Itineraries

How to Spend a Long Weekend Austin: What to See & Do

Known as the Live Music Capital of the World, Austin, Texas is an awesome city to spend a long weekend in, especially in the winter.

With its dazzling culture, cuisine, history, entertainment, scenery, and art, Austin has a lot to offer visitors of all ages.

Today’s detailed guide will show you how to spend 3 days in Austin: places to go, sights to see, and activities to experience.

Austin Day 1 (Friday): The Capitol, Murals, and Breweries

Let’s start the trip off right with a little bit of history and a lot a bit of booze.

Austin Visitor Center

When you get into the city, your first stop (after checking into your hotel) should be the Austin Visitor Center, where you can get plenty of information about Austin’s history and culture, as well as recommendations from local tour guides on where to shop, eat, and experience nightlife.

Their Gift Shop features a variety of Austin- and Texas-themed gifts, novelties, and souvenirs.

They can also hold your luggage for you for $8 per piece, subject to available space.

The Visitor Center is also where most tours start and end, and while it’s advisable to book tours ahead of your arrival, you can also book on the spot if you decide you want to.

Essential Information
Address: 602 E. Fourth St, Austin, TX 78701 | 866-462-8784 or 512-474-5171
Hours: Monday to Saturday, 9am to 5pm; Sunday, 10am to 5pm
Duration: 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes
Cost: Free
Website: Austin Visitor Center

Texas State Capitol Building

The magnificent Texas Capitol is one of the most popular landmarks in the city. Completed in the 19th century, this National Historic Landmark is the home of Texas Legislature.

Texas State Capitol Building in Austin

The stunning 300-foot high red granite building features various monuments and a number of historical buildings to explore.

Visit the Texas Capitol visitors’ center to know more about the history of this landmark and book a specialty tour if you want to.

Otherwise, feel free to explore and wander around the sprawling grounds and perfectly manicured gardens in the surrounding area.

Essential Information
Address: 1100 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701, USA | 512-463-4630.
Hours: Monday to Friday, 7am to 10pm; Saturday to Sunday, 9am to 8pm
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cost: Free
Website: Texas Capitol

Bullock Texas State History Museum

This renowned history museum is owned by the Texas State Preservation Board and is dedicated to the history of the region.

Bullock History Museum

Photo Credit: Robert Gray

We’ve previously featured this museum in our list of best museums in Texas.

Historical events from when the state was part of Mexico until present-day Texas are depicted chronologically using more than 700 artifacts, theatrics, and high-tech interactive exhibits.

Each of the museum’s three floors displays different segments of Texas history. The first-floor gallery shows Texas’ journey from 16,000 years prior until its independence from Mexico in 1821; the second floor presents Texas history from 1821 to the Texas Centennial Exposition in 1936; the third floor celebrates the emergence of Texas into the world stage.

The museum also features a 400-seat IMAX theatre that shows films in 2D and 3D.

You can have a quick lunch at The Story of Texas Café, which serves basic sandwiches and sides.

Essential Information
Address: 1800 Congress Ave, Austin, Texas 78701 | 512-936-8746
Hours: Monday to Saturday, 9am to 5 pm; Sunday, 12 pm to 5 pm
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cost: $13 for adults; $9 for children; discounts available for military, students, and seniors
Website: Bullock Texas State History Museum

Austin Mural Tour

This guided tour drives you around the city and shows you Austin’s most popular works of street art.

Austin Grafitti

The current roster of mural stops includes You’re My Butter Half Mural, Historic 6th Street Mural, Greetings from Austin Mural, I Love You So Much Mural, Texas Star, and the Thai, How Are You? Mural.

Essential Information
Departure and Return: Starts and stops at the Austin Visitor Information
Departure Time: Monday to Sunday, 12 pm; depends on availability
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes
Cost: $45
Website: Austin Mural Tour

Craft Beer and Brewery Tour

Texas beer culture is thriving. From national franchises to hometown craft breweries, Texas produces some of the most best-loved brews in the world.

The Austin Craft Beer and Brewery Tour allows you to experience this firsthand. There’s nothing like drinking craft beer that requires time and effort to stand out from the rest.

Austin craft beer

From the Austin Visitor Center, head over to Craft Pride to kick off your tour. The four breweries on the itinerary are the Southern Heights Brewing Company, Independence Brewing Co, Zilker Brewing Company, and Skull Mechanix Brewing.

Essential Information
Departure and Return: Starts and stops at Craft Pride; 61 Rainey St, Austin, TX 78701
Departure Time: Thursday and Friday, 4pm; Saturday and Sunday, 12pm
Duration: 4 hours
Cost: $80.00
Website: Austin Brewery Tour

Austin Day 2 (Saturday): Zilker Metropolitan Park, Skyline Tour, Live Music Crawl

We’re going to pick up Day 2 in Austin with some spectacular views and even better music.

Zilker Metropolitan Park

Touted as Austin’s most-loved park, Zilker Metropolitan Park is a local recreational park and popular tourist spot spanning across 350 acres.

The park hosts great events like the Austin City Limits Music Festival, the Zilker Summer Musical, and the Zilker Park Kite Festival. During the holidays, it also hosts the Trail Of Lights.

The park features a few picnic sites, volleyball courts, hiking trails, a theater, a recreation center, and even a golf course.

Hop on the Zilker Zephyr to do a quick tour around the park, or join a bike tour to get a good look around the park.

Essential Information
Address: 2100 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78746 | 512-974-6700
Hours: Monday to Sunday, 5am to 10pm
Cost: Admission to the park is free
Website: Zilker Metropolitan Park

Zilker Botanical Garden

If you’re in the mood for flowers, within the Zilker Metropolitan Park is the 26-acre Zilker Botanical Garden, which features several themed gardens, including the Taniguchi Japanese Garden, Riparian Streambed, Rose Garden, Hartman Prehistoric Garden, Doug Blachly Butterfly Trail and Garden, a Children’s Garden, and many more.

Zilker Botanical Garden

Photo Credit: sbmeaper1

Essential Information
Address: 2220 Barton Springs Rd, Austin TX 78746 | 512-477-8672
Hours: Monday to Sunday, 9am to 5pm
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cost: $8 per head for adults; discounts available for children, Austin residents, and seniors
Website: Zilker Botanical Garden

Barton Springs Municipal Pool

Also within the Zilker Metropolitan Park is the Barton Springs Municipal Pool, a three-acre pool fed by underground springs with a year-round average temperature of 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Barton Springs Municipal Pool

The Springs are considered federally protected habitat; it is home to the endangered Barton Springs salamander.

The only drinks permitted are those in a plastic resealable container with a twist-top lid. Glass, food, smoking, coolers, and hard sports balls such as footballs, soccer balls, or basketballs are all prohibited.

Essential Information
Address: 2201 Barton Springs Rd. Austin, TX 78704 | 512-867-3080
Hours: Monday to Wednesday, Friday to Sunday, 5am to 10pm; Thursdays closed from 9am to 7pm
Duration: 2 hours
Cost: $3 per head for adults; discounts available for children and seniors
Website: Barton Springs Pool

Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum

The Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum provides its visitors with a non-traditional museum experience: you can actually touch over 50 bronze sculptures placed in the six-acre garden, as they have been waxed to protect them against damage from oils and salts found on exploring fingers.

The entire property houses over 200 sculptures made by prominent artist Charles Umlauf, strategically placed and rotated throughout the garden and museum.

When you’ve had your fill of the sculptures, head over to Chuy’s for late lunch, where they serve excellent Tex-Mex dishes.

Essential Information
Address: 605 Azie Morton Road, Austin, TX 78704
Hours: Tuesday to Friday, 10am to 4pm; Saturday and Sunday, 11am to 4pm; closed on Mondays
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cost: $7 per head for adults; discounts available for children,
Website: UMLAUF Sculpture Garden & Museum

Sunset Skyline Tour

Head on over to Riverside Drive to embark on a languid paddle on Lady Bird Lake with a friendly guide who’ll tell you all about the interesting sights and the occasional wildlife on either side of the lake, all while the sun goes down.

Austin Skyline

The view of the Austin skyline is made dramatic by the sunset’s brilliant colors reflecting off Austin’s skyscrapers and the lake, making this one of the most memorable sunsets you’ll ever experience.

Essential Information
Departure and Return: Starts and stops at 600 E Riverside Dr, Austin, TX
Departure Time: 5pm
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes
Cost: $55 per head
Website: Sunset Skyline Tour

Austin Live Music Crawl

True to its moniker Live Music Capital of the World, Austin has over 270 live music venues, many of them outside of downtown.

Go on a live music crawl guided by a local musician who’ll chat with you about Austin’s live music history, point out the most iconic venues, give you the latest scoop about the current music scene, and take you to see two to three live music shows.

Essential Information
Departure and Return: Starts and stops at the lobby of the Hilton Hotel
Departure Time: Monday to Friday, 7pm; Saturday, 8pm
Duration: 3 hours
Cost: Starts at $50 per head
Website: Austin Live Music Crawl

Austin Day 3 (Sunday): The University of Texas at Austin

I know you’re going to be anxious to get back to 6th Street, but for now, let’s check out one of the nation’s top universities and it’s beautiful campus.

The University Of Texas At Austin

The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) is a public research university and the flagship institution of the University of Texas System.

UT Austin is home to an impressive collection of libraries and museums with various themes ranging from natural history to literature to art.

In the middle of your museum-hopping, you’ll need to eat sometime. Luckily, there are plenty of choices around the University of Texas Austin’s campus. Pizza, sandwiches, sushi, barbecue, Ethiopian and even Indian food are easily accessible.

Essential Information
Address: Main Building (MAI), 110 Inner Campus Drive, Austin, TX 78705 | 512-471-3434
Website: University of Texas at Austin

LBJ Presidential Library

The Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) Presidential Library is one of 14 presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration.

Here, visitors can experience the life and times of Lyndon B. Johnson, who was president in the tumultuous 60s.

Their archives houses more than 45 million pages, more than 650,000 photos, and 5,000 hours of recordings, and 55,000 artifacts donated by various sources, including President LBJ himself.

Learn about LBJ’s impact on the Civil Rights Movement, the War on Poverty, the Six-Day War, and the Vietnam War, and how legislations he implemented still affect us today.

You can also step into a replica of the Oval Office, as well as a replica of Lady Bird Johnson’s office.

Essential Information
Address: 2313 Red River Street, Austin, TX 78705 | 512-721-0200
Hours: Monday to Sunday, 9am to 5pm
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cost: $10 per head for adults; discounts for seniors, military, children
Website: LBJ Presidential Library

Texas Memorial Museum

The Texas Memorial Museum was founded in 1936 in preparation for the Texas Centennial Exposition, and it aims to promote awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the past, present, and future of biological diversity, with emphasis on Texas.

The four-floor museum’s focus is on natural history, with a hall of geology and paleontology, a hall of Texas wildlife, and a hall of biodiversity, as well as a great hall featuring the museum’s most valuable specimens.

Essential Information
Address: 2400 Trinity Street, Austin, Texas 78712 | 512-471-1604
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 9am to 5pm; closed Sundays and Mondays
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cost: $7 per head for adults; discounts for children, college students; free for UT faculty, staff, and students
Website: Texas Memorial Museum

UT Tower Tour

The University of Texas Tower, or simply the Tower, is UT Austin’s most recognizable landmark and symbol.

Its observation deck was notorious for being the site where a shooter camped out for 96 minutes and indiscriminately opened fire on people on campus and the surrounding streets in 1966. Fourteen people were killed and 32 were wounded.

Nowadays, it is a functional office building and is illuminated in the evening. It is normally illuminated in white light, but the color and pattern of the light change for special occasions and athletic achievements.

More recently, the top of the tower became popular as the site where a peregrine falcon affectionately nicknamed Tower Girl has been nesting. The UT Austin Biodiversity Center is currently monitoring her, as peregrines are considered threatened species in Texas.

If marveling at it and taking photos of it from the outside isn’t enough, you can take a 45-minute non-historical self-guided tour of the UT Tower, where you can get information about the Tower’s architecture and take in a full 36-degree view of UT Austin and the city.

Make a reservation through the Texas Union Hospitality Center:
Phone: (512) 475-6636 (for parties with 10 people and less)
Email: towertours@universityunions.utexas.edu (for parties with 11 people and more)
Hours: Monday to Friday, 7am to 1am; Saturday, 10am to 1am; Sunday, 12pm to 1am

Essential Information
Address: 110 Inner Campus Drive, Austin, TX 78705 | 512-475-6633
Hours: Cannot tour during office hours; updated tour schedules are posted here
Duration: 1 hour
Cost: $6 per head regardless of age
Website: UT Tower

Harry Ransom Center

The Ransom Center is a renowned humanities research library and museum, aiming to deepen understanding and appreciation of literature, photography, film, art, and the performing arts.

Their archives are massive and constantly growing: it currently houses 42 million literary manuscripts, one million rare books, five million photographs, and more than 100,000 works of art.

Notable items they have on permanent exhibit include Robert De Niro’s archive of scripts, Frida Kahlo’s iconic self-portrait with the thorn necklace and hummingbird, the earliest known photograph made with the camera obscura, Albert Einstein’s unpublished notes, Woodward and Bernstein’s Watergate notes, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s manuscripts, notes, and more, and one of only 20 complete copies of the Gutenberg Bible.

Essential Information
Address: 300 West 21st Street, Austin, TX 78712 | 512-471-8944
Hours: Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm; open until 7pm on Thursdays; Saturday to Sunday, 12pm to 5pm
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cost: Free
Website: Harry Ransom Center

Blanton Museum of Art

Blanton Museum is one of the country’s leading university art museums, with its permanent collection including works by Romare Bearden, Mark Rothko, and Thomas Hart Benton.

Don’t miss the recently installed Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin, the artist’s final work and only building in his body of work.

Essential Information
Address: 200 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Austin, TX 78712 | 512-471-5482
Hours: Tuesday to Friday, 10am to 5pm; Saturday, 11am to 5pm; Sunday, 1pm to 5pm; closed on Mondays
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cost: $12 for adults; discounts for seniors, high school students, college students; free for children 12 & under, military, teachers, and UT faculty, staff, and students; free on Thursdays
Website: Blanton Museum of Art

Additional Information And Tips When Traveling To Austin

Here is some more information that can help your 3-day trip to Austin go smoothly.

Getting To Austin

If you’re flying into Austin, you’ll be landing at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, a state-of-the-art airport where you can immediately experience Austin’s cuisine and live music, with around 1,500 performances annually.

Where To Stay

Downtown Austin has plenty of short-term rental spaces, ranging from five-star hotels to bed and breakfasts to Airbnb listings of apartments and condos.

Getting Around

If you’re just staying or going around downtown Austin, you can use ride-sharing apps such as Uber or Lyft. Otherwise, you can rent a bike or an electronic scooter.

For farther destinations, you’ll want to rent a car so you can move around comfortably.

What To Eat

A 3-day trip to Austin just isn’t complete without sampling Tex-Mex cuisine; that is, traditionally Mexican recipes made with ingredients that are available in Texas. For instance, the popular meats in Mexico are chicken and pork, while beef is abundant in Texas.

Tacos, especially breakfast tacos, are the hands-down favorite Tex-Mex dish, but nachos, chili con carne, fajitas, and enchiladas are also common.

Austin is home to some of the best BBQ joints in the state. The holy trinity of Texas BBQ is brisket, sausage, and ribs.

Pecan pie is another Texas staple; with the pecan tree being the official tree of Texas and the pecan nut being the official nut, it shouldn’t be a surprise that pecan pie is the official dessert of Texas.

Spend 3 Days In Austin On The Next Long Weekend!

There are plenty more things to do in Austin, but we’ve narrowed it down to the absolutely must-do and must-see activities and sights.

Hopefully, this guide helps you make the most of your Austin holiday.

Which of these places are you most excited about? Who are you taking with you on your 3-day Austin vacation? Share it with us in the comments!