Austin is known for boasting more than 300 sunny days per year, a big draw for out-of-towners looking to escape the cold and snow of the north. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have chilly, rainy, or downright miserable days.
But it also doesn’t mean you have to stay home (unless you want to, of course). Austin still has things to do for the days when being outside sounds terrible.
Here are some ideas for a cold or rainy day in Austin.
See a classic movie at Alamo Drafthouse, Violet Crown, or the Paramount Theatre.
The Violet Crown movie theater and the Alamo Drafthouse locations across the city often dust off old titles to show for new viewers or longtime fans. In the summer, venture to the Paramount Theatre for its Summer Classic Film Series, where you can munch on popcorn in its gorgeous space.
Spend an afternoon at the arcade.
Go to a museum.
Austin might not have the MoMA or the Louvre, but we do have the Blanton, the Contemporary, and smaller galleries scattered across the city. Take in some Texas history at the Bob Bullock Museum, or enjoy the oddities at the Museum of the Weird. Take colorful photos for the grid and eat plenty of ice cream at the Museum of Ice Cream, or explore a new perspective at the Museum of Illusions. Trying to entertain the kids? Visit the Thinkery, where they can learn about art and science through hands-on activities.
Visit the library.
Find a good book to cozy up with at your nearest library branch. Or, if you haven’t made it to the gorgeous Austin Central Library, a rainy day is the perfect opportunity. It’s one of Austin’s most beautiful public spaces, with a gallery showcasing local artists, a rooftop garden, and a cafe where you can get a hot cup of coffee and a pastry or lunch.
Go bowling at Highland Lanes.
Strive for a strike at the old-school bowling alley on Burnet. You can take advantage of Sunday specials, including Sunday morning “Claim a Lane”—unlimited bowling from 9:30 a.m. to noon for $21 per lane, including shoe rental, with up to eight people per lane. Save room for lunch or dinner when you go—Highland Lanes legitimately has one of the best burgers in Austin at Lebowski’s Grill.
Find a good bowl of soup.
There’s nothing better than hot soup on a gray day. Find a new favorite pho spot nearby (I’m a big fan of Pho Please), try the Tex-ified ramen at BBQ Ramen Tatsu-ya, get a warm grilled cheese and soup combo at The Soup Peddler, or indulge in the French onion soup at June’s All Day.
Try an Escape Room.
Make friends at a bar.
Take your moody main character energy on a rainy day to a cozy bar for a cocktail or glass of wine. Here Nor There is great if you’re feeling fancy (and if you want to learn from its knowledgeable bartenders), explore the world of South African wine at Cape Bottle Room, or visit an Austin classic like Sam’s Town Point, which draws Austinites from all walks of life.
Visit one of Austin’s indie bookstores.
We all (rightfully) love Book People, but have you also visited Reverie Books, Black Pearl Books, Resistencia Books, or Vintage Books and Wine? South Congress Books is also opening in its new location on Kerbey Lane (and seems to be retaining its name) in March 2023.
Challenge your friends to Blazer Tag.
Relive the thrills of your youth at Blazer Tag, the largest laser tag arena in the state with 10,000 square feet and three stories of gameplay area with ramps, bridges, and towers. Plus, there’s an arcade and beer and wine for purchase.
Hit the green with indoor golf.
Golf doesn’t have to be an outdoor activity. Play a round of mini golf from the comfort of the indoors at Dirdie Birdie, Top Golf, Golfinity, or Spare Birdie in Cedar Park.