13 Essential Austin Bucket List Ideas: Food, Activities + More

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Austin, Texas, is among the most vibrant cities in one of the largest states in the country. Thanks to its food, music, natural beauty, and much more, it has a particularly unique identity.

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Maybe you live in Austin, or maybe you’re just visiting. Either way, you owe it to yourself to savor everything this city has to offer. Doing so is easier if you create an Austin bucket list.

An Austin bucket list is simply a list of experiences and activities that you want to participate in while you have the chance to. That said, in a large city like Austin, deciding which items to add to your bucket list may seem challenging.

Don’t worry if you feel this way. The following guide will help you better determine what you might wish to include on your own Austin bucket list.

Unique Austin Bucket List Ideas for Locals

You don’t need to be a tourist to discover new ways to enjoy Austin. These Austin bucket list items prove that.

1. Visit the city’s odder spots

Bizarre or unique spots within any city tend to attract more curious visitors than locals. That doesn’t mean those who live within those cities can’t enjoy them just as much as tourists might.

For example, Austin is home to the Museum of the Weird. As the name implies, this museum focuses on everything strange, from shrunken heads to Bigfoot replicas.

There’s also the Cathedral of Junk. In the backyard of a residence on Lareina Drive in suburban Austin, you can find an “art exhibit” that’s essentially a sculpture consisting of discarded items that most would typically consider trash.

2. Take pictures of the street art

Street art is another feature of many cities that tends to attract visitors' attention, despite locals often overlooking it.

That doesn't need to be the case. Impressive street art is found all throughout Austin. If you live in the city, you might be so accustomed to seeing it that you don't take the time to appreciate how it adds to Austin's dynamic qualities. Give yourself a better chance of appreciating this aspect of your city by making a point of photographing all the street art you come across daily. Doing so can give you a refreshingly unique perspective on the place you call home.

3. Visit the University of Texas

Visiting a college campus just for fun isn’t something many people consider doing when they live near said campus. That may be a mistake.

For instance, if you live in Austin, you could head to the University of Texas campus to visit the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, where you’ll find a collection of approximately 17,000 works of art from various periods and cultures.

Must-Do Austin Bucket List Ideas for Visitors

Whenever you visit a new destination, your goal is likely to have experiences that you can’t have elsewhere. Items to add to your Austin bucket list if you’re a tourist include:

4. Shop for cowboy boots

Texas and cowboy culture go hand-in-hand. If you’re visiting Austin and want to bring back a souvenir that will remind you of your trip while also serving a practical purpose, shop for cowboy boots. There are various stores throughout the city where you can find them, but many consider Allens Boots the most iconic.

5. Line dance at The White Horse

Line dancing is a Texas tradition that brings out almost anyone’s festive side once they’re comfortable with it. If you’re already a line dancing enthusiast, stop by The White Horse on weekend nights to join in on the fun.

If the idea appeals to you, but you worry you have two left feet, The White Horse also offers several dancing classes.

6. Visit the original Alamo Drafthouse

Are you a movie fan? If so, be sure to visit the original Alamo Drafthouse location during your time in Austin.

Alamo Drafthouse helped pioneer (in the US at least) the concept of allowing filmgoers to order full meals and alcoholic beverages while watching a movie in a theater. Although this approach has grown more popular over the years, and there are now several Alamo Drafthouse locations throughout the country, seeing a movie at the original should be a bucket list item for anyone obsessed with cinema.

Austin Bucket List Ideas for Spring or Summer

As is the case with many cities, particularly those in the southern parts of the US, Austin truly comes to life in the spring and summer. Enjoy these seasons with such Austin bucket list items as:

7. Take a dip in Barton Springs Pool

Barton Springs Pool is not your average public pool. It’s a three-acre pool that gets its water from underground springs.

The water temperature usually remains fairly high. Thus, many find that a trip to Barton Springs Pool can be enjoyable at just about any time of year. However, spring and summer tend to be the seasons when the spot is most popular. Because Barton Springs Pool is within Zilker Park, you can also spend some time exploring the gorgeous surrounding area before or after your swim.

A visit to Zilker Park is worth considering if you’re traveling with children. The park’s large playground area and miniature train are a hit with kids. Depending on the time of year when you’re visiting, checking out Zilker Park at night often gives you a chance to catch some entertaining live music as well.

8. Visit Lady Bird Lake

Lady Bird Lake is a beautiful spot that you can enjoy simply by walking along its shore. Luckily, there is plenty more to do at Lady Bird Lake if you want a more exciting experience. Options include kayaking and boating, to name a couple.

However, the city does not allow anyone to swim or bathe in the lake. Boats the city allows on the lake must also meet specific criteria. Thus, if you want to take a boat out on the lake, rent one from a city-approved business. Find more information about this topic here.

Austin Bucket List Ideas for Fall or Winter

Austin is a city that stays relatively warm throughout most of the year. Despite this, during the fall and winter, it offers unique experiences compared to Austin’s most popular spring and summer activities. Options include:

9. Attend the Austin Film Festival

The Austin Film Festival is an annual event that usually spans an entire week in late October. Its primary focus is on the role screenwriters play in the success of a film. The festival also highlights independent filmmakers, giving those outside of the Hollywood system a chance to share their creative work with a large audience.

Many who attend the festival are writers and filmmakers themselves. However, indie movie buffs who simply want to view the screenings can buy passes to do so.

10. Walk Congress Avenue Bridge and see the bats

This is an Austin bucket list activity that you can enjoy starting in late March. However, many find that early fall is the best time of year to experience it.

Around sunset, many will head to Congress Avenue Bridge to witness an awe-inspiring spectacle. As the sun begins to dip, bats from under the bridge trickle out.

Eventually, waves of literally thousands of bats fly out, creating a surreal cloud over Lady Bird Lake. While this experience might not appeal to everyone, it’s quite a show for those who feel comfortable being so close to swarms of these nocturnal creatures.

Bucket List Foods and Restaurants in Austin

Whether you live in Austin or you’re just visiting, give your taste buds a treat by crossing these items off your food bucket list:

11. Try queso

Queso is one of Austin’s signature foods. To those who haven’t visited the city, queso may seem to be a fairly standard food item they can find in spots throughout the country.

That’s an understandable assumption. However, Austin queso is like New York pizza, Maine lobster, and the Philly cheesesteak: once you’ve tried the authentic version, you’ll understand that it’s something you genuinely can’t get virtually anywhere else.

12. Visit Franklin Barbecue

It’s hard to go wrong when getting barbecue in Austin (or just about anywhere in Texas, for that matter). Still, both locals and tourists alike agree that Franklin Barbecue is the Austin barbecue restaurant that consistently delivers the best the city can offer.

Be prepared for a wait if you decide to eat here. Long lines form outside the restaurant every day. Of course, that’s because the food is worth the wait.

13. Check out the bars around 6th Street and Rainey Street

For many, a good travel bucket list doesn’t just include major tourist attractions. It also needs to touch on the areas of a given destination where a visitor can participate in some (responsible!) bar-hopping.

Head to the 6th Street and Rainey Street area if you’re that type of person. While Austin boasts its fair share of fun bars throughout the city, this area allows you to visit a few without having to walk very far when traveling from one to another.

For example, many Austinites and visitors consider Whisler’s to be one of the top bars in the city. This reverence is thanks to the delicious handcrafted cocktails they serve up and the live music in an open-air setting that adds to what is already a fun and relaxing environment.

Ideas for the Perfect Austin Bucket List

When a city is this exciting and energetic, it’s impossible to mention every item you could add to your Austin bucket list in a single blog. These are just some ideas worth keeping in mind. For more general information on this topic, check out our guide on how to make a travel bucket list.

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