Below you'll find a list of top Austin attractions, sightseeing destinations, tours, museums, and other things to do in Austin that both locals and visitors love.
1. Check out the World Famous Congress Bridge Bats
Our #1 activity 9 months out of the year, viewing the Congress Bridge Bats is Austin's most popular tourist attraction for a reason. It's simply a marvel. Watch as 1.5 million bats pepper the sky in their nightly departure from Congress Bridge in their relentless and appreciated pursuit to rid us of mosquitoes. There are a lot of ways to view the bats. Use the button below to learn about 4 fun ways to check them out.
2. Take a Splash with Austin Duck Adventures
One of the first tours to show visitors around town and the only land and water tour available, Austin Duck Adventures is one of the most popular tours in town. The tour starts at the Austin Visitor Center at the corner of 4th and Red River in downtown Austin. It drives along 6th street, up Congress where you get great views of the Texas Capitol and then on to Lake Austin where you drive straight into the water and float around before heading back. Tours run 7 days a week.
3. Get Spooky in Style on a Haunted Hearse Limo Tour
One of the more unique tours in Austin that is seriously keeping Austin weird comes from the Haunted ATX team. They pack up to 7 guests in a hearse that's been converted to a limo and take you around haunted locations and tell the stories about the ghosts that linger in their spots. This tour starts at $49 per person which is priced a little higher than others due to the exclusive nature of the limousine hearse. They also offer private VIP tours. The tour itself is a blend of scary stories, Austin history, and a deep dive into some intriguing stories behind some of Austin's most iconic buildings.
4. Break Out of Prison + More at the Escape Game
Located downtown next to the Austin Visitor Center, this is the #1 escape room in Austin. You and your friends will work together to find clues and overcome challenges to ultimately complete a mission and ESCAPE! The Escape Game has 5 different adventures to choose from including The Heist, Gold Rush, Playground, Classified, and our favorite - Prison Break.
5. Get the Gang Back Together with Your Biker Gang
This doesn't quite qualify as automatic entry into Sons of Anarchy gang. But it's as close as your likely to get before riding a real hog and definitely a lot safer. Your Biker Gang offers ridiculously fun tours of Austin on electric powered bikes with fat tires that look a lot like Harleys. There's a tour that showcases different sightseeing spots in Austin and another one offering a Food Truck tour. Both tours offer multiple times per day.
6. Float the River with Austin Tubing Trips
Back before tourism hit the Austin market and visitors had endless options, floating the Guadalupe and San Marcos rivers provided locals with a relaxing way to spend the day chilling in the water. As the city grew so did the attraction and depending on when and where you go the parking and lines can be a mess. Joining a crew from Austin Tubing Trips makes it SUPER easy and a little safer with transport from Austin to the river and back.
7. Hold your Paddle High with Live Love Paddle
We absolutely love Live Love Paddle's bat watching tours. They also rent kayaks, paddleboard, and canoes for those looking to get a little exercise in with their sightseeing. The views of downtown from Lady Bird Lake are amazing. Also, check out their full moon music paddle that features kayaking to an island, watching a band play, eating smores, and kayaking back at night under the stars.
8. Find Your Inner Austinite with Austin Detours
One of the best ways to see Austin is with tour company Austin Detours. Their Real Austin Tour gives you an inside scoop on living life as a local. They also feature a Live Music Crawl that shows you why Austin earned the reputation as the "Live Music Capital of the World." Not be left out is Salt Lick & Winery Tour that includes eating at the legendary Salt Lick BBQ and two stops at wineries in Austin's hill country. People have so much fun making friends on these tours that they often do more than one when visiting.
9. Swirl, Sip, and Savor with Austin Wine Tours
Austin marks the beginning of the Texas hill country where arid weather, small valleys, and micro climates are home to a handful of excellent vineyards that give Napa Valley a run for its money. The team at Austin Wine Tours will arrange tours to a select group of top vineyards complete with transportation and a few inside touches to make for a delightful afternoon/evening that boasts hints of black pepper, bold charisma, and stylish sophistication.
10. Fall in Love with Austin Lakes at Float on Boat Rentals
Often catering to Austin's elite, the boat scene at Devil's Cove has earned its nickname with boats tying together creating a dance floor that rival's Austin's best night clubs. Party Cove on Lake Austin is a little closer, more intimate, and equally fun. Both lakes have active wakeboard and skier scenes. The guys at Float On Boat Rentals make access easy with an assortment of boats that cater to any and all boating needs in Austin.
11. Disappear at Magic's Theatre
Located in Southwest Austin, Magic's Theater offers a full auditorium sized Magic show on Saturday nights and a close up magic show on Friday nights. It also doubles as a magic museum with pieces from Harry Houdini's collection, and offers a snack bar. One worthwhile feature is that you can bring your own wine with a small corkage fee.
12. Zip Over Land and Lake with Lake Travis Zip Lines
Climb up above the tree lines and then zip across the forest and water like a modern Tarzan with (hopefully) more than a loin cloth. Lake Travis Zip lines offers a chance to suspend your pedestrian life with something more airborne as you zip through, across, and over some of Austin's best scenery. Zip lines offers one of the most highlighted photographic opportunities available to declare to your social media pals that you're bravery is not grounded to bikes and scooters.
13. Rev Your Engines at Circuit of the Amerca's COTA Karting
It's hard to make the F1 circuit but you'll never know if you've got what it takes unless you get behind the wheel. Circuit of the Americas now offers a Karting experience that is out of this world! With karts that go up to 55mph and a track that features 15 turns, this is an exceptional way to see the one and only F1 track in the United States.
14. Pedal to Party Cove with Pedal Barge
Explore Austin's beautiful Lake Austin while pedaling (and drinking) with your friends. Their public cruises are offered daily and can accommodate up to 12 guests on a boat that is powered by pedaling. Don't worry, there's a motor on board to help out on the way back. They provide the party boat, coolers with ice, bluetooth speakers, and an experienced captain. Private cruises are available and ideal for bachelor and bachelorette parties, birthdays, and corporate outings. Get the details about Pedal Barge on Lake Austin here.
15. Laugh til you Cry at Esther's Follies
The only evolving shows to grace the city of Austin's streets and a good reason to visit Austin's famous 6th street, Esther's Follies offers an amazing Broadway like show that features current political skits, impersonations, magic and more. They tease both sides of the political wheel, but if you're really rigid about your politics, this may be more than you can handle. We consider it an annual must see show worthy of every guest that comes to town.
16. Walk, Jog, or Ride the Boardwalk on Lady Bird Lake
It wasn't until they finished the boardwalk on Lady Bird Lake that you could circle the entire trail without a few treks on the road. Now there's a full 10.2 mile loop along the water in downtown Austin. We love getting our bikes out there when the weather is right.
17. Go for a Hike Along the Barton Creek Greenbelt
Starting at Barton Springs Pool, the Barton Creek Greenbelt is one of Austin's best treasures with areas known as the Flats, Twin Falls, and Sculpture Falls. The Flats is known to host large gatherings, even the occasional drum circle. Twin Falls offers one of the better waterfalls, and Sculpture Falls is known for a little solitude. There's also great rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, and other outdoor activities that appeal to a wide array of outdoorsy types. It's best when the water if flowing, even if it's low just 15 - 20 cfs. You can check out a flow gauge at Loop 360 bridge here.
18. Enjoy a Lunch or Dinner Cruise on Lady Bird Lake
There are two major boat operations on Lady Bird Lake. Both Capital Cruises and Lone Star Riverboats have optional menus for private cruises that cater to parties ranging in size. Capital Cruises has a smaller boat that goes out with 2-8 people. Both companies can handle large parties ranging from 30 - 140. Use these links to learn more about Capital Cruises and Lone Star Riverboats.
19. Circle the City with Austin Overtures
Austin Overtures is the first tour company to take people around town in a 14 per passenger van. Their tour rolls through several uniquely Austin areas including the Capitol complex, downtown Austin, Barton Springs area, Mt Bonnell, and East Austin. Their tours run 3-4 times a day out of the Austin Visitor Center for around $25 per person.
20. Challenge Yourself at Lake Travis Waterloo Adventures
One of the most unique activities in Austin is the Lake Travis Waterloo Adventures. Opening for season in March, this aquatic adventure land mixes elements of Kevin Kosner's Waterworld with a splash of Gladiator and Total Wipeout. As a totally original Austin attraction, Waterloo Adventures holds its own in every aspect that makes Austin unique with an outdoor activity, killer scenery, and unparalleled excitement.
21. Keep Austin Weird and Visit South Congress Avenue
The epicenter of the "Keep Austin Weird" movement, South Congress Avenue remains a top visitor attraction albeit more and more upscale as the years go by. It's a great place to do some unique shopping, catch a great restaurant, even see live music.
22. Get the Party Started at Rainey Street District
Rainey Street District is probably the most unusual nightlife scene in Austin. The first bar to open in Rainey was Lustre Pearl located in an old home. Not too long after other homes converted into bars and now the area is covered with bars, hotels, restaurants, and food trucks, offering one of Austin's most unique nightlife districts.
23. Go Cave Exploring with Inner Space Cavern
Located about 25 north of Austin lies Inner Space Caverns. You and your friends, family, or crew can tour below the ground and explore a natural cavern formed millions of years ago beneath one of Texas' busiest interstate highways. Inner Space Cavern is filled with history, mystery and chemistry! This all season activity caters to large groups and offers one of the most engaging afternoon activities in Texas.
24. Dive Into an Aquifer Fed Pool at Barton Springs Pool
Definitely one of the more popular tourist activities in Austin, Barton Springs Pool offers a natural water hole that stays a chilly 68 degrees all year round. See some killer 360 photos and learn more using the button below.
25. Soak in the Sun at McKinney Falls State Park
Probably the least known outdoorsy area in the Austin city limits, McKinney Falls is hidden between IH35 and the Austin Airport on the Southeast side of town. We like to go here because it's less crowded than the Barton Creek and offers some great views, moderate hiking, and a nice swimming hole. It's a state park so expect to pay $5 to enter.
26. Enjoy a Sunset on Top of Mount Bonnell
One of the best free activities in Austin, Mount Bonnell features the highest peak in the city limits. There's a higher peak across the water in the city of West Lake Hills, but it doesn't come with Mount Bonnell's giant staircase or a pic nic area.