The dizzying array of things to do in Austin means that, even in a place as unique and remarkable as Texas, the state capital stands out as a thrilling destination. Austin is known for outstanding food, great live music venues, and its general weirdness. The city is rapidly rising in popularity as a place to live and visit, thanks to a fantastic culture and friendly locals.

    There are few remarkable landmarks in Austin. However, the experiences you can have and the memories you can make puts the city firmly on the bucket lists of many travellers. To help you get the most out of your visit, we’ve picked out the must-see things to do in Austin.

    What are the best things to do in Austin?


    Texas Capitol

    See the history of the Lone Star State

    • History
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    They say that everything’s bigger in Texas, and they’re not wrong. The golden dome of the Texas State Capitol is about 22 feet taller than the dome of the Capitol Building in Washington DC. Built in 1885 in an Italian Renaissance Revival style, the imposing building is in the middle of a lovely 22-acre park, which also contains a number of statues and monuments. You can take a 30-minute guided tour of the building for free, which details the history of Texas and the state’s legislature.

    Location: 1100 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701, USA

    Open: Monday–Friday from 7 am to 10 pm, Saturday–Sunday from 9 am to 8 pm

    Phone: +1 512-463-4630


    Zilker Park

    Bring a picnic and your swimsuit

    • Couples
    • Families
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    The 351-acre Zilker Park is packed with fun things to do. There are beautiful picnic sites, playgrounds, volleyball courts, botanical gardens, an outdoor theatre and a nature centre. The star attraction, however, is the Barton Springs Pool. Formed by natural springs and spanning 3 acres, the water here is at a constant temperature of about 20°C throughout the year. It’s a popular place for Austinites to relax and cool off in summer. Zilker Park is south of the Colorado River from downtown Austin.

    Location: 2100 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704, USA

    Open: Daily from 5 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 512-974-6700


    photo by Wordandgesture (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Bullock Texas State History Museum

    Learn about Texas through interactive exhibits

    • Families
    • History

    The Bullock Texas State History Museum was designed to tell “the Story of Texas”, and does so across 3 floors of interactive exhibits. Each floor has a different theme, coving the Texan land and identity. The star attraction is the 400-seat IMAX theatre, which shows new and classic movies. Be sure to check out the original NASA Mission Control consoles and oil field drill bits on the 3rd floor. Head to the Story of Texas Café for local comfort food and snacks.

    Location: 1800 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701, USA

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm, Sunday from noon to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 512-936-8746


    photo by LoneStarMike (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Congress Avenue Bridge

    Watch over 1 million bats take flight at dusk

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    • Photo

    About 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats roost under the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge, making it among the largest urban bat colonies in the world. Come to the bridge at dusk to see them all take to the sky to feed. You can watch from on the bridge or the nearby riverbanks and there are even boat tours that provide a unique perspective. It’s quite a dramatic sight and a real must-see for Austin.

    Location: Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704, USA


    photo by Stuart Seeger (CC BY 2.0) modified



    A trendy neighbourhood with Latino influences

    Once mostly a Latino area of Austin, Holly has become one of the trendier parts of the city. It’s a fun alternative nightlife destination and contains a number of great coffee shops, food trucks and restaurants. The northern part of the area, along East 7th Street, has an industrial and commercial feel to it, with a couple of small shopping malls. Possibly the area’s star attraction is Juan in a Million, a restaurant on East Cesar Chavez Street. The breakfast tacos there are legendary.


    photo by Steve Snodgrass (CC BY 2.0) modified


    The Continental Club

    A legendary venue in the live music capital of the world

    Austin is known as the live music capital of the world, and The Continental Club is the live music capital of Austin. The iconic venue on South Congress Avenue opened its doors in 1955 and has since welcomed legends like Robert Plant and Wanda Jackson. It’s quite a modest place with a small stage, but its reputation is massive and it still hosts great roots, rock, country, swing, blues and rockabilly acts every night.

    Location: 1315 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704, USA

    Open: Monday from 6 pm to 2 am, Tuesday–Friday from 4 pm to 2 am, Saturday–Sunday from 3 pm to 2 am

    Phone: +1 512-441-2444


    photo by Tangledupinbleu chs (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Dirty Sixth

    Half a mile of clubs, bars and regrets

    Sixth Street between Congress and Interstate 35 is locally known as Dirty Sixth. Lined with bars and clubs, it has a reputation for being the place where drunken mistakes are made most evenings. Even so, it’s one of those things to do in Austin that you've just got to try, even if it’s just once. Coyote Ugly is particular popular with the local students, so expect wild parties. For something more sophisticated, Midnight Cowboy is a reservation-only lounge. Go to Esther’s Follies if you want a laugh – it’s an excellent comedy club.


    photo by Charlie Llewellin (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    Ben Reeves | Compulsive Traveller

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