There is never a shortage of things to do in Austin all year round. We’ve got live music, beautiful natural spaces, and plenty of patio bars perfect for an afternoon margarita. But it also presents a problem: When there are so many things to do, and you’ve settled into a routine, how can you mix things up in the city we call home?
Instead of sitting at home overwhelmed by choices (or just feeling stuck), make 2023 the year to check things off the Austin bucket list. And to encourage you on this journey of exploring Austin, we have 23 suggestions.
1. Take a pottery Class at Mud Studio.
Mud Studio has one-off classes and six-week courses, perfect for those who haven’t touched clay since their high school art class but are itching to create something functional and beautiful.They also offer group private classes. Plus, you can bring your own snacks or drinks.
2. Take a tour with Lake Travis Zipline.
For the daredevils: Get a new view of Lake Travis from above on a zipline tour that includes a boat ride, hike, and five zip lines, three of which are supposedly the longest and fastest in Texas.
Bonus Idea: Hop Aboard PubCrawler of Austin.
Saddle up on a PubCrawler and see Austin in a whole new way. Your tour can include stops at bars, murals, and food trucks in the downtown area. Private tours are a favorite of bachelor and bachelorette parties, birthday celebrations, and corporate outings, but they also have public tours for locals and visitors alike. They even have an electric pedal assist as a backup for your quads!
3. Rent a Duffy boat on Lady Bird Lake from Capital Cruises.
Take a group out on the lake for a private dinner or some time on the water, no matter the weather, in the small boats from Capital Cruises that can be fully enclosed—no need to worry about unexpected rain.
4. Enjoy a cocktail with a view at Nido.
Trade the happy hour beer for a glamorous view of Lady Bird Lake with a cocktail in hand at Nido, the rooftop bar at the Loren hotel.
5. Play a round of miniature golf at Dirdie Birdie.
Mini golf gets an upgrade at Dirdie Birdie, a putt-putt extravaganza with 12 art installations that pay tribute to Austin and its landmarks and icons like the Pennybacker bridge and the South Congress bats.
6. See a show at a new venue.
Haven’t seen a show at the sparkling new Moody Center or been to Superstition for a night at the club? It’s time.
7. See a show at an old venue.
But we can’t forget about the venues that made Austin the Live Music Capital of the World. Celebrate Austin’s storied history at the Continental Club, Cactus Cafe, Hole in the Wall, or Antone’s.
8. Visit the Blanton Museum of Art—or another local gallery or museum.
Austin’s art showing is not to be forgotten. UT’s Blanton Museum of Art always has something interesting on view (and is home to Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin), but don’t miss the city’s other galleries, such as The Contemporary, Mexic-Arte Museum, Women & Their Work, and more.
9. Do the touristy stuff.
Whether you’re an Austin native or a recent transplant, give yourself permission this year to see Austin like a tourist. Take a tour of the Texas Capitol. Hike Mount Bonnell. Visit the Bob Bullock Museum of Texas History. Take a photo with the Willie Nelson statue. It’s worth it.
10. Foster a shelter dog from Austin Animal Center (or volunteer).
Lend a hand and help our local furry friends by fostering a dog for Austin Animal Center, which could always use the extra help. Or, if your living quarters don’t allow you to foster, donate your time by volunteering or dropping off some much-needed supplies from AAC’s Amazon wishlist.
11. Try a new taco.
There’s far more to Austin’s taco scene than Torchy’s. Branch out and find a new favorite taco truck—like Taqueria Morales in South Austin—or a go-to breakfast taco spot you haven’t tried (Taco Joint, anyone?).
12. Complete all the stops during Barks for Beers.
The yearly fundraiser for Austin’s Divine Canines—which takes therapy dogs to visit people in need—sends participants on a journey to breweries across the city every spring. Pay for your glass and a “pawsport” and get a free pour at every participating brewery.
13. Visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
Get out of the bustle of the city and smell the flowers in Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s 284 acres, which include a mix of cultivated gardens, an arboretum, managed natural areas, and wildlands. Bonus: Go during bluebonnet season.
14. Get in on the pickleball trend.
Austin’s latest craze is easy to pick up—and there are plenty of places to learn how to achieve the perfect dink.
15. Start a new wellness routine.
Sure, New Year’s resolutions often include hitting the gym more, but there are other ways to care for your body. Try a session at StretchLab, sweat it out in Perspire’s infrared sauna, or shock the system with cryotherapy.
16. Explore a new trail.
Yes, Mount Bonnell has the view, but Austin has other, lesser-known spots worth lacing up the hiking shoes for, such as Walnut Creek Trail and St. Edwards Park.
17. Go to an Austin FC match.
Austin finally got a pro team and quickly created an impressively enthusiastic group of fans who show up and show out every match. Not to mention, the team is coming off an impressive 2022 run. If only the energy in Q2 Stadium every match day could be bottled and sold.
18. Go to an Alamo Drafthouse Movie Party.
The Drafthouse is notoriously (and wonderfully) strict about maintaining its movie-watching atmosphere, but they’ll occasionally throw those rules out the window for a party that celebrates the classics and cult classics with a special screening with props, themed drinks, and permission to cheer and boo all you want with fellow fans.
19. See the sunrise at Barton Springs.
Plenty of us have taken a dip in Barton Springs’ cool water, but have you started your day there with a sunrise swim? The pool is open at 5 a.m. daily for “swim at your own risk” time.
20. Take a true crime tour of Austin.
Austin was the home of one of the country’s very first serial killers: the Servant Girl Annihilator, who terrorized the city for a year in 1885. Learn about this frightening period in Austin’s history on a night-time walking tour, which includes a stop at the Driskill Hotel.
21. Go to the Natural Gardener and get plants.
Start restocking your home garden for the season with a visit to the Natural Gardener’s eight acres of plants, supplies, and more. Think you have a black thumb? Check out their free classes to learn more about caring for native plants or growing your own fruit.
22. Attend a UT tailgate.
You can’t live in Austin without experiencing the burnt-orange pandemonium of gameday. Take a stroll down Bevo Boulevard, see a performance at Longhorn City Limits, and see if you can spot McConaughey at a Longhorns football game in the fall.
23. Catch a performance at Esther’s Follies.
Austin has recently earned a reputation for being a comedy destination, but Esther’s Follies has been at it for more than 40 years, and its mix of running gags and political comedy hasn’t ever stopped being funny.