic.
Even though Hamilton Pool is about 30 miles west of Austin, I think it is well worth the drive.
Just a few miles to the northeast of Austin, but south of Pflugerville, is Pioneer Farms, which is a working museum-farm that shows what farm-life was like in the 1800s.
This makes it a very unique museum, and it is a very interesting place to visit for both grown-ups and kids.
I know that local schools often have field trips to Pioneer Farms.
Have you ever been in a cave? I have been several times and it can be quite spectacular to experience.
About 20 miles north of Austin, near Georgetown, is Inner Space Caverns. The caves are more than 10,000 years old, but were only discovered in 1963. There are some amazing formations to see!
Inner Space is well worth a visit!
If you're looking for more adventurous things to do near Austin, you may want to look into canopy tours or ziplining! They are awesome!
You're strapped into a harnass, which is then attached to a cable that spans between two trees, and off you go. In a sense, you become a bird... you'll be flying through the trees!
Cypress Valley Canopy Tours in Spicewood offers these fun adventures. They are located a few miles west of Austin on Hwy 71.
We live next to the largest lake in the area, which is Lake Travis.
There are good choices for boat rentals, pontoon rentals, and jet ski rentals. Boating is certainly one of the funnest things to do in Austin Texas. We have also done a fair amount of fishing on Lake Travis.
The only not-so-nice thing about Lake Travis is that it is a variable-level lake, which means that water levels can get low enough at times that boat ramps close.
Generally though, Lake Travis is a blast in the summer!
Sometimes it's fun to go out without the kids... sorry kids... Here are the fun things to do in Austin Texas that my wife and I like a lot...
6th Street in downtown Austin is another of the well-known Austin attractions!
It has various music bars and clubs and is the reason why Austin is known as the "Live Music Capital of the World".
If you like live music and want to experience what makes Austin special in the world of music, you have to experience 6th Street!
If you want to stay in downtown Austin, close to attractions like 6th Street and the Bats, consider the Hampton Inn & Suites Austin Downtown.
Austin has several night clubs. My favorite is Dallas Night Club on Burnet Rd. They have Country & Western dancing, live music, and many other fun things.
The Alamo Drafthouse in Austin is a very cool movie concept. It's a movie-restaurant combo where you eat a meal while watching a movie. If you haven't been to one yet, make a point of going!
You can take your kids to Alamo Drafthouse, but to me it's just a great evening out for mom & dad.
Those are our favorite fun things to do in Austin Texas. If you go to Austin, I hope you have an unforgettable time!
Austin Texas restaurants are wonderful, and there are many different types available... Asian restaurants... Mexican restaurants... Italian restaurants... and many more.
Here are a few Austin restaurants that I think are worth taking a look at!
If you're from out-of-town, you're going to need lodging in Austin. Luckily, Austin has some great options...
Austin Resorts - The luxury option that offers things like spa treatments, golf courses, tennis courts, etc.
Austin Bed and Breakfasts - Austin has several great Bed and Breakfasts too. I like the character that many of them have.
Austin Hotels - Austin has many reasonably-priced hotels in Austin that I think are great for families.
When going on vacation, it helps a lot if you know where to find the attractions that you would like to visit!
To help with that, I have created an Austin map that shows where all of our favorite things to do in Austin Texas are located. It also shows the locations of hotels and restaurants in Austin.
There are events that take place in Austin that aren't fixed attractions. They can be a lot of fun too. Take a look at my Austin Texas Events Calendar to find some fun events for your family.
You can also buy tickets to many sports events and concerts in Austin right here!
It always helps if the weather plays along when planning things to do in Austin Texas.
To find out what the weather's plans are for the next few days, check out the Austin Texas Weather.
Have you been to Austin before and have a fun attraction that you like to visit? Please tell us about it! Also read about others' favorite activities and experiences.
You now know about many fun things to do in Austin Texas. If you happen to be planning a trip to Bellingham, WA sometime in the future, take a look at these things to do in Bellingham. I haven't been there before, but it sure looks like a fun place!