Austin Outdoors Scene: 7 Fun Ways to Enjoy Some Fresh Air

A mild climate, natural beauty and an appreciation for healthy living make Austin an attractive destination – especially for active types. In fact, Austin made WalletHub’s top 20 cities for active lifestyles, and ranks high for sports and outdoor recreation. To learn more, read about the Austin outdoors scene and plan some exciting activities.

Austin Outdoors Scene: Top 7 Things to Do on Active Vacations

austin outdoors scene lake summer

Photo: iTrip Vacations Austin

Boat on the Water

From boat rentals to sailing, boating is big in Austin. The city offers easy access to several lakes and rivers, all of which water lovers explore at their own pace. Float On, an area rental service, provides pontoon and ski boat rentals on Lake Austin and Lake Travis. In addition to boating, visitors also rent jet skis, go bass fishing at Walter E. Long Metro Park, learn to flyboard, and wakeboard on the Colorado River.

Large groups should rent a boat party on Lake Travis. The area has several companies that rent party boats with lots of space, a grill, bathrooms and slides. Many boats accommodate as many as 70 people, so family and friends have a good time.

Play Golf All Day

For on-land fun with scenic views, book a tee time at one of Austin’s golf courses. Players will find over 15 options, including private, public and semi-private courses. A few top rated ones include: Roy Kizer, Morris Williams Bluebonnet Hill and Lions Municipal. Each one offers their own challenges, water hazards and amenities — plus stunning Texas Hill Country views.

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Take Bike Tours

As one of the most diverse cities in the U.S., Austin features architecture, museums, historical sites and backcountry hideaways. The city is home to Texas State Capitol, spacious parks, gardens, LBJ Presidential Library, art galleries, urban hangouts and theaters. Then add Austin’s top restaurants to the list of must-sees.

One of the best ways to sample a little of everything is scheduling a bike tour. Not only do they provide exercise, they also allow guests to see the area with local guides. Not into cycling? No problem. Many companies offer electric and motorized tours and peddler vehicles, which are less impact.

Must-try Austin bike tours include: Your Biker Gang, Rocket Electrics, Bike and Brew ATX, Texas Bike Tours, and Austin Bike Tours and Rentals. Each tour ensures riders see a lot of the area, without walking, and stay safe.

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Rent Kayaks and Canoes

One of the most popular Austin outdoors activities is kayaking. Whether searching for bats at Congress Avenue or paddling back waters, kayak tours serve as a way to unwind and admire the area.

Live Love Paddle – hosts bat-watching, urban, full moon and Fourth of July tours. Rent single or tandem kayaks and paddle Lady Bird Lake, which winds through downtown Austin. Another option, Austin Kayak Tours, also offers adventures on the San Marcos River.

Go Swimming

Zilker Park is one of the top Austin outdoors attractions due to its size and amenities. The park houses Lady Bird Lake, Austin City Limits, and Blues on the Green. However, the park also features the crown jewel of summer socializing – Barton Springs Pool.

The pool is fed from underground springs and measures 3 acres. Average temperatures range from 68 to 70 degrees, suitable for year-round swimming. Each year, Barton Springs Pool attracts 800,000 visitors, including locals and vacationing celebrities. Swimmers should note the pool is listed as a federally protected habitat, especially for the Barton Springs salamander. The attraction also closes every Thursday for cleaning and upkeep.

austin outdoors scene family activities

Roam the Zoo

Guests of all ages love exploring Austin Zoo, which cares for and rescues local and exotic animals. See large cats, such as tigers and lions. Then learn about black bears, coatimundi, primates, birds, reptiles and amphibians. Domestic and local animals include Longhorn cattle, donkeys, pigs, llamas, snakes and insects. Austin Zoo operates as a rescue zoo to over 300 animals of different species.

In addition to learning about animals, guests enjoy live shows and special events. The zoo hosts daily shows with primates and tortoises, or see cougars and bears.

Watch Cars Race

For speed and thrills, check out Indy car racing at Circuit of the Americas. This track welcomes race fans and competitors from all over the world who enjoy fast cars and action. The circuit features 20 turns and a counterclockwise design with natural landscape woven throughout the track.

Top sporting events at Circuit of the Americas include Indy Car Classic and Spring Training, ARX Americas Rallycross and Blancpain GT World Challenge America.

Additionally, Austin360 Amphitheater is located in Circuit of Americas’ complex and showcases big names in music and entertainment. The outdoor venue offers great views and serves as a large live music venue. In recent years Muse, ZZ Top and Santana have all graced this stage.

Can’t get enough of the Austin outdoors scene? Read about seven festivals in Austin for music, food and fun.

Need a place to stay? Find spacious vacation homes in Austin, Lake Travis and Highland Lakes.