Downtown Austin is one of the most popular and influential American cities. The city is bordered by a vast stretch of the Colorado River, consists of eight districts, and welcomes visitors worldwide due to its deep American history roots. While Downtown Austin is the central business district of the Texan city of Austin, it is not short of diversion. It has one of the most incredible nightlife scenes in Texas, great cultural activities, a booming food scene, some fantastic marine, and many exciting activities. Let’s review the 20 best things to do in Downtown Austin.
20. Learn The City’s Firefighting History at Austin Fire Museum
Established as early as 1870 by a group of Austin merchants and businessmen that dedicated their lives to saving people from fire, the Austin fire museum features a rich history. What started as a volunteer program is today one of the vital career departments of the state. The Central Fire Station was transformed into the Austin Fire Museum in memory of the hardworking and devoted Austin firefighters of the 19th and 20tth centuries. Today, it has a collection of uniforms, memorabilia, and photographs of legendary firefighters. Here, you will get familiar with the rich history of American bravery in firefighting.
19. Spend Time with Austin Duck Adventure
You can’t afford to miss the Austin Duck Adventures in Downtown Austin. This is a land and water adventure trip to downtown Austin and the lake. You will ride on LadyBird Lake on a Hydra Terra vehicle that the US coast guard has approved. The Austin Duck Adventure will give you an hour of sightseeing on the great lake. At the same time, you listen to the guide’s historical narration, which is a fun way of getting familiar with Downtown Austin.
18. Drive in a Double Decker Austin Bus Tour
What better way to enjoy your time than spending the day exploring Downtown Austin on an open-top, Double Decker Austin hop-on-off bus service. The bus has several pick-ups and drop-off points Downtown, all situated next to the main attractions. Get on board for the one-and-a-half-hour tour listening to narrations on some of the fascinating facts about the history of Austin by an experienced guide. You can also alight, grab some lunch, and board back when the bus passes by again an hour and a half later.
17. Explore Local history at Bullock Texas State History Museum
Starting in 2001, The Bullock Texas History Museum was opened to tell the story of Texas. Famously referred to as the official history museum of Texas state, it provides its guest with several educational experiences that enable them to interpret the evolving stories of the state. Some of the most exciting experiences that you can’t miss include the Spooktacular for spooky science family experience, the World Refugee Day, the Texas artist series exhibitions, the holiday season sale at the museum store, feature films and focus films, science Thursdays, high noon talks, etc. here, you will engage yourself in the exciting and rich history of the stunning state.
16. A Swing Dance at The Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs Mansion (The Fed)
Another fun thing to do in Downtown Austin is having a Swing Dance at the Fed. The elegant hardwood floor of the Fed is crammed with swinging, hopping, and spinning feet each Thursday. Austin Swing Syndicate trains an interactive dance lesson every evening so beginners and expert dancers can feel in the right place during the social dances. The dance community warmly welcomes newcomers, and you will hardly find dance halls as great as the Fed. The side rooms provide a changing schedule of balboa, blues, soul, and west coast music to shake up things even more.
15. Spend Some Hours in The Lively Rainey Street
Nestled between I-35 and Town Lake, Rainey Street has managed to be one of the hottest spots in Austin without losing its laid-back allure. Businesses have injected new life into the bungalow-style home, with each bar hosting clients in expedient rooms and large backyards. Here, you can go to the Icenhauer’s for a mixed drink and live music and then stroll into the Lucille Patio Lounge to take a craft cocktail under the chandeliers. The homey and open-air atmosphere of Rainey Street illustrates Austin’s vibrant and friendly vibe.
14. Engage in The Austin Scavenger Hunt Adventure
One way to make your sightseeing adventure more captivating in Downtown Austin is by joining a scavenger hunt. All you require is to join an Austin Scavenger Hunt Scavenger via a smartphone by downloading the app and begin solving the clues. Track the trail around the significant sights of Downtown Austin by finishing one clue at a time and learning fascinating historical facts. You can carry out the hunt alone or with a group of friends against the clock or just at your pace. The scavenger hunt will take about three hours, not including stops for food or drinks. So, ensure to wear comfortable shoes and ensure your phone is fully charged before joining the adventure.
13. Discover the Museum of The Weird
Unlike most museums in Downtown Austin that are about history, the Museum of the WEIRD is for the curious, ghoulish, and irrefutably odd. Nestled on Downtown’s sixth street, the museum began as a gift shop but now features a collection of bizarre artifacts, including a frozen ice-age man, a furry trout, and a mummified mermaid. There is also a live circus sideshow every day. However, if you can’t handle poking nails up their nose or hanging hooks from their eyes, you better avoid the show.
12. A Night of Dancing at Esther’s Follies
At Esther’s Follies, you will find magic shows, musical and campy comedy, and political satire performances that are sure to elicit laughs. More than thirty years ago, the Follies started as an all-welcoming creative show full of unpredictable acts. The event quickly tapped into Austin’s art scene, bringing together magicians, dancers, and actors to generate a genre all on its own. The stage’s back wall is all windows integrating the colorful character of Sixth Street into every show. Enjoy drinks and popcorn from the bar as you get a hint of Austin’s most hysterical tradition.
11. Have Fun at The Ann & Roy Butler Hike & Bike Trail
Situated in the heart of Austin, the Ann and Roy Butler bike and hike trails are scenic and natural places. This is one of the most visited and loved locations and alternative travel routes in Downtown Austin, particularly after the construction of the Boardwalk. The trail is named after the former mayor’s family and acts as the soul of the city. It is bordered by spectacular ball fields, skyscrapers, and historic Austin localities, so you are sure to enjoy a diverse mix of people on this elegant trail.
10. Catch A Live Show at Paramount Theater
Starting in 1915, Paramount Theatre in Austin symbolizes the classic-revival architecture style. The building is featured in the National Registry of Historic places and occupies an important place in the century-old history of the theater. The Paramount Theater is a live theater that showcases live music performances, comedy, theatrical acts, movies, premieres, etc. The theater will always have a live music performance daily all year long. With a seating capacity of more than 1200 audiences, go and catch a live show at this striking theater.
9. Admire the Splendid Architecture of The Texas State Capitol
The Texas State Capital is situated in Austin and has been the center of several historical events in the history of America. The capitol started as a two-room building in the 1830s and was later rebuilt after a fire incident in 1881. Since being established in 1888, it has been the host of the state’s administration since being established in 1888, and it is filled with rich architectural excellence and history. Get amazed at this iconic building by going on a Capitol tour.
8. Get Adventurous at The Austin Panic Rooms
The Austin Panic Room began in 2014 and has successfully created the best adrenaline rush endlessly for the past years. The panic room offers a unique and new experience where groups of individuals solve the puzzles using hidden clues in the room. Any group that solves the mystery and escapes from the panic room in an hour is acknowledged as the champion. The Austin Panic Room is a great way to spend time with your friends and family and socialize with them better.
7. Taste the Finest Drinks at Firehouse Lounge
As its name suggests, the Firehouse Lounge is situated in Austin’s eldest fire station, dating back to 1885. The Firehouse Bar and Lounge provides some of the finest craft beers and cocktails in Downtown Austin. It also houses an international hostel open for travelers, locals, and everyone else. Here you will taste some of the prohibition-era finest drinks and immerse yourself in the timelessness of history.
6. Watching People on The Sixth Street
The Sixth Street entertainment district, mainly the businesses between South Congress Avenue and Interstate 35, is a famous stop for first-time guests. The busy area is fully packed with bars of every size and shape, including popular outposts such as Maggie Mae’s, where you will find many floors and bars. Whether you love dancing, listening to live music or drinking, you will find it all. More so, people-watching on the sixth street is free and secure.
5. Have Fun at The Frank C Erwin Center
If there is a massive event happening in Downtown Austin, it will be held at the Frank C Erwin Center. This seventeen-thousand-seater venue is famous for hosting the most prominent sporting events such as boxing tournaments, martial arts competitions, and basketball. The center has also held favorite artist concerts such as Lady Gaga and WWE wrestling events. There is an exclusive range of snack food concessions serving burgers, ice creams, nachos, and pizza.
4. Observe Phenomenon Nature at Congress Avenue Bridge
It’s not common to experience a spectacle of nature in a buzzing urban setting, so you don’t want to miss this one in Downtown Austin. Visit the Congress Avenue Bridge at sundown between April and October to see the fantastic Texan sunset and watch about a million Mexican free-tailed bats soar from their colony and rise in a group into the night sky. The scene is genuinely surreal in what seems like a horror movie.
3. View an Indie Film at Alamo Drafthouse
The Alamo Drafthouse is a one-of-a-kind movie theater that previously began in ATX and later evolved into several locations in cities across the USA. If you are in Downtown Austin, the Alamo Drafthouse is situated in a groovy vintage theater. Here, you will experience lots of fun stuff, including; peculiar theme nights, ridiculous quote-along, and drinks and food delivered to the chair. Go for the balcony seats for the best view and enjoy a great American movie.
2. Go Kayaking at Town Lake
There is no better way of seeing Downtown Austin than from the gentle waters of Town Lake. Town Lake is open for kayaking, boating, and stand-up paddleboarding year-round, with tourists and locals doing everything to spend some time on the water. The Zilker Park Boat Rentals is an ideal spot to board a vessel and start paddling. If you are adventurous, the winter months provide a quieter experience. The lake turns into a social area filled with outdoor lovers during summer, but there are always enough kayaks for all.
1. Shop At the Downtown Farmer’s Market
The Farmer’s Market is a crucial center of the Sustainable Food Center ((SFC) Farmers Marketing System. The market is preferred for most regulars and a must-visit for first-time visitors. It consists of stalls of food artists, award-winning farmers, and the famous café operated by the Auction Oak. Here, you will experience the pleasure of a breeze with live background music, scenic views of Republic Square, and the fresh aroma of farm products.