If you’re planning to embark upon an Austin, Texas vacation, we’re here to tell you about all of the hotspots you can’t miss! These are even spots that locals love and frequent.

Austin is tourist-friendly, but unlike many major Lone Star State cities, there aren’t areas just for tourists because we all live here to enjoy the beauty this town offers, so come enjoy Austin with us.

No list of Austin vacation ideas is complete without mentioning that the vibe here is chill, not glamorous, and we highly encourage you to go with the flow during your visit. Your vacation rental should just be a home base, so plan to spend most of your time away from it.

If you meet a local somewhere and ask where you should visit while in town, do it. Do it.

view of the Texas Hill Country from Inks Lake

Indulge in the Texas Hill Country

This is one of the most beautiful landscapes in America, and people travel from around the world to visit. The rolling limestone hills are peppered with cedar trees and the extensive Colorado River system runs through the entire city. Even folks that aren’t athletic can enjoy the nature scene without hiking.

Downtown Austin is incredible because of course it’s a sea of highrises, but the town is designed around Lady Bird Lake (aka Lake Austin, aka Town Lake). So you can stand up paddle board along the crushed-granite hike and bike trails and feel like you’re isolated from the city – all while you’re in the middle of one.

View of Zilker Park in Austin Texas

Zilker Metropolitan Park’s Natural Attractions

Zilker Park is a large urban park located in the heart of Austin, covering over 350 acres, and is one of the most popular recreational areas in the region.

Zilker features a variety of attractions, including a massive playground, picnic areas, numerous trails for hiking and biking, an adorable electric kiddie train that takes you all around the park, food trucks, and endless fields for pick-up soccer games and kite flying.

One of the most popular features of Zilker Park is Barton Springs Pool, a natural spring-fed swimming pool that is open year-round and maintains a consistent temperature of around 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit. The park also includes the Zilker Botanical Garden, where you can stroll through ponds and plants and feel like you’re in a Beatrix Potter book.

If do enjoy hiking and rock climbing (or just taking amazing nature photos), the Barton Creek Greenbelt is technically part of the Zilker ecosystem, but it’s definitely a drive away. Your rideshare driver will know where to drop you off, just know that it might make you nervous that you have to drive that far away, it’s just how the streets work here.

Zilker Park is home to many events and festivals throughout the year, including the Austin City Limits Music Festival and the Zilker Kite Festival. The green space is endless, the amenities are thoughtful and useful, and Zilker Park is a much-loved local attraction.

live music being played at sxsw in austin texas

Vibe at Any of the Local Music Venues

Austin is known as the Live Music Capital of the World for a reason, and no list of Austin vacation ideas can exist without a nod to this town’s biggest attraction – music.

On any given day, there are bands setting up at hole-in-the-wall bars and big concert venues. Beats are in our blood here, and we celebrate all types of music, from indie to alt, rap to country, jazz to Celtic tunes (seriously).

What we love is that there are so many ways to enjoy the music here – from hitting the lake and watching a music set from a party barge, to rockin’ out on the famous Sixth Street in downtown Austin, or at any number of bars and venues around the city (we’ve compiled a list of the 8 music best venues the locals frequent).

view of the outside of the bullock texas state history museum in austin texas

Visit the Numerous Museums

Bullock Texas State History Museum

The Bullock Texas State History Museum is a fascinating museum located in Austin that tells the story of Texas, from its early indigenous inhabitants to the present day. The massive museum features interactive exhibits, multimedia displays, and artifacts that highlight the state’s unique history, culture, and contributions to the world.

Visitors can learn about Texas’ role in the Civil War, its cattle ranching and oil industries, as well as its diverse communities and notable figures from Sam Houston to Barbara Jordan. The museum also has an IMAX theater, a cafe, and a museum store and is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Texas history or culture.

Blanton Museum of Art

The Blanton Museum of Art is located on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin and is one of the most frequently photographed spots for social media influencers (you’ll recognize it).

The museum houses over 18,000 works of art, including European paintings, contemporary art, Latin American art, and a large collection of prints and drawings. The museum’s collection includes works by many notable artists, including Rubens, Picasso, and Rembrandt. The Latin American collection is particularly impressive, featuring works by Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Rufino Tamayo, among others.

Temporary exhibitions also feature emerging and established artists, and Blaton has frequent lectures and tours for kids and adults alike.

Mexic-Arte Museum

The Mexic-Arte Museum is a cultural staple that celebrates the art and culture of Mexico as well as Latin America.

Founded in 1983, the museum features a permanent collection of over 1,500 works of art, including traditional folk art and contemporary pieces. The museum hosts a variety of temporary exhibitions and cultural events, as well as educational programs for all ages.

With its focus on Mexican and Latin American art and culture, the Mexic-Arte Museum is an important destination for anyone interested in the region’s rich history and artistic traditions.

Tour the Texas Capitol Building

Nerd out at one of the most intriguing and iconic buildings in Texas, the State Capitol building – it’s right by the Bullock State History Museum and The University of Texas. We highly recommend taking a free tour so you don’t miss details (like how incredible the historic door hinges are, they’re handmade).

Touring the Texas State Capitol Building is an excellent way to learn about the history and government of Texas. Visitors can explore the historic building and its impressive architecture while learning about the state’s legislative process and key figures in Texas history. The tour includes visits to both the Senate and House chambers (take note of the art, there are some hidden gems), as well as the Governor’s reception room and the glorious Capitol rotunda.

Whether you choose to go poke around nature or jam out to musicians you don’t yet recognize, or you visit museums and any of this town’s incredible Tex Mex restaurants, we reiterate that going with the flow will ensure that your Austin vacation is a success - welcome!