What do you do to beat the 110 degree heat of an Austin summer? Head to the best swimming holes and natural springs, of course. Barton Springs is our most famous and treasured natural spring, located in the middle of the city. It's all the beauty of a natural spring combined with the conveniences of a swimming pool. Unlike a swimming pool, though, it's a chilly 68 degrees year-round! Try the Barton Creek Greenbelt or the Barton Springs Spillway aka "Barking Springs" if you're looking to go somewhere for free and BYOB and snacks. Beware of the multitudes of furry friends, though.
If a little more privacy is what you're after, try one of the dozens of swimming holes just outside of the city limits. Hamilton Pool and Jacob's Well are two of the most famous. So famous in fact, that they now require a reservation to swim.
For the complete list, click here.
Tacos and Barbeque (and other food, too)
Austin loves tacos. There isn't enough space on the page to list the myriad of taco joints that exist in this city. You know the terrible saying- "You can't swing a dead cat without hitting a...". Well, it's true of Austin and taco places.
Then there's barbeque. People stand in line for 2-3 hours to get a hold of the tasty meats from Franklin's BBQ, which is only open from 11am until whenever they sell out a few hours later. Its earned the reputation as the best BBQ ever. Period.
If you want to skip the line we've got a thousand other choices. How about fancy BBQ? There's Lambert's. Concerts and BBQ? There's Stubb's. Gas station and BBQ? There's Rudy's. Tex-Mex BBQ? Definitely Valentina's. I can't speak for any of it, sorry, I'm vegetarian. Which brings me to the next category of food- Vegetarian and Vegan.
Local Austin restaurants typically have vegetarian options no matter where you go. But if you're looking to not have to look the menu up and down scouting the one or two choices, here's a list of dedicated restaurants, sans meat with tasty vegan choices, too.
Bouldin Creek Cafe
Casa de Luz
Full vegan list, here.
Live Music Capital of the World
It's Austin's official motto. Whether its true or not, there are over one hundred venues on any given day or night to satisfy your craving for live music. Here's what's playing today...
The two biggest festivals in Austin every year could be included in the Live Music Capital section. These are ACL and SXSW. ACL is two weekends in October (usually) every year where some of the biggest bands in the world come to play on 8 stages set up in Zilker Park. You should probably already have tickets to this if you want to go, as it typically sells out pretty fast. SXSW, or South By SouthWest (South By in local-speak), is a 2 week festival in March where Interactive, Film, and Music industry people converge on our quaint town and wreak their own brand of havoc. All-inclusive badges are super-expensive or basically reserved for industry people only, but there are usually free parties held during the day and night, where you can hear bands for free, and nosh on free tacos, sip free beer, etc and possibly run into celebrities. You can purchase wristbands for shows, if you have a specific band you want to (possibly) get in to see.
Austin has plenty of other festivals throughout the year. One of the most famous is Eeyore's Birthday Party. Held on the last Saturday in April in Pease Park every year since !963, Eeyore's Birthday is a day-long festival with live music, local food and drink vending, festival goers dressed in colorful costumes and enormous drum circles. It's also a fundraiser benefiting local non-profits.
Town Lake/Zilker Park
You might see this listed as or called Lady Bird Lake, but to people who have lived here long enough, it's Town Lake. And it will always be Town Lake. And its technically not even a lake, it's the Colorado River. But it's a great place to bike or run in the middle of the city but feel like you are not in the middle of the city. Zilker Park is the adjoining park and it's a great place to picnic or play frisbee or fly a kite or whatever else you can imagine to do in a giant park in the middle of town.
Bats at Congress Bridge
Every sunset from April-November, a million Mexican free-tailed bats come out from under Congress bridge to go on a nightly hunt for food. It's quite the spectacle. Read all about our famous bat nursery, here.