I've lived in Austin for a year and have been able to explore the city and everything it has to offer. Here is a list of the top things locals recommend to tourists that are all free, along with a few restaurants you must try out while you're here.
Austin is vegan-friendly and has several restaurants to try whether you're an omnivore or a herbivore.
Restaurants to try
- True Food Kitchen
- Mr. Natural
- Vegan Nom
- Sweet Ritual
- Wheatsville or Central Market for groceries
How to save in Austin, Texas
1. Hotels are overpriced and expensive in Austin. Use Airbnb and make sure to book ahead since they are so much cheaper than hotels. Get $40 for signing up with my link.
2. Use STA Travel Card to get access to over 160,000 discounts.
3. Use Ibotta to save on groceries and hundreds of other items. Get $10 for signing up here.
4. Certain areas are walkable, like downtown Austin or Zilker Park area, but renting a car is still necessary
5. Get cashback on flights with Ebates. Get $10 for signing up here.
My Top Amazon Travel Picks
1. Zilker Park
Zilker Metropolitan Park is a huge park south of downtown Austin. The park is perfect for swimming, trail running, cycling, and bird watching. Nearby is the Umlauf Sculpture Park. Zilker Park is known for hosting popular music festivals like Austin City Limits (ACL) every year. Lady Bird Hike and Bike Trail in Zilker Park is 10.1 miles long and is perfect for any skill level. Check out this guide here for Zilker Park.
Address: 2100 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78746
2. Barton Springs
Barton Springs Pool is an outdoor natural spring that charge a resident or non-resident fee to get into the pool. However, there are free swimming spots all over Barton Springs that do not charge a fee. All you have to do is go on the left side of the pool and you'll see people swimming outside of the gated swimming pool area. This area is also dog-friendly. Make sure to take your snorkeling gear as you'll see plenty of fish and turtles!
Address: 2201 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78746
3. Hope Outdoor Gallery
Hope Outdoor Gallery is an outdoor community park filled with artwork. Austin also has a ton of street art that you should check out while you're in the city. Check out this updated list of outdoor artwork here.
Address: 1101 Baylor St, Austin, TX 78703
4. Mount Bonnell
Mount Bonnell is a cool place to hike during the day or evening near downtown Austin. The top of the trail offers an awesome birds-eye view of Austin and the Colorado River. Dogs are allowed but must be leashed. It's only .3 miles up so it's good for any skill level.
Address: 3800 Mt Bonnell Dr, Austin, TX
Hours: 5AM – 10PM
Related: How I've Seen 5 Continents By Age 23
5. State Capitol
The Texas State Capitol is the home of the offices and chambers of the Texas state Legislature and the office of the Governor. The State Capitol is a must while you're visiting Austin. You can learn more about visiting the State Capitol of Texas here.
Address: 1100 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701
Monday through Friday – 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Saturday – 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Sunday – 12:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
6. 6th Street
6th Street is filled with restaurants, bars, and live music. At night and on the weekends, 6th street is not family-friendly. My favorite and (only bar) that I've been to on 6th street is Barbarella, which is known for playing a mixture of the 80s, 90s, and early 2000's pop and rock and new Hip-Hop. If you're into bars, Rainey Street is also another must-see as it has a more relaxed feel than 6th street, but with a lot more charm.
Address: 6th Street, Austin TX
7. Farmers Market
There are several different farmers markets to choose from when visiting Austin. It's a great way to get fresh produce and support local farmers.
Address: 4209 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78722
Hours: Sunday 10AM-2PM
Related: 50+ Ways To Make Extra Money
8. Visit Community First Village
Community First Village is a community outside of Austin that provides affordable housing to the once homeless. J.D. and I stayed here for a couple nights in an Airstream through Airbnb (it was only $40 a night!) and we eventually found out what this community was all about. They have a few Airbnb and all of the Airbnb money goes back to the community. If you're interested in checking out the Airbnb's, let me know and I can send you the area or links. Check out how you can help here.
Address: 9301 Hog Eye Rd, Austin, TX 78724
9. Visit the bats
Congress Avenue Bridge is home to over 1.5 million bats that hang out under the Congress Bridge. It's a crazy sight to see that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors.
Address: Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
Hours: The bats at the Congress Avenue Bridge are currently emerging between 8PM and 8PM nightly.
Related: 50 Ways To Save $500+ Each Month
10. Lady Bird Lake
Lady Bird Lake is home to several paddleboard/kayak rental companies and trails. You can go running, cycle, and take your dog out on a walk on the beautiful trail that crosses the river on the boardwalk. The area gets pretty crowded during the weekend, but it's still the perfect place to go walking or have a picnic. This area is not swim-friendly.
Address: Central Austin Texas
Austin is perfect for solo travelers, families, couples, and anyone looking to try some great tex-mex food and explore the outdoors. Whether you're into history, wildlife, great food, or outdoor activities, Austin is the perfect city to visit for your next adventure.
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What else would you recommend doing in Austin?