How to Spend 24 Hours in Austin, Texas

Austin bats
Austin bats | © Steve / Flickr
Sarah Karney

Home to popular music festivals, the Texas State Capitol, and one of the largest universities in the country, Austin is one of the most vibrant and culturally diverse cities in Texas. As the Live Music Capital of the World, there is an endless supply of entertainment at all times in the city. Although there is a large list of potential things to see and do, here are the must-dos if you only have 24 hours in this amazing city.

1. The most important meal of the day: 7:00 a.m.–8:00 a.m.

Food Truck, Coffee Shop, Mexican

Combining two Austin traditions—breakfast tacos and food trucks—Veracruz All Natural Food Truck is a great place to start out your day. It’s located at Radio Coffee and Beer, so you can grab your caffeine for a long day of fun while you’re here.

2. Kayaking on Lady Bird Lake: 8:00 a.m.–10:00 a.m.

Park, University

Kayaking on Lady Bird Lake
© Tracy Keller / Flickr
Nestled between Zilker Metropolitan Park and downtown Austin, Lady Bird Lake is the go-to place for recreational water activities. Head over to one of the many kayak rental businesses located along the reservoir and spend the morning cruising down the water and taking in beautiful views of downtown Austin’s skyline. Make sure to keep an eye out for the University of Texas women’s rowing team who practices here year-round!

3. Check out the Capitol: 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

Building, Museum, University

As the oldest surviving state office structure in the nation, the Texas State Capitol is a great place to explore and learn more about Texas’s history and legislature. Be sure to hop on one of the free tours that run every 30 to 45 minutes to get the full experience. If you feel like walking, take a look around the 22-acre Texas Capitol Grounds that surround the building.

4. Take a break for lunch: 12:00 p.m.–1:30 p.m.

Food Truck, Restaurant

La Barbecue | © Lars Plougmann / Flickr
© Lars Plougmann / Flickr | La Barbecue | © Lars Plougmann / Flickr

Be sure to head on over to La Barbecue for some of the best barbecue in town because no trip to Austin is complete without having some. There can be a bit of a wait at times, but it’s for good reason. The brisket is mouthwateringly delicious, and if you’re feeling ravenous, go for the giant beef ribs. Also, don’t forget the sides as the potato salad and homemade pickles are the perfect complement to an already delicious meal.

5. Brewery tour: 1:30 p.m.–3:30 p.m.


Austin has consistently been ranked as one of the best cities in the nation for craft brewing. Head on over to Hops and Grain Brewing for a free tour of their brewery and learn about some of their sustainable brewing practices, such as turning spent grain into dog biscuits. You’re bound to have a great time sampling some of the best craft beer in the area and meeting some cool people along the way.

6. Catch a movie at Alamo Drafthouse: 3:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m.

Movie Theater

After a busy day eating lots of delicious food and sampling some amazing craft beer, it’s time to relax a bit and catch a movie at the famous Alamo Drafthouse. Enjoy a yummy snack or meal and a cold drink while catching the latest flicks or all-time classics at this theater. Be sure to mind your etiquette because all of the Drafthouse locations are very strict with their no talking and no cell phone use policies.

7. Bat-watching and sunset tour: Dusk


Austin bats
© Steve / Flickr
Home to the largest urban bat colony in North America, the Congress Bridge houses over 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats every spring through fall. Every night around dusk, the bats emerge from underneath the bridge and begin their nightly journey in search of food. It is a truly spectacular show, and you get the best view from down on the water. Head on over to Capital Cruises for a sunset and bat-watching cruise in order to witness this incredible event.

8. Catch a live music show: Dusk–10:30 p.m.

Bar, Pub Grub, American

No trip to Austin would be complete without catching a live music show somewhere. There are hundreds of music venues to choose from, so do a little bit of research to find some artists you might like and enjoy an evening of live music. The Mohawk is always a safe bet for great tunes, with two stages in the venue. Lots of up-and-coming artists play shows in Austin, so don’t be afraid to check out some bands you have never heard of before!

9. Late dinner and bar crawl: 10:30 p.m.–2:00 a.m.

Bar, Pub Grub, American

Sixth Street
© Geoff Livingston / Flickr
One of the most iconic streets in Austin, Sixth Street is definitely the place to end your adventurous day in the city. Start off at Casino El Camino Bar and Grill to get one of the best burgers in town for dinner. Then head out to explore the rest of Sixth Street for a night you won’t remember. Some local favorites include Midnight Cowboy, Blind Pig Pub, and Maggie Mae’s, but the possibilities are endless as to where you might want to spend your night.

10. Late-night feast: 2:00 a.m.–Sunrise

Cafe, Diner, Restaurant, American

Kerby Lane Migas
© Krista/Flickr
After a long night of drinking, it is good to grab a bite to eat before heading home. Kerbey Lane Cafe is a 24-hour eatery (at most locations) that serves fresh home-cooked breakfast and dinner entrées to satisfy everybody’s needs. You cannot leave Austin without trying some of Kerbey Lane’s famous queso or pancakes with flavors that rotate weekly.

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