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Summertime is a great time to visit Austin. Outdoor activities are the name of the game, from kayaking Lady Bird Lake to cooling off in a spring-fed swimming hole and catching an outdoor concert and picnicking in a scenic park. Here are 25 fun ideas to help build your Austin summer bucket list.
Rowing Dock. Credit Jeff Campbell.
2. Don’t miss the sunset show at the Bat Bridge, when more than one million Mexican free-tailed bats pour into the evening sky from beneath the Congress Avenue Bridge. Watch from the bridge or stake out a spot at the Statesman Bat Observation Center.
3. Hike along the picturesque Barton Creek Greenbelt to reach Gus Fruh, a swimming hole known for its famed Urban Assault limestone rock wall that’s a favorite of climbers, as well as the hidden Twin Falls and Sculpture Falls areas.
4. Snap a selfie in front of one of Austin’s iconic murals. The wildly popular I love you so much mural is painted on the wall of Jo's Coffee on South Congress Avenue. Hi, How Are You features a bug-eyed bullfrog named Jeremiah near the University of Texas at Austin campus. And the colorful Greetings from Austin postcard is a must-shoot in South Austin.
5. Stop and smell the roses at Zilker Park, a 360-acre oasis in the heart of the city that’s home to a variety of recreation opportunities, including leafy trails that lead to outdoor artworks at the UMLAUF Sculpture Garden and Museum.
Lick Honest Ice Creams. Credit Annie Ray.
6. Beat the summer heat with a cool treat. Try the artisan ice cream (with flavor combos such as sweet persimmon and sage) in a house-made waffle cone at Lick Honest Ice Creams or sprinkle a scoop of Mexican vanilla ice cream with a creative topping like ginger snaps at Amy’s Ice Creams.
7. Austin City Limits Radio hosts Blues on the Green, a summertime concert series held in Zilker Park. Music lovers are invited to spread out on the lawn and enjoy an evening of homegrown talent for free (dates and details are TBA).
9. Sip a farmhouse beer in the outdoor beer garden at Jester King Brewery, a 165 acre brewery and farm dedicated to spontaneous fermentation with a focus on local materials. The Hill Country brewery is currently open by reservation only, and spaces include the Beer Garden, the Goat Pen, the Vineyard and more.
10. Explore the wildflowers and native plants of Texas in the beautiful gardens at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (now open by reservation only). See how native plants can be used to create sustainable landscapes, bring kids to play in a one-of-a-kind family garden, birdwatch on miles of wildflower-rimmed trails and explore the stunning architecture reflective of Central Texas.
Courtesy of UMLAUF Sculpture Garden & Museum.
11. Lake Travis is Austin’s largest lake, making it a favorite boating destination. Explore one of the many parks surrounding Lake Travis, including Pace Bend Park, known for its dramatic backdrop of limestone cliffs.
12. Pack a picnic and hike up the stone steps of Mount Bonnell for a panoramic view of the Austin area, including Lake Austin. It’s a relatively short hike, with an amazing reward at the top.
13. Rent a bicycle from Barton Springs Bike Rental or Mellow Johnny's Bike Shop and bike the 10-mile Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail that skirts the glittering waters of Lady Bird Lake. Insider tip: snap a selfie with the memorial statue of Austin music legend Stevie Ray Vaughan that’s stationed along the route.
14. Make like a cowboy and saddle up for a Texas Hill Country horseback ride around Lonestar Ranch with Texas Trail Rides, where you’ll pass by picturesque spring-fed lakes, across Onion Creek and along wooded trails.
15. Pack up the kiddos and blankets and head out to Zilker Hillside Theater to watch the free summer musical, performed under the stars (details TBD).
Lady Bird Lake Cruises. Credit Geoff Duncan.
16. Go for a hike or bike ride in the Texas Hill Country at Reimers Ranch Park, a beautiful expanse near Dripping Springs offering opportunities for walking, hiking, horseback riding, fishing, rock climbing and mountain biking.
18. Immerse your family in Texas history at the pink granite Texas State Capitol, which offers free tours. Start at the Texas Capitol Visitors Center (currently closed to the public), housed in the 1857 General Land Office Building that now features a museum with fascinating exhibits on the history of the Lone Star State.
19. Motor over to the Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In to catch an indie film or cult classic at Austin's only drive-in movie theater. This mini version of a traditional auto cinema typically features two films per night.
20. For an adrenaline rush coupled with an awesome view, Lake Travis Zipline Adventures offers five pulse-pounding ziplines (one being the longest in Texas) to whisk you away on an exciting outdoor adventure.
Guero's Taco Bar. Credit Richard Casteel.
21. Chill with a hand-shaken margarita or icy cold cerveza on the patio at Güero’s Taco Bar, or enjoy a bowl of queso and warm, handmade corn tortillas at the limited capacity restaurant.
22. Bat Fest has become the biggest bat-viewing party of the year, held on the Congress Avenue Bridge in August. Expect tons of live music, local food and drink, more than 50 arts and crafts vendors, children's activities and a bat costume contest (of course!).
23. Grab a healthy snack in the cafe at Central Market North Lamar and enjoy the sprawling outdoor patio.
24. Join in the Austin PRIDE Festival & Parade, held in August at Fiesta Gardens. It’s the largest annual LGBTQ advocacy and fundraising event in Central Texas, with more than 400,000 attendees (postponed to 2021).
25. Soak up the stunning sunset panorama during dinner on the kid-friendly patio at The Oasis. The multi-tiered restaurant overlooks Lake Travis and offers one-of-a-kind views.
Explore even more summer activities in Austin by checking out our Events Calendar.