Taking time to travel to Austin has been a goal of ours. The young, hip city in Texas that offers food, music and a fun slogan: “Keep Austin Weird.”
We ended up arriving in Austin, Texas during SXSW, a huge music festival that happens every year. Their famous music street, 6th street, blows up and there are tens of thousands of people there. It was a bit of a planning fail on our part but the city still has so much to offer that we still kept busy. Keeping our minds open for a place to call home we checked out what we could while avoiding the mass crowds.
Here is our list of fun things to do in Austin
Must Do Attractions in Austin
Blanton Museum of Art
When looking for free and new things to check out Blanton Museum came up because they are free to the public on Thursdays! The only thing you have to pay for is parking and it’s $4 all day, so plan your day around parking at the museum which is on the college campus. If you go on any other day it’s still only $9/person. The museum also offer a cafe, gift shop and events throughout the week. While we were there, it was yoga in the museum at noon.
Founded in 1963 this museum has grown from one building to three, after they finish their new one this year. From Native American art, Modern & Contemporary, Ancient Greek & Roman, they have a bit of everything. Take your time and enjoy!
We are not art connoisseurs, nor do we usually seek museums out. There are few times that art actually captivates me, but for some reason this piece by Luis Felipe Noé – Cerrado Por brujería (Closed for Witchcraft) did.
A few more of our favorites.
I was really impressed by the collection and diversity of the pieces. We ended up spending a couple hours here but you could spend much longer.
Address: 200 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Austin, TX 78701
Texas State Capitol
After the museum it’s a short walk to see the Capitol. The grounds and building are beautiful. When we were there they had an event for kids and all the hustle and bustle of a capitol city. We looked around as much as we could, but decided after a little bit to just relax on the lawn and people watch.
Address: 1100 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701
LBJ Presidential Library and Museum
Again I am going to admit to my terrible US history. I didn’t know much about Lyndon B. Johnson. When my family used to go to Dallas every year we would go to the JFK museum and it took me a while to put two and two together. I had never been to a presidential library and this seemed to be a great one to be first. It is also on the college campus, so an easy walk from Blanton and the Capitol. It’s $8/person to enter the museum, which has multiple floors, with multiple exhibits.
The museum had one of the best timelines put together. It is pretty amazing when you remember doing things earlier in the year that tie into what you are currently doing. For example, in February we were at Pearl Harbor and at the presidential library we learned that in 1941 Lyndon B. Johnson was the first member of congress to volunteer for active duty in the U.S. Navy after the attack on Pearl Harbor . When you read something like that everything that you just learned comes flooding back. You continue to learn and that is one of the greatest things about this journey.
One of my favorite things to look at was the timeline of presidents and the first ladies. Seeing how the hair styles and clothing changed throughout the years.
Address: 2313 Red River St, Austin, TX 78705
I am not sure what I was expecting from this. The pictures and descriptions online made it seem more of an outside “museum” and fun stop. It looked really interesting so we made the effort. There isn’t much parking, so park a couple blocks away to not get stuck in the traffic that is created by the small streets and people.
I had imagined street artists there doing grand murals and a spot for kids to try their hand, but it was none of that. It was mostly people just attempting and covering some beautiful work and trash everywhere.
Don’t get me wrong, we still had a fun time watching some and looking around. The best views of the downtown skyline can be found here too (picture above).
Address: 1008 Baylor St, Austin, TX 78703
This is a funky street just south of downtown. It has great bars, restaurants, and shops. It will be hard to come here and not try something to eat. We found some of our favorites on this street.
Ever since we were in Vegas last and our friend took us to a pinball arcade I have been obsessed. I immediately was reminded how much I loved playing pinball as a kid. This place was great and had a large selection. They are kind of expensive, around $1/game but depending on how good you are $20 can last a long time. They also have other arcade games to past the time and fun games for kids to collect tickets.
Address: 8940 Research Blvd, Austin, TX 78758
Outdoor Trails in Austin
We love hiking and being outdoors, especially with our dogs! When researching what to do in an area, we first check out what outdoor/nature activities they have. We do have to adjust our expectations depending on where we are at but we love seeing the different landscapes every area has to offer. It’s what makes the US so unique.
Bull Creek Greenbelt Trail
This is a short trail along the river that starts at a small waterfall. Dog friendly and kid friendly it isn’t much, but still a fun on a really hot day. There is a parking lot just after the very small creek crossing.
You can also walk Waller Creek Nature Path from the parking lot. There are no dogs allowed though.
Parking Lot: Off of Winding Ridge Rd.
Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail
This trail is named after Lyndon B. Johnson’s wife, Lady Bird. This was a really fun and beautiful walk along the river. Perfectly groomed paths, you get a little shade at some points, cross the bridge and watch the kayakers. Throughout the trail there are multiple points that you can access the river with a kayak, SUP, etc. It’s family friendly, dog friendly, and bike friendly! You can make this as long or as short and there is parking spread around. We really enjoyed this on one of the sunny days. We loved the activity and being surrounded by the city.
Brushy Creek Regional Trail
This trail is north of downtown Austin in Cedar Parks. Good for running, walking or biking and kids of all ages. Around 7 miles one way you go past parks, lakes and towns. There is plenty of parking at each park or attraction and some lakes allow fishing. We originally decided to check this area out because of the potential for mountain biking. There are some single track trails but there isn’t much and it is the easiest of levels. Watch out for all the rocks.
Parking: 2310 Brushy Creek Rd, Cedar Park, TX 78613 We parked at the Brushy Creek Sports Complex near the skate park. So when you enter go to the right.
River Place Nature Trail (7/52)
We had finally found a trail that would be more than just a couple miles walking. There isn’t really a destination to this hike, but you can get in a moderate 6 miles (down and back). So we decided that this would be hike 7/52 of our challenge. There are parking lots at each end so if you wanted to take the kids out then it would be a decent 3 mile hike. We parked on Big View Dr. near Woodland Park at River Place. Head towards the pond and to the gazebo and you will see the trail. There are picnic benches and the gazebo is to check out the turtles in the pond! After a short ways, there is a fork in the trail, you can decide to go either way but we stayed to the left. This was a moderate hike because of the continuous up and down, especially if it is hot. You will see glimpses of the golf course along the way. It is pretty shaded and you are always surrounded by trees so you might not get any view from the top. It starts along the creek so there is plenty of water for the pups if you bring them.
Parking: 8830 Big View Dr Austin, TX 78730 near Woodland Park at River Place
Where to Eat in Austin
We love to eat and explore the different cuisines in an area. Sometimes we like finding favorite ethnic dishes and we always make time to find ice cream! We love everything, but being on the road has put us on a budget (sometimes we break it). So finding fun, small places is what we look for.
We LOVE poke and we don’t often see poke places. So when this place came up we didn’t care where it was in the city, we were going to try it. Luckily it was located on Congress Ave. (but at the far end). It is a cute little building with mostly outside seating. There are pre-made options and you can make your own. We made our own at around $8/9 and it was so good, so so good.
Address: 3100 S Congress Ave a, Austin, TX 78704
Home Slice Pizza
Our first stop on Congress Ave was Home Slice Pizza, even with all the restaurants that you could choose from. Sometimes we just crave a good slice of pizza! They have two buildings. One is a walk up window and the other is a sit down place. You can put your name down on the long list or if there is a spot open, sit at their bar (not really a bar) seating. They pride themselves in good service and our server was excellent, just as excellent as their pizza and prices!
Address: 415 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
When we had our cultural day at the Capitol, Blanton and LBJ Library, this was close and if you are in the mood for some general Asian dishes this is your place. Reasonable prices and good food.
Address: 1712 Lavaca St, Austin, TX 78701
Lick Honest Ice Creams
The location we went to is just south of downtown Austin. Their ice cream flavors are seasonal and my choice: Cilantro Lime. OMG, I could have eaten a tub. There are other shops, restaurants and a movie theater right there and tons of free parking. It’s an easy and MUST STOP place.
Address: 1100 S Lamar Blvd #1135, Austin, TX 78704
We look for a bowl of ramen in any large city we are in. We look forward to the big cities because of it and we have been pleasantly surprised with the bowls we have found in the south. We weren’t expecting any, but we have found some delicious spots! Ramen Tatsu-Ya is always busy it seems. We arrived on a Thursday at 6:00 p.m. and there was a line outside (they do not let you wait inside until they are ready for you to order) and the restaurant was full. They do provide water while you are waiting. When they let you in, it’s your first glance at the menu and a server tells you where you can sit. You then order at the register and they bring the food to you. This was a good bowl of ramen, but the tsukemen was sweeter than we had thought it would be. Get the tonkatsu spicy bowl, that was good!
Address: 8557 Research Blvd #126, Austin, TX 78758
Austin Daily Press
We found Austin Daily Press after we were politely turned away from Frank’s BBQ (See below). This is a little food stall just north of there and their sandwiches were unique and so good!
Address: 1900 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Austin, TX 78702
This is north of downtown Austin. We were looking for something different than southern fare and this place did not disappoint. The most expensive plate on the menu was their Lomo Saltado at $13, but it was really good. It’s not the best Lomo Saltado I have ever had but the owner was very nice and it still hit the spot.
Address: 2051 Gattis School Rd #630, Round Rock, TX 78664
The Mighty Cone
Might Cone is part of a small area with multiple food trucks and a center covered seating area. We were in the search for a different food truck but when I saw someone eating this I had to have it and it was DELICIOUS! The chicken was good and the deep fried avocado was divine. Make sure to order a side of fries!
Address: 1720 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704
We didn’t end up eating at Franklin BBQ. Here is the reason why: Since it was SXSW and Spring Break the wait crazy. When we got there at 11:30 a.m. the line was down the sidewalk. After about 5 minutes we were lucky enough that a server came out and let us know that the group about 15 people ahead of us were the last guarantee of the day. The first people in line got there at 2 a.m. after the bars closed. The 8:30 a.m. group wasn’t going to eat until 12:30 p.m. and we could hope that there was food left over by the time the guarantees that got there at 9:30 a.m. were done. We have heard mixed reviews about the BBQ, but we still wanted to try it, but we declined and we were a little bummed! Have you been?
Address: 900 E 11th St, Austin, TX 78702
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