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.
For the latest updates about the status of each featured location, please check each business's website. To learn more about local restrictions and closures, click here.
Rowing Dock. Credit Jeff Campbell.
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 City 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.
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. Pack a picnic to enjoy 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. 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 is currently recommending advance reservations, 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 (requiring advance reservations). 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). Krause Springs, located in Spicewood, is a popular camping and swimming destination with 32 springs, and man-made 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.
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 the Hill Country Galleria to watch the free Zilker Summer Musical, performed under the stars. This summer, performances of Little Shop of Horrors will run Thursday-Sunday from July 9-August 14 (reservations required).
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.
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 dramatic backdrop of limestone cliffs.
18. Immerse your family in Texas history at the pink granite Texas State Capitol, which is open Monday-Friday, or explore the expansive grounds, open daily. Start at the Texas Capitol Visitors Center (open Monday-Friday), 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 restaurant. On Wednesdays, enjoy live music in the Oak Garden, courtesy of Sun Radio.
22. Bat Fest has become the biggest bat-viewing party of the year, held on the Congress Avenue Bridge on August, 28, 2021. 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. Enjoy a fun Sunday brunch in the expansive backyard at Stubb's Bar-B-Q, where you can enjoy live gospel music and authentic Texas barbecue all in one.
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 (dates TBA).
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.