Finding your own way to keep it weird
When you arrive in the Live Music Capital of the World, you’ll notice signs insisting you “Keep Austin Weird.” But what does that mean, exactly? Certainly, “weird” had a different connotation in your 20s than it does once you hit the big 3-0. There are probably fewer temporary tattoos and blue cocktails involved, and you have a bigger budget to make out-of-the-box decisions. The next time you travel to Austin, Texas, you should be armed with the best info. Here are some of our favorite things to do in Austin for 30-somethings.
1. Take a dip in the Barton Springs Pool
Your days of day clubbing at a pool in Vegas may be in the rearview mirror, but you can add the Barton Springs Pool to your Austin bucket list immediately. The 3-acre pool is sourced from an underground spring; you can swim laps in the morning or sunbathe all afternoon.
2. Attend “Free Week” shows in January
Since 2003, Austin has been doubling down on its reputation for live music by offering free concerts for a week each January. Venues like The Mohawk and Spiderhouse are just a few of the spots worth checking out, and most of the stages in the Red River District take part.
3. See a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse
If you want to give your ears a break from the live music, buy a ticket for a showing at the Alamo Drafthouse. This has been named the best movie theater in the country by some of the world’s most famous directors and actors. The theater serves beer and food during movies, and you might even be able to catch a marathon of all the “Lord of the Rings” flicks.
4. Tour the Longhorn Caverns
In your 20s you’re all about social media—posting stuff that leads to your mother holding her breath and your friends thinking you’re crazy. If you’ve simmered a bit, an adventure like the Longhorn Caverns is just your speed. Sign up for a tour, shimmy through dramatic underground passages, and take photos of spectacular geological formations.
5. Climb the Baylor Street Art Wall
Once upon a time, a developer planned to build some condos on the corner of 11th and Baylor… but it was not to be. Over the years, the abandoned concrete foundation became a mecca for graffiti artists. Today, it’s looked after by the HOPE Events charity. Get a paint pass and contribute to the vibrant display, or just climb to the top and enjoy the view.
Viewfinder tip: When it comes to booking a hotel, Downtown and South Congress are popular neighborhood picks.
6. Eat your way down South Congress Avenue
In your 30s, sometimes a foodie adventure is all the adrenaline rush you need. Go straight to South Congress if you want to be spoiled for choice. Old houses have been converted into some pretty great restaurants in Austin, especially in this part of town. Food trucks also gather on South Congress to serve up something hot and fresh: Wurst Tex and Crepes Mille are a couple of the best trucks.
7. Stay up past your bedtime
Just because you’re not a youthful 21-year-old anymore doesn’t mean you can’t down an energy drink and get a second wind. And with about 250 live music venues, Austin never leaves you wanting for a spot to hear some local talent. Head to 6th Street to mingle with fellow music lovers and musicians, and enjoy some of the best nightlife in Austin, Texas.
8. Grub at Salt Lick BBQ
You’re in Austin, so you need to try some barbecue. Grab a table at Salt Lick BBQ and eat like your metabolism still functions like it used to.
9. Hike Mount Bonnell
You’re not 25, so after a night of drinking and dancing, a mimosa brunch may be out of the question. Instead, you’ll be craving a canteen of water and some fresh air. If that’s the case, put on your tennis shoes and hike Mount Bonnell.
10. Embark on a sunset bat watching tour
By the time you’re in your 30s, you’ve been on just about every type of cruise. Dinner cruises, champagne brunch cruises, you’ve done them all…or have you? Austin offers sunset bat watching cruises that journey under the Anne W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge. From March through mid-November, scores of Mexican free-tailed bats are out at night, offering a once-in-a-lifetime wildlife encounter.
11. Go stand-up paddleboarding at Lady Bird Lake
Leave the speedboating to someone else and spend a relaxing, grown-up afternoon gliding across Lady Bird Lake. This is one of the best places to visit in Austin, and the paddle trail gives you plenty of room to SUP or kayak in peace.
12. Tour Texas history
Take a free tour of the Capitol Building, where you’ll learn all about the history of the state and important moments in the legislature. From the Texas Revolution to Wendy Davis’ famous filibuster, tours cover major points in the Texas timeline. You can also take themed tours, including “Women in Texas History.”
13. Visit the Elephant Room
Some people call it a speakeasy—we call it a break from the beloved honky-tonk scene. Grab a chair at this underground jazz bar and choose from the 20 beers on tap. If you’re looking for fun bars in Austin, the Elephant Room is sure to rank somewhere near the top of your list; they feature live music almost every night, and you can come as you are.
14. Witness the O. Henry Pun-Off
If you’re looking for a “pun-damentally” unique experience, check out the annual O. Henry Pun-Off in May. Much like German sausage is always the wurst, the pun-off word play is guaranteed to entertain you. It might be cheesy, but it’s still grate.
15. Go digging at the Dino Pit
Channel your inner Indiana Jones and your inner child at the Austin Nature and Science Center Dino Pit. Fossil casts are buried in the sand, and if you dig carefully enough you might uncover one.
What are your favorite things to do in Austin?
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