City Guide

18 things to do in Austin: The best activities for 2024

By Landing | Mar 26, 2024
Summer time on Lady Bird Lake with the downtown Austin, Texas city skyline in the background.

Here are the 18 best things to do in Austin — from BBQ tasting to cave exploring and discovering the best live music and attractions in the city.

Austin has gained a reputation for its outstanding barbecue, bustling live music scene, and being “weird.” It’s a must-see destination for anyone and everyone. 

Whether you’re planning to stay for a weekend or a season in Austin, you might be trying to narrow down a never-ending bucket list, since this city has no shortage of things to do. Luckily, Landing’s guide to the best things to do in Austin has the highlights sorted by activity type to help you experience the city in all its splendor. 

Top 5 musical attractions in Austin, Texas

Austin calls itself the “Live Music Capital of the World,” and it lives up to this name with a full calendar of live shows in every style, from gospel to indie. Explore this central aspect of the city’s culture with the following five recommendations — just be sure to check schedules for “Things to do in Austin today” to see who’s scheduled. 

6th Street

People enjoying Austin's night life at 6th Street
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Sixth Street, known to locals as “Dirty 6th,” is the party capital of Austin — similar to New Orleans’s Bourbon Street. This stretch is home to both pubs and upscale joints and is a great place to hang out if you want to bar-hop or find live entertainment. Several places offer live music, and if you’re into comedy clubs, you’re in luck, too, with city staples like Esther’s Folly residing on 6th Street. 

Rainey Street

Crowd of people enjoying food and drinks at Rainey Street
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Rainey Street is full of live-music-hosting bars in relaxed bungalows that used to be homes, so if you like indie music and craft cocktails, this street should top your list. Make sure you stop at the Parlor Room, Icenhauer’s, and Half Step. And go hungry — Rainey Street also features food trucks serving up delectable fare.  

East Austin music venues

Crowd enjoying a concert at Scoot Inn, Austin, Texas
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East Austin is one of the trendiest parts of the city and home to numerous live music venues. Drop by Scoot’s Inn, the oldest bar in Texas, or get tickets for a concert at Parish, which pulls in acts from around the world. If you prefer to dance to DJ-ed tracks, head to Drinks Lounge & Records. And if you’re a jazz fan, don’t miss Monks Jazz Club.

Gospel Brunch at Stubb’s

Group of four women singing at Stubb's, Austin, Texas
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Combine two Austin musts in one: excellent food and live music. At Stubb’s Sunday Gospel Brunch, you can sip on a mimosa, savor cheese grits and brisket, and clap along as some of the city’s most powerful voices sing inspiring tunes.

Dance Parties at Alamo Drafthouse

People dancing and raising their arms

The Alamo Drafthouse is a movie-theater-turned-dance club that uses the big screen to project music videos as patrons dance in the aisles. The Drafthouse offers glow sticks, props, and unique cocktails that align with each party’s vibe to amp up the fun. 

5 foodie things to do in Austin, Texas

Some folks go to Austin simply to eat. The food in this city is that good — with James-Beard-Award-winning chefs and pitmasters at the helms of many kitchens. Here’s what to do in Austin, Texas, to ensure you taste all the region’s diverse flavors. 

Tasting local flavors at food trucks

People enjoying lunch at Thicket Food Truck Park, Austin, Texas
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Even if you’re not seeking out food trucks in Austin, you’re likely to find them — everywhere. Austin’s famed fare on wheels ranges from barbecue to Mexican to Italian, with plenty of dessert trucks to cleanse your palate. If you want an express introduction to the food truck scene, head to hubs like East Side Food Park, the South Austin Trailer Park & Eatery, or Thicket Food Truck Park.

BBQ feast at La Barbecue

People queueing outside La Barbecue at Austin, Texas
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Barbecue isn’t a one-stop experience in Austin — it’s best done as a tour. But you can start your journey with a feast at La Barbecue, one of the city’s most famed joints. This BBQ counter with outdoor seating serves up brisket, pulled pork, and flavored sausages. Go hungry but not too hungry, as you’ll likely have to wait in line.

Tex-Mex Delights at Matt’s El Rancho

Matt's El Rancho sign
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No trip to Texas is complete without sampling Tex-Mex fare, which combines flavors from both sides of the border. Matt’s El Rancho is an Austin institution — a family restaurant that opened in the 50s and continues to delight diners with dishes like enchiladas, burritos, and nachos. 

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Sampling craft beer at local breweries

People enjoying drinks and food in a patio outside Beer Hall
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Plan to spend at least one afternoon on a brewery tour if you’re a fan of craft beer. Austin has dozens of breweries like Zilker, Lazarus, and Meanwhile. Often, these spots have a taproom and eats, so you can wash down local bar fare with delicious IPA. 

Fresh produce and artisan goods at farmers markets

Fresh cherry tomatoes at the farmers market

Act like an Austinite by hitting up farmers markets with the locals on the weekend. Even if you’re just in town for a few days and can’t cook up any of the goodies that Austin’s farmers markets offer, these spaces are still worth a visit. Peruse prepared foods or pick up artisan goods, like soaps, jewelry, and textiles. 

What to do in Austin if you’re outdoorsy

Built on limestone formations and waterways, Austin is known for its many swimming holes and picturesque parks. Hikers, cyclists, and nature buffs will all find something to adore in this central Texas city. Here are the best things to do in Austin, Texas, if you enjoy being outside. 

Swim at Barton Springs and Hamilton Pools

People swiming and enjoying Barton Springs natural pools

Cool off in some of the Austin area’s most beautiful natural pools: Barton Springs or the Hamilton Preserve. Barton Springs is an urban springwater pool in Zilker Park with shallow waters for wading or deeper swims (the water gets up to 18 feet in some sections). The Hamilton Pool Preserve is a bit more wild: a canyon grotto that fills up with teal water that’s perfect for swimming and viewing the nearby waterfall. 

Kayak at Lady Bird Lake

People kayaking and paddle boarding in Lady Bird Lake

Enjoy nature without leaving the city by taking a kayak out on Lady Bird Lake, located in Austin’s city center and flanked by skyline views. Renting a kayak is an affordable, fun way to explore the park and take in the sights. 

Hike or ride the Zilker Park trails

Aerial view of Zilker Park with the downtown Austin, Texas city skyline in the background.

Zilker Park, Austin’s major urban recreation center, features the 10 mile Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike trail, where visitors can jog, walk, or cycle. If you want a shorter outing, exit the trail at bridges that connect it back to the park’s mainland whenever you please.

Hike on the Barton Creek Greenbelt 

Three women hiking at Barton Creek Greenbelt
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The Barton Creek Greenbelt weaves through Austin and is an excellent option for bikers or joggers who want to escape the bustle of the city for tree shade and river views. The Greenbelt also offers climbing and swimming spots for an excellent day trip. 

Tour in the Inner Space Cavern

Animals drawn on a wall at Inner Space Cavern
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Satisfy your curious inner geologist at the Inner Space Cavern, a natural wonder estimated to be over 20 million years old. There are tours for all levels of visitors, from walking explorations of the caves to more niche outings for expert spelunkers. It’s located about 30 minutes North of Austin, so you’ll need a car to get there. 

Other fun things to do in Austin

Be sure to add at least a few “weird” things to your Austin list since the city’s known by this adjective. Here are a few things to see in Austin that embody its quirky spirit.

Cathedral of Junk

The outside of the Cathedral of Junk
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Explore a structure made entirely of repurposed goods — over 60 tons of them. The Cathedral of Junk is open to the public but located in its creator’s backyard. 

Museum of the Weird

Museum of the Weird sign
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While not for everyone, the Museum of the Weird might pique your interest if you’re into oddities and don’t mind some mildly scary sights, like mummies and monsters. This museum also features a gift shop where you can pick up an Austin souvenir for your quirkiest friend. 

Congress Avenue Bats

Bats flying from from under the Congress Avenue Bridge
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Every evening, clouds of bats fly out from under the Congress Avenue Bridge, creating quite the spectacle and drawing a crowd. Check out this natural show put on by Austin’s nocturnal flying fauna. 

Enjoy all of Austin’ with a long-term stay

If you’re considering relocating to Austin to explore the natural wonders, great eats, and music scene, make your stay more comfortable with Landing. With a Landing membership, you don’t need to waste time setting up a place wherever you travel. You can jump right into the action. Arrive at a fully-furnished apartment with flexible lease dates in a great neighborhood — from East Austin to Hyde Park.