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 a concert in a scenic park. Here are 35 fun ideas to help build your Austin summer bucket list.
Rowing Dock kayaks at the bat bridge. 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. Take a dip in one of Austin’s most popular spring-fed swimming holes, located in the heart of the city. Barton Springs Pool in Zilker Park maintains a refreshing temperature of 68 degrees year round, and has plenty of grassy areas for people watching.
5. Join Austin's largest Independence Day celebration at Auditorium Shores during the H-E-B Austin Symphony July 4th Concert & Fireworks. The festive evening includes patriotic music by the Austin Symphony, with a grand finale fireworks display over Lady Bird Lake
Blues on the Green. Courtesy of ACL Radio.
6. 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.
7. Stop and smell the roses at Zilker Park, a 360-acre oasis in the heart of the city that’s home to the blooming Zilker Botanical Garden and leafy trails that lead to outdoor artworks at the UMLAUF Sculpture Garden and Museum.
8. Immerse your family in Texas history at the pink granite Texas State Capitol, which offers free tours. Start at the Texas Capitol Visitors Center, housed in the 1857 General Land Office Building that now features a museum with fascinating exhibits on the history of the Lone Star State.
9. 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.
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 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 this year’s free Summer Musical, Disney’s The Little Mermaid, performed under the stars July 12–August 17, Thursdays through Sundays.
Hamilton Pool Preserve. Credit Dave Mead.
16. Mayfield Park is home to incredible gardens and colorful preening peacocks, both of which make for great photo ops. It was originally an early 1900s summer retreat for the family of prominent Austin politician Allison Mayfield.
17. 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. Take a 30-minute tour to see how Still Austin’s whiskey is made.
18. Cool off in nearby Texas Hill Country at Hamilton Pool Preserve, a historic swimming hole formed by the Hamilton Creek spilling out over limestone outcroppings, creating a dramatic 50-foot waterfall that plunges into a canyon.
19. Zip around town and do some sightseeing on your own with an bike rental from Mellow Johnny's Bike Shop. Bikes start at $30 for full day rentals and kids bikes are free of charge with the rental of adult bikes.
Guero's Taco Bar. Credit Richard Casteel.
21. Chill with a hand-shaken margarita in the Oak Garden at Güero’s Taco Bar, which hosts free live music Wednesday through Sunday nights.
22. Beachside Billy’s Lake Travis Restaurant & Water Park at Volente Beach Resort presents Jaws on the Water every Saturday from June 8–August 17 (except July 6). Float in the water on a keepsake inner tube at the dive-in screening, which includes access to Volente Beach water park attractions.
23. Take a fascinating Downtown Walking Tour that departs from the Austin Visitor Center. A Visitor Center guide can even customize a tour to your interests. Afterwards, stop in at the Center and pick up a fun Austin souvenir.
24. Sit beneath the strung lights and sprawling pecan tree stretched over Shady Grove’s patio and catch a live concert during Unplugged at the Grove, presented by Austin City Limits Radio. This free, family-friendly music series is presented at 8 p.m. every Thursday night.
25. 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.
Lick Honest Ice Creams. Credit Annie Ray.
26. Bat Fest has become the biggest bat-viewing party of the year, held on the Congress Avenue Bridge on August 24. 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!).
27. 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.
28. Grab a healthy snack in the cafe at Central Market North Lamar and listen to live music on the sprawling outdoor patio. Just steps away is a large playground connected to a park that kids just can’t resist.
29. Celis Brewery recently expanded, adding a new beer garden and live music venue. Sip some suds in the kid- and dog-friendly outdoor beer garden or take a weekend tour for an inside look at Celis’ brewing process.
30. The huge Deep Eddy Pool is the state’s oldest pool, offering a traditional public pool experience with lap and recreational swimming, plus poolside Splash Party movie nights in the summer.
Sound & Cinema. Credit Roger Ho.
31. 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.
33. 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.
34. Make a reservation to swim at Jacob's Well Natural Area, an artesian spring located just 40 minutes outside of Austin The cool, clear water is surrounded by rocky ledges and shady trees, creating a picture-perfect swimming hole.
35. Alamo Drafthouse and Do512 team up to present Sound & Cinema, a summer showcase that presents the best of local music paired with classic films. The free, family-friendly shows are held on the lawn of the Long Center on Wednesday evenings.
Explore even more summer activities in Austin by checking out our Events Calendar.