Summer is a great time to visit Austin. Outdoor activities are the name of the game, from kayaking Lady Bird Lake and cooling off in a spring-fed swimming hole, to catching an outdoor concert and picnicking in a scenic park. Here are 25 Austin summer activities to help build your itinerary. Lady Bird Lake. Credit Jared Tennant.
1. Get out on the water at Lady Bird Lake, which flows through downtown Austin, where you can rent stand-up paddleboards, kayaks and canoes from the Rowing Dock, Greenbelt Outdoors and more. Take a guided kayak or stand-up paddleboard tour of the lake with Austin Kayak Tours, or kick back on a sightseeing cruise with Lone Star Riverboat or Capital Cruises.
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, nightly throughout the summer. Bat Fest has become the biggest bat-viewing party of the year, held on the Congress Avenue Bridge August 26, 2023. Expect live music, local food and drink, more than 50 arts and crafts vendors, children's activities and a bat costume contest (of course!).
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 see in South Austin.
5. Pack a picnic and head to Zilker Park, a 360-acre oasis in the heart of the city that’s home to a variety of attractions, including leafy trails that lead to outdoor artworks at the UMLAUF Sculpture Garden + Museum.
Lick Honest Ice Creams. Credit Annie Ray.
6. Beat the summer heat with a cool treat. Try the artisan ice cream in Austin (with seasonal flavors like garden lemon and carrot cake) 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. Sip a cocktail in the whiskey garden at Still Austin Whiskey Co., located at The Yard, a true grain-to-glass distillery where everything from mashing to barreling and bottling is done in-house. Plus, take a tour to see how Still Austin’s whiskey is made.
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's spaces include the Beer Garden, Goat Pen, nature trail and more.
10. Explore the wildflowers and native Texas plants in the beautiful gardens at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (reservations encouraged). 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.
Krause Springs. Credit Haley Plotkin.
11. Take a dip in one of Austin’s many spring-fed swimming holes. Barton Springs Pool in Zilker Park maintains a refreshing temperature of 68 degrees year round. Hamilton Pool Preserve is a historic swimming hole with a dramatic 50-foot waterfall that plunges into a canyon (reservations required; swimming not guaranteed). Krause Springs, located in Spicewood, is a popular camping and swimming destination with 32 springs, plus manmade and natural pools.
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. Be sure to check out nearby Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve, featuring lush gardens, colorful roaming peacocks and scenic hiking trails.
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 glistening 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 Lone Star Ranch with Texas Trail Rides, where you’ll pass by picturesque spring-fed lakes, across Onion Creek and along wooded trails.
Blues on the Green. Courtesy of ACL Radio.
15. Pack up the kiddos and blankets and head out to the Zilker Hillside Theatre to watch the free Zilker Summer Musical, performed under the stars. This summer, performances of Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical will run Thursday through Sunday evenings from July 7-August 12, 2023. Blues on the Green is an annual (and free) outdoor concert series featuring talented musicians, local vendors and a fun atmosphere for the whole family.
16. Go for a hike or bike ride in the Texas Hill Country at Reimers Ranch Park, a beautiful expanse near Dripping Springs ideal for walking, hiking, horseback riding, fishing, rock climbing and mountain biking.
17. 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 limestone cliffs. For an adrenaline rush coupled with an awesome view, Lake Travis Zip Line Adventures offers ziplines (one being the longest in Texas) to whisk you away on an exciting outdoor adventure.
18. Immerse your family in Texas history at the pink granite Texas State Capitol, which is open daily, or explore the expansive grounds. Start at the Texas Capitol Visitors Center (open daily), 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 popular drive-in movie theater. This mini version of a traditional auto cinema typically features two films per night. Or watch classics inside an ornate, historic theater during the Paramount Summer Classic Film Series. It's an Austin tradition.
20. Book a trip with Floaties Floatin' Saloon and see the sights while cruising around Lake Travis Bring your beverage of choice and take your place at the 11-seat bar on the water.
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. Wednesday through Sunday, enjoy live music in the Oak Garden.
22. Experience Asian Pacific American culture at the CelebrASIA festival, helf on May 13, 2023 at the Asian American Cultural Center. Watch performances, eat authentic foods, visit vendors and explore themed rooms.
23. Enjoy a fun Sunday brunch in the expansive backyard at Stubb's Bar-B-Q, where you'll hear live gospel music and authentic Texas barbecue all in one. Big band music and bacon flights are a perfect match during the Sunday brunch held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Banger's Sausage House & Beer Garden.
24. Join in the Austin PRIDE Festival & Parade, held on August 12, 2023 at Fiesta Gardens. It’s the largest annual LGBTQ+ advocacy and fundraising event in Central Texas, with more than 400,000 attendees.
25. Post up on the patio overlooking Lake Austin at Mozart's Coffee Roasters and listen to live music with a Vietnamese iced coffee in hand as the sun dramatically sets.
Explore even more summer activities in Austin by checking out our Events Calendar.