What To Do In Austin: Top Activities For A 1-3 Day Trip

what to do in Austin

The city of Austin is a great place to spend your 3-days vacation. Austin has something for every traveler, from downtown’s iconic structures and local food trucks to cultural institutions and recreational activities like pickleball and hiking. 

As an experienced traveler or first-timer, this itinerary will help you experience the most of the Austin city that you will remember for years.

Austin, Texas, has plenty of amazing experiences for a day trip or a long weekend. From its legendary live music culture and unique cuisine to its stunning tourist spots and rich cultural past, Austin has something for everyone.

This article will help you decide on what to do in Austin, the ‘Live Music Capital of the World,’ whether you’re here for a short time or a long period.

When To Visit Austin

Austin is an all-year-round tourist destination. But knowing when is the best season to visit will level up your travel experience greatly. Here’s a breakdown of the best times to visit Austin:

Spring (March-May)

The magic of spring in Austin is real. Conditions are usually good, with warm temperatures and lots of sunshine. There is also one of Austin’s biggest events happening this time of year.

This event is called South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival which happens in March. Remember that spring is a popular time to go, so expect more people and more expensive hotels.

Summer (June – August)

Without a doubt, Austin, Texas is hot in the summer. As high as 100 degrees Fahrenheit can be felt every day in July and August. If you can deal with the heat, summer has many entertaining events.

During the summer, there’s always something going on, from concerts and events outside to swimming in natural pools. Just remember to always bring and drink water when exploring Austin.

Fall (September – November)

Fall is another fantastic time to visit Austin, especially if you prefer milder temperatures and fewer crowds. The weather starts to cool down, making it more comfortable for activities like pickleball, hiking, biking, and exploring the city’s vibrant neighborhoods.

Plus, you can still catch some great events, like the Austin Film Festival and the Austin City Limits Music Festival in October.

Winter (December – February)

When compared to other parts of the country, winters in Austin are pretty warm. However, there may be times when it really colds down. On the other hand, these cold spells don’t last long.

Within a few days, the temperatures usually return to a comfortable level. Winter is a better time to visit Austin because there are fewer people there and hotels are cheaper.

Day 1: Downtown Exploration

The first 24 hours set off your whole trip. Beginning your Austin vacation with a day of downtown exploring lets you see the city’s most famous sights and enjoy its vibrant culture.

So, here’s a detailed itinerary of what to do in Austin on your day.

1. Breakfast at Jo’s Coffee (8 – 9 AM)

Start your day in downtown Austin with a quick breakfast at Jo’s Coffee. Don’t forget to take a selfie with the “I love you so much” mural for remembrance while you’re there.

Eating a proper breakfast will keep you going throughout the day, so don’t skip it.

things to do in Austin
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2. Explore Cultural Institutions (9 – 12 Nn)

After breakfast, spend your morning learning about Austin’s history. To learn about Texas history and heritage, visit cultural centers like The Contemporary Austin or the LBJ Presidential Library. 

The exhibits and information about the state’s politics and culture at these museums are very interesting. The Jones Center downtown’s Contemporary Austin exhibits international contemporary art and includes free access to the Laguna Gloria sculpture garden.

On the University of Texas at Austin campus, the LBJ Presidential Library explores President Lyndon B. Johnson’s life and legacy. This includes civil rights, space exploration, and the Vietnam War.

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3. Lunch at Food Trucks Near Downtown Austin (12 – 3 PM)

To satisfy your hunger after a fun morning of sightseeing and learning, visit Austin’s busy food truck market. Via 313 for Detroit-style pizza and Micklethwait for smoked meats are popular, but you should also try other local favorites.

Austin’s food trucks serve various foods such as: 

  • Tacos
  • Barbecues
  • Gourmet desserts 
  • International cuisine
Austin food trucks
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4. Congress Avenue Bridge (3 -5 PM)

Visit the Congress Avenue Bridge to see Austin’s most stunning natural phenomenon: Mexican free-tailed bats flying at night.

At nightfall from March to October, millions of bats emerge from their roosts under the bridge, presenting a stunning spectacle against the sunset. Taking a boat cruise on Lady Bird Lake lets you see the bats from a different angle than from the bridge.

Austin congress avenue bridge
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5. South Congress Avenue (6 – 8 PM)

After watching the bats, take a night walk down South Congress Avenue, which is one of Austin’s most famous streets. Besides the shops and boutiques, there are also:

  • Art studios
  • Vintage stores
  • Specialty shops

Make sure you look around beyond the main road to find secret gems and one-of-a-kind bargains.

Austin vintage stores
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5. Güero’s Taco Bar (8 – 11 PM)

Enjoy dinner and live music at Güero’s Taco Bar after seeing the bats fly. This Austin landmark is famous for its authentic Mexican food and lively setting. Güero’s serves numerous traditional Mexican dishes all made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. 

Try one of their hand-shaken margaritas or a beer from their extensive cocktail menu to appreciate Austin’s flavors after a day of touring.

Austin cafes and mexican food
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Day 2: Capitol Complex

You will never run out of what to do in Austin’s Capitol Complex. Start your activities to complete your 36th-hour exploring Austin with this itinerary.

1. Easy Tiger Bake Shop (10 AM – 12 Nn)

Start your second day in Austin with a relaxing brunch at Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden or Launderette, two popular restaurants with wonderful food and cozy atmospheres.

Enjoy hearty meals like corned beef hash or roasted chicken salad with a refreshing mimosa or freshly made coffee to get your day going.

Austin Easy Tiger Bake Shop
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2. Texas State Capitol Complex (12 – 3 PM)

You can get to the Texas State Capitol Complex, which is not far from downtown, after lunch. The Texas State Capitol building is a famous landmark in Austin. It is open for tours that teach about the history, design, and legislative process of the state.

Visit the Capitol building’s magnificently landscaped grounds, where statues, monuments, and historical markers commemorate Texas history.

Austin Texas State Capitol Complex
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3. Blanton Museum of Art (3-6 PM)

Over 19,000 works from various cultures and times are in Austin’s Blanton Museum of Art. The collection includes European paintings, modern and contemporary art, and Latin American works.

You can also see Ellsworth Kelly’s massive installation “Austin,” and explore international exhibitions. Community participation and educational programming make the Blanton Museum a lively cultural hub for all ages.

Austin Blanton Museum of Art
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4. Broken Spoke or The White Horse (6-10 PM)

In the evening, immerse yourself in Austin’s vibrant music scene by hitting the dance floor at Broken Spoke or The White Horse.

Austin Broken Spoke or The White Horse
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Broken Spoke, a legendary honky-tonk establishment that has been a fixture in Austin since 1964, offers live music and dance lessons in traditional Texas country and Western dance styles.

With its lively environment and unique band roster, the White Horse is the perfect place to two-step the night away with icy drinks and excellent music.

Day 3: Culinary and Recreation Adventures

The last day will complete your 72 hours exploring Austin. Make this the best day of your trip by following this set itinerary:

1. Play Pickleball (7 – 9 AM)

Start your day and get energized by playing pickleball for 2 hours. The sport of pickleball is fun and fast-paced with mixed parts of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong.

It’s typically played on a badminton-sized court with a lowered net, using a paddle and a plastic ball with holes. Players serve the ball diagonally and volley until one side makes a mistake, like hitting the net or out of bounds.

Austin indoor pickleball

If you want to play and learn more about pickleball, become a member by clicking this link. Pickleball offers enjoyment to all skill levels.

2. Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail (10 – 11 AM)

Cool down from a satisfying pickleball game by taking a walk around Austin’s natural beauty. Check out the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail where you can relax from the busy city.

Austin Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail
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It’s a beautiful walk that winds along the shores of Lady Bird Lake and has stunning views of the city skyline and many trees. You can walk, jog, or ride a bike along the path.

You’ll be surrounded by nature’s sights and sounds, which makes it a great way to start the day.

2. Veracruz All Natural Food Truck (11 – 2 PM)

Now that you have had your workout, complete your morning with a hearty breakfast at Veracruz All Natural food truck, known for its mouthwatering migas.

Austin Veracruz All Natural Food Truck
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This popular breakfast dish features scrambled eggs mixed with tortilla chips, avocado, pico de gallo, and Monterey jack cheese, all served with a side of warm tortillas. It’s the perfect way to fuel up for a day of outdoor exploration.

3. Zilker Park (2 – 4 PM)

After your long lunch and rest, continue exploring Austin by heading to Zilker Park. 

Austin Zilker Park
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Stroll through the park’s lush botanical gardens, and admire the sculptures at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum. Or take a refreshing dip in the iconic Barton Springs Pool, a natural spring-fed swimming hole that’s a favorite spot for locals and visitors alike.

4. Wanderlust Wine Co. or Still Austin Whiskey Co. (4 – 6 PM)

Wanderlust Wine Co. and Still Austin Whiskey Co. offer tastings of Austin’s dynamic beverage culture. Wanderlust Wine Co. offers a unique self-pour wine experience that lets you try wines from around the world at your own speed.

Austin Wanderlust Wine Co. or Still Austin Whiskey Co.
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Still Austin Whiskey Co. offers grain-to-glass distillery tours and tastes of their award-winning whiskey, gin, and vodka.

5. Rainey Street (6 – 11 PM)

Rainey Street, a lovely district with many restaurants, pubs, and food carts, offers an unforgettable nighttime out. Take a seat at Emmer & Rye, a beloved New American restaurant that uses seasonal, local ingredients and a rotating menu.

Austin Rainey Street
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Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden serves artisanal sausages and craft beers with live music and a lively atmosphere late into the night.

Visit Austin Today!

While this article has provided you with a comprehensive itinerary for your time in Austin, there’s always more to discover in this dynamic city. Whether you’re a music fan, a foodie, or a sports enthusiast, Austin has something for everyone to enjoy.

Best Indoor Pickleball in Austin

As you plan your next trip to Austin share your experiences with friends and family. Remember to cherish the memories you’ve made and the moments of joy and wonder you’ve experienced along the way.

Austin may be known as the “Live Music Capital of the World,” but it’s also a city filled with warmth, hospitality, and endless opportunities for adventure.

So, if you’re currently planning your days and what to do in Austin, you might to check out these other posts to help you with your itinerary:

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