Austin Attractions Focus on History and The Great Outdoors

With all of the things to do and see in a city, deciding how to spend your time can be quite an agonizing decision. 10Best has narrowed all of the available attractions in Austin to a list of the most appealing and reputable, to aide in your decision making. You can rest easy knowing that any choice you make from our list is sure to please.

10 Mount Bonnell
Mount Bonnell has been a major attraction in Austin since the 1850s. This scenic overlook is the highest point in the Austin City Limits. It requires a climb up many steps, but once you get to the top, the view over Lake Austin is stunning. You can also see downtown and the 360 bridge from up here. It is a very romantic spot, perfect for a date night or even a proposal. (512-974-6700)

9 Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum
The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in downtown Austin, Texas, tells the "Story of Texas" with three floors of interactive exhibits. In a state as big as Texas and rich in history this museum has quite a story to tell. There is the special effects show, The Star of Destiny, in the Texas Spirit Theater, and Austin's only IMAX Theatre, featuring the signature large-format film, Texas: The Big Picture. The museum often times hosts special events or screenings of movies, so check their website for upcoming events. (512-936-8746)

8 Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail
Town Lake and also more recently known asLady Bird Lake is a major recreation area for the city, because it bans motorized boats, so kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddleboarding are more popular in its downtown location. Each lake takes on its own character, but together they create something that is uniquely Austin. (512-974-6700)

7 University of Texas
Wander about this historic college campus for a fun and free activity. You can see the University of Texas tower, which is the center point of the university. Check out the behemoth football stadium, which serves as home to the Texas Longhorns. You can also go into the Harry Ransom Center for free, which holds many of the world's prized possessions; upon walking in, you can take a look at the world's first photograph and an authentic copy of the Gutenberg bible. The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library & Museum, which is free and features many historical and cultural exhibits. If museums bore you, you can always tailgate! (512-475-7348)

6 Austin Duck Tour
A fun, narrated, amphibious tour of downtown Austin end with a splash on Lake Austin. Tour Austin inside one of the unsinkable, US coast guard inspected, Hydra Terra vehicles. Austin Duck Tour is Austin's best tour with 75 minutes of sightseeing that includes Historic Sixth Street, the State Capitol Building, Bob Bullock State History Museum, the Governor's Mansion, and Lake Austin. You will get to see all the attractions that are unique to Austin both on and off the water ((512) 477-5274)

5 Bats of the Congress Avenue Bridge
Every year nearly 1 Million Mexican free-tailed bats call Austin home, typically arriving as the warm weather sets back in the Spring. They stay in Austin until early fall, and are the largest urban bat colony in North America. When in Austin, they camp out on downtown's Congress Avenue Bridge. You can stand on the bridge at dusk and watch the bats emerge as a black cloud against the sunset as they seek out their dinner. Be sure to ask the locals what time the bats are coming out, because our recent drought has them coming out earlier than usual. (512-327-9721, 512-416-5700)

4 Texas State Capitol
Austin is not only the home of the University of Texas, but the Texas State Capitol Building. The Capitol grounds span 22 acres and feature historical buildings, 17 monuments, and beautifully landscaped lawns in addition to the Capitol building itself. The capitol rotunda features portraits of every person who has served as president of the Republic of Texas or Governor of the state of Texas . The building has nearly four hundred rooms and more than nine hundred windows. Come learn about Texas History and make some of your own. (512-305-8400)

3 Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits still remains as the main focal point of Austin live music scene. Initially created to celebrate the music of Texas--featuring western swing, Texas blues, Tejano music, progressive country, and rock n' roll--the series has gone on to feature regional, national and international artists performing a wide range of musical styles, including jazz, alternative country, alternative rock, folk music, and jam band. ACL just recently relocated from the University of Texas campus to the W Austin Hotel downtown. Tickets to tapings are free through a drawing on the main ACL website or you can purchase tickets to other performances that are held there almost nightly. (512-475-9077, 512-471-4811)

2 Zilker Botanical Garden
This 350-acre park in the Barton Springs area is open year-round and free to visit. The park serves as a hub for many recreational activities and the hike and bike trail around Lady Bird Lake, both of which run next to the park. It also home to the Zilker Botanical Gardens and there are multiple themed gardens, such as a romantic rose garden, butterfly garden, and Japanese garden complete with a koi pond. There are also many free events in the park such as Blues on the Green, Trail of Lights, and the Zilker Kite Festival. (512-477-8672)

1 Barton Springs Pool
In Zilker Park, just off Barton Springs Road, Barton Springs Pool is one of Austin's famous landmarks and easily the most popular swimming hole in the city. Spring fed and over 900 feet long, the pool was formed when Barton Creek was dammed up, so it has a natural rock and gravel bottom. There are varying depths, diving boards, and stairs and ladders for entry. The water temperature averages 68 degrees throughout the year, so swimming year-round is not uncommon.. A more refreshing swim is hard to find, but the pool is often crowded, because it's not secret, it gets hot in Texas! (512-476-9044, 512-974-9331)

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Maps and Directions

Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum 10Best List Arrow
Type: History Museums, IMAX Theaters, Movie Theaters, Museums
Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail 10Best List Arrow
Type: Outdoor Activities, Parks
Neighborhood: South Austin
University of Texas 10Best List Arrow
Type: Sightseeing
Austin Duck Tour 10Best List Arrow
Type: Adventure, Attractions, Family Friendly, Outdoor Activities, Outdoor Activities - Summer, Relaxing, Tours and Excursions
Neighborhood: 6th Street
Bats of the Congress Avenue Bridge 10Best List Arrow
Type: Sightseeing, Uniquely Here
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN
Texas State Capitol 10Best List Arrow
Type: Architecture, Historic Sites, Sightseeing
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN
Austin City Limits 10Best List Arrow
Type: Performing Arts
Neighborhood: University Area
Zilker Botanical Garden 10Best List Arrow
Type: Gardens
Barton Springs Pool 10Best List Arrow
Type: Outdoor Activities, Parks
Neighborhood: Barton Springs District
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