There are so many aspects that make Austin such a unique and beautiful city. After living here for over 22 years, I’ve come to love everything that makes Austin so special. Whether you live in Austin, or are just passing through, here are the top 16 things to do in Austin!
1. Snap a Photo in Front of the Iconic Austin Mural
Why it’s a “Must See”: Austin is known for it’s artwork on the sides of buildings. Basically if it’s a blank wall, it’s free game. But seriously, haha! There is so much beautiful artwork flooding the city walls that makes Austin so unique. This one is by far the most iconic and has been made into postcards time and time again.
2. Take a Quick Hike up to the 360 Overlook
Why it’s a “Must Do”: Pennybacker Bridge, also known as the 360 Bridge, has one of the most stunning views in Austin. Take a quick hike up the cliff (and I mean quick – it’s too hot in Texas to hike more than 5 minutes), and you’ll be standing with the most breathtaking view of everything that’s good about Austin: the hill country, the downtown skyline, and the lake. It’s also a popular place to pop the question! I went to see the view on Valentine’s Day three years ago and got to witness a proposal just a few feet away! So sweet!
3. Eat Life-Changing Food
Why it’s a “Must Eat”: Y’all may think I’m being dramatic, but Chuy’s really is life-changing. The environment is so eclectic…so it’s no surprise this Tex-Mex beauty was started in the great city of Austin! Texans are serious about their Mexican food, and if you’ve indulged in Mexican food in a different state as a Texan, you know it’s just one big disappointment! Basically stop what you’re doing now and run to Chuy’s. And don’t leave until you’ve stuffed yourself with at least 5 baskets off chips and creamy jalapeño dip. Thank me later.
4. Grab Your Girls and Hit 6th Street
Why it’s a “Must Do”: It’s just one of those thing you have to do while in Austin, even though it
probably will be a hot mess. I’ve enjoyed 6th street a few more times than I would like to admit. “Dirty 6th” is bustling with people, live music, too many bars to count and suuuuuuuper healthy food on the streets for when you want that 2 AM corn dog or piece of pizza. Oh, and you can’t leave without riding the bull at Trophy Club. Although “Dirty 6th” is more well-known, I prefer West 6th Street just a skip and a hop away. The bars on West are more classy in both crowd and attire. You won’t see all of the 16 year olds trying to sneak into the bars like you do on Dirty or deal with the party buses of fraternity guys with their already too-trashed female friends that probably threw up on the bus on the way TO the bars. Speaking from experience. West is substantially more expensive, but if you decide to make it a stop, some of my favorite bars to hit are Rio (most “Vegas style” club in Austin), Pop, Dogwood, and Concrete Cowboy. Happy bar hopping!
5. Kayaking and Stand Up Paddle Boarding on Town Lake
Why it’s a “Must Do”: I still call it Town Lake, although the name was technically changed to Lady Bird Lake 9 years ago. I guess that’s how you know you have been in Austin too long. Regardless of what you call the lake, it’s the perfect spot for a little fun in the sun. Rent out a kayak, canoe, or stand up paddle board from Zilker Park Boat Rentals, and enjoy the Downtown Austin view from the lake.
6. Cute Picnic at Zilker Park with Your Significant Other
Why it’s a “Must Do”: Speaking of Zilker Park, it’s the perfect spot for a picnic! Bring a picnic blanket, basket, and your dog for a fun day outside! I always pack stick to my favorites when packing for a picnic – OZARKA water (lots of it! The Texas heat is brutal, y’all), chips and queso, fruit, and everything you could possibly need for the perfect sandwich. Zilker has a huge grassy field, so you often see friends setting up a soccer scrimmage, kites flying, and dogs playing frisbee. Be sure to bring a volleyball also to play some sand volleyball!
7. Beer, Food and Movies? Count Me In!
Why it’s a “Must Do”: Alamo Draft House is another gem that came out of Austin! You can enjoy a movie, and order restaurant style food through your waiter throughout the movie. Oh, and did I mention beer?
8. Stop by the Original Kendra Scott Store
Why it’s a “Must Do”: Kendra Scott has exploded all over the United States, but what you may not know is that after starting her line out of her house with $500, she opened her very first store in Downtown Austin. It would almost be a sin not to go to Kendra Scott while in Austin. Hit South Congress with your girls for a fun day of shopping!
9. Go to the Iconic SXSW
Why it’s a “Must Do”: South by Southwest, otherwise known as SXSW, is an annual film, interactive media, and music festival hosted in Austin annually. Many well known celebrities come down for this event. The whole city is bustling with music, both known and undiscovered artists!
10. Cool Off with Amy’s Ice Cream
Why it’s a “Must Eat”: It’s no secret that Austin is basically a sauna, so Amy’s is the perfect spot to cool off! You choose your flavor of ice cream, and then choose between over 20 toppings to have mixed in for the most delicious sweet treat!
11. Enjoy a Sunset Dinner Over Lake Travis
Why it’s a “Must Do”: The Oasis arguably has the best restaurant view in Austin. Located off Lake Travis, this huge mega-restaurant has tons of decks that tower right over the lake. There’s nothing that can beat the view from your table at sunset!
12. Laugh Until You Have Abs at Esther’s Follies
Why it’s a “Must See”: I’ve been to Esther’s Follies multiple times, and it never disappoints! I’m not much of a comedy show person, but this one is a winner! They incorporate song, dance, and magic tricks into their comedy show while poking fun at current events, politics, and the city of Austin. It’s always a riot!
13. Go for a Swim at Hamilton Pool
Why it’s a “Must Do”: This gorgeous natural preserve is a great swim spot with waterfalls that pour into the reserve. You do have to make a reservation to go, so be sure to call ahead!
14. Get Tickets to the Austin City Limits Festival
Why it’s a “Must Do”: Austin City Limits (ACL) has become a widely known and loved music festival in Austin. I’ve personally never attended, as the music isn’t my taste (if you’re a country fan, this festival probably isn’t for you). Although the tickets can be a little pricey, you can see tons and tons of bands with your pass, so check the lineup to see if it’s worth it! Some notable bands/artists playing at ACL 2016: The Chainsmokers, Mumford & Sons, Chris Stapleton, Cage the Elephant, Kendrick Lamar, Kacey Musgraves, City and Colour, and Willie Nelson.
15. Try out Different Food Trucks
Why it’s a “Must Eat”: Austin is flooded with food trucks! If you’ve ever eaten at a food truck, you know they actually have some of the best food! I love finding hidden gems! Popular restaurant, Torchy’s Tacos actually started as a food truck and look where it is now!
16. Grab Your Significant Other for a Photo Op at the “I Love You So Much” Graffiti Wall
Why it’s a “Must Do”: Austin is filled with graffiti, but what I love is all of the positive graffiti that has filled the city and then was left to stay! This “I love you so much” graffiti wall is located on the side of Jo’s Coffee on South Congress. It has become an extremely popular spot to take your loved one and makes for the cutest photo!
Sponsored by OZARKA