Congratulations, you did it! You successfully raised a child through to graduation, whether it’s high school, college or just kindergarten, that’s an accomplishment to celebrate. As graduations come and go, opportunities to come together as a family grow more rare, so you’ve got to make the most of this celebration, and Austin is a great place to celebrate. No matter what your family is in to, Austin has something to make your graduation weekend truly special. Here are our suggestions for the best graduation activities in Austin.
Before the Ceremony
Whether you want to get in some pre-graduation exercise, or just relax on a patio with some libations, these are the best places to get ready for the big day.
Hike or Bike at Lady Bird Lake
Lady Bird Lake is where Austinites come to frolick. The 10-mile hike and bike trail spans from east to west across the city and offers great views of several Austin neighborhoods. It’s the perfect way to get a taste of Austin if you’re only here for the weekend. You’ll likely encounter plenty of friendly Austinites and their canines taking in the sun and the river views.
Tuck into Some Tacos at Juan in a Million
Any Austinite worth their “Keep Austin Weird” shirt has at least tried to tackle the famous Don Juan El Grande Taco, few have succeeded in taking down the massive mound of potatoes, eggs, bacon and cheese. There’s usually a long line, but owner Juan Meza makes a point to wander around make sure everyone is having a good time.
(If the line at Juan in a Million is too much for your crew, but you still want a breakfast taco fix, you can mosey over a few blocks to Tamale House East).
Make Your Own Bloody Mary at Swift’s Attic
Swift’s Attic’s opulent Bloody Mary bar blurs the line between drink and entree. In addition to over a dozen hot sauces, you can add olives, pickled okra, various cheeses and even bacon to your dream drink. It’s the most efficient breakfast you’ll ever drink. If you don’t like Bloody Marys, mimosas are only $1.
Get in Line at Franklin Barbecue
Franklin Barbecue is a genuine phenomenon, with owner Aaron Franklin appearing in credit card commercials and his eponymous barbecue joint earning a Twitter account solely dedicated to cataloguing the length of the line. On event weekends, like graduation weekend, you’ll have to get in line several hours before the 11 a.m. opening if you want to get some meat before they sell out. We suggest bringing lawn chairs and cooler for the authentic Franklin tailgating experience.
With the speeches done and the caps tossed what do you until graduation dinner?
Relive the College Days at Cain and Abel’s
Your grad may officially be done with college, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still while away an afternoon at West Campus staple Cain and Abel’s. The infamous Texas Tea has dented the GPA of many a UT undergrad.
Take a Trek to the Pedernales
There’s no shortage of swimming holes in Austin, but one of the least known and most beautiful is located in Pedernales Falls State Park. The park is located about 30 miles outside of Austin and is perfect for an afternoon getaway. Bring your beach gear and relax on the rocks, or take a tube and indulge in a float in the river’s cool waters.
Skip the Line for Barbecue
While Franklin is the most well known barbecue spot in Austin, it’s far from the only place serving up great Texas-style ‘cue. If you don’t mind a little line, you can try your luck at John Mueller Meat Co or La Barbecue. Order the beef rib if you want to see what really sets Austin barbecue apart. If you want to get your meat without a wait, Micklethwait Craft Meats, Blue Ox BBQ and Black’s Barbecue all serve up tasty ‘cue at a good clip.
Experience Texas History at the Bullock Museum
The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum takes visitors through the entirety of the state’s history, from pre-history to the Texas Revolution to modern Texas. With three stories worth of artifacts, there’s something to spark everyone’s imagination. If your graduate wants a break from learning, there’s an IMAX theater that shows popular films on the massive screen.
The big event! It’s time to celebrate your grad’s hard work.
Watch the Sunset from The Oasis
The Oasis on Lake Travis’ massive patio deck offers great views of the Lake Travis sunset. Why not indulge in a little natural beauty before shipping your grad off to the real world (or middle school)?
Get Experimental With Qui
Chef Paul Qui has set the culinary world aflame like so many flambes. He famously won Bravo TV’s Top Chef and further cemented his status as a rising star with a James Beard award in 2012. His flagship restaurant, Qui features a variety of dining options, including a pricey tasting room that requires reservations, a modest tasting menu in the main dining area and humbler, but still delicious, Filipino fair on the patio.
Go Old School with Austin Land and Cattle
Sometimes you just want a steak and a baked potato, and Austin Land and Cattle has those two dishes in spades (as well great appetizers and seafood). The atmosphere is upscale, but not intimidating. With dark lighting and ranch-style decor, it’s a quintessential Texas steakhouse.
Indulge in the Parisian Lifestyle at Justine’s Brasserie
Tucked away in a charming house on East 5th Street, Justine’s Brasserie offers a deviation from Austin’s ubiquitous Tex-Mex and Southern fare with authentic French cuisine and cocktails. Eat some snails, pop a little bubbly, you earned it!