Things to do in Austin

19 Fantastic Things to Do Alone in Austin, Texas (2023)

Whether on a business trip or a vacation, consider the advantages of traveling on your own: no debates about where to stay, what to do, or what to eat.

It’s all about considering the possibilities.

So, if you’ve found yourself wondering what to do in Austin alone, fear not, because this busy, vibrant city has plenty of options.

Here are 19 things to do in Austin alone!

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How to get around Austin

Like most of Texas, one of the best ways to get around Austin is to explore on your own by car!

While there is public transportation, Austin is very much a driving city.

If you’re visiting and need to rent a car to get to your Austin activities, we highly recommend Discover Cars where they find you the best car rental deals from all of the competitors (has saved us so much money!).

Click here to check out Discover Cars.

1. Texas State Capitol

Exterior of Texas State Capitol building
Image: Texas State Capitol. Jonathan Cutrer. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Join a free guided tour of the historic Texas State Capitol building!

Standing even taller than the U.S. Capitol Building (because it’s Texas!) and constructed of locally quarried red granite, this is surely one of the most impressive in the nation.

While a self-guided tour is available, the considerable knowledge and enthusiasm of the guides are well worth the 30-45 minutes.

If you’re looking for more thrills, try going on a segway sightseeing tour around the Capitol.

People enjoying Austin segway tour
Photo credit: Viator

Follow your tour by grabbing lunch from the building’s cafeteria, Capitol Grill (offering a surprising variety of tasty and reasonably priced options), and enjoy it outside before exploring the lovely Capitol grounds.

As you stroll the grounds, watch for historical statues (including a replica Statue of Liberty) and memorials honoring the contributions of veterans, peace officers, African Americans, Tejanos, and women, to Texas history.

Stop in at the Visitor Center (housed in the nearby castle-like structure of the former Land Office) and browse the variety of informative exhibits highlighting the Capitol’s history – don’t miss the impressive Capitol replica built entirely of Legos!

2. Barton Springs Pool

People swimming in Barton Springs Pool in Austin Texas
Image: Barton Springs Pool in Austin. Heather Cowper. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Fed by underground springs, the 1000-foot long, natural limestone Barton Springs Pool is a popular destination for residents and visitors alike and one of the great things to do alone in Austin.

Fish, swim (average water temperature is 68-70 degrees), and or just lounge on the surrounding grassy areas!

You can also access the Barton Creek Greenbelt, a 12-mile trail network, from the Barton Springs pool through south Austin.

Take a walk along an easy stretch or, for more of a challenge, bike or hike a tougher section (either way, stop for a break at the lovely Twin Falls or Sculpture Falls)!

3. Mount Bonnell

People standing on top of Mount Bonnell
Image: Untitled. Marcin Wichary. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

One of the most visited sites in the city, Mount Bonnell sits nearly 800 feet above sea level and offers a spectacular vantage point from which to view Austin and its surroundings.

Climb the approximately (the exact number varies based on who is counting!) 100 limestone steps of the historic staircase cut into the hillside – the steep climb won’t be the only thing that takes your breath away!

Take in the Austin skyline, the nearby iconic Pennybacker Bridge, and the Lake Austin portion of the Colorado River running through the hills below.

Early birds will want to visit close to sunrise, which is just as stunning as sunset but much less crowded!

Local tip: there is a trail nestled just about 300 yards north of the stairs for those who prefer this option!

4. LBJ Presidential Museum

Exterior of the LBJ Presidential Museum
Image: LBJ Presidential Museum and Library. Daniel X. O’Neil. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Wondering why so many Austin area destinations are named for our 36th President, Lyndon Baines Johnson, and his wife, Lady Bird?

Make a trip to the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum, one in a network administered by the National Archives dedicated to the preservation of Presidential documents and artifacts.

After admiring the LBJ’s armored limo in the lobby, stop to watch the short introductory film about his life and Presidency.

Work your way through exhibits offering insight into the former President’s life and political legacy.

This includes decades of service as a U.S. Senator from Texas, a brief stint as Vice-President, and his transition to President in the traumatic wake of President Kennedy’s 1963 assassination, all before his own turbulent administration through the era of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement.

Short on time?

Check out the Museum website for “must-see” exhibits that can be seen in 30-45 minutes – they include the replica of LBJ’s oval office, “The Hotline” teletype machine, and a letter from Jackie Kennedy. 

5. Austin Walking Tours

Walking tours are a great option for solo Austin travel!

For downtown-focused tours, stop in at the Austin Visitor Center and choose from a variety of tours.

From the Capitol area with its two National Historic Landmarks to the West side’s stately Victorian homes, there’s something for every interest.

This is one of our favorite walking tours that perfectly encompasses Austin’s history and iconic buildings.

Prefer a themed walking tour?

Check out the highly-rated Secret Food Tour – you’ll explore the historic city center while sampling everything from classic Texas BBQ to tamales to ice cream!

Photo credit: Secret Food Tour

Not a foodie?

Try something a little more unusual with the Haunted Austin Walking History Tour during which you’ll cover about 1 ¼ miles through such unique areas as the Warehouse District and Guytown, all while learning about Austin’s spookier side!

Photo credit: Haunted Austin Walking Tour

Or head over to one of our favorites – the Keep Austin Weird Tour!

Complete wacky missions around Austin on this scavenger hunt while learning about the city’s secrets and quirks.

6. Bullock Texas State History Museum

Statue at Bullock Texas State Museum
Image: Bullock Texas State Museum. Paul Hudson. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Take a stroll through history at the Lone Star state’s official museum.

Follow along as the flags over Texas change: Spain, France, Mexico, Republic of Texas, United States, Confederate States….. (yes, this is where the Six Flags Over Texas amusement park gets its name!) through its early history.

Don’t miss the excavated hull of a 17th-century French ship, the replica of the Alamo facade, the original statue from the top of the state Capitol dome, or the Austin City Limits music exhibit.

Enjoy a sandwich or salad in the museum café, and then head over to the Texas Spirit Theater for the multi-sensory Texas history film (if you’re up for two films, stick around to catch a film about the shipwreck that you viewed earlier!)

7. The Driskill Hotel

Exterior of Driskill Hotel
Image: Austin, TX. Avinash Bhat. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

Step back in time with a visit to the historic Driskill Hotel in downtown Austin.

From the marble floors and stained-glass dome of the lobby to the grand staircase and interior filled with bronze statues and Western art, the Driskill Hotel is a place where you can feel the history.

If you’re staying at The Driskill, request a room on the hotel’s “historic side” (yes, the whole thing is historic, but this is the original four-story building constructed in 1886)

Texas shaped waffle from the 1886 Cafe
Photo credit: 1886 Cafe and Bakery Instagram

Whether you’re an overnight guest or not, take in breakfast at the 1886 Café & Bakery (try the Texas-shaped pecan waffle) or enjoy the famous Texas Revolver cocktail while soaking in the old-world Texas atmosphere (don’t miss the lamps fashioned from Civil War-era pistols!) of The Driskill Bar.

8. Congress Avenue Bridge Bat Watching

Bat watching in Austin
Image: Bat watching. Eric. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

In 1980, renovation of the Congress Avenue bridge transformed it into a man-made bat cave with an estimated 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats calling it home from March to October every year.

Crowds of residents and visitors alike gather on and around the bridge, waiting for the bats to awaken from their slumber and emerge in search of a good meal.

For a more unique perspective, rent a kayak and watch from Lady Bird Lake.

People sitting in kayaks watching bats in Austin
Photo credit: Viator

You might spot the early birds as early as sunset, but it’s as darkness arrives that the real show begins.

Thousands of bats emerge East over the lake in a traffic jam that can take up to 45 minutes to clear!

9. Blanton Museum of Art

Blanton Museum of Art in Austin
Image: George Sugarman: Two In One. Ed Uthman. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

Spend a few quiet hours exploring the extensive foremost university art museum in the country.

Located in a corner of the University of Texas campus, the Blanton holdings make up the largest public collection in Central Texas and include modern and contemporary American and Latin American art, Italian Renaissance, and Baroque paintings.

The light-filled central hall with its sweeping staircase and wall of “stacked waters” will draw you into the richly diverse collection beyond.

Be sure not to miss the Ellsworth Kelly installation, an interactive piece in which you can walk “inside” the art to experience a stunning interplay of light, shape, and color (tip: the effect is most dramatic on a sunny day!)

10. Austin City Limits Live

The Sins performing at Austin City Limits
Image: The Shins. Nan Palmero. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Visitors to Austin can hardly miss the signs proclaiming their arrival in the “Live Music Capital of the World,” and no visit to the city would be complete without a live music experience.

How to choose just one in a city with more live music venues per capita than anywhere else in the United States?

Well, you really can’t go wrong with the longest-running music series in television history and its Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Landmark venue!

This private tour does a great job showing you the venue and explaining the history behind Austin City Limits.

Check the website for scheduled musical guests representing the eclectic mix of country, blues, folk, and beyond which makes up the Austin music scene – you may even be able to attend a live taping.

11. Texas Military Forces Museum

Sign out front of the Texas Military Forces Museum
Photo credit: Texas Military Forces Museum Facebook page

Located a bit more off the beaten path, on Camp Mabry, this hidden gem highlights the military history of the Lone Star State’s militia and volunteer forces.

Tour an expansive 45,000 square feet of indoor exhibits covering Texas military history from the founding of its first militia in 1823 through more recent conflicts in the Global War on Terror.

Consider visiting in the morning or on a cooler day so that you can enjoy strolling the outdoor collection of tanks, vehicles, and artillery!

Check the museum website for information about year-round living history events, including demonstrations and reenactments, and special programs over Memorial Day and Veterans Day weekends. 

12. Texas State Cemetery

Pay a visit to the historic Texas State Cemetery, the state’s official burial ground.

You’ll find the final resting place of various prominent Texans from the worlds of politics, military service, sports, and science and the arts, as well as many figures- known and unknown- from the state’s early history.

Begin at the Visitor Center’s small museum for a short film and overview of the cemetery’s history and pick up a map to help find notable gravesites. 

Meander through the lovely grounds, along well-kept paths, and past a babbling brook. 

Keep an eye out for such familiar names as “Father of Texas” Stephen F. Austin, Alamo survivor Susanna Dickinson, former Governors John Connally, and Ann Richards, NFL coach Tom Landry, and Navy veteran Chris Kyle (the movie American Sniper was based upon his service).

13. Neill-Cochran House

China dishes at the Neill Cochran House
Image: Neill-Cochran House Museum, Austin_020120_30. Barbara Brannon. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Tour the circa 1856 Neill-Cochran House, one of the oldest homes in Austin and nestled just a short stroll away from the University of Texas campus.

Take advantage of the excellent audio tour as you move through the meticulously restored and historically furnished spaces.

A private residence in the era of slavery, the house has the only fully intact and accessible slave quarters in the city.

Chat with one of the knowledgeable docents to hear the lesser-known stories from the building’s time as a school for the blind and a Federal War Hospital for wounded Civil War soldiers.

14. University of Texas Tower

The Tower at University of Texas
Image: “The Tower” at University of Texas. vxla. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Visit the landmark 307-foot-high tower on the University of Texas campus.

Take the 45-minute self-guided tour, escorted by UT student guides, to learn about the architectural history of the tower (originally home to the library’s stacks).

Enjoy the fabulous 360-degree views of the campus and city of Austin from the observation deck.

The tower was the site of an infamous mass shooting in 1966 (student guides are not allowed to discuss that tragedy), and you will find a moving memorial to the victims next to the turtle pond on the grounds north of the tower.

15. Austin Antique Mall

Image: antiques. Ana Emerson. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

If you’re someone who loves the thrill of a unique find, this 30,000-square-foot antiques mecca is definitely one of the fun things to do alone in Austin.

Self-billed as possessing “every conceivable collection known to mankind, it’s a great place to spend a couple of hours browsing in air-conditioned comfort.

Peruse aisles bulging with vintage toys, old concert posters, vinyl records, funky 1970s lunch boxes, one-of-a-kind jewelry, and more, ranging in price from a few dollars to thousands!

Check the Facebook page for information about special event days that often include food, drinks, and even live entertainment.

16. Texas Governor’s Mansion

Texas Governors Mansion
Image: Texas Governor’s Mansion. [CC BY-ND 2.0] via Flickr

Stroll through history at the oldest Governor’s mansion West of the Mississippi.

Designated a National Historic Landmark, it has been the home of Texas Governors and their families since 1856.

Situated on a lovely city block near the Capitol Building, it’s worth walking by to admire the architecture and grounds.

If you’re keen to see the inside, there is a free public tour, but it requires planning since tickets must be purchased at least a week in advance (security requires time for visitor background checks since the mansion is occupied by the current governor and family).

If you’re looking for a hassle free tour, this double decker sightseeing bus allows you to see iconic spots like the Governor’s Mansion and other downtown locations.

Don’t forget your sunscreen!

17. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Butterfly at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Image: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center-18.jpg. Steve. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

Dedicated to the preservation of native Texas plants, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center offers a blissfully peaceful escape from the busy tourist center of Austin.

Wander the paths alongside lovely plants and flowers, labeled in detail, that will inspire your inner gardener, or take the hour-long guided tour.

Visit the arboretum where you’ll find young trees grown from legacy trees around Texas.

Enjoy a picnic lunch or relax in the café with a sandwich and cup of tea.

18. Lady Bird Lake Trail

Lady Bird Lake
Image: Town Lake Boardwalk, Austin TX. sbmeaper1. via Flickr

Experience nature in an urban setting with one of the best solo things to do in Austin! 

Walk or bike (e-bike rentals available) through lush green parks alongside Lady Bird Lake and the Colorado River.

Looking for a short but scenic route?

Begin at Riverside Drive, and make a one-mile loop, passing the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue, cross over the First Avenue bridge, continue up the north shore, and then cross the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge at S. Lamar Blvd (where you’ll find an excellent view of the Austin skyline).

Forgot your good walking shoes? 

Rent a kayak or canoe and admire the city from the waters of Lady Bird Lake or stroll along the boardwalk.

19. Austin Cuisine

Food from food truck in Austin
Image: Chocolate Food Cart Treats. LearningLark. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Let’s face it – eating out can be one of the more awkward aspects of traveling solo.

But there are many good spots to enjoy Austin’s renowned cuisine while on your own.

For breakfast, have a bite at Counter Café for fresh, local food in a casual diner setting.

If brunching is your thing, check out this small-group boozy brunch tour that will have you feeling like a true Austinite by the end of it!

People enjoying the boozy brunch in Austin
Photo credit: Viator

Settle in at the wrap-around bar at Odd Duck, where the lunch options have solo diners in mind.

Grab a seat at the deli counter of Dai Due and watch the kitchen activity while enjoying a dinner of Texas-only sourced food and drinks.

BLT from Dai Due
Photo credit: Dai Due Facebook page

Try one of the local food trucks at Thicket Food Park in South Austin and enjoy the shaded outdoor seating and live music.

Written by: Heather Bakas

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