Alcohol-Free Things To Do In Austin

Greetings from Austin mural

Greetings from Austin mural

I’ve noticed something… Nearly all of my go-to hangout ideas with friends center around booze. This became especially apparent to me when I was pregnant, because I was the one who couldn’t drink. It wasn’t a big deal – I could hang out at a brewery and sip Topo Chico or go to a wine bar and order some delicious food. But it did make it really obvious to me that I me that finding alcohol-free things to do in Austin can be a bit challenging. 

I might have also noticed all of my social drinking after reading this book. While I’m not exactly “sober curious” right now, I’m aware of how our culture (and advertisers…) have tied drinking and socializing together. If you’re doing one, you should be doing the other. We’re made to feel weird and awkward if we don’t drink. We feel like we need to have a Big Reason why we’re not drinking, like Dry January, or pregnancy, or being 100% sober. 

And these are all totally fair and great reasons to not drink, but as someone who does drink, I sometimes just don’t want to. No reason necessary.

(Ok but actually…if you’re curious about my reason, it’s this: I simply don’t want to drink as often as I did in my twenties. Even a small evening buzz makes getting up with my babies the next morning brutal. And I’ve found that I appreciate the clarity in my brain when I’m not drinking. So I’ve been a bit more intentional lately about finding booze-free ways to spend my time.)

Whether you’re trying to do a dry January challenge, you’ve chosen a sober lifestyle, or you just want to try to weave in some more n/a days into your life, here are some fun alcohol-free things to do in Austin.

20 Alcohol-Free Things To Do In Austin

1. Take basically anything you like to do and just subtract the booze // So simple, but I know that if feels weird at first. But take what you normally do and just do it anyway! For instance, do you typically split a bottle of wine with a girlfriend on Friday night? Well, you most likely do that because you enjoy conversation with her. So sit at a bar and order food + mocktails instead, and enjoy a conversation. Or if you usually see a movie and drink a beer, try just ordering popcorn at the theater instead. Maybe a fun night out involves putting on a cute dress and going to a cocktail bar? Try dressing up to go see a show at the Zach. I’ve found that taking the booze out of a situation is really enlightening: do I actually enjoy this activity/this person, or do I feel like I need alcohol to make it fun? If it’s the latter, maybe I need to be hanging out with different people or trying different activities. 

2. Go for a hike. I love these 5 hiking trails.

3. Read a book // Go to the downtown Austin library (get a library card if you haven’t yet!!) or stop by the amazing Bookpeople on Lamar. It’s the largest indie bookstore in Texas.

4. Take a yoga class with a friend // It takes a little planning, but I’ve found that yoga is a very bonding experience. It’s fun to book a class in advance and show up with a buddy.

5. Get a massage // I looooove love love Viva Day Spa. They have all sorts of spa packages, and just last month I got the mother nurture package. It was lovely.

6. Go to a UT game // Even if it’s not football season, check out the UT sports page to see what’s in season. Go to a basketball game or a swimming and diving meet.

7. Go to a local farm // boggy creek farm is open Wed-Sat.

8. See a flick at a drive-in theater // I love this one in Buda.

9. Go bowling // Classic, timeless, never gets old. Highland Lanes is fun because they have one of the best burgers in Austin.

10. See a play at the Zach Theatre // It’s such a great place for a date night or an evening with a friend.

11. Take a walk around Lady Bird Lake // That Austin skyline keeps changing and it’s just sooo beautiful in the evenings.

12. Try a new restaurant and enjoy the lower tab // Did you know that you don’t neeeed to order booze with your meal? I know that it feels a little weird when the server asks what you want to drink and you say “water.” But I’ve done it a few times, and it’s not a big deal. I leave a nice tip and enjoy the fact that my bill is about half as much as it would be with a couple glasses of wine.

13. Check out a museum // The Blanton is a lovely place to wander in the afternoon.

14. Go shopping and splurge on something for yourself // Head to the Domain or South Congress and enjoy a few hours of retail therapy. Here are some great restaurants at the Domain, btw.

15. Invite a friend over to cook a new recipe // If you love sipping on something while you cook, make a mocktail. Central Market has zero proof spirits that feel fun and festive when you use a beautiful glass.

16. Do an appetizer crawl // Pick 3 restaurants near each other and stop into each one with your friend for a happy hour appetizer.

17. Take a hobby class // maybe painting, cooking Thai food, or dancing?

18. Go see a magic show // Magic’s Theater is a fun one.

19. Swim at one of Austin’s amazing swimming holes // Have you ever jumped into Barton Springs in the winter months?! PS: here are 15 great swimming holes around Austin. 

20. Meet a friend for an outdoor lunch // Here are some of my favorite patios in Austin.

If you don’t feel like drinking, then don’t. I know that it seems like it will be a big deal if someone asks you why you’re not drinking, but it’s actually very easy to answer! If you’re doing a Dry January or Whole30 challenge, that could be your answer. But also here are some of my answers on the days I don’t feel like drinking, if these are helpful:

Server: What are you drinking this evening? Me: Just water for me, thanks!

Friend: Want to meet up for a glass of wine? Me: Sure! I’m not in the mood to drink today, so I’ll just order food. See you at ____ tonight!

Husband: Want to split a beer? Me: No, I’m not having a drink tonight.

Rarely do people give a follow-up question. But if someone does ask me why I’m not drinking, I just say I don’t feel like it. Simple as that. I mean, if someone offers you a glass of water and you say no thanks, they don’t make a big deal out of asking you why you don’t want water or trying to force it on you, right? So booze can be the same. Nbd, friend. Enjoy it if it feels fun, and enjoy something else on the days when you want to go alcohol-free. xx.

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2 years ago

Such an interesting post, it is true that when not drinking I usually struggle to find things to do, specially with friends.

1 year ago

Love this post. I find so difficult to find interesting alternatives when not drinking like NA cocktails etc (In Spain)

9 months ago

Have you read the book, “Quit Like A Woman”? It’s a great perspective on drinking (or wanting to not drink) that I resonated with so deeply. Sounds like you’d enjoy it too!

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