Austin's Top 10 Must See Attractions
Whether you are coming to Austin for the day, or are moving here and wanting to see more of what the city offers, here are my top ten places to visit!
The great thing about Austin is that it has an abundance eco-centred activities. Everywhere you go in Austin, you are never more than a 10 minute drive from a park, lake or some sort of green patch in the randomest location possible (i.e. on the side of the freeway).
1.Barton Springs Pool
In operation from April through September, Barton Springs is one of the most popular watering holes in Austin. Only about a 5 minute drive from downtown, Barton Springs offers water with an average temperature of 68-70 degrees year round. Because it is a natural spring that is part of Edward’s Aquifer, it boasts a large population of Texas wildlife. For this same reason, conservation efforts are at an all time high, and there is a list of prohibited items that can be accessed here along with other information about the park.
Be warned! Since it is so close to downtown, it will be more saturated with people and music, but it is also one of the most easily accessible. This is a great place to come, unwind and enjoy a dip in the hot Texas summer. Don’t forget to bring money for admission!
2. Mount Bonnell
If you are a hiker, or trying to improve your hiking skills, Mount Bonnell is a great option! Located just outside of downtown Austin, Mount Bonnell offers incredible views! If you are at a lack of time, or simply want to go on a hike that does not require you to take the entire day, this is an amazing option. From one side of it, you can see downtown, part of the Colorado River as well as the 360 Bridge. Learn more here.
3. 360 Bridge
Just a few steps away from Mt. Bonnell is 360 bridge, which is so named because it joins the northern and southern parts of Loop 360 highway. If you are looking to take some incredible pictures of the city, or are planning a graduation picture session, this is a go to for Austinites! This is a great place to enjoy the views of the city without needing to be close to all the hustle and bustle.
4. South Congress
No trip to Austin is complete without a visit to South Congress street. If you look north, up the street, your eyes lead directly to the Capitol! On this street, you will find many quaint shops that express the Latin culture in Austin, cafes, hotels, restaurants boutiques and even performers!
South Congress is a personal go-to to hang out and grab an awesome lunch at Home Slice or Hopdoddy! Likewise, if you have never experienced a food truck in Austin before, keep your eyes peeled, because they tend to hang around here too!
5. Mueller Lake Park
Austin is expanding at an unprecedented rate. Mueller Lake Park is part of the development, and frankly, a place I don’t see get talked about as much. Mueller is a quieter area that is complete with coffee shops, hipster eats, great bars, apartments and even a lake and park for you to enjoy! On days that I want to go somewhere to hang out, but not feel overwhelmed with a lot of noise and distraction, I come here!
If you are visiting on the weekend, make sure to stop by the Sunday Farmer’s Market for fresh produce, and an amazing conversation with local merchants. This is a great place to bring the pups, too! They will enjoy the park and the fresh air. Definitely a more elevated feel to what Austin has to offer.
6. Texas State Capitol
No list would be complete without the mention of the Texas State Capitol. This is something that everyone must see at least once in their life! It is incredible to be able to stand in a place that has seen so much political history. This is the place where dreams are born and lives are changed.
They offer guided tours for those who want to learn more about the history of the building and Austin itself.
Make sure to snag a picture on the pavemented walkway leading up to it! It’s one for the books!
7. Hope Outdoor Gallery
Though it has recently moved from its original location in downtown, it is in the midst of reopening at a location that is 17 acres large, across from the Austin Airport, next door to Carson Creek Ranch. HOG is a place for local street artists to showcase their work in an environment that fully supports them. This is an amazing place to come take pictures, checkout the every changing gallery and learn a thing or two about street art. Learn more about it here!
When they say everything in Texas is bigger, they mean EVERYTHING. The parties, the drinks and even the hangovers. But hey, you will NOT be regretting the experiences you have.
8. East 6th Street
Oh Sixth Street… or more commonly referred to as “Dirty” because of it’s nickname, “Dirty Sixth.” This is the place to have a good time. Dirty is a strip of street that has all of the best and worst bars in Austin packed into one. Nestled between each are little restaurants to help sober you up at the end of the night. During the day, the streets are fully accessible by car, but at night, the streets are closed off.
I have seen my fair share of homeless people, fights, mysterious liquids on the sidewalk, passionate love affairs and really, things that can only be described as quintessentially 6th. Though all this goes on, it still feels like a relatively safe place to be. This coming from a young woman’s point of view. I have had many girls look out for me who were complete strangers, just as I try to look out for them. It’s this unspoken rule that we have.
Likewise, this tends to be a bit of a younger crowd because of how close it is to the university, so don’t be surprised to see an 18 year old trying to pass as a 34 year old. Fake IDs are a huge subculture that they are trying to crack down on.
9. Rainey Street
Rainey, on the contrary to 6th, is a bit more upscale. This is a converted neighbourhood that used to be small living residences. Now, those house have turned into some of Austin’s best bars and restaurants nestled at the entrance of the city. This is still a bit more under wraps than 6th, but because it is even smaller than 6th, the traffic is insane. Make sure to Lyft or Ride Austin here!
This is also a bit of an older crowd compared to the teens that plague 6th. Attire is likewise casual, but it is also common to see people who come here after nice parties to get drinks. A small parking lot holds some of Austin’s best food trucks.
10. The Domain
Looking to do some shopping while you’re here? The Domain is a great place to get gourmet food and ship ‘til you drop! Every brand imaginable is located at this outdoor mall, from your average retail shops to high end designer names. Because of this Austin influence, you will also find that there are quite a few local restaurants and bars to choose from.
The Domain is a great place to spend the afternoon, get your steps in and experience the more luxurious side of Austin. Find out more about the shops, cinema, cafes and events here!
This is only a survey of all the amazing things Austin has to offer! Make sure to do your research so that you don’t miss out on the crazy and exciting things this city has going on year round. Keep Austin Weird!