Summer in Austin means plenty of outdoor activities that take advantage of sunny days, as well as ample indoor options for when you need to beat the heat. Downtown Austin is known for its hip breweries and restaurants, unique boutique shopping, and a vibrant live music scene, not to mention the plentiful historic sites. Going hand-in-hand with city living are the many outdoor opportunities that Austin offers, from scenic greenbelts to hidden swimming holes. Discover what so many people love about Austin with a summer getaway to this Texas capital city!
Enjoy the Great Outdoors in Austin
With the sun rising just after 6 am and staying ablaze until past 8 pm, summer days boast plenty of daylight hours for enjoying the sights and summer activities in Austin. One of the best ways to take in the ambiance of the city is by visiting some of the town’s favorite outdoor venues. Waterways weave their way through Austin in the form of lakes and rivers, providing ample opportunities for summer days spent swimming or paddling on the sparkling water. Experience the Austin skyline from afloat on Lady Bird Lake, where you can stand up paddle board, kayak, or canoe while taking in views of the city. For those who would prefer a more relaxing water experience, several local companies also offer cruises along the waterfront.
Those who love escaping into nature will be delighted to discover that downtown Austin offers its own share of green spaces, swimming holes, and meandering trails. The Barton Creek Greenbelt is a good place to begin, with multiple access points throughout Austin. Hiking, biking, rock-climbing, bouldering, swimming, and sunbathing are just a few of the activities that can be enjoyed on a summer Austin day along the Greenbelt. The Greenbelt includes 12 miles of trails, so there is plenty of room to roam. You’ll find the main access point for the Barton Creek Greenbelt at 3755-B Capital of Texas Highway, where there is ample parking. While this section also tends to be the most crowded, the throngs of people quickly give way to quieter sections of trail the further you’re willing to venture. Gus Fruh is just under a 1.5-mile walk from the main access point, offering a deep swimming hole, especially after recent rain. Twin Falls and Sculpture Falls are other favorite spots along the trail that are great for scenic views and a refreshing dip!
In addition to the Greenbelt, you’ll also find escapes to nature at the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center as well as in the winery-laden hill country that surrounds Austin. Within Austin’s bounds, you’ll want to consider enjoying a picnic in Zilker Park, where you can also take a dip in the spring-fed Barton Springs Pool. Hiking to the top of Mount Bonnell is one of our favorite summer activities in Austin, where you’ll enjoy a challenging climb before reaping the reward of stunning city views!
Best Austin Restaurants for a Summer Treat
Austin’s dining scene is well suited for foodies, with everything from casual food trucks to swanky dining. A sure way to cool off on a hot summer day and keep the whole family happy is by treating yourself to a good old-fashioned ice cream treat. Lick Honest Ice Creams is an Austin favorite, and the fact that they source their milk and cream from a family-owned Central Texas dairy farm is an added bonus. They also pride themselves on making many things in-house, such as homemade syrups and waffle cones. You’ll find flavors that change with the seasons here, with fresh combinations such as lemon poppyseed and elderberry mojito. You can’t mention Austin ice cream shops without including Amy’s Ice Creams, which has been a mainstay in Austin for nearly three decades. Their famed Mexican vanilla ice cream is the perfect refreshing treat for a hot summer day in Austin!
If summer months conjure the images of leisurely meals being enjoyed on an outdoor patio strung with twinkling lights, you’ll be right at home in the Austin dining scene. You’ll find many eateries around Austin boasting unique outdoor seating options, whether tucked away in a backyard garden or boasting panoramic city or water views. Snag a late dinner timed perfectly with sunset at The Oasis, which is known for its impeccable sunset views from a sprawling deck that overlooks the Lake Travis waterfront. With everything from burgers to Tex Mex, there’s something for every diner at The Oasis.
Summer Events in Austin
Along with the many activities that can be added to a DIY itinerary, you’ll also find a full calendar of events that add to Austin’s summer fun. Be sure to make your way to the Bat Bridge, where more than one million Mexican free-tailed bats flying into the evening sky is quite a sight to behold. The Zilker Summer Musical is performed free throughout the summer at Hill Country Galleria, great for the whole family. There are always fantastic downtown summer events in Austin you can enjoy with your loved ones!