Fun Places To Visit In Austin, Texas
August 3, 2019
by Jacqui Gawlowicz
As someone who has grown up and lived within New England all her life, I didn’t exactly know what to expect when visiting Austin, Texas. Not only is the state extremely large and vast compared to the many states within New England, but the difference in weather between the two areas is, truly, like night and day. Every day was a perfect day in Austin to check out the best spots in and around the up-and-coming, capital city of Texas. Below are just a handful of gems you can discover and explore while visiting.
1. The Austin Aquarium
Now, when doing a quick Google search, you may realize that this does not look like your average aquarium on the outside. And you’re right, typically aquariums are built to be giant buildings in order to house the many animals within it, not within the same lot as a strip mall. But the saying ‘do not judge a book by it’s cover’ fits perfectly with what this place is all about. Trust me, there is much more than meets the eye.
This had been one of my favorite aquarium experiences, as I had never had such a hands-on experience before. Not only will you be able to see tons of different species of animals (ranging from birds to fish, to reptiles, to kangaroos) you’ll be able to hold, touch, play and spend time with some of these exotic species. My family and I were able to feed alligators (with a barrier in between, of course), pet small sharks and stingrays, feed tortoises and koi fish, hold and interact with parakeets.
2. The Zilker Botanical Garden
This was also a fascinating and unique site that we wanted to explore. This Botanical Garden holds many different species of plants from all around the world, and with the way it is organized, you can nearly get a sense of different cultures as you are walking. From tall cacti to colorful flowers to lush trees to different architecture to fairy houses and gardens (yes, you read that right). It was amazing to see just how large this Garden was and the many different things within it. You can also enjoy a very nice view of the Austin skyline from this area not too far from their gift shop.
3. The Domain
Not only does this area sound cool, but it is cool (and extremely fun). The Domain is a shopping area, much like the outlets or an outdoor mall, with plenty of amazing shops, restaurants, stores, bars, and clubs. This may be on the pricier end of shopping due to the ‘higher-end’ shops, however, you can find some interesting bars that you can hop between if you’d prefer. Walking within the Domain, there are buildings covered in art and murals, neon lights, dog-friendly areas with water bowls, bars, and clubs with table-top games, like giant Jenga, or places with swings in the shape of clouds. This area is what you would picture to see on Instagram, as it is both clean, fun, and aesthetically pleasing.
4. Barton Springs
Barton Springs is one of the many swimming areas that are filled with natural spring water. This is also located not too far from the Zilker Botanical Gardens and is the perfect place to visit after spending some time in the heat, walking around. It is a long pool-like spring that anyone can pay to visit, and is quite refreshing right after you jump in (fair warning, the water may feel a bit cold at first). Not only do you have a place to swim and jump off a diving board, but there is a rather large hill next to it that is just the spot to sunbathe. There is also another area where dogs are allowed to swim with the currents and play with their human friends.
5. The Downtown Area
The heart of Austin, Texas is one wild, wild ride. Not only is it one of the loudest places I’ve visited in a city (and not by constant honking due to traffic or loud construction right outside), but one of the most lively and fun. Downtown is a somewhat small area, yet it is packed full of bars, people, and motorcycles. If you prefer the quiet, Downtown is definitely not a place you would want to visit (I would recommend the Domain instead). A lot of the time, the roads in this area will be closed off as hundreds upon hundreds of people show up to show off their cool bikes and rides. Though that isn’t exactly my cup of tea, I loved reveling in the culture and experience of it all. I also have to admit, I was able to see some of the coolest motorcycles one can imagine.
Though the streets may end up a bit packed, you can still find some awesome bars and shops along the way. Typically these places have live music, and that will be blaring into the streets. However, everyone seems to love it! Singing and dancing along the sidewalks and so on. The energy there is something unreal, whether you are into country music or not. Everyone seems like everyone’s friend’s, and even the cops blocking off the roads seemed to be having a good time.
6. Voodoo Donuts
One place I highly recommend if you need a little pick-me-up, especially if you have a sweet tooth, is Voodoo Donuts (don’t worry, no actual voodoo is happening here). You’ll be able to find this pink doughnut shop right in the downtown area. Not only do they have some of the most unique and tasty treats, but the price is relatively good for the size of the doughnuts (and the amount of stuff within it) you would be receiving. They have basic flavors, like your averaged glazed, to some crazy flavors, like cereal-topped donuts with frosting and filling. This shop is perfect for when you need to take a little break from the craziness!