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Austin Adventures: What to do in Austin

Benjamin Cohen
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Anna Epstein, Julia Kramer, Maddy Dunn

(From left) Anna Epstein and her roommates Julia Kramer and Maddy Dunn visited the famed HOPE Outdoor Gallery during a trip around Austin while studying at The University of Texas at Austin.

As an incoming sophomore at The University of Texas at Austin, I’ve spent the last year in Austin exploring the city and seeing the many things that Austin offers that anyone who visits the city needs to know about. From the outdoor activities, to the food, and even the shopping, it’s no wonder that so many people are flocking to Austin.

When it comes to an easy, hassle-free getaway from Houston, Austin is the perfect place to visit. Just about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Houston, Austin offers incredible outdoor activities, plus they have an amazing food scene. Whether you’re looking for a long weekend or even just a day trip, Austin offers options for those of all ages to enjoy.

First, you can’t go to Austin without checking out the many outdoor activities.

Located in South Austin at the junction of Barton Creek and the Colorado River, Zilker Park offers more than 350 acres of land that’s perfect for a picnic, throwing a frisbee, letting your dog run around, or just laying out under the sun. Home to many events including Austin City Limits, Zilker Park is the perfect place to relax and take in the beautiful Downtown Austin skyline.

If you’re looking to take a dip, head over to the Barton Creek Greenbelt. Commonly referred to as simply the Greenbelt, it is characterized by large limestone cliffs, miles of trails and bodies of water like streams and ponds, along with Barton Creek which is great to swim in when there’s enough water. In addition, the Greenbelt is popular for hiking and mountain biking.

Looking to get a little shopping in, The Domain in Austin is the perfect spot! A mix of indoor and outdoor shopping along with tons of restaurants, The Domain is the type of place where you could spend your entire day without getting tired; there’s so much to do.

When thinking about all that Austin has to offer, incoming sophomore at The University of Texas at Austin and Bellaire resident Anna Epstein said, “I like that it has so many outdoor activities such as hiking, paddle boarding, and kayaking, but also cool indoor attractions and shopping so that you can get a ton of both.”

If you’re not as into the outdoors and nature, but still want to experience Austin, be sure to stop by the Graffiti Park at Castle Hill, also known as the HOPE Outdoor Gallery. Bring your own spray paint or just walk around the multi-level complex to take in all the sights that Austin-area artists have created.

After you grab a bite to eat from any of the amazing restaurants on South Congress Avenue, head over to the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge to watch as more than 1.5 million bats fly out from below the bridge in search of their dinner. If you’re in the area and see a huge crowd of people near Lady Bird Lake, then you know you’re in the right spot so head on over to see this spectacle.

Bellaire resident and recent UT Austin transfer Ashley Doctor said, “I am really excited to try all of the really good restaurants that Austin has and also to go to the outdoorsy places like Zilker Park and Barton springs.” 

For those interested in hitting the water straight on, head down to Lady Bird Lake, a river-like reservoir on the Colorado River. Among the many activities that are offered, you can go paddle-boarding, kayaking, go on a river cruise, or enjoy the sights of the bats as they fly out of the Congress Avenue Bridge.

Ashley Doctor, Anna Epstein

UT students Ashley Doctor and Anna Epstein stop by the “I Love You So Much” mural on South Congress Avenue after having dinner at one of the many great restaurants.

While you’re out on South Congress, don’t forget to stop by the “I Love You So Much” mural on the side of Jo’s Coffee. While you might have to wait your turn to capture a picture, it’s worth it. After all, it’s the perfect tourist attraction!

Looking to end the night on a fun note? Those age 21 and up should head down to the infamous Sixth Street located in the heart of Downtown Austin. As the streets begin to get shut down, the city really comes alive with tons of music, food, entertainment and drinks to keep the party going.

Bellaire resident and student at UT Austin, Joey Engelhart thinks that among the many things that Austin offers, he enjoys “live music and great food” the most. In addition, Joey notes that Austin is full of young people and home to many tech expos, which interests him.

Depending on when you plan your trip, you never know what sporting events might be taking place. From football to basketball and even soccer, UT offers many great sporting events to students and fans alike. And while you’re near the UT campus, don’t forget to stop by one of the many museums such as the Blanton Museum of Art or the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum

Finally, a trip to Austin wouldn’t be complete without stopping by the Texas State Capitol. Located in Downtown Austin and blocks away from the Governor’s Mansion, you have the option to go on a tour throughout the Capitol or you can just roam the grounds around the Capitol.

As you can see, this hip city truly lives by the motto: Keep Austin Weird.

What are your favorite things to do in Austin? Comment below! 

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