Austin is the capital of Texas and the seat of Travis County. It is also the second largest state capital behind only Phoenix, Arizona. Centrally located, Austin is an excellent destination for people interested in seeing a part of Texas that acts as an intersection of four different ecological systems. And, of course, there are plenty of things to do in Austin.
The city is situated on the banks of the Colorado River, a 1,450-mile waterway that cuts right through the heart of Austin. City developers added three man-made lakes to provide for drainage and cooling water used by the local Decker Power Plant. The entire river and lake system is controlled by a series of dams run by the Lower Colorado River Authority.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of Austin is its official motto that states ‘Keep Austin Weird’. It is a motto designed to advertise the city’s eccentric nature in order to attract both businesses and tourists. The city was selected as the second ‘Best Big City’ to live in by Money magazine in 2006. Travel & Leisure magazine ranks Austin the number one city on their list of cities with the best people, and in 2015, Forbes ranked the city as America’s top ‘Boom Town’. Plenty of accolades, indeed.
Things to Do in Austin: Music
Austin is known as the live music capital of America thanks to dozens of venues and a long-running television show called Austin City Limits. On your trip, and when you are looking for things to do in Austin, you should make it a point to visit at least a few of the venues that play such an important role in the city’s music scene. We recommend:
- The Moody Theater – Most of the Austin City Limits performances take place at the Moody Theater on Willie Nelson Boulevard. Occasionally, they will do a show elsewhere, but the theatre hosts more than 100 ACL performances as well as other concerts and shows throughout the year. Prices vary by show.
- Speakeasy – Speakeasy is a three-venue entertainment complex on Congress Avenue. Along with great music, you can enjoy bowling, hand-crafted cocktails, and one of the best views of Austin from the rooftop.
- Hangar Lounge – The Hangar Lounge was inspired by a 1950s airport lounge. This multi-floor venue offers three levels of nightlife excitement, including a rooftop with plenty of comfortable seating. You will find live music most nights of the week.
Things to Do in Austin: Attractions
Austin offers dozens of different attractions that cater to a variety of preferences and excitement levels. From tours to sports to history lessons, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding something to keep you busy. So when looking for some other things to do in Austin, we recommend:
- Austin Aquarium – Ocean lovers will appreciate all of the learning opportunities afforded by the Austin Aquarium. The aquarium is open seven days a week. Admission is $11.95 for adults, $6.95 for children ages 2 to 11, and $9.95 for seniors 55 and older.
- The Escape Game – Are you familiar with the escape games you can download to your smartphone? That’s what this exciting attraction is. It is a live escape game offered in downtown Austin. The Escape Game offers four different adventures. You’ll need to book ahead of time by visiting their website at theescapegameaustin.com.
- Schlitterbahn Water Park and Resort – Thrill seekers should plan on visiting Schlitterbahn, as it was rated ‘America’s Number One Water Park’ by the Travel Channel. You’ll enjoy more than 65 acres of thrilling water rides open seven days a week during the season. Check their website for times and prices as these are subject to change every year.
Other Things to Do
Austin is a city where you’ll find something new around every corner. There is so much to do that we couldn’t possibly list everything here. But here are just a few more things to do in Austin to close this out:
- Barton Springs Pool – The Barton Springs Pool sits within Zilker Park and is fed from underground springs that keep it at a comfortable temperature all year-round. The pool has been a stopping place for celebrities throughout the years, including actor Robert Redford, who learned to swim there is a child. It is open every day but Thursday, when it is closed for a thorough cleaning.
- Austin Duck Adventures – Austin’s version of a Scottish castle tour is Austin Duck Adventures. Take a trip up and down the Colorado River with a conclusion on Lake Austin. But check it out: you will not actually be touring on a boat. You’ll be travelling in an amphibious duck vehicle that will pick you up downtown, take you on a short tour of the city, and then drive right into the water for the river tour.
- Pubcrawlers of Austin – This unique downtown tour of Austin takes place on a pedal-powered vehicle that can accommodate up to 14 passengers. Move at a casual pace of just 5 mph as you and your friends get to see places tour buses don’t reach. It’s best to book with a group in order to keep things more affordable for everyone.
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- Austin Night Skyline: By LoneStarMike – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9891619
- ACL Moody Theatre: http://acltv.com/about-acl-live-at-the-moody-theater/
- Hangar Lounge: http://thehangarlounge.com/
- Barton Springs Pool: https://austintexas.gov/department/barton-springs-pool