The vast variety of best things to do in Austin makes one thing clear: the Texas capital is the definition of cool.Less
The massive park is a playground of outdoor activities and home to annual events like the ACL Festival and Blues on the Green. Stroll the stunning Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Zilker Botanical Gardens, rent a canoe or kayak and paddle the tranquil waterways (including Lady Bird Lake), and cool off in the Barton Springs pool. Or just bring a blanket, some Topo Chico and plenty of snacks for a leisurely picnic in the park.
It’s an Austin ritual to gather each evening—from late March through early fall after checking the “bat emergency hotline” for times—and watch the creatures come out to feed. Hop in a kayak for a closer look from the water under the bridge. Each August, Bat Fest celebrates the little vampires with food, drink, bands and other entertainment spanning the length of the bridge.
An Austin institution since 1977, Allens Boots has been selling premium leather footwear to tourists and locals alike for decades. Head to the original location on South Congress to find what you need: turquoise women's boots? Got ’em. Black studded men’s boots? Allens has those too. Spend an afternoon trying them all before landing on the perfect pair, then hit up the rest of South Congress’ popular shopping district.
The definitive Texan dance hall is all about letting your hair down. It doesn’t get much more Texan than two-stepping to country music. There are dance lessons on some nights, so hesitant toe-tappers can fit right in with boot-scooting bosses. After all that dancing, grab an ice-cold Lone Star and one of the Spoke’s famous (and famously enormous) chicken-fried steaks.
Since 2010, Jester King has been using spontaneous fermentation and native wild yeast to create unique farmhouse-style ales. Each weekend, beer enthusiasts flock to the spacious Hill Country brewery and tasting room for free tours, pours of their seasonal brews and handpicked selections for the guest taps. Standbys that are typically available include Wytchmaker, their floral farmhouse rye IPA, and El Cedro, a piney, hoppy cedar-aged ale.
Desert Door Distillery is the US’s first and only distillery producing sotol. Made from the desert spoon plant native to West Texas, sotol is herbaceous and slightly floral. It’s a unique spirit with deep roots in Native American history and culture. Visit the distillery for tours and tastes, then stick around for cocktails in the stylish tasting room that features comfy couches, a fireplace and regional art.
This Congress Avenue staple serves superb Margaritas and big plates of authentic Mexican favorites. Any time is a good time for a hand-shaken, ice-cold Margarita and a hearty serving of carne guisada tacos, enchiladas or tamales (not to mention a fresh salsa bar to top things off). When the weather is nice, kick back with your cerveza or cocktail in the Oak Garden.
The 14-acre park features woodlands, meadows, gardens, the Lake Austin waterfront and an extraordinary collection of permanent outdoor art. Part of The Contemporary Austin, Laguna Gloria is a 1916 villa that houses some of the museum’s collection. The Sculpture Park and grounds offer stunning natural beauty and some seriously Instagrammable sculptures.