The state capital of Texas, Austin, is full of history, charm and quirky surprises. With art around every corner, outdoor spaces designed for an active population, and live music drifting down each street, Austin has something to engage everyone. These ten downtown Austin experiences bring out the magic of this bustling urban oasis. Here’s our list of the best things to do in downtown Austin.
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SFC Farmers’ Market Downtown, Austin
Every Saturday morning, the Sustainable Food Center organizes the downtown Farmer’s Market, bringing the community together with fresh produce, local vendors, and live music. Meet farmers, beekeepers, and artisans in person, stock up on groceries, or gobble up some delicious, ready-to-eat treats while the kids enjoy the Imagination Playground. A beloved and vital piece of downtown culture, the Farmer’s Market offers tourists and locals alike an opportunity to engage with the city of Austin in a special and more sustainable way.
Bob Bullock Museum
Texans love their state, and the Bob Bullock Museum of Texas History honors this loyalty with three floors full of exhibit and gallery space. Opened in 2001, the Bob Bullock Museum is named for the state’s 38th Lieutenant Governor, whose love of Texas led to the project. Located between the State Capitol Building and the University of Texas campus, the Bullock Museum is the perfect place to learn more about the history of this complex and fascinating state. Explore over 500 artifacts dating back as far as 13,000 years, browse the museum store, and recharge with a snack from the Story of Texas Cafe. If you love museums, you’ll love our guide to the best museums in Austin.
The center of a historic district tucked between Town Lake and I-35, Rainey Street has managed to become one of the hottest spots in Austin without losing any of its quaint, laid back charm. Businesses have brought new life to the bungalow style homes, and each bar hosts patrons in cozy living rooms and big backyards. Visit Icenhauer’s for live music and a mixed drink, then wander into Lucille Patio Lounge to sip a craft cocktail under chandeliers. The open-air, homey atmosphere of Rainey Street exemplifies Austin’s vibrant, friendly vibe.
The Contemporary Austin – Jones Center
One of the best contemporary arts museums in Austin, the downtown Jones Center is a favorite for artists and their admirers. Featuring exhibitions and installations from rotating contemporary artists like Charles Long and Paul McCarthy, the galleries in this historic building are an inexpensive opportunity to get involved in the fine arts community. The Interactive Loft on the second floor offers hands-on exploration, and free lectures and workshops occur several times a year. Public tours occur every Tuesday at noon, and the website provides the option to schedule individual tours two weeks in advance.
Street Art Tour
Austin is certainly proud of its quirks, and through street art appreciation, the city has gained several iconic symbols and built an underground art movement. Meandering downtown between Austin’s coolest cafes and teahouses will inevitably lead to artistic discoveries, including beautiful graffiti, detailed murals, bat-shaped bike racks, and much more. Informal guides like this one provide directions to each of the most famous pieces around the city. SegCity offers a full two-hour Austin Street Art Tour perfect for those determined to hit all the highlights.
For more information on where to go while visiting the Lone Star State, visit our article 20 Must Visit Attractions in Austin, or if you are heading East read our article on things to do in East Austin.
Interested in more trips around the US? Join our eight-day adventure in Utah and Colorado for an epic getaway, featuring activities like whitewater rafting the Colorado River and hiking in Arches National Park.
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
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