Planning to celebrate Memorial Day weekend in Austin? Whether you’re in the mood to relax and unwind or get outside, we’ve got you covered! Here are our suggestions for the best ways to spend three days off in Austin, Texas.
Just outside the city lies thousands of acres of untamed wilderness perfect for setting up camp with your favorite folks.
You might recognize 5,200-acre Pedernales Falls State Park from the 2015 Oscar-nominated film "Boyhood." Cool off in the swimming hole and snap some Instagram-worthy waterfalls before tubing down the Pedernales River and heading back to home base at Pedernales Falls Campground.
Head north to Colorado Bend State Park for stellar mountain biking terrain, explorable caves, waterfalls and Class I-II rapids on the Colorado River. Set up camp at Colorado Bend State Park and spend the night looking for shooting stars.
Just an hour from Austin, Pace Bend Park provides a relaxing backdrop among limestone cliffs and reflective Lake Travis. Spend the day on the water and then grill out at Pace Bend Campground.
Understated and rugged, McKinney Falls State Park is an excellent destination to hike, bike, fish and swim. Fireflies, campfires and scenic Onion Creek round out the destination.
Inks Lake State Park is a 1200-acre escape that’s just an hour-and-fifteen-minute drive from Austin. Take your pick of adventures, from exploring a waterfall or swimming in the lake, to hiking through a canyon and forest. Pitch a tent or stay in a cabin on the sparkling blue waters at Inks Lake Campground.
Drive one hour due south of Austin to the balmy 270-acre rainforest-like setting of Palmetto State Park. Glide down the San Marcos River in a kayak or canoe and keep an eye out for the exotic birds that inhabit the jungle. Palmetto Campground offers overnight sites for RVs and tents.
Check here for more sublime camping spots.
Lou Neff Point on the Hike & Bike Trail. Courtesy of The Trail Foundation.
Soak up plenty of Vitamin D during your long weekend! Bring your friends and a frisbee to Zilker Park. Furry friends are especially welcome. Or, lace up your hiking shoes to explore the Barton Creek Greenbelt, complete with hiking trails, a rope swing and plenty of scenic views.
Run or stroll along the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail. The heart-of-the-city gem is green, gorgeous and flanked by Austin’s flourishing skyline. Rent a paddleboard, canoe, kayak or sailboat and cruise around the lake, catching some rays while getting a workout.
Sit back and let the captain do the driving on a Lady Bird Lake boat cruise, complete with drinks and Austin landmark sightseeing. Or, watch 1.5 million Congress Avenue Bridge bats fly out near dusk on a sunset cruise.
For great swimming and people watching, head to Barton Springs Pool, just minutes outside of downtown Austin. Located in the heart of Zilker Park, this swimmer’s paradise features clear water fed from underground springs that stays a refreshing 68 degrees year ‘round, along with grassy hills for sunbathing.
Or drive out to the Hill Country for watering holes – Hamilton Pool Preserve is a favorite – caves, hikes, biking and loads of Texas culture and history. Swim in an artesian spring just 40 minutes outside of Austin at Jacob’s Well. The cool, clear water is surrounded by rocky ledges and shady trees, creating a picture-perfect swimming hole.
Attend an Event
A Memorial Day tradition, the Life Time Tri CapTex triathlon draws athletes of all levels to Lady Bird Lake on May 27, 2019.
Pack a blanket dinner and watch Austin Shakespeare’s "The Merchant of Venice" under the stars at Zilker Hillside Theatre’s Free Shakespeare in the Park series. Shows from May 9-26, 2019.
The Texas Military Forces Museum at Camp Mabry is showcasing a Vietnam War living history demonstration, complete with firing demonstrations and preserved uniforms. Showtimes for "Close Assault: 1968" begin at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on May 25 and 26.
Catch the opening weekend of the “Summer Classic Film Series” at Paramount Theatre, screening iconic flicks such as "Casablanca," "When Harry Met Sally," "His Girl Friday" and "My Fair Lady" from May 23-26, 2019 (showings throughout summer).
Contigo Beer Garden. Credit John Davidson.
Post up on a Pretty Patio
Enjoy great happy hour deals in the downstairs garage at famed Red's Porch, or dine on quality bar eats on the spacious upstairs porch overlooking the Barton Creek Greenbelt. At School House Pub, you'll find locals casually sipping Texas-brewed beer on the sandbox-inspired patio.
Shady Grove's sprawling, pecan tree-shaded patio is the perfect place to enjoy a laid-back bite in the sun with a cocktail in hand. In South Austin, sip on sangria on the patio at Habana, an Austin staple serving handmade empanadas and authentic seafood paella.
Go ranch-style at Contigo, where delicious cocktails and creative bar food run deep. The high-end beachy patio vibe at Perla's Seafood and Oyster Bar is a beautiful setting to indulge in oysters, champagne cocktails and fresh seafood.
Easy Tiger's epic beer garden is a superb spot to play ping-pong and sip imported beer alongside Waller Creek, while tucked-away Italian fave Olive & June places patrons under an ancient oak with handcrafted cocktails.
In the Red River District, hang out on the parachute-covered back patio at Cheer Up Charlies. Sip on the vegan-friendly bar’s specialty cocktails blended with organic juices while listening to live music.
Have a seat outdoors at a communal picnic table and make some new friends at Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden. Located in the Rainey Street entertainment district, Banger’s serves up handmade sausages and more than 100 craft brews on tap.
Tube the Rivers
Head to the Hill Country and get on the river with some friends, a cooler and a tube. Float the day away on the super clean, spring-fed San Marcos River. Swish down the Comal River near New Braunfels and enjoy shuttle service to and from the river. In Gruene, it’s all about the Guadalupe River. Rent a tube, raft or canoe or take a guided trip down the river.