Just penciled in Austin into your travel schedule?
We’re jealous because there’s literally something for everyone in this unforgettable city.
Delicious food? Check.
Fascinating history? Check.
We could create 100 guides on top 10 things to do in Austin, but we get it, you want the best.
So where do you go to discover the real gems? Austin’s very own, of course!
To find out where local Austinites love to eat, play, and soak in their city’s culture, we went straight to the latest readers’ polls from the Austin Chronicle and Austin Monthly to bring you the very best of Austin.
So pack those bags and buckle up. This our ultimate guide to the top 10 things to do in Austin—local approved.
If you love food, Austin is your city.
We’re not joking. We could triple this list with all the eateries that Austin locals rave about, so we’re just going to focus on four hot spots you have to try
Let’s dig in:
1. Franklin’s Barbeque
Ready for the best Texas barbecue you’ve ever tasted?
You can’t talk about the top 10 things to do in Austin without talking about Franklin’s Barbeque.
Franklin’s Barbeque has become famous for its 3-hour-long lines, but according to locals, it’s definitely worth it. In fact, one reviewer remarked that “The food is so good, no sauce [is] required.”
Next to BBQ, Austin is also known for their mouth-watering Tex-Mex cuisine.
This readers’ poll winner for “Best Family Restaurant” is known just as much for their Elvis theme as they are for their delicious green chili, signature sauces, and tender roasted carnitas.
Uchi is a perennial readers poll favorite at both the Austin Chronicle and Austin Monthly.
Winning for both “Best Fine Dining Restaurant” and “Best Service”, Uchi continues to impress locals with fusion Japanese dishes like their signature Uchiviche appetizer.
4. Amy’s Ice Creams
We couldn’t wrap-up our food section without taking about dessert.
Look no further than local favorite Amy’s Ice Creams to satisfy your sweet tooth after a huge BBQ fest at Franklin’s.
Like Chuy’s, Amy’s fun atmosphere is just as famous as their 350+ flavors. Choose anything from rich Belgian chocolate to sweet cream, then watch scoops of ice cream fly through the air as you watch your sundae come together.
Other honorable mentions for foodies include the super popular Homeslice Pizza, Bouldin Creek Cafe if you’re vegetarian, and Sugar Mama’s bakeshop for some of the best cupcakes you’ve ever tasted.
Reacquaint Yourself With Nature
Going on vacation is all about getting away.
If you’re looking for some good ole’ fashioned fresh air, then Austin has you covered and them some.
Don’t forget to check out these local favorites for hiking, boating, camping, and simply relaxing:
5. LadyBird Lake
According to our research, this may be the #1 favorite outdoor spot for Austin’s locals.
“Every non-motorized transport; variety of pet; kid conveyance; size, shape, age, ethnicity…” comes to this place according to one Austin Chronicle reader. Named for the former first lady, Ladybird Johnson, this park also houses a rowers club, dock, and is a major venue for Austin’s renowned music events.
6. Barton Springs Pools
Regardless of whether you’re visiting Austin in summer or winter, you can always take a dip in in the gorgeous Barton Spring Pools.
Locals describe this spot as purely “magical”, a true getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Measuring in at over 3 acres, Barton Springs is naturally heated by underground springs, so the pools are perfectly heated at between 68 and 70 degrees.
Take In The Arts
When we say Austin has something for everybody, we mean it. Austin is an eclectic city filled with great music, art, and even the completely bizarre.
Of the top 10 things to do in Austin, these four attractions are definitely our favorite for arts and culture.
7. Blanton Art Museum
If you could only choose one art museum to visit in Austin, according to Austinites, look no further than the city’s beloved Blanton Art Museum.
This museum features a unique collection of outdoor sculptures, art spanning across time periods, emerging art technologies, and local artists.
However, Blanton is perhaps most known for housing more than 18,000 original works of European, American, and Latin American art.
8. Cathedral of Junk
Austin’s Cathedral of Junk is one of those places you have to see to believe.
By appointment only, you can view jaw-dropping structures, gardens, sculptures, and more towering works made completely out of found objects.
The Cathedral of Junk is literally like walking into a hidden picture game. You’ll spot everything from movie memorabilia, computer parts, clocks, and street signs.
9. The Bullock Texas State Museum
If it’s Texas history that you crave, then Austin’s popular Bullock Texas State Museum is right up your ally.
Locals can’t get enough of the museum’s towering IMAX films, changing exhibits about Texas and world history, and impressive collection of over 700 historical artifacts.
10. Paramount Theater
Ask yourself: when was the last time you went to the movie theater?
These days, it’s all about Netflix and chill. So it takes a really special movie or theater to pull us away from instant streaming.
Well, Austin’s famous Paramount Theater is just that theater.
Local’s love the flapper-era feel of this vintage theater, complete with its nostalgic lobby, ornate bathrooms, and grand design.
Year-round, the Paramount hosts big names in music, but you can also catch your favorite movie playing at the paramount as well.
Top 10 Things To Do In Austin: The Honorable Mentions
We couldn’t end this list without touching on a few more Austin gems.
Austin is the city of former president Lyndon B. John, so if politics is your jam, then locals can’t recommend the LBJ Presidential Library enough.
If you loved Barton Springs Pool and want to venture more into the great outdoors, then you have to check out Mount Bonnell for one of the best views in the city.
Locals also recommend Enchanted Rock State National Park to indulge in beautiful hiking trails, bicycle rides, and camping underneath the star.
We can’t wait for you to land in Austin!
Make sure to bookmark this guide to soak in as much Austin culture as you can!