50 Things to Do In the Summer In Austin
1. See the bats at Congress Bridge.
A renovation in 1980 to the Congress Avenue Bridge made the perfect home to thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats. You can see the bats leave the bridge every night at sunset through the summer, before they migrate to warmer territories during the wintertime. If you’re in Austin during August, consider attending Bat Fest, the largest bat-viewing party of the year (and prime bat viewing season!).
2. Have a Snow cone at Sno-Beach
This is a family-owned tale as old as time. The Sno-Beach might have moved a few times (and there’s two locations!) but they’re delicious and refreshing. Just make sure to bring cash!
3. Take a Dip in Barton Springs
Considered a jewel of Austin, Barton Springs is fed from an underground springs and is a constant 68 degrees year round. It’s open every day from 8am-9pm during the summer for a admission fee ($5 for residents, $9 for non-residents), but it’s free before 8am and after 9pm.
4. Blues on the Green
On monthly Wednesday nights starting in May, head over to Zilker Park as it’s transformed into the Blues on the Green concert series. It’s free entry, so bring a blanket and a picnic. Bonus: It’s pet-friendly (but then again, so is most of Austin!)
5. Austin Symphony Concerts in the Park
On Sunday evenings, starting in June, Austin Symphony presents “Concerts in the Park.” Enjoy a free symphony concert at the Hartman Concert Park in front of the Long Center City Terrace with concerts ranging from jazz and woodwinds, to pop and film scores. Visitors are encouraged to bring a blanket and enjoy a picnic on the green.
7. Play a round at Peter Pan Mini Golf
Sure, you could go to a new mini golf place. But Peter Pan golf is a dive, which is what makes it quintessential Austin. You can choose from two different 18-hole courses AND it’s BYOB (golf is always better with booze). Summer hours has it open from 9am-10pm. In true old-school fashion, this place is cash only (Adults, both courses: $11).
8. Sunset at Mt. Bonnell
While it does have the name Mt., don’t let that fool you. The climb to the top is steep, but short (102 steps!) and you’ll be rewarding with picturesque, panoramic views of Austin. Just make sure to get there early. Parking is limited (walking up to Mt. Bonnell is not recommended) and it’s free!
9. Take a two-step lesson at Broken Spoke
Frequently called one of Texas’ last dance halls, The Broken Spoke is an Austin legend. Take a two-step class Wednesday-Sunday from 8-9pm. Get there early at 7:30pm to sign up and find parking. And make sure to bring your boots!
10. Go to a Round Rock Express Game
Just a short drive north of Austin at the Dell Diamond, Austin’s minor league baseball team, the Round Rock Express, are a summertime classic. Check the schedule for various themed nights throughout the season.
11. See the Peacocks at Mayfield Park
These free range peafowl have been inhabitants of the park since 1935 when Dr. and Mrs. Gutsch received a pair for a Christmas gift. Most of the peacocks are descendants of the original pair. The park is free to visit and open from 5:00am-10pm. Drive carefully and show respect to the peacocks. You’re visiting their home after all!
12. Go for a hike on the Greenbelt
Covering almost 13 miles, Austin’s Greenbelt is a green oasis for those that want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. There are several access points, but, if you’re looking to grab a quick bite to eat afterwards, we recommend visiting the Spyglass trail head and stopping at Taco Deli for a breakfast taco afterwards!
13. Experience Live Music in “the Music Capitol of the world”
Of course, no trip to Austin would be complete without seeing live music. There are too many bars and venues to list, but our friends at Do512.com have a comprehensive list of the bands playing all through Austin.
14. Ooh-Ahh over the Fireworks at Auditorium Shores
Auditorium Shores is home to the largest fireworks display in Texas. Produced and performed by Austin Symphony Orchestra, this display is free and open to the public. We recommend riding your bike or walking to the park and bringing a blanket for a picnic under the stars!
15. Take a nap in Zilker Park
This 350-acre park in the center of the city is perfect for a bit of relaxation. Take a book for some light reading or bring your dog, frisbee or favorite blanket. The park is open and free to all.
16. Take a Sunrise bike ride on the Boardwalk
Rent a bicycle from Bicycle Sport Shop and take a ride across 10 miles of the Lady Bird Lake Hike & Bike Trail. If you’re not a fan of bicycles, take a run! On the south side of the lake, you’ll find the newly constructed boardwalk, with some of the best views of the downtown skyline. Just remember, the Hike & Bike Trail is NOT scooter-friendly.
17. take a free Texas State Capitol tour
Get out of the heat in Austin and take a tour through the state’s Capitol building. All tours are free and start at 8:30am and begin every 30-45 minutes. Each tour takes approximately 30 minutes.
18. Shop Til You Drop on South Congress
No matter what you’re interested in, South Congress has something for you. Consider trying on a fancy costume at Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds (Yes, that’s a Beatles reference!) or browsing for antiques in Uncommon Objects. On the first Thursday of every month, South Congress has “First Thursdays,” which could be considered akin to a flea market festival. Make sure to hit up one of the many food trailers while you’re there!
19. Take the kiddos to Zilker Hillside Theater to watch A Summer musical
In 2019, Zilker Hillside Theater presents their free Summer Musical, Disney’s The Little Mermaid, performed July 12–August 17, Thursdays through Sundays. The musical theater is free, but please consider donating.
20. Take a day trip to Hamilton Pool
Easily one of the most iconic water spots in Texas, Hamilton Pool is the perfect place to take the family for a daytime excursion and enjoy the cool water. Reservations are open through December 2019, but are usually booked up at least three months in advance. Reservations can be made online for $10 and $15 (cash!) at the entrance is required per carload.
21. Brave the line at Franklin’s BBQ
Austin is synonymous with BBQ and none more so than Franklin’s. People start lining up an average of 2 hours before the doors open at 11am, but bring a chair and enjoy the ambience. Locals will tell you that BBQ is an experience, after all.
22. Have a cocktail at the Driskill
Originally built in 1886, the Driskill is the oldest operating hotel in Austin and one of the most renowned hotels in the state. The Driskill’s hotel bar is the perfect place to grab a local, craft cocktail before heading out to any downtown venue. With leather couches and cowhide stools, it still maintains its Texan feel.
23. Catch a Live concert at Shady Grove
During the summer, Shady Grove’s patio converts into its own concert series, Unplugged at the Grove. This music series is free, family-friendly and presented every Thursday night through the summer. The perfect way to enjoy a cocktail and sit underneath the trees.
24. Have a scoop (or two!) of Amy’s Ice Cream
Amy’s is famous in Austin for it’s Mexican Vanilla flavor, but you can mix, match and mash in any sides and toppings that you like.
25. Tour a local brewery.
Austin is home to a whopping 37 breweries, serving every kind of beer that you could possibly imagine (or drink in one day!). Popular favorites include Zilker Brewing, Hops & Grain, or Austin Beer Works. Check out this list of breweries in the area before you head out. And of course, always be responsible.
26. Motor over to the Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In
As Austin’s only drive-in movie theater, you can catch up to two movies a night! Check out the schedule here!
27. Chicken shit bingo at Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon
Exactly like what it sounds like, but Ginny’s is the original. Every Sunday from 4-8p, you can test your luck (or unluck) with a game of bingo.
28. Cool off at a hotel pool
With a variety of new hotels opening downtown, you don’t have to be a tourist to take advantage of their pools! Many of the hotels offer daily pool passes to their rooftops, such as the W Hotel ($10/day pool pass!) or the LINE hotel ($25/day).
30. Float the river in San Marcos
Just a few miles south of Austin, you can head to the city of San Marcos to grab a tube and float the river. It’s the perfect way to cool off during a hot Austin summer and tie yourself to your favorite friends for three hours. You can visit Texas State Tubes or Don’s Fish Camp as your point of entry. Just remember: no glass or styrofoam is allowed on the river.
31. Learn about Texas at the Bullock Texas State History Museum
The Bullock Museum is open from 9am-5pm Monday through Saturday and admission is $13/adults and $9/kids. Learn about Texas history, see an IMAX film, or join in one of the many events and programs that the museum offers all summer! Check out HEB Free First Sundays for free entry!
32. See a sunset at the Oasis
Tucked away on Lake Travis, the Oasis boasts multi-floored dining with incredible views. The Oasis is the perfect place to have a few cocktails before dinner or for a romantic date night.
33. Take the family to Schlitterbahn
South of Austin in New Braunfels is a family favorite. Schlitterbahn is a river-fed waterpark that boasts a variety of tube rides, body slides, and a lazy river. It’s also perfect for adults with walk up floating bars!
34. Have a slice of Roppolo’s pizza on Dirty 6th
6th Street is one of the most popular (and well known!) tourist locations in all of Austin. But, this walk-up window, pizza-by-the-slice place is the perfect end of the night stop after a few too many on 6th Street. You might not want to search this place out while sober, but it’s a must for the end of a drunken night well done.
35. Take a yoga class in Republic Square
All summer long you’ll find the “Summer Sunset Series,” free yoga classes in the park, presented by Wanderlust Yoga. These classes are free to the public, every Tuesday at 7:30pm. You’ll see sponsors from Outdoor Voices, Topo Chico, as well as live music!
36. Eat your weight in breakfast tacos
Not all Austinites might agree on which ones are the best, but everyone can agree that breakfast tacos belong in their own food group. If you’re hitting up the Austin Greenbelt, we suggest trying out Taco Deli. The Otto (with egg?) and a bit of Dona sauce is absolute perfection.
37. Channel your inner hippie at ACL Music Festival
Okay, so this might not be a summer thing, but in Austin, October is still hot enough be considered summer. This three-day music festival is sure to give concert-goers a little bit of everything. Bonus: all the food truck vendors are local, so you’ll not only get to enjoy the music, but you’ll be eating well at the same time. Wristbands go on sale well before the actual festival, so check out the website for more details.
38. Have a Manmosa at Banger’s on Rainey St
Austinites love their brunch. They also love their boozy brunch cocktails. At Banger’s, nothing is more boozy than the Manmosa, a twist on your standard mimosa. However, this drink is not for the faint of heart as a Manmosa has a full bottle of champagne. We recommend sharing. Or napping, afterwards.
39. Get naked at Hippie Hollow
School’s out, buns out? Or maybe not, but this little slice of Austin is the perfect place for your inner nudist. It’s $15/car, so bring all your friends. Clothing is optional, of course.
40. See a classic film at the Paramount Theatre
All summer long the Paramount Theatre runs “Sumer Classic Film Series” by showing vintage films and vivid restorations, now in its 44th year. Tickets are $12/adult and the movie schedule can be found here.
41. Visualize your inner Artist at the Blanton Museum of Art
The Blanton was created in 1963 and is one of the foremost university owned museums in the country. The Blanton Museum of Art offers a wide variety of art, as well as Kelly Ellsworth’s Austin. Admission is free for students and $12 for adults.
42. Sip Frose at Hotel San Jose
As if the gorgeous Hotel San Jose isn’t enough reason to visit, there’s nothing more refreshing then their signature frose cocktail. Rose meets lemonade in this frozen glass and is the perfect summer relief before heading down the shops of Congress.
43. Enjoy a craft cocktail at Whisler’s
Monday through Friday from 4-7pm Whisler’s has one of the best craft cocktail happy hours in town. If you’re a fan of an old-fashioned, you can’t miss their signature drink.
43. Never put your feet in the water again at Jaws on the Water
Every Saturday evening during the summer, head over to Volente Beach on Lake Travis for their summer movie series, “Jaws on the Water.” Movie goers will be given a tube and full access to the Volente Beach attractions. But the main course comes during a screening of the movie “Jaws,” while your feet dangle in the water. It’s been rumored that scuba divers tickle moviegoers feet during the movie, but we can neither confirm nor deny.
44. Get your art on at Pecan St. Festival
If we include ACL, we need to include Pecan St. Festival as well! Pecan St.Festival in September is one of the largest, and longest-running, arts and crafts fairs in the country. And, as all things Austin, they always have a great musical lineup as well!
45. Go Boot Shopping at Allen’s boots
If you’re going to take a two-step lesson at the Broken Spoke, you have to dress the part. Shopping at Allen’s isn’t just about the boots, it’s about the experience. You’ll be overwhelmed by all the various choices for boots and hats, but that’s okay. Take your time. It’s worth it.
46. Visit a local farmer’s market
Local is what Austin does best. No matter where you are in the city, you’ll be close to a farmer’s market. Try out some local hill country honey or baked goods. You’ll never leave.
47. Have a picnic at the Pennybacker bridge Overlook
The Pennybacker Bridge just might be one of the most recognizable icons of Austin. Just past the bridge is a small gravel trail that takes hikers to the top for a picturesque lookout spot. The perfect place to have picnic or watch a sunrise.
48. Take a succulent making class
This terrarium building studio at Plant Party is the perfect place to bring a group of friends for a fun afternoon of arts and crafts. Their goal is to share nature with the masses. But bonus points for being BYOB.
49. Sip wine at an Urban Winery
An urban winery? Yes. That’s exactly what Infinite Monkey Theorem is. No vineyards, just wine. Sometimes it’s in a can.
50. Climb a wall at Austin Bouldering Project
Get a little exercise in (or a little anger out) by climbing through ABP’s many bouldering walls. Regardless of your climbing ability, there is a wall for everyone. Or, you could take a class to learn more about technique!