Austin Activities: Top 8 Things to Do While on Vacation

As the state capital of Texas, Austin offers a mix of activities, ensuring guests customize their vacation experience and keep coming back year after year. Whether new to the area or a repeat traveler, visitors find the city continues to add fun things to do that keep them busy and entertained. Not sure where to start? Check out these top Austin activities and start planning an adventure.

Top 8 Austin Activities for a Memorable Vacation

austin activities sightseeing tours

Plan a Sightseeing Tour

The city ranks as one of the top places to live and visit, so there’s no shortage of attractions. Among the top Austin activities is taking a tour and learning about the city’s rich culture and history. Whether biking or walking, guests are welcome to explore on their own or with a guided group.

Notable sites include Congress Avenue, Lady Bird Lake, the State Capitol, LBJ Presidential Library and Bullock Texas State History Museum.

Visit Parks and Reconnect With Nature

Austin has a location that’s both urban and outdoorsy, as it sits on both sides of the Colorado River and has several lakes, such as Lake Travis. These amenities provide visitors access to natural areas and parks where they play, spend time with loved ones and enjoy fresh air. See a whopping 300 parks in greater Austin to pick a favorite.

A few top parks are Zilker Metro Park, Mount Bonnell and Graffiti Park at Castle Hills. Each one features their own amenities and things to do, so guests can customize their outdoor experience.

austin activities water recreation outdoors

Get on the Water

Along with hundreds of parks, the city also offers opportunities for water recreation. Summers can become quite warm with average July highs around 96, however vacations enjoy water fun all year. Open year-round, Barton Springs Pool is a hot spring in Zilker Metro Park perfect for playing and relaxing. Guests can also go river rafting, kayaking, canoeing, sailing, SUP and take cruises with someone special.

Live Love Paddle ranks as one of the top companies for kayak and paddleboat rentals in Austin and has five different tours. One of the most popular is the urban kayaking tour. While relaxing, hear about the city’s history and learn about the famous Congress Avenue Bridge bats.

Play a Round

Grab clubs and visit one of the 20 golf courses in Austin where rolling greens and holes test the most skilled golfers. A top public course is Lions Municipal, which has challenged players for over 80 years. Other must-play courses are University of Texas Golf Club, a par 71, and Onion Creek Club with its 27-hole course.

austin activities football sports

Cheer on Your Favorite Team

The city doesn’t have a professional NFL team, but it doesn’t need one. Home to the University of Texas at Austin, which proudly serves as home to the Texas Longhorns, college sports are part of the community. It’s so popular here, Austin earned the No. 3 spot on’s Best College Football Towns list.

If football doesn’t appeal to the family, enjoy other sports such as basketball, baseball, soccer, swimming and tennis. Those looking to stay fit can also participate and watch sports competitions, marathons, gymnastics conventions, obstacle courses and yoga.

Live Entertainment and Local Culture in Austin

austin activities concert music

Photo: Ralph Arvesen

See a Show or Concert

Also among the top Austin activities is attending a concert or live show. Self-proclaimed as the “Live Music Capital of the World,” Austin houses over 250 music venues and dozens of theaters and comedy clubs. Each one hosts events year-round, and vacationers enjoy shows from big-name acts and symphonies to local bands and legendary artists.

Music is so important to the culture visitors may see a live band while shopping at Central Market or Whole Foods. For large crowds, head to Austin 360 Amphitheater and Austin City Limits Live at Moody Theatre. Or check schedules at Zach Theater and One World Theater, and enjoy a more intimate experience. For a good laugh, don’t miss Esther’s Follies, one of the top comedy clubs in Austin.

austin things do food vacation

Photo: Alaina McDavid

Eat, Drink and Be Merry

Those who love new flavors find Austin’s foodie scene can’t be missed. Packed full of award-winning restaurants and the fastest growing food truck industry in the U.S., the city ranks among the top for the most food trucks per capita in the nation.

Whether trying new menu items or taking a food tour, visitors have more things to do than they have time to plan. Top-reviewed restaurants serve favorites including barbecue, pizza, seafood, sushi and tacos. And yes, there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options.

In addition to restaurants and food trucks, Austin also has food, brewery and winery tours. For example, ATXcursions combines nature and beer on their BYOB river tubing tours. Or guests can schedule a tour where they sample local brews and wines. Other popular tours include Austin Eats, Access ATX Tours and Austin Food Tasting Tours.

While visiting, don’t forget attend one of the festivals. Popular events celebrate music, arts, culture, barbecue, oysters, bacon and beer, and even ice cream. View a full list of festivals in Austin.

austin shopping activities congress ave

Photo: ih

Shop, Shop, Shop

Looking for a friends trip? What about a special souvenir to take home? Austin’s shopping scene delivers that and more. The Domain — a large outdoor shopping center — offers both big-box stores and small boutiques. Anchor stores include Neiman Marcus and Macy’s, and shoppers will find additional brands including Journeys, Polo Ralph Lauren and Austin 5.

When not in the mood for mall shopping, head to Congress Avenue, which houses rows of small shops. Located along this historic strip, visitors browse stores including Creatures Boutique, Uncommon Objects, Big Top, TOMS Austin, Monkey See Monkey Do, and Parts and Labour.

In addition to shopping, art galleries spotlight local artists and culture, providing a way to support the local art scene and purchase unique items. A few musts include Graffiti Park at Castle Hills, Harry Ransom Center and Wild About Music.

Need more Austin activities? Read about the Austin outdoors scene, then find vacation rentals in Austin and Lake Travis.