Series: City Guides

What to Do in Austin, Texas: A Complete Guide

Posted on Jan 8

Austin, Texas is a quickly growing metro area with lots to offer. From mouthwatering Tex-Mex eateries, top-rated food trucks, and stunning parks and recreation to incredible live music, must-see museums, and unbeatable shopping, the city has it all.

So, what are the best things to do in Austin? Zeus Living has you covered. Find top-rated tourist attractions, date ideas, outdoor adventures, and fun family outings below.

Top Things to Do in Austin, Texas

As your resource for long-term rentals in the top cities throughout the country, Zeus Living is here to help live like a local in ATX. There are endless fun things to do in Austin. Whether you're into exploring the natural world, learning about some Texas history, catching live music, or tasting the top restaurants in Austin, there's something for everyone.

Believe it or not, some of the best things to do in Austin cost little to nothing, and many make it easy to practice social distancing. We rounded up the top activities and attractions below.

Explore Zilker Park

The weather in Austin is relatively warm year-round, which allows residents and visitors alike to take advantage of the city's stunning outdoor amenities, like Zilker Park. Home of the famous swimming hole, Barton Springs Pool, and Zilker Botanical Garden, the recreational area is a natural oasis spanning 360 acres right in the heart of downtown.

Whether you spend an entire day or an afternoon, there's lots to do in Zilker Park. We're talking picnic spots, canoeing, disc golf, a sizable playground, and events like the Austin Kite Festival and the Austin City Limits Music Fest. While you're at it, you can also check out Lady Bird Lake, which is right next to the park.

Marvel at the Cathedral of Junk

The Cathedral of Junk is one of many quirky destinations that "keep Austin weird." A multi-level shelter constructed out of more than 60 tons of unwanted items, the funky art gallery really is something to look at.

From far away, the exhibit looks kind of like a giant fort or junkyard. But up close, you'll see it's constructed out of home goods, furniture, bikes, tires, car parts, signs, tchotchkes, and other toss-aways with intertwining foliage tying the whole thing together.

Taste the City at The Picnic

If you're looking for some al fresco dining or want to pick up some to-go grub, head over to The Picnic. Located a block from the Zilker Park entrance, the premier food hub is home to some of Austin's top-rated trucks and carts.

When you stroll through The Picnic, you'll find Kebabalicious, Hey Cupcake!, Acai Hut, Cannone Cucina Italiana, spicy fare at Coat & Thai, Tex-Mex favorite Trudy's, and fried chicken takeout at The Mighty Cone. The outdoor eating destination also has lots of paved parking, air-conditioned restrooms, and plenty of picnic tables.

Hike or Bike the Barton Creek Greenbelt

The Barton Creek Greenbelt is a gorgeous 7.25-mile stretch of public land in Austin. As a go-to for locals and visitors who love outdoor recreation, it's one of the best places to hike and bike in the metro area. With 12 miles of hiking and bike trails, many access points throughout the city, affordable bike rentals, and trail descriptions at each point, it's easy to adventure through the green space.

Aside from providing a great hike or bike trail, the Barton Creek Greenbelt is a hub for other activities, like rock-climbing, swimming, and bouldering. If you're looking for a more relaxing outdoor activity, you can post up on a boulder for lunch or sway from a hammock along the creek.

Catch a Flick at the Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In

Film buffs and casual movie enthusiasts alike love Austin's Blue Starlite Drive-In. As the world's first and only mini urban drive-in and the city's only drive-in movie theater, this is a must-see. You can catch indie films, nostalgic favorites, and cult classics at the Blue Starlight, and on most nights, they show a double feature.

This is a great option for a one-on-one outing or some family fun. To get the full experience, grab a few old-fashioned treats and snacks at the concession stand.

Browse the Texas Farmers Market

Local vendors, artisans, and farmers come together every Sunday, year-round, for the Texas Farmers Market at Mueller Lake Park. TFM at Mueller is a fun, healthy, and interactive way to spend time with friends or family. Voted Austin's favorite farmers market by Austin Chronicle, this is the perfect place to go for fresh produce, local baked goods, and artisan foods.

Hang Out in South Congress

South Congress (or SoCo) is a pedestrian-friendly part of South Austin filled with trendy long-term rentals, hip boutiques, original eateries, and delectable food carts. It's the perfect place to grab dinner, drinks, or happy hour. The vibrant neighborhood also has frequent live music, including nightly shows at the Continental Club.

We recommend checking out Allen Boots, a landmark leather shop, and Parts & Labour, a home goods and jewelry store. To cool off, head to Amy's or Jeni's for some of Austin's best ice cream. And if you look down South Congress Avenue toward downtown, you'll get a picture-perfect view of the Texas State Capitol.

Tour the Governor's Mansion

Located in historic Downtown Austin, the Texas Governor's Mansion is a true spectacle. This tourist attraction was built in 1856 and was the Lone Star State's first-designated historic landmark in 1962. To get a taste of Texas history, you can catch free guided tours on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, as well as some Saturdays. Tours are about 20 minutes long, so this is a great fun thing to tack onto a day of exploring Downtown Austin attractions.

Check Out the Whole Foods Flagship Store

If you're a fan of organic fare or are wondering how to eat healthy while traveling for work, we suggest stopping by the Whole Foods flagship store. The original Whole Foods Market was founded in Austin in 1980, and there are now upwards of 500 stores throughout North America and the United Kingdom.

The flagship location has more than just healthy and organic groceries, though. It houses four restaurants, a food truck, a beer and wine bar, and a cool rooftop space where you can catch live music and other community events.

Enjoy Some Texas BBQ

Though it's good to focus on healthy eating while you're away from home, a trip to the Austin area wouldn't be complete without some Texas barbecue. There are nearly endless restaurants, food carts, diners, and eateries throughout the city where you can get amazing classic BBQ.

If you need some ideas, we recommend La Barbecue, Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ, Black's Barbecue, and Rudy's BBQ. Then there's the top-rated Franklin Barbecue in Central East Austin, known for its famous brisket.

Muse at the City's Iconic Murals

Austin is known for iconic, Instagram-worthy murals throughout the Central Texas city. Some of the must-see staples at this tourist attraction include "You're My Butter Half" on East MLK Boulevard and the "I love you so much" scribble on the side of Jo's Coffee on South Congress Avenue. We're also partial to the Blue Tile Wall, the "Before I die..." wall, "Love from Austin" on the side of Prima Dora, and the "Willie Nelson for President" Austin mural.

Enjoy Your Stay in Our Long-Term Austin, TX Rentals

While we did our best to provide you with the most accurate, current information about fun things to do in Austin. Bear in mind that the availability and hours are subject to change—especially with the unpredictability of the coronavirus pandemic. We suggest checking (and double-checking) the websites for each of these outings before adding it to your itinerary. For more on the average rent in Austin, Texas, or best companies to work for in Austin, check out our blogs!

Zeus Living is proud to offer long-term rentals in some of the most sought after neighborhoods in Austin. Our modern extended-stay units are completely furnished with functional living rooms, bedrooms with premium mattresses, and fully equipped kitchens plus super-fast WiFi and smart TVs with cable.

Contact us today to learn more about the long-term rental units from Zeus Living.

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