Despite being the capital of Texas and one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., Austin somehow manages to retain its small-town feel. Locals and visitors can experience the magic and southern charm of this city all year round with endless events and activities just waiting to be explored. Home to a dynamic art scene, a culinary scene unlike anywhere else and the best live music in the country, Austin is a must-see destination. Here’s our top picks of things to do in Austin that everyone will enjoy.
Content courtesy of WestJet
Music is the heart and soul of Austin. Earning the slogan as Live Musical Capital of the World in 1991, Austin is the place to be when it comes to music. With over 250 live music venues, there’s always something exciting going on. Discover everything from intimate outdoor patio acoustic sessions to electrifying rock concerts. Make sure to check out The Broken Spoke, one of the most famous dance halls in Texas. Some of country music’s biggest stars have graced the stage here and it always guarantees a good time.
Explore Nature’s Playground
From natural swimming holes to amazing hiking trails, there’s no shortage of outdoor activities to explore here. Hamilton Pool Preserve is a natural pool created thousands of years ago when the dome of an underground river collapsed. Now, people from all over flock here daily to take in the picturesque views of turquoise waters and swim alongside a 50-foot waterfall.
The Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail is the heartbeat of Austin. A place where the city thrives, this 10-mile lush, urban trail loops along Lady Bird Lake and makes for the perfect way to spend time outdoors. The perfect combination of nature, city and people watching – the trails welcome a vibrant mix of people each day. Experience gorgeous views of the city’s skyline and wildlife by foot – or by water with kayak and paddleboard rentals nearby.
A Foodie’s Paradise
Austin is a foodie’s paradise. And if you don’t consider yourself a foodie now, this place might just change that. Discover over 1,000 mobile restaurants that serve up everything from tasty vegan bites to mouth-watering barbeque. Whatever you’re craving – you’re sure to find it here (seriously).
Check out places like Franklin’s BBQ, a world-renowned restaurant (that’s totally worth waiting in line for) with perfectly barbecued oak-smoked meats every time. Or, head over to The Oasis on Lake Travis to catch stunning sunset views while you sip on a delicious crafted cocktail.
One Person’s Junk is Another’s Treasure
If you’re up for a truly unique experience, then Austin’s Cathedral of Junk is the perfect place. A backyard art masterpiece comprised of you guessed it…junk! Everything from old bicycles to TVs to surfboards can be seen among this truly jaw-dropping collection of stuff. And the longer you stick around, the more impressed you’ll be as you explore this tiny treasure trove. But don’t be fooled by its underwhelming exterior! The magic really happens once you’re inside. Patterns emerge, nostalgic gadgets jump out at you and you’ll soon realize why they call it a cathedral.
One of the most incredible bat sightings in the world happens right in Austin, Texas. Just underneath the Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge lives the largest urban bat colony in North America. During bat season, from March to November, you can see them emerge each night starting just before sundown. To watch this sunset show, go to the Austin-American Stateman park on the southeast side of the South Congress Bridge, which is free and open to anyone. There’s also a one-hour Bat Watching Cruise, which is a great way to get a unique view of the beautiful city, too.
Picnics in the Sky
What’s a trip to Austin without a hike up the highest vantage point in town, Mount Bonnell? Enjoy breathtaking views of the downtown skyline and Lake Austin. It’s the perfect romantic picnic spot that also has superstitions tied to it. Legend has it that if you climb to the top with your date you will fall in love. So, don’t forget to pack a picnic for this easy, unforgettable hike you’ll be talking about for years to come.
WestJet operates non-stop service twice weekly between Calgary and Austin. Let the live music, mountain trails and sightseeing commence!