What To Do in Austin, TX: The Ultimate Day Trip
Austin, the Texas State capitol, has become one of the most popular cities in the country, ranking in the top ten fastest-growing cities of 2022. In addition to new residents who call this city home, it welcomes millions of tourists year-round for sightseeing and exploration. You may be wondering, “What is drawing so many people to this Texas destination?”
Austin is an incredibly unique city that boasts amazing food, beautiful outdoor spaces, interesting cultural experiences, and more. While Dallas and San Antonio offer their own unique experiences, there’s nothing quite like Austin. There is truly something for every Texan and non-Texan in this diverse and populous city, making it a wonderful destination for a day trip.
Once you have carved out the time in your busy schedule to spend the day exploring Austin, you can build your itinerary. While there are countless attractions and experiences to keep you busy, we have put together a list of our favorite Austin activities.
Thanks to the warm weather and expansive lake and park options, many people travel to Austin solely for the outdoor activities.
The views of lush foliage that stretch on for miles provide the perfect environment for ziplining. There are a variety of ziplining options for those looking for unparalleled views and a rush of adrenaline, but one of our favorites is Lake Travis Zipline Adventures.
When booking a spot on their World Class Tour, you will be taken on five ziplines, including the longest and fastest ziplines in the state of Texas. You will be provided with all necessary equipment, transportation, and a brief safety training. Additionally, you will have all-day access to their private lakefront and time to swim, play beach games, or relax on the sand.
Lady Bird Lake
Lady Bird Lake is an Austin hotspot that offers magical views, a peaceful environment, and the opportunity for several fun water activities. Although swimming is not allowed, you can choose between paddleboarding, kayaking, canoeing, and boating for a day on the water. Businesses that offer affordable half-day and full-day rentals for any gear you need line the lake.
If you prefer to appreciate the water from dry land, take advantage of the surrounding hiking trails. The most popular trail in the area is the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail. Even though the trail stretches just over ten miles, the flat terrain and gorgeous views will make the walk fly by.
During your hike, you will encounter a one-mile stretch of paved trail that has been turned into a water-side boardwalk. Be sure to take a moment on the boardwalk to soak in the views of the lake and the Austin skyline.
McKinney Falls State Park
Loved by locals and tourists alike, the McKinney Falls State Park is an oasis for outdoor lovers. If you only have time to visit one area of the park, prioritize hiking and swimming at Upper Falls.
This gorgeous spot is known for its rushing waterfalls, wildlife, and unique limestone rocks. Walking on top of limestone ledges that cross the river and past waterfalls will be a memorable and serene experience. After a successful hike, cool off by hopping in the water and swimming under the waterfalls.
For a midday lunch, hike to the Picnic Trail and spread out at one of the many picnic tables offered for use. These picnic tables sit next to shallow water and bouldering rocks, which are available for climbing.
Austin Attractions: Fun Things To Try
If you want to explore city attractions in addition to Austin’s natural wonders, add these popular spots to your itinerary.
One of the most popular group activities in downtown Austin is The Escape Game. When booking with The Escape Game, you will choose between six different themed escape rooms for you and your group to try and break out of. The options include Prison Break, The Heist, Gold Rush, Playground, and Classified. Each room has a different difficulty rating, so you can make your decision based on your group’s experience level.
Once you are locked in your chosen room, your group will have sixty minutes to look for clues and solve puzzles in an attempt to achieve the goal of your game. This is a great bonding activity that gives you a thrill and challenges your problem-solving skills.
More Interesting Austin Locales
If you’re looking for a neat spot to explore, check out any of the following Austin locales of interest:
- The South Congress Avenue Bridge: The bridge on Congress Ave is a haven for bat watching. Travelers visit Austin specifically to see the thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats that gather below the bridge and come out to roost at night. It’s even one of the world’s largest urban bat colonies.
- Mayfield and Zilker Park: The ideal spot for an Austin picnic! Zilker Metropolitan Park is also home to the Zilker botanical garden and is a popular location for dog walkers and bikers. Likewise, Mayfield Park is certainly worth a visit, with its cute cottages and peacock population.
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: The flower-loving wife of LBJ left behind a huge legacy, and her wildflower center is now a must-see spot for anyone with a green thumb.
- Barton Springs Pool: One of Austin’s many natural springs, this swimming hole is a fun place to take a dip. While the name might make it sound like a swimming pool, it’s far more interesting than that. If you’re looking for an even bigger body of water to enjoy, you can always check out Lake Austin.
What To Eat in Austin
A trip to Austin is not complete without visiting some of the most famous spots for a delicious meal.
This food truck, run by Austin chef Joseph Gomez, is focused on comida frontera (Spanish for “border town food”) and can be found in Celis Brewery’s beer garden. Gomez has been working in the Austin food scene for years and showcases the foods of the Rio Grande Valley while highlighting the incredible contribution of Southern Texas towns.
The food truck was created after the popularity of his Con Todo pop-up, which sold out in two hours. Grab your favorite beer from Celis and enjoy your tacos con todo (Spanish for “with everything”).
Terry Black’s BBQ
This spacious barbecue spot has been in the same family ownership for four generations and features some of the most famous pit-smoked meats in Texas. When you arrive, you will see their motto, “Brisket is King,” written in spots across the restaurant.
This classic barbecue roadhouse is full of southern charm, mouth-watering smells, and patrons enjoying cafeteria trays full of delicious barbecue dishes. Pair your brisket with their mac and cheese, creamy potato salad, crispy green beans, and more.
An honorable mention in the BBQ category is Franklin Barbecue. Located near the University of Texas campus and the Texas State Capitol Building, this joint boasts thousands of five-star reviews on Google and sells its meat nationally.
Nightlife, Live Music, and More
Austin’s population skews young, with an average age of 34 years old, which means that the nightlife is lively and plentiful. The city is the live music capital of the world and home to the world-renowned festival Austin City Limits, so you’ll have no trouble finding must-see live performances from artists you love.
If you are looking for a long, exciting night out in Austin, there is only one street you need to visit: Sixth Street. Bars, nightclubs, live music venues, cocktail lounges, and late-night food spots line both sides of this street, giving your group endless options for a night out. Additionally, the road is closed off to cars at night, meaning you can leisurely and safely wander in and out of different bars without worrying about traffic.
If you are looking for a moody and luxurious cocktail bar as an alternative to the sticky-floored dive bars, check out Eden Cocktail Room. With dim lighting, velvet furniture, and an elegant cocktail menu, you are sure to have a glamorous and intimate night.
If your group prefers the laid-back nature of breweries rather than a night of bar hopping, consider booking a brewery bus or bike tour. There are a few different options to choose from, but the ATX Beer Bus will take you to the city’s best spots for beer while giving you all the information you need on the local brewery scene.
After hopping on this bus with your group, a certified beer professional will take you to a handful of local breweries that fit your group’s taste.
Explore Hill Country
Texas Hill Country surrounds Austin and is an ideal day trip destination for nature lovers.
Activities in Hill Country
Hill Country stretches over 31,000 square miles, which can make it a little overwhelming to choose which area to explore or what activities to put on your itinerary. When booking a stay with Collective Retreats, you will have access to Texas-themed activities that will expose you to the best parts of Hill Country and connect you to nature.
Start your morning with sunrise yoga, which is designed to strengthen your muscles and calm your mind, body, and soul. Taking a deep breath of the fresh air during vrikshasana and watching the golden light from the sunrise illuminate the beautiful foliage will feel completely restorative.
End your day by sitting around the campfire with your travel partners to share stories and gaze at the stars in the clear night sky. After having your fair share of s’mores, you can head back to your accommodations for a restful night of sleep.
Accommodations in Hill Country
If you want enough time to truly explore Hill Country and have a mini-vacation from the hustle of your everyday life, turn your day trip into a one-night stay on the Collective Retreats Ranch.
The Summit Tent, our most popular accommodation option, will provide you with an outdoor/indoor living experience, with access to every luxurious amenity you could need in an overnight stay. A king-sized bed, en suite bathroom, and private deck are just a few of the amenities you can look forward to during your stay with Collective Retreats.
Greetings From Austin
There are endless opportunities for fun, relaxation, and excitement during a day trip to Austin. While you can try out some of the biggest attractions within a day, extending your day trip into an overnight stay in Austin will give you the chance to get a better taste of everything this wonderful city has to offer.
All that’s left to do is book your stay with Collective Retreats and start planning your itinerary!