Excited to start planning your upcoming trip to Austin but don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, we’ll help get you started with these handy insider tips and ideas. Whether it’s your first time in Austin or your fortieth, this checklist is sure to provide plenty of unique Austin experiences for visitors of all interests!

Guitarist for The Golden Roses band plays at The White HorseThe Golden Roses at The White Horse. Credit Heather Mason.

1. Listen to live music.

Austin's celebrated live music scene includes hundreds of live music venues with just about every style represented; this is the Live Music Capital of the World after all! We recommend checking out one of Austin's many iconic music venues. A few favorites include The Saxon PubHotel VegasThe Elephant Room and The White Horse for a little two-steppin’ fun!

three men sit around a platter of BBQ and sides at Franklin Barbecue in Austin TexasFranklin Barbecue. Credit Wyatt McSpadden.

2. Eat barbecue and Tex-Mex.

You shouldn’t visit Austin without trying what we're most known for - barbecue and Tex-Mex. There are too many spots to name for just one visit, but here are some of our favorites to get you started. If you don't eat meat, don’t worry. Many iconic restaurants around town serve up a selection of vegetarian and vegan options. So remember, vegetarians can eat queso too! We're also known for our unique food trucks, which can be found all over town. If you leave hungry, you're just not doing it right.

photo of person with tattooed arms pouring beer for a tasting flight at Vista Brewing in Austin TexasCourtesy of Vista Brewing.

3. Enjoy a cocktail with local spirits, Hill Country wine or craft beer.

Make a new friend in town and get to know each other over a margarita or locally distilled craft cocktail. From grapevines to hops, Austin serves up local, craft libations sure to please every palate. Be sure to visit one of our local craft breweries on the weekend for a pint and a tour, or spend an afternoon exploring the scenic Hill Country wine trail. Whether you're a sommelier or a beer aficionado, there's a place for you in Austin.

Adults and children playing in and along the banks of Barton Springs Pool.Barton Springs Pool. Credit Cindy Bolanos.

4. Get outdoors.

Austin is often recognized as one of the fittest cities in the country, so there's naturally an immense variety of trails to walk, hike, run or bike. The Ann and Roy Butler Hike & Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake is easily accessible from a variety of hotspots, such as downtown, Riverside Drive and even Zilker Park, making it a convenient way to work off those breakfast tacos while viewing Austin's skyline. Or explore the 800+ acre Barton Creek Greenbelt and take a dip in the refreshing natural springs after working up a sweat. Spend a sunny afternoon on Lady Bird Lake paddle boarding or play 18 holes at one of Austin's many scenic golf courses.

people standing on Congress Avenue bridge waiting for bats to emerge at dusk in front of downtown Austin skylineCongress Avenue Bat Bridge. Credit Pierce Ingram.


In the heart of Downtown Austin sits the famous Congress Avenue Bridge, home to 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats, the largest urban bat colony in North America. If you’re visiting Austin between late spring and early fall, be sure to grab your spot early to experience the magnificent nightly bat watching right as the sun sets over Lady Bird Lake. For an on the water experience, consider taking a bat tour boat cruise with Lone Star Riverboat or Capital Cruises. Want to celebrate Austin’s unofficial mascot? Be sure to check out Bat Fest, the biggest bat viewing party of the year.

Moody shot of Top Notch Burger sign at night, juxtaposed on a dark purple sky.Top Notch Hamburgers from Dazed & Confused. Credit @coreyd123.

6. Visit a film location.

Austin was recently named by Moviemaker magazine as one of the "Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker." Film buffs should visit locations from movies and shows filmed in Austin including Boyhood, Dazed and Confused and Friday Night Lights. These iconic locations are easy to find by using our Austin Film Tourism Guide Keep an eye out, you may even spot a big name filming around town!

Bullock Museum exterior with star statueCourtesy of the Bullock Museum.

7. Explore Texas history.

Texas is getting a lot of national attention as a place to visit, and it also has a pretty cool back-story to boot. Why not take a quick walk up Congress Avenue to see the Texas State Capitol (which offers free tours) and the Bullock Texas State History Museum? For a more casual history lesson, explore some of Austin’s historic districts and sites. Looking for Texas and Austin souvenirs? Our Visitor Center, 602 E. Fourth St., has plenty of local and state-made merch for all your friends back home.

Austin Duck Adventures vehicle/boat in front of the Texas State Capitol building.Courtesy of Austin Duck Adventures.


Not an Austin know-it-all yet? Sign up for a guided city tour to learn more about the state capitol of Texas. With a wide variety, there is a perfect option for everyone like Austin Duck Adventures for an amphibious adventure. Or, if you prefer to get your steps in and create a genuine connection to the culture consider a Downtown Walking Tour with friendly and knowledgeable guides. To find your ideal tour, check out all that Austin Tours and Sightseeing has to offer. 

Want more recommendations? Ask us on Twitter or Instagram @VisitAustinTX or connect with the Austin Visitor Center at (512) 478-0098.