Things to Do in Downtown Austin

Bernardo De Alba May 14, 2023

Austin, TX, is one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. More and more people from all over the country are moving to Austin, making it a more vibrant and uniquely Texan community that welcomes everyone. There are hundreds of different activities, shops, and outdoor adventures to experience in downtown Austin. Which ones should you choose to do, and which ones are best left for later? We’ve answered those questions and more with our roundup of the best things to do in downtown Austin.

Free attractions in downtown Austin

Let’s open up our rankings of the best things to do and see in downtown Austin with the free offerings available to all in the area.

Take a historic tour of the city

Downtown Austin is where much of the history of the state was made and continues to evolve today. Luckily, there are a number of free opportunities to tour the concentrated center of the city with self-guided tours. Preservation Austin is perhaps the most popular outfit, and their tour will take you through the grand Capitol building and the leading sites where history was made. You can also tour the Capitol on two wheels with the Black History Bike Ride.

Enjoy some outdoor music

Austin wouldn’t be the city we know today without its musical heritage. Austin leadership has made it easier than ever to take in as much free live music as possible in today’s downtown district. Check out the best in rock and alternative music at Mohawk Austin or head to the Far Out Lounge to enjoy a mixture of musical styles from dance to country.

Family-friendly things to do in downtown Austin

Next up on our list, we’re featuring a few of the best family-friendly activities to do in downtown Austin. Read more below.

Check out the one-of-a-kind Cathedral of Junk

If there’s one word that defines Austin of today, it’s “weird.” And there’s no better representation of that core oddness that makes Austin unique than the magnificent Cathedral of Junk. This one-of-a-kind outdoor sculpture doubles as a tree fort filled with curious metallic shapes, objects, and unusual items. Take the kids and gaze in wonder at this breathtaking achievement in weirdness, but make sure to call in advance for availability.

Watch a movie at a drive-in theater

The days when drive-in movie theaters were all the rage has long passed, except in Austin, where local movie buffs have kept the tradition alive. Drive over to the Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In and travel back in time to the 1950s and 1960s when the drive-in was a central part of life. Kids are more than welcome, and this theater may be a perfect time to show your children a piece of living history while watching a family favorite. Two films are shown per night.

Downtown Austin nightlife

Austin has been a magnet for 21+ individuals for at least the last 10 years. As such, the number of nightlife venues available for those folks has blossomed in the 2010s. Here are some of the best.

Dance the night away at The Broken Spoke

Honky-tonk fans will love to spend a night out on the town at The Broken Spoke, downtown Austin’s premier two-step dance hall. They offer a free dinner show for all guests and a huge inventory of cocktails alongside the familiar Texan bar food favorites.

Visit a variety of craft breweries

The craft beer tradition had a renaissance in the last two decades, and Austin may just have been ground zero. Downtown Austin is a hotbed for the most forward-thinking beer makers across the country. Check out the patio at ABGB or enjoy the greenery at the outdoor beer garden at Last Stand’s Brewing.

Shopping in downtown Austin

Downtown Austin is a shopper’s paradise with dozens of outdoor and indoor shopping centers and malls. Here are some of the best things to do in downtown Austin if shopping is on your mind.

Shop for vintage items

The Austin populace loves vintage clothes and decor. But with nearly a hundred vintage shops dotted across the landscape, where should you go to get the most bang for your buck? Try Room Service Vintage first. They have a massive collection of vintage furniture and odds and ends. Or, if clothing is what you seek, head over to Monkies Vintage and Thrift.

Build your vinyl collection at Waterloo Records

Austin’s uber-famous Waterloo Records has been a Texas favorite for music lovers of all stripes for decades. They just might top the charts when it comes to its selection of vinyl records. They feature the best in new and upcoming Austin artists as well as a warehouse-level amount of past musicians on view for your listening pleasure.

Outdoor recreation in downtown Austin

Below, check out some of the best places to relax or get your blood pumping in downtown Austin.

Rest and relax in Zilker Park

Austin’s beloved Zilker Park is located in the heart of the downtown district. It’s an excellent spot to take a load off after a long day. Or, it can the perfect destination for a morning get-together, where you can tour of the Zilker Botanical Garden. Just be sure to book tickets in advance because the garden is usually full, especially on the weekends.

Become amazed at the UMLAUF Sculpture Garden

Another must-see symbol of Austin’s weirdness is the iconic UMLAUF Sculpture Garden and Museum, located downtown. This sprawling outdoor garden/museum features dozens of odd and off-kilter sculptures that are sure to ignite the imagination. A shady and lazy walking trail encircles this garden, so it’s the perfect place to plan a relaxing afternoon outdoors with friends and family.

Reach out to a local real estate agent today

If you have any questions or comments about things to do in downtown Austin or real estate in the area, get in touch today! Contact Bernardo De Alba for more information.

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