10 Must-Do Adventures Near Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas is one of those towns where once you know, you know.

Austin has a well-established reputation as a live music mecca and foodie paradise. What flies a little bit under the radar is Austin's adventure-loving heart. From swimming in natural pools to hiking Mount Bonnell, you'll find that the nights in Austin may belong to music, but the days belong to adventure. 

Here are some of our favorite places to explore in and around Austin.

Adventure by Sarah Vaughn

The Barton Creek Greenbelt runs through south Austin, and the 12-mile trail is the lifeblood of the city's urban outdoor adventures. Take a break from the Texas heat with an easy 1.5 mile hike on the Greenbelt to Sculpture Falls, a large swimming hole that is always a refreshing 70 degrees. 

Adventure by David Duyker

Speaking of the Barton Creek Greenbelt, you can use to access the rock climbing at Gus Fruh. Urban outdoor rock climbing? Yes, please! This a trad climbing spot, so be sure your party has experience in lead climbing and belaying.

Adventure by Kyle Obermann

For panoramic views of the city, take the short hike up Mount Bonnell. The trail climbs 300-plus feet to the summit via a series of manmade and natural stairs. Don't forget your camera, and water. It's hot in Texas!

Adventure by Ross Kyker

I mean, is there any better way to "Keep Austin Weird" than to visit the Cathedral of Junk? This art piece is open to visitors by appointment, and it's worth the trip. 

Adventure by Korey Taylor

McKinney Falls is the perfect place to spend a day away from the bustle of the city. Two falls run best when the water is high, but this is a great spot for swimming and hiking during the hot summer months. Camping is available within the park, too.

Adventure by Ross Kyker

Austin is chock full of artistic murals and graffiti, and there's no better way to explore it (and the city itself) than by hopping on a bicycle. Austin's "B-cycle" program has pick up and drop off spots all over the city, and for $12 for a 24 hour pass, it's a no-brainer.

Adventure by Sarah Vaughn

To see and be seen (and to cool off!), head to historic Barton Springs Pool in Zilker Park. Plan to spend the day, because once you arrive you won't want to leave. Zilker Park also has a disc golf course, volleyball courts, botanical gardens, and open-air performance venue that pretty much always has live music or theater on the schedule.

Adventure by Taylor Klugman

To get a bit off the beaten path, check out the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve. This 2.5 mile hike through the woods includes a waterfall, woodlands, and the Wild Basin Creative Research Center

Adventure by Zachary Heiliger

Lady Bird Lake isn't so much a lake as a wide section of the Colorado River, but it's the place to watersport in Austin. The calm water is perfect for kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding, plus, you'll get spectacular views of the Austin skyline. 

Adventure by Sarah Williams

If you're willing to go a little further afield, don't miss checking out Hamilton Pool Preserve. This swimming hole is in an overhanging rock cave which is fed by a 50 foot waterfall. It is as amazing as it sounds, so get there early to claim a spot on the small beach.

Cover photo by Sarah Williams

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

The Outbound CollectiveAdmin

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