SEE THE BATS
Yes, bats. It turns out that Austin has over 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats that come out from under the Congress Bridge every night at dusk. Creepy? Yes. But also pretty cool to see. I have been told that the best vantage point to see this phenomenon is to just stand on the bridge. Or, if you prefer to make it an actual thing, rent a boat and watch from the river below.
BARTON SPRINGS POOL
2201 Barton Springs Road
+1 512 476 9044
This insanely cool spring-fed pool inside Zilker's Park measures 3 acres in size and maintains a 68ºF temperature year-round with lifeguards on duty. I've heard that Robert Redford learned to swim here and that it's home to the endangered Barton Springs Salamander, although I didn't see either on our visit.
UMLAUF SCULPTURE GARDEN
605 Robert E. Lee Road
+1 512 445 5582
There are over 100 sculptures in this incredible garden (adjacent to Zilker's Park as well), and they also offer morning yoga and meditation classes that are beautiful. A fun place to spend a nice afternoon with kids, too.
Best. Movie Theater. Ever. Seriously. The original on Colorado Street was a parking garage that was transformed by Tim and Karrie League who happened to like the idea of watching movies while drinking beer and eating. That first theater was a one-screen operation that featured second run titles at discount rates, but it wasn't long before people like Richard Linklater and Quentin Tarantino got hip to the Drafthouse and started showing up. It's a great place to see a movie and feel like a local.
LADY BIRD HIKE + BIKE TRAIL
First Street Bridge at Lady Bird Lake
Run, walk or bike this loop (10 miles) and be sure to check out the Memorial at Auditorium Shores which honors the late bluesman, Stevie Ray Vaughan.
6211 Park Road 4 S.,
Burnet, TX 78611
+1 830 598 CAVE
This self-proclaimed Texas Hill Country wonder was created over thousands of years by the dissolving and cutting action of water on the limestone bedrock of the area. Some say animals from the Ice Age are fossilized here, but I say it's just a pretty cool place to visit.
713 Congress Avenue
+1 512 472 5470
As old school as a theater can get (it was built in 1915), and has hosted everything from Vaudeville acts to the premiere of Batman in 1966. Today it's home to movies, concert and shows.