Austin is one of the best places to visit in Texas. The city has famous live music venues, sprawling urban parks, and unique, unusual sights that give Austin its signature weirdness. Day or night, there are plenty of things to do in Austin. It’s a destination you can enjoy at any age. To get you started, we put together our list of Austin attractions that you shouldn’t miss. Here are the top tourist attractions in Austin to visit:
1. The Austin Mural
Start your vacation with the “Greetings from Austin” mural. Centrally located, it’s a painted wall that resembles a life-size postcard and is the perfect selfie spot for tourists. The mural includes images of iconic Austin landmarks such as the Texas State Capitol and the University of Texas Tower. It’s free to visit and photograph, so you can take as many photos as you want with it for Instagram-friendly photos.
2. Sixth Street
Austin is the “Live Music Capital of the World” because of Sixth Street. Sixth Street is the epicenter of the city’s nightlife, with more than 100 bars, restaurants, and music venues. The best time to visit is Thursday through Saturday when the entire street becomes a block party in the city. Most of the best bars are located between North Lamar Avenue and I-35. On weekends, the road is pedestrian-only, creating a fun atmosphere.
3. Austin City Limits Live
Catching a show at Austin City Limits Live is one of the hottest things to do in Austin. It’s one of the best places in a large entertainment complex. This award-winning space has hosted some of the biggest names in music. It is recognized as a rock and roll landmark but also hosts musicians from other genres. Austin City Limits Live hosts about 100 concerts a year.
4. South Congress Avenue
South Congress Avenue is the center of dining, shopping, and entertainment for tourists and locals alike. SoCo is a great place to go, day or night. During the day, head to one of the local restaurants for delicious seafood, grilled dishes, and ice cream. The street becomes lively nightlife at night with many bars and live music. A monthly block party is held on the first Thursday of every month.
5. The University of Texas at Austin Campus
Austin is home to the University of Texas, a historical university founded in 1883. You can tour the campus, and there are often guest speakers or other events to attend. The school hosts college football games at the Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium and basketball contests at the Frank C. Erwin, Jr., Special Events Center.
6. Texas State Capitol Building
You can’t visit Austin without seeing the Texas State Capitol. It is the seat of state government and is one of Austin’s most famous landmarks. As you approach downtown Congress Avenue, you’ll be greeted with incredible views. The Capitol is open to the public to tour Texas history or walk to admire the architecture.
7. Congress Avenue Bridge
More than 1 million bats live under the Congress Avenue Bridge. The design and condition of the bridge make it a perfect nesting place for bats. It is the largest urban bat colony in the world. When you see this rare sight, you can see why Austin accepts his weirdness. You can stand on top of the bridge and watch the bats fly below you or take a boat ride below you.
8. LBJ Presidential Library
The LBJ Presidential Library provides an in-depth look at the documents and archives of former U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. The building houses a library and museum dedicated to his presidency, with historical documents, art, photographs, and interactive features.
9. Harry Ransom Center
The Harry Ransom Center has one of the most extensive archives of original manuscripts and other historical documents. It hosts rotating exhibitions throughout the year and permanent exhibits, including the Niépce Heliograph, the oldest surviving photograph taken in France in 1826, and the first edition of the Gutenberg Bible. With so much to see, you can only imagine what other treasures lie in this mid-century building.
10. Lady Bird Lake
Lady Bird Lake is Austin’s premier outdoor recreation destination. People constantly walk, run, and cycle for exercise and leisure. One of the main attractions is the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail. There are boats, kayaks, and canoes. The lake is also home to a lakeside music venue that hosts an annual festival.
11. Bullock Texas State History Museum
Learn about Texas history at the Bullock Texas State History Museum. Opened in 2001, the museum showcases more than 16,000 years of the nation’s history, from early civilizations to European settlements. The current collection includes more than 500 historical artifacts.
12. Austin Aquarium
The Austin Aquarium is the city’s premier aquarium, with more than 8,000 animals. It features animals from the ocean, desert, and tropics. Sharks, giant squid, stingrays, and lemurs are some of the most popular animals. Take the rare opportunity to feed sharks, touch crocodiles, and lead snakes. All activities at the aquarium are kid friendly.
13. Austin Brewery Tours
With the craft beer trend in full swing in Austin, many excellent breweries exist to explore. The team at Texas Twisted Tours covers all the details, from assigned drivers to the best local IPAs and beers. A favorite for bachelor and bachelorette events, guided brewery tours offer a responsible way to tour the local breweries.
14. McKinney Falls State Park
McKinney Falls State Park is 700 acres of incredible natural landmarks, outdoor recreation, and historic sites. Two main highlights of the park are Upper McKinney Falls and Lower McKinney Falls. They offer beautiful scenery and swimming, hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and camping opportunities.
15. UMLAUF Sculpture Garden and Museum
Admire original works by one of Texas’ most famous sculptors, Charles Umlauf, at the UMLAUF Sculpture Garden and Museum. The site has two areas to explore, the outdoor sculpture garden and the museum. The Sculpture Garden includes more than 40 sculptures.
16. Auditorium Shores
Auditorium Shores is the perfect place to enjoy live entertainment. It offers excellent views of downtown Austin and Lady Bird Lake. Several events are held here throughout the year, including SXSW, the Austin Food & Wine Festival, and more. The park is packed with tourists to enjoy some of the best entertainment and activities in the city. Outside of activities, the park is a popular recreational area.
17. Blanton Museum of Art
The Blanton Museum of Art is one of the largest university art museums in the United States. The facility features nearly 18,000 artworks in permanent and temporary exhibitions located on the UT Austin campus. It has the most extensive collection of Latin American art in the country. More than 150,000 people visit the museum each year.
18. Circuit of the Americas
The Circuit of the Americas has a 3.41-mile circuit and hosts the U.S. Formula 1 Grand Prix, the U.S. Motorcycle Grand Prix, and various other racing championships throughout the year. Musical guests from Mumford & Sons to Taylor Swift and Chance the Rapper performed on stage at the Germania Insurance Amphitheatre.
19. Barton Springs Pool
Barton Springs Pool is one of Austin’s most popular attractions. The 1,000-foot pool contains water from Barton Springs, one of the largest natural springs in Texas. It maintains a constant temperature throughout the year, perfect for swimming regardless of the season. The pool is open to the public with an entrance fee. During the winter, you can visit for free.
20. Mount Bonnell/Covert Park
The summit of Mount Bonnell is nearly 800 feet above sea level and offers excellent views of the Austin skyline and Lake Austin. The hike to the summit is relatively short and easy. With 100 steps to climb, even a child can quickly master it. Once at the top, you’ll have several vantage points with panoramic views of the city below. Daytime is the most popular time to visit (when Lake Austin is easiest to see).
21. Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve
Mayfield Park is a nature reserve and garden with unusual plants and decorative structures. Built in the 1870s, this historic cottage is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can hike through the woods on the hotel’s nature trails to observe some unique flora and fauna. It’s always a great place to enjoy the shade on a sunny day in Austin.
The Thinkery has several floors filled with fun exhibits that provide kids with a hands-on learning experience. Each event is themed around science, technology, and art. Some popular displays are the Float Ball, Game Restaurant, Lite Brite (where you can see gravity in action), and building blocks.
23. Mexic-Arte Museum
The Mexic-Arte Museum offers an intimate space to immerse yourself in Latin American culture through art. The museum features the work of well-known Mexican artists and up-and-coming local talents. This is one of the best places in Austin to see Mexican art. The art style is distinct and fully tells the heritage story.
24. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin is a great place to explore Texas’s gorgeous flora and fauna. It also offers family projects where kids can get hands-on gardening experience. For older kids, it provides free magnifying glasses, books, binoculars, and more to expand discovery opportunities.
25. The Continental Club
Since 1955, the Continental Club has enjoyed a reputation as the region’s premier music club. Here you’ll find a true fusion of American and Texas heritage, making it a great place to grab a drink and mingle with the locals.
26. Zilker Metropolitan Park
Zilker Metropolitan Park is located on 350 acres in downtown Austin. It is packed with locals and tourists for leisure on a good day. There are several sports fields available for everyone. Visit some park attractions like the Zilker Botanical Gardens, Zilker Hillside Theater, and the Nature and Science Center. It’s also a popular water destination to cool off in the scorching Texas heat.