The Great Outdoors Austin
While Texas might not be the most tropical destination on your travel list, if you love the outdoors, culture, live music and food, Austin may need to make an appearance on your travel bucket list.
Spring in Austin is primetime, so make sure to take advantage of all the outdoor activities, even if most of your enthusiasm for the outdoors comes from drinking on a patio.
- Natural Spring-Fed Pools: Austin is naturally blessed with some of the best swimming spots in the state, and the spring-fed pools consistently stay a refreshing 68 – 70°. My three favorites are Barton Springs Pool, Deep Eddy Pool and Big Stacy Pool. All three can be easily accessed by bike or public transportation and are located near some of the hottest (pun intended) restaurants and bars.
- Movies in the park: All spring and summer long the parks department shows movies in Wooldridge Square Park featuring box office and family-friendly favorites. Pack a picnic and enjoy this FREE, monthly event before it’s gone.
- Paddle Boarding: Lady Bird Lake is a lake in the middle of Austin that doesn’t allow motorized boats of any kind, so it’s a paddle-boarders paradise. If you’re not into getting your hair wet, there are paddle boats to rent for a nice romantic ride around the lake. There are trails all around the lake if you’d rather run with a view.
- Zilker Park: Among many things, Austin is known as a “city built around a park”, and this is THE park. This Austin favorite is the site for many concerts and famous festivals. When it’s not being used as festival grounds, it’s an amazing green space to play. Kids love playing on the many playgrounds throughout the park, or if you’d rather go canoeing, participate in Yoga in The Park or ride on the Zilker Zephyr train, make sure you get to visit at least once. The Zilker Botanical Garden is located within the park and has gorgeous flowers. Another must-see in the park is the Umlauf Sculpture Garden. Make sure you bring cash, as most of the vendors at Zilker Park don’t take plastic.
- The Greenbelt: Great for hiking, the Barton Creek Greenbelt is most popular for adventure-seekers. Besides hiking, it’s popular for cavers, mountain biking, rock climbing swimming, tubing and cliff diving. Another popular spot for hiking is Mount Bonnell, mostly for the views.
- Live-music: You can’t leave out live music during a trip to Austin. KGSR’s Unplugged at The Grove is a free concert series that plays every Thursday during the summer, featuring new bands weekly. One of my favorite outdoor music venues in Austin is Stubbs, for the BBQ and enjoying bands at night.
- Rainey Street: Most likely you have heard of 6th street as the nightlife spot, but there is a new street that could give 6th a run for its money. Rainey Street is full of cute houses that were converted to bars and restaurants. There is never a shortage of a good patio and great cocktails here, and it’s a regular food truck hangout.
- P. Terry’s: A burger stand that has become an institution, Terry’s has the BEST burgers and milkshakes in Austin. Also, across the street is Peter Pan mini golf, a BYOB place that’s fun for all ages.
- Festivals: If I had a dollar for every festival going on in Austin during the Spring and Summer seasons, I would be a rich girl. Between music festivals, olive, pecan, art, lavender, food, wine, car, pets, pun-off, ballet…. UGH this list could go on forever! But they’re all so much fun, why would you want the list to end? If you’re staying at a hotel, be aware that some of the most popular festivals like the Pecan Street Festival tend to book quickly.
- Cathedral of Junk: Austin is known for being quirky and “weird” but this may take the cake. It’s literally a building made out of cast-offs, that seems small from the outside and is magnificent on the inside. Make sure to bring your camera, there are plenty of Instagram-worthy shots at this attraction.
- Bat tours: If you want to take a break from all of the hiking and drinking, well, you may be sitting but you definitely won’t be relaxing if you go on a bat tour. They have boat tours that take you under bridges to see one of the largest bat colonies in the US. Be prepared though, those sprinkles you feel are not rain drops…. And make sure to look up “guano” before you go.