You’ll find plenty to do in Austin during the wintertime, both indoors and out, thanks to the city's temperate weather. Here you can hike along forest trails, sip seasonal cocktails in a cozy lounge, explore a world-class museum and dine outdoors on a heated patio. Add these ideas to your Austin winter bucket list and go!
Seasonal Flavors, Restaurants and BarsBack to Top of List
1. SIP SEASONAL COCKTAILS
Enjoy a boozy winter warmer on the patio at Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden, slide into a velvet booth at The Roosevelt Room (reservations suggested) and order a high-octane libation or try a mixed drink made with fortified wine at The Meteor. Sip Christmas cocktails at Lala’s, where the decorations stay up year round. Visiting during the holidays? Check out one (or all!) of the holiday pop-up bars around the city.
2. VISIT A LOCAL DISTILLERY, WINERY OR BREWERY
If you’re a whiskey lover, check out Still Austin Whiskey Co., a true grain-to-glass distillery where everything from mashing to barreling and bottling is done in-house. Treaty Oak Distillery in Dripping Springs offers panoramic Texas Hill Country views and tastings of multiple whiskeys, gins and beers. Stop by Jester King Brewery’s 165-acre ranch outside Austin to taste wild ales, farmhouse ales and fermented beers freshly brewed with local grains and well water. Manifest summer with a glass of Texas High Plains Rosé, featuring a hint of fresh strawberries, sipped outside at The Austin Winery.
3. DINE ON A HEATED PATIO
Austin is all about alfresco dining, and wintertime is no different. Dig into classic American fare while staying warm on the patio at Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill. Soak up the tropical vibe at Grizzelda’s, where you can post up on the patio with Mexican food and mezcal cocktails. Or cozy up on the spacious patio at Hotel Vegas with live music, DJs, trivia, and a full menu of comfort food and boozy beverages. Or head to the sprawling Armadillo Den, featuring indoor and outdoor stages with nightly live music, yard games, axe throwing, food trucks, craft beer and cocktails, and fire pits and outdoor heaters to keep things toasty.
4. GET COZY WITH WINTRY COMFORT FOOD
Dive into a steaming bowl of ramen at Ramen Tatsu-Ya or a healthy, homemade soup at The Soup Peddler. Dig into late-night steak frites in your own private cabana at Justine’s Brasserie (reservations required). Nosh on Southern-style bites like crab-and-oyster mushroom toast on the patio at Hillside Farmacy. And sample seasonally inspired cuisine at the award-winning Emmer & Rye, which offers nightly dim sum-style specials (reservations suggested). When you’re in the mood for something spicy, Texas Chili Parlor hits the spot with a variety of tasty chili options, including venison, white bean and Texas-style without beans.
5. WARM UP WITH A COFFEE
Come for the fantastic joe and craft cocktails at Better Half Coffee & Cocktails, but stay for the all-day cafe fare, including breakfast sandwiches, burgers and burrata enjoyed on the patio. Pop by Jo's Coffee on South Congress as you work through your holiday shopping list in the neighborhood. Or, try the Japanese coffee drinks and toasts loaded with eggs, bacon and sausage at Sa-Tén Coffee & Eats. Find even more coffee shops.
Outdoor AdventuresBack to Top of List
6. GO ICE SKATING
In Downtown Austin, head to the Whole Foods Market flagship store for Ice Skating on the Plaza (dates to be announced). Afterwards, step inside the store to do some holiday shopping for your foodie friends and family, or enjoy a glass of wine (or cocoa!) from the bar and food court. Four Seasons Hotel Austin offers its Ice Rodeo, featuring elaborate holiday decorations surrounding an outdoor ice rink atop the hotel swimming pool. Elevate the festive experience by renting a private cabana. Check out some of the other ways you can get on the ice in the middle of Texas!
7. EXPLORE URBAN HIKING TRAILS
The Barton Creek Greenbelt boasts almost 13 miles of trails and is one of the top-rated hiking spots in Texas. Barton Creek passes both Sculpture and Twin Falls (with steep cliffs that are great for climbing) and winds through a dense forest. Or hike the leafy 10-mile Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail, which skirts along Lady Bird Lake’s shimmering waters and offers picturesque views of Austin’s skyline. Experience a lush hidden escape within the city limits at the quiet St. Edward's Greenbelt or the 227-acre Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve, where you can hike through forested trails (reservations required on weekends and holidays).
8. MOTOR OVER TO A DRIVE-IN
Take your loved one on a movie date at an Austin-area drive-in. Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-in showcases double features of indie films, cult classics and childhood favorites on the big screen. Just south of the city limits, Doc's Drive In Theatre presents films under the Texas sky with a bar and expansive menu of food and concessions, including house-made brisket. Experience a holiday light show from the comfort of your vehicle at the Austin Trail of Lights (Dec. 8-23, 2023) or Peppermint Parkway (Nov. 24-Dec. 30, 2023), hosted by Circuit of The Americas.
Indoor ActivitiesBack to Top of List
9. EXPLORE A MUSEUM
The University of Texas at Austin is home to an impressive collection of museums. The Blanton Museum of Art features the permanent exhibition Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin, a stone building with brilliantly colored glass windows and a wood totem sculpture. And the LBJ Presidential Library features inspiring exhibits on President Lyndon Baines Johnson and his beloved wife, Lady Bird Johnson. Prefer to explore outside? Don't miss the Zilker Botanical Garden, a 28-acre oasis in the heart of Austin, with plenty of accessible winding pathways through themed gardens (reserve tickets online in advance).
10. GO CLIMBING OR BOULDERING
There are no worries about the weather when you take your climbing indoors. Get a serious workout at the Austin Bouldering Project, the world’s largest bouldering gym, featuring 250 rotating configurations across 50,000 square feet. Or head over to Crux Climbing Center, where everyone from newbies to experienced climbers finds a challenge with bouldering and rope climbing activities. Another option is Mesa Rim Austin, a full-service climbing and fitness center featuring thoughtful climbing routes and yoga classes. Or, opt for outdoor adventures at Reimers Ranch Park and the Barton Creek Greenbelt.
11. SEE A COMEDY SHOW
See a show at Esther's Follies, which has been amusing locals for more than 40 years and specializes in political satire, comedy sketches, Vegas-style magic and hilarious musical numbers. Fallout Theater is 100% comedian owned and operated, and presents sketch, stand-up and improv comedy shows by new and seasoned comedians, in addition to comedy festivals. Or catch a big-name comedian onstage at The Paramount Theatre, a century-old performance venue and movie theater in the heart of Downtown Austin.
12. INDULGE IN A SPA DAY
Treat yourself to some quality time at a local spa, where you can rejuvenate and get away from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Start fresh with a facial at Milk + Honey Spa in the 2nd Street District, lounge in the comfy armchairs during a pedicure at Lacquer luxury nail studio (by appointment only), book a premier spa package at Viva Day Spa, or treat yourself to a weekend stay at one of Austin’s nearby resorts.
Winter Events and FestivalsBack to Top of List
13. RUN THE AUSTIN MARATHON
Join the runners (or cheer from the sidelines) for the annual Austin Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K on Feb. 18, 2024. Marathoners take over the streets of Austin, running past iconic landmarks like the UT Tower and Lady Bird Lake, ending at a festive finish line featuring a rocking band and beer garden.
14. SUPPORT LOCAL MUSIC DURING FREE WEEK
Shake off those post-holiday blues at Red River Cultural District’s Free Week, typically held in early January. The annual week-long celebration of local music features some 180 local bands playing free shows at venues around the city.