Summer is here, and Austin Texas is ready for it! And if you’re looking for things to do in the summer in Austin, I’ve got your back: this blog post is packed with tons of ideas.
I’ve spent 8 summers in Austin, so I’ve enjoyed my share of Austin swimming holes, amazing taco trucks, and all-around good times in the Texas heat.
*Note: this blog post is updated for COVID-19 by
striking through ideas that are currently unavailable due to social distancing restrictions. Wear a mask when you’re in public places.
Table of contents:
50+ Top Things To Do In Austin In the summer
Part 1: Indoor Activities in Austin
1. Shopping! Lots of the big shopping districts in Austin are outdoor malls, so you get a little bit of the outdoors, and a lot of the air-conditioning. Head to the downtown Austin Second Street District, South Congress (here’s my complete guide), or the Domain.
Listen to some live (indoor!) music (a few of my favorites are C-Boys, Moody Theater, Continental Club, Mohawk)
4. Dining…omg, where to even begin? Head to my Austin Index and run your own search to find your ideal restaurant in Austin!
Also see: Top 25 Burgers in Austin
Tour the Texas State Capitol. It’s the largest state capitol building in the country! Here’s all the info you need to schedule a tour.
8. Go to a brewery. Here are 22 craft breweries in Austin for beer lovers!
Catch a play at the Zach Theatre.
Find your next favorite book at BookPeople.
Part 2: Outdoor Activities In Austin
Austin gets hot, hot, hot in the summer, so be sure to pack lots of water, sunscreen, and bug spray! Try to head out in the evening hours, or just find plenty of shade during the afternoons to cool off.
Here are some of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors during the Austin summers:
1. Watch the bats on the South Congress bridge. (They emerge about 20 minutes before sunset every night in the summer.) Here’s how.
Bring your picnic blankets, kids, and pups to the Long Center lawn for the annual Austin Sound & Cinema, where you can watch a free movies. |WEBSITE|
Watch the free Zilker summer musical (Mama Mia was postponed to 2021.) |WEBSITE|
Blues On The Greens! |WEBSITE|
6. Catch a show at the Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-in theater.
Also see: the only Austin queso guide you need
Watch fireworks with 100,000 of your closest friends at the HEB Austin Symphony July 4th Fireworks and Concert.
8. Watch the sunset at Mt Bonnell.
9. Get a double (or triple!) scoop at some of the best ice cream shops in Austin. Here are 11 ice cream shops you should try in Austin.
11. Take a picnic to Zilker Park. Kids and pups are welcome!
13. Rent a SUP on Lady Bird Lake. Bonus: do this in the evening and you can watch the bats emerge!
14. Wander around the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. There’s always something sustainable and native in bloom. |WEBSITE|
15. Play Peter Pan Mini-Golf. It’s been an Austin tradition since 1948! |WEBSITE|
Enjoy the calm at Umlauf Sculpture Garden. They also have “Yoga in the Garden” every Wednesday and Friday from 10-11:30 am for $10 for members/$15 for non-members.
17. Go plant shopping at East Austin Succulents or The Great Outdoors.
18. Head out into nature and go on a hike. Here are 5 great Austin hiking trails.
Part 3: Austin Festivals
*Festivals are pretty much all canceled for this 2020 season. They’ll be back, though! Go ahead and read through to plan ahead for the ones you want to visit in the future!
1. Hot Luck Fest: Food, food, and more food from Aaron Franklin!
2. Lawn Chair and Ice Chest Festival: Enjoy food trucks, live performances, kids activities, and a mobile petting zoo.
3. Trailer Food Tuesdays: A bunch of food trucks parked outside the Long Center from about 5-9 pm = best Austin summer night.
4. Float Fest: Music, floating on the river, camping….ultimate Texas experience!
5. Austin Ice Cream Festival Ummm…all the best ice cream in Austin in one place? YES PLEASE!
6. Austin Pride Festival & Parade: There were 400,000 attendees last year!
7. Bat Fest: 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats, two music stages, arts and crafts, and more!
8. Hot Sauce Fest: Summer heat + the spiciest hot sauce….can you handle it?
9. Out of Bounds Comedy Festival: This is a seven-day live performance festival with improv, sketch, and stand-up comedy.
10. Pecan Street Festival: This is a FREE arts/crafts and music festival. It’s one of the largest and longest-running in the nation!
11. Austin City Limits Music Festival: Even though October isn’t technically part of summer, it’s hot enough at ACL to include it in the roundup.
12. Austin Fermentation Festival: I mean….keep Austin weird, right? Psst: this festival is FREE!
Part 4: Austin Swimming Holes
Barton Springs: freezing cold water feels SO good on the hottest days of the year!
Deep Eddy pool is spring-fed (like Barton Springs), so it’s also ice cold, but this one also has lanes for a lap swimming workout.
Big Stacey pool is totally free! Can’t beat that.
4. Jacob’s Well: drive out to Wimberley to jump into this underground aquatic cave with a 12 foot opening.
Skinny dip at Hippie Hollow. Yep, swimsuits are optional here!
Hamilton Pool: this is a popular summer hangout spot…make reservations months in advance!
7. Swanky hotel pools: Hotel Ella, South Congress Hotel, The Westin, The W, and the Line Hotel are just a few of the swanky Austin hotel pools that sell day passes.
Free swimming holes: Twin Falls, Sculpture Falls, and the Liz Carpenter Splash Pad are a few of the free swimming holes/splash pads that are perfect to visit on a hot summer day.
9. McKinney Falls State Park. There are shallow areas for wading and deeper areas where you can jump in to cool down from your hike.
10. Krause Springs is out in the hill country. You can even camp out here if you want to make a day trip out of it.