Austin's In-Town Attractions and Easy Day Trips

Austin's In-Town Attractions and Easy Day Trips

Getaway Staff
Updated: Mar 14, 2022

Austin should never be compared to Portland. Yes, each is college towns and a little full of themselves while beautiful in their own right. But, the hippy-dippy nonsense that Portland is famous for can't exist in Texas. In Austin, a vegan may very well have a gun rack in their truck. Visiting Austin, TX is an adventure and one that you should both look forward to ahead of your arrival and again when you have pledged to return.


01Breakfast Tacos

A close-up shot of three breakfast tacos

The adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day is made considerably less a chore and something fun to do when you realize that tacos are, indeed, breakfast food. There is no city in the world where this is embraced more than Austin, Texas. Many conversations can be had about who serves the best breakfast taco, and no answer is correct. Whether a Tex-Mex creation of BBQ and flour tortillas or simple beans, cheese, and eggs, Austin appreciates the tortilla-fed fuel you'll need to get through a day of adventure and sightseeing.

LauriPatterson / Getty Images


02Barton Springs Pool

Man-made and nature fed this 1,000-foot pool is a must at any time of the day to escape the heat. Swim, fish, do what you will with this unique addition to the urban landscape of Austin. There are few pools in the world that make a visit so memorable.


03Head out to Mount Bonnell

If there is a better make-out point in Texas, please comment. The Colorado River and downtown Austin are on full display on this easy hike. Have a list of things to do while in Austin? Take it with you and put things in perspective with this easy overlook hike. Austin has an annoying habit of being far too hot, so go early or go late to take in this fantastic vantage point.


04Shop South Congress and Take In the Bats Under the Bridge

Free-tail bats flying over building in Austin, Texas

South Congress affords a wealth of shopping and dining options. However,  at dusk, the neighborhood explodes to life, with roughly 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats leaving their home under the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge and taking flight. From early spring to October/November, depending on the weather, the largest urban bat colony takes to the night skies in a performance of mammalian flight. Whether you're on the bridge, under the bridge, or on a boat, it's a truly breathtaking experience that shouldn't be missed.


05Discover Hamilton Pool Preserve

Person laying around Hamilton Pool

Hamilton Pool is located in Dripping Springs, only 23 miles outside of Austin. An underwater river feeds the spring that fills the limestone pool with cool fresh water. The result is this hidden natural oasis with an abundant ecosystem tucked into the hill country. It attracts many visitors and is so popular that reservations are required from March through September.


06Festivals, Festivals, Festivals

An aerial photo of a huge crowd of people at a music festival in a park

They do everything bigger and Texas, but Austin does festivals better than all of the cities that dare compete, with the possible exception of New Orleans. Whether South by Southwest, a Texas wine festival, or a barbecue extravaganza, it's worth doing your homework to decide when to visit Austin to make sure you're a part of the way this city rolls.

Ryan Conine / Getty Images


07It's All about the BBQ

Sausages hanging over brisket smoking over a large BBQ pit

You could argue that the true home of barbecue in Texas is in Denton. You would also be foolish not to enjoy some of Austin's offerings. It's Texas, so BBQ means beef, and Austin has been a city which chefs flock to. The humble fire pit becomes a cauldron of smoky genius in Austin.

SamyStClair / Getty Images


08Explore New Braunfels

Aerial photo of New Braunfels

New Braunfels is a modern city with small-town charm and is known for the beautiful Comal River, which flows right through the middle of town. Visitors enjoy floating down this river, with its clear and calm, spring-fed water. Canyon Lake is also close by and boasts plenty of fishing and water sports opportunities. In addition, summertime fun can be found at Schlitterbahn Waterpark, where all ages can relax in the lazy river, ride the water slides, and enjoy the kid's waterpark.


09Discover Fredericksburg

Moss Lake Reflecting Enchanted Rock in Texas

Fredericksburg is home to a few unique attractions, such as the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, a giant rock dome composed of pink granite. Visitors enjoy camping, stargazing, hiking, and other activities at this 1,644-acre park. The town is also home to the Old Tunnel Bat Colony, where 3 million Mexican free-tail bats live in an abandoned railroad tunnel. The National War Museum of the Pacific is also located here and educates visitors about WWII with modern technology and displays.


10Wander to Wimberly

Wimberly is well-known for the popular swimming spot in the Jacob's Well Natural Area. The round pond has a 30-foot drop that entices visitors to jump in from the rocks above. Many also visit nearby Blue Hole Regional Park for activities such as hiking, swimming, and fishing. Visitors can discover tours and wine-tasting events at several wineries and vineyards in the surrounding area.


11Stay a While in La Grange

La Grange is home to many notable attractions, such as the unique Texas Quilt Museum and The Jersey Barnyard. Most striking, perhaps, are the breweries and historic buildings in the town, such as The Monument Hill and Kreische Brewery State Historic Sites. Visitors can see the ruins of one of the first breweries in the state and a monument for two battles fought against Mexico in 1842.


12Eastside Taprooms

People in Texas always claim theirs is better. It's just part of being Texan. However, this boisterous nonsense comes to a screeching halt when it comes to craft beer. Everyone knows Austin does it best, and there are few willing to raise a contrary opinion. On the eastside alone, you have Blue Owl, Hops & Grain, Zilker and others vying for the most people enjoying a cold beer in the same room each day.


13Play Some Pinball

Unless you're watching Happy Days reruns, there has likely not been a pinball machine in your life for quite some time. Enter Pinballz Arcade and its collection of nearly 300 vintage pinball machines that will bring out your inner child coupled with an adults' sensibilities as you push the limits between a tilt and a free game.


14Check Out Longhorn Caverns

Beautifully formed and lighted formations and textures in this Central Texas Cave

Longhorn Caverns, a short drive outside of Austin, has been home to numerous soldiers in the many wars that have befallen Texas over the years. This phenomenal limestone cavern was even a speakeasy during prohibition. Take a tour where you will learn the history of the outlaws, deserters, and more that have called this massive cave home over the years.


15Live Music is the Lifeblood of Austin

Stubb's, Beerland, Mohawk, Red Eyed Fly, Elysium, Barbarella, Metal and Lace, Swan Dive, and Plush are just a few of the clubs that anchor the Red River Cultural District of Austin. You don't need a festival celebrating music to celebrate music in Austin no matter the day of the week. South by Southwest is certainly happening, but Austin doesn't slow its love of live music the rest of the year. Head down to 6th Street, and you'll come back to your hotel or Airbnb tapping your feet for days.


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