For endless reasons, more and more people are choosing to call Austin, TX home. To name a few: We get beautiful weather 90 percent of the time. You gain access to a distinct and robust culture with no shortage of events and activities to enjoy. And, it’s one of the best places to grow your career because so many major companies set up shop here. Austin’s incredible restaurants, great nightlife options, and tons of unique things will keep you busy. Read on for our favorite activities, bars, and restaurants in Downtown Austin.  

Unique Things to Do in Downtown Austin

Related: Where to Live in Austin

Fun Things to Do in Downtown Austin


Texas Capitol

If you ever doubt that everything’s bigger in Texas, just take a tour of the state capitol building to change your mind. As the largest state capitol building in the US, the building, its architecture, and the grounds will absolutely impress you. Tours are free and a must-do in Downtown Austin. Plus, the grounds in front of the building off of Congress Avenue provide the perfect place for an afternoon picnic. 

Blanton Museum of Art

It should come as no surprise that the art museum at the University of Texas is also one of the biggest in the country. You can spend hours perusing all different styles of art, including contemporary, Native, Victorian, and more at the Blanton Museum of Art. Plus, there’s always a unique temporary installation to experience, so you’ll want to come back again and again. Entry to the museum is free every Thursday. 

Moody Center

Long gone are the days of having to travel to Dallas or Houston to see your favorite artists. Since the completion of Austin’s Moody Center, the city has welcomed big name artists like Harry Styles, Lizzo, Chris Stapleton, and more. It’s also home to UT Austin’s men’s and women’s basketball teams. There’s never a dull moment at the Moody Center, and you’re not going to want to miss a single upcoming event. 

You can also save some money with our list of free things to do. Or, embrace the local street art scene.

Outdoor Activities

Zilker Metropolitan Park

If there’s one thing to know about Austinites, it’s that they love spending time outside. Even more, they love to be active. Zilker Metropolitan Park offers the best of both worlds — a huge open space where residents and their four-legged companions spend days upon days hanging out, getting active, and playing games. The grounds also host the popular annual music festival known as Austin City Limits, a must do experience in itself. 

Congress Avenue Bridge Bats

You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again, Austin is a quirky city. That means you’ll discover things to do here that you won’t find anywhere else. Our favorite Austin phenomenon takes place at the Congress Avenue Bridge from late spring to early fall. During this time of year, thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats that live under the bridge make their nightly ascent at sunset. Watching them take over the night sky is a unique natural event that every Austin visitor and resident alike should see. 

Beat the Heat on Lady Bird Lake

Just off of Zilker Park sits Lady Bird Lake where you’ll notice hundreds of residents beating the Texas heat by spending time on the water. During the summer months, the heat and humidity in Austin can become grueling, so Austinites get their outdoor fill by getting in the water. Paddleboarding on the lake is so popular that on many hot days, you’ll see hundreds of people gathering on the lake’s sandbar, playing games, and listening to music. On really lively Saturdays, you may even catch a DJ floating on the lake.


Luxe Apothetique

Downtown Austin’s 2nd Street District is home to many great restaurants, bars, and shops. One of our favorite places to grab a new outfit is the Luxe Apothetique. Here you’ll find all the trendy styles you need for a night out in Austin. Plus, it’s a great place for souvenirs.

Hemline Austin

Speaking of trendy options, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t stop by Hemline, which is also housed in the 2nd Street District. From shoes and accessories to must-have pieces, Hemline sells clothes for every need. 

Love, Tito’s

Austinites, and Texans in general, love anything that comes from Texas. That’s partially why Tito’s vodka is beloved by nearly everyone in the city and beyond. If you’re looking to show off your appreciation too, head to the Love, Tito’s store for all forms of paraphernalia, including t-shirts, souvenirs, and even accessories for the pups. 


Rustic Tap

If a casual outdoor sports bar that doubles as a live music venue tickles your fancy, head to Rustic Tap on 6th Street. One of our favorite spots to catch all of the big games, it makes the perfect first stop for a night out on the town. You’ll feel like you’re in your best friend’s backyard (only better), with comfortable lounge chairs set up throughout the space. 


For a less casual option, consider an evening out at Speakeasy on Congress Avenue where you can imbibe craft cocktails and listen to live music. With a moody atmosphere, 1920’s inspired decor, and a rooftop bar, you’ll step back in time for a rollicking, Prohibition-era night at Speakeasy. 

San Jac Saloon 

You can’t live in Austin without experiencing live music, and one of the best places to do that is San Jac Saloon on 6th Street. San Jac welcomes live artists daily in their historic country bar. This is a true Texas experience you won’t want to miss! 

For more options, visit some local distilleries, dive bars, or breweries.

Places to Eat

Barchi Sushi

Arguably one of the best sushi restaurants in Downtown Austin, Barchi Sushi will fill your belly with joy. From the classics, like the spicy tuna roll, to the daily chef’s specials, Barchi is a crowd pleaser. Plus, they host an awesome happy hour daily from 4-7PM and all day on Sunday. 

ATX Cocina

For unparalleled modern Mexican fare, head to ATX Cocina. In the heart of Downtown Austin, right off of the lake, some of the best fine dining you could hope for awaits. They have a spacious dining room and bar area as well as an outdoor patio for all of those pleasant Austin days. Try one of their refreshing palomas before indulging in their pork shank. 

Red Ash

While Austin is known for TexMex, they also put forth some incredible Italian options. At one of our favorites, Red Ash in the Warehouse District, you’ll indulge in exquisite pastas, wood-fired specials, and the wine list of your dreams. We recommend giving their life-changing gnocchi a try.

For more places to eat, check out Austin’s food truck culture, or treat yourself to some baked goods.

Live Near All the Fun Things to Do in Downtown Austin

Have we convinced you yet? Fun, unique things to do in Downtown Austin wait for you around every corner. When you’re ready to explore all of these (and the endless other options), reach out to AptAmigo to find the perfect apartment for you in the neighborhood of your choice.

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About the Author
Brett Hayden

Brett Hayden is a native Wisconsinite turned Texan who loves exploring Austin and beyond. She has a passion for writing and traveling, which she showcases on her blog, “by, Brett Nicole.”