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10 Best Things to Do in Austin

Once upon a time, I went on a work trip to Texas in the middle of summer and it was hot. Actually, hot is an understatement it was sweltering! I think I even saw a red man with horns and a pitchfork on the side of the road on my way from the airport to my hotel. HAHA. I only left my hotel to work and eat. And then there was this one time I drove from San Diego to Philadelphia driving across the top of Texas and there was nothing but desolate open spaces as far as I could see. So needless to say I haven’t had a desire to go back to Texas again…until now. One of my favorite musicians was going to be performing in Austin and I thought that I would give Texas another chance….in the middle of summer. It was still really hot but I had one of the best times of my life and wondered why I hadn’t made the trip sooner. So here are my top things to do in Austin, Texas:

1. Barton Springs Pool
The first thing you will encounter when you touchdown in Austin is the heat. With temperatures reaching over 100 degrees during the summer months the first thing I wanted to do was jump in a swimming pool to cool down. Located in Zilker Park is a 3-acre public pool. Formed from underground springs this pool consistently averages around 69 degrees. With an $8 entrance fee for non- residents, you’ll find a reprieve from the heat at an affordable price.
2131 William Barton Dr, Austin, TX 78746

2. Austin Bats (Congress Bridge)
At sunset during the months of March through October you can witness 1.5 million bats emerge from beneath Congress Bridge for their nightly flight to hunt insects. You can witness this really cool event from on top of the bridge (Free) or take a sunset cruise and watch from below. I did both and I prefer the boat ride.

Capital Cruises http://www.capitalcruises.com/bat-watching/public-sightseeing-cruise/

3. Sixth Street
Between Congress Street and Interstate 35, this stretch of road is blocked off to vehicles on Friday and Saturday nights. You are free to walk through the streets. There are plenty of bars and restaurants and live music for you to choose from. Make sure you plan your trip to experience this entertainment district. FREE

4. Food
Austin has one of the best food scenes in the country. From BBQ to seafood to soul food they have it all. You won’t find a shortage of food trucks around the city to satisfy your appetite. My two favorite places were Perla’s where I had the shrimp & Grits and 24 Diner where I devoured the chicken and waffles (twice).
Perla’s: 1400 S. Congress Ave, Austin TX 78704
24 Diner: 600 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

5. Hope Outdoor Gallery
In Downtown Austin, there is an outdoor community park showcasing inspirational, positive and educational art by some very talented muralist and street artists. Make sure you make your way to the top for great views of the Austin skyline. FREE
1101 Baylor St, Austin, TX 78703

6. State Capitol
In the heart of Austin, you will find this famous landmark which opened in 1888. The 218-foot rotunda is a must-see. Fun Fact: The Austin State Capital is 14 feet taller than the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Entry is free I went there on a Sunday and it was pretty empty. I also went at night and to see it lit up at night is pretty amazing.
1100 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701

7. Bullock Texas State History Museum
For all things Texas, this is the place for you. With more than 500 artifacts pertaining to the history of the Lone Star State, you are sure to leave feeling like a Texas historian.
1800 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701

8. Art
Austin has a very big art scene! You will find many wall murals around the city. One of the famous ones is the “I love you so much” mural on the side of Jo’s Coffee @ 1300 S Congress Ave. And then there is the “Greetings from Austin” mural located at 1720 S. 1st St. This one is really popular so expect to wait a bit to get a shot in front of it.

9. Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater (ACL Live)
Austin has a big diverse music scene. So why not check out a concert at this really cool music venue.
310 W Willie Nelson Blvd, Austin, TX 78701

10. Nothing.
Sometimes we get caught up running around on vacation site seeing while there is nothing wrong with that but there also isnt anything wrong with sitting by the pool with a nice cool drink and doing absolutely nothing.My favorite place to just relax is at (in my opinion) one of the best hotels in Austin: “Hotel Van Zandt”. The hotel has amazing artwork throughout, free margaritas from 5 pm to 7 pm and a really cool rooftop pool. 605 Davis St, Austin, TX 78701

So there it is. If you are in need of a cool weekend getaway and don’t want to leave the country check out Austin. It is an amazingly diverse city with a lot to see and do for everyone.

I didn’t see any men with horns and pitchforks this time. Stay weird Austin!

John Waites
A veteran who is passionate about inspiring others through travel and art, sharing ideas for personal growth and fulfilment.

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