Events | Locals | Things to Do

Things to Do in Austin for Austin Newbies | Realty Austin

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Living in Austin is hard work. There’s so much to do and only so many hours on the clock. This magical city offers everything from tailgating college football fanatics and popular corporate headquarters to tatted-up hipsters and niche ma-and-pa shops and restaurants. Simply put, there is quite literally something for everyone in Austin. We decided to make it our job to put together a list to prove this theory, thus the creation of our AToX list of things to do in Austin. But after creating our intial list, we felt like something was wrong; local Austinites would think some things were too touristy and newbies would think some things were too niche. Our solution: Create two AToX lists of things to do in Austin; one for the newbies and one for the Austinites. Without further ado, Realty Austin presents the AToX list of things to do in Austin for newbies. We hope you enjoy! (Oh, and if you’re wondering why we didn’t include any swimming holes on our lists, it’s because we’ve already created the definitive guide to the best swimming holes in Austin.)

A – Austin City Limits Live at Moody Theater

A To X List for Newbies - ACL Live Taping - Realty Austin

This seems like a no-brainer, but ACL Live at Moody Theater is an often overlooked attraction for the Austin novice. Most of the time, new folks are directed towards 6th Street or South Congress for their Austin baptism, but the ACL Live Theater offers a fantastic way to experience Austin’s music scene first-hand. From classic performers such as Willie Nelson to bands riding waves of buzz like Vampire Weekend, you can find them all here. While you can’t get into every taping show, many of these are free if you enter to win via email and get selected. Pro Tip: For tickets, you’ve got to be vigilant. ACL posts ticket information a week before the tapings hereBack to top

B – Bats Under the Congress Avenue Bridge

AtoX List for Newbies - Bats Under Congress Bridge - Realty Austin

Perhaps one of the most unusual and fascinating tourist attractions in Texas, watching the bats under the Anne W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge is a must-do while in Austin during the summer months. Hundreds of people gather around the Congress Avenue Bridge in awe to watch thousands of bats fly out from under the bridge daily. It’s truly an amazing spectacle not to be missed. Website Pro Tip: The bats usually come out around 7:30pm to 8pm, so get there a little bit earlier to secure a good spot. Back to top

C – The Texas Capitol

AtoX List for Newbies - Texas State Capitol Building - Realty Austin

If you have any love for history, architecture, or the greatest state ever then keep this on your list of things to do in Austin. The building is stunning, the grounds are always well-maintained, and there is more to see then you’ll be able to conquer in one day. The Texas Capitol is a photographer’s paradise, so don’t forget your 35mm camera (or iPhone for those Instagram likes!). Tours Website Pro Tip: The guided tour definitely enhances the experience, but it can sometimes be crowded. The early birds get the better tours. Back to top

D – The Drag

AtoX List for Newbies - The Drag - Realty Austin

Located just across Guadalupe next to the main University of Texas campus, the Drag is a fantastic little stretch of street full of shops, restaurants, and bars. Need new jeans? Urban Outfitters has you covered. Want a Gyro? Kismet Cafe’s your spot. Looking for some live music and a few drinks on a Tuesday night? Hole in the Wall awaits. Pro Tip: If you want to avoid the college crowd and school traffic then visit The Drag at night. Just keep in mind most of the restaurants and shops close between 8pm and 10pm. Back to top

E – East Sixth Street

AtoX List for Newbies - East Sixth Street - Realty Austin

Chances are if you know Austin exists, you know you need to visit Sixth Street. What most out-of-towners don’t know is that Sixth Street is broken up into three sections: Dirty Sixth (the most popular/touristy section), West Sixth (the ritzier section), and East Sixth Street (the more hip/eccentric section). While Dirty Sixth and West Sixth are a blast, nothing quite compares to the eclectic mix of bars and people that East Sixth Street brings to the table. If you’re looking to jump from a Honky Tonk bar (White Horse) to a dancier, hipster joint (Hotel Vegas) to something suave and sexy (East Side Show Room), do not pass up visiting East Sixth at night. Pro Tip: After you’ve had your fill of fun at the bars, we recommend stopping at the food trailer park off of 6th and Waller to cap off the night. Lucky J’s has some amazing chicken and waffles, and Vera Cruz has some of the best tacos in Austin. Back to top

F – Float the River

AtoX List for Newbies - Float the River - Realty Austin

Austin summers can be brutal; with temperatures over 100 degrees and humidity levels at over 80 percent, it’s downright cruel sometimes. Luckily, Austin and its surrounding areas have plenty of places to cool off. Floating down the river is a rite of passage when you’re visiting Austin and an absolute must during the summer. With an array of rivers to choose from  – including the Comal, the Guadalupe, the Colorado, and the San Marcos – it’s not hard to find water temperatures around 70 degrees during the summer. After that, you’ll never have to wonder how you’ll beat the heat again. Pro Tip: Put your valuables (ID, credit cards, etc.) in Glad Lockware containers and bring them with you while you float to keep them safe and dry. Back to top

G – Greenbelt

AtoX List for Austin Newbies - Barton Creek Greenbelt - Realty Austin

If you’re an adventure-lover looking to hike, climb, bike, kayak, swim, explore or just get in touch with nature, the Barton Creek Greenbelt is the perfect spot. Stretching across 7.25 miles of untouched, pristine Austin wilderness, there’s a seemingly endless amount of adventure hidden away just south of Downtown Austin. You’ll want to bring your camera along for this journey. Greenbelt Website Pro Tip: Pick a random spot to enter the Greenbelt, get there early, and get lost. Chances are high that you’ll discover something breathtaking. Back to top

H – Home Slice Pizza

AtoX List for Newbies - Home Slice Pizza - Realty Austin

There’s a reason Home Slice Pizza is ranked an average of 4.5/5 stars by over 1,500 people on Yelp: their pizza is awesome. Best known for their thin-crust NY-style pizza, this Austin staple easily offers some of the best pizza in the South. Chances are if you’re visiting Austin, you’ll need to eat at some point. Don’t pass Home Slice Pizza up! Pro-Tip: It’s almost always packed, so be prepared to wait anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour to sit in the main restaurant. More Home Slice (a seperate store, located just across the street) caters much more to those on the go. Even if you’ve lived in Brooklyn your whole life, Home Slice Pizza is worth it! Back to top

I – I Love You So Much Graffitti Wall

AtoX List for Newbies - I Love You So Much Wall - Realty Austin

After you’re done at Home Slice, head around the corner to Jo’s Coffee on South Congress to catch one of the most iconic pieces of graffiti art in Austin: the “I Love You So Much” wall. Rumor has it that the owner was having a bad day, so their significant other decided to spray paint ‘I love you so much” on the side of the building to cheer them up. Since then, it’s been a landmark for Austin couples to take adorable photographs as well as a reminder to passersby of Austin’s easy going and positive attitude.  Joe’s Coffee Website Pro Tip: Break the mold– take a goofy photo by the wall, post it to Facebook and tag Jo’s coffee shop in it. Tell them Realty Austin told you to do it! And while you’re at it, order a cup of their delicious coffee. Keep Austin Weird, after all. Back to top

J – Juan in a  Million

AtoX List for Newbies - Juan and a Million - Realty Austin

By now you’ve probably heard of Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food starring Adam Richman. Juan in a Million is one of the featured restaurants on their Texas episode – for good reason too. Not only does Juan in a Million make some serious breakfast tacos, but Juan Meza, the restaurant’s owner, embodies everything you’ve ever heard about southern hospitality. Don’t believe us? Wait until he gives you a handshake. He’s there almost every day to greet his customers face to face. Pro Tip: Get the Don Juan with extra tortillas if it’s your first time to go. It’s cheap, delicious and a deceivingly large amount of food. Back to top

K – Kayak on Town Lake

AtoX List for Newbies - Kayak on Town Lake - Realty Austin

Okay, so it might be called Lady Bird Lake now, but for longtime Austinites, it will always be known as Town Lake. Regardless of what you call it, Town Lake still remains one of the more beautiful and popular spots in Austin. While we can’t recommend swimming in the water, renting a kayak during the Spring and the Fall seasons is one of the best ways to enjoy unique views of the Downtown Austin skyline. Website Pro Tip: Heat exhaustion is a very real thing. While this is a popular activity to do in Austin during the summer time, only go if you’re well prepared and hydrated. Back to top

L – Longhorn Football Game

AtoX List for Newbies - Longhorn Football Game - Realty Austin

What would Austin be without one of the best college football teams in the country? We don’t know, and we certainly never want to find out. If you’re in town during football season, grab some tickets if you can. (They sell out fast!) To get the full-on experience go to a tailgating party at Texas Memorial Stadium before the game. Then, go cheer on the Texas Longhorns. Texas Fight! Pro Tip: Don’t be caught dead wearing maroon colors when you go. Err on the side of caution and wear some variation of burnt orange. Texas Fight! Back to top

M – Mount Bonnell

AtoX List for Newbies - Mount Bonnell - Realty Austin

Widely considered one of the best views in town, Mount Bonnell has been a popular tourist destination since the 1850s. After trekking up some steep steps and making a short hike, you’re rewarded with a stunning view of Lake Austin, the city, and surrounding metropolis. While you’ll undoubtedly see many couples and photographers roaming the area, it’s still fairly easy to find a spot to enjoy the view in peace and ponder. Website Pro Tip: Visit during sunrise or sunset for one of the the best views in Austin. Back to top

N – Nature Night at the Wildflower Center

AtoX List for Newbies - Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center - Realty Austin

This free event, hosted by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on Thursday nights in the summer from 6pm to 9pm, allows families and friends to get together and cultivate their inner adventurers and scientists. Fascinating guest experts and interactive activities help educate kids and adults alike about Central Texas nature topics right on the trail. You can learn about all of the indigenious flora and fauna in the beautiful Texas countryside. Pro Tip: Nature Night is pretty popular with the youngsters, so get there early if you want to find a parking spot and enjoy all that Nature Night has to offer. Back to top

O – Oasis

AtoX List for Newbies - Oasis on Lake Austin - Realty Austin

If you’re looking for a cheap, quick bite don’t come to the Oasis on Lake Travis. But if you are looking to dine lakeside on of of Texas’ most amazing patios, the Oasis is your place. Once your eyes fixate on the incredible Texas Hill Country views, beautiful Lake Travis, and the sunset, you almost forget where you are. It’s breathtaking. The food isn’t half-bad either. Pro Tip: You can check on the website when the sun is setting for any day of the year The Oasis is open. Get there a little early to ensure you have a prime spot to watch this beautiful scene. Back to top

P – Pennybacker Bridge

AtoX List for Newbies - Pennybacker Bridge - Realty Austin

The Pennybacker Bridge, better known as the 360 Bridge, is another Austin architecural staple that’s not to be missed. Widely considered one of the most scenic drives in Texas, driving down Highway 360 (or Capital of Texas Highway, depending on what mood you’re in) transports you right into the countryside and reminds you just how beautiful Texas really is. You can’t miss the Pennybacker Bridge located in Northwest Austin just before Highway 360 intersects with R.R. 2222. During the springtime, this is one of the best places to see wild bluebonnets. Pro Tip: Austin traffic is usually the worst from 7am-9am and 4pm-7pm. Try to catch this drive on off hours for the most enjoyable experience possible. Back to top

Q – Qui

AtoX List for Newbies - Qui Austin - Realty Austin

Better known as “The East Side King,” Paul Qui has been making waves in the Austin culinary scene since he launched his popular food trailer of the same name to Austin while he was working as head chef at Uchiko. Inspired by rock music and Austin’s experimental, fun-loving vibe, Qui’s playful Asian fusion is some ofx the the best and most progressive food in Austin. For a modern dining experience, check out Paul’s newest restaurant, Qui. There, he offers a very unique take on American/Asian fusion food. It’s truly a one of a kind experience. Pro-Tip: GQ featured East Side King’s Beet Home Fries as number 13 on their “50 Best Things to Eat and Drink Right Now” list if that’s any indication of how good they are. Keep in mind they’re only offered at the East Side King locations at The Liberty and Hole in the Wall. Did we mention Paul Qui won Bravo’s prestigious Top Chef: Texas award in 2010? Back to top

R – Rainey Street

AtoX List for Newbies - Rainey Street - Realty Austin

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Though it’s located right next to downtown, Rainey Street used to be a quiet residential street back in 2004. This historical district began booming when investors started scooping up these little run-down bungalow homes and renovating them into chic bars and eateries. Since then, it has exploded into one of the snazzier areas around Austin to grab a drink any night of the week. Thankfully, it has very much retained that ‘Austin vibe’ that the locals always talk about. Pro Tip: You pretty much can’t go wrong with any bar on Rainey. Our favorites happen to be Banger’s Susage House and Beer Garden and Clive Bar. If you’re a Mezcal fan, be sure stop by Bar Illegal behind Clive Bar. Back to top


AtoX List for Newbies - SXSW - Realty Austin

Everything that could have ever been said about SXSW has already been said before. Translation: you absolutely have to experience SXSW at least once in your lifetime. Forget about ACL, Fun Fun Fun Fest, Coachella, and Bonaroo; nothing can prepare you for the strange, non-stop beast that is SXSW. Bands play all over town, from bars and restaurants to bike shops and boutiques. It is pure insanity in the greatest way possible. Free swag. All walks of life. Let the good times roll. Pro Tip: The locals don’t buy wristbands, so why would you? There are so many free events with free food and drinks that buying a wristband seems like a waste of your hard earned dollars. Check out to find out about the majority of the free events. Back to top

T – Torchy’s Tacos

AtoX List for Newbies - Torchy's Tacos - Realty Austin

It’s difficult to pinpoint what it is about Torchy’s Tacos that makes it undeniably excellent. Is it because it started out as a single food trailer on Bouldin Creek and South 1st? Is it because it embodies the entrepreneurial spirit of Austin? Maybe it’s simply because Torchy’s tacos really are just that ‘damn good,’ like their motto says. They have a rotating monthly special but you’ll be hard pressed to venture much further than their staple tacos. The Fried Avocado, Trailer Park and Migas tacos will hit the spot any time, any day. All Austinites agree. Pro Tip: Google their secret menu. Don’t be shy to order something from it. Back to top

U – Uchi

AtoX List for Newbies - Uchi - Realty Austin

Uchi isn’t just contemporary Japanese dining – it’s a total sensory experience. Everything from its modern architecture to their exquisite cocktails to their insanely fresh sushi will exercise and engage your senses. This style of fine dining definitely comes with a price tag. The saying holds true: you get what you pay for, and you’re paying for something truly special. (4.5 stars out of over 1,000 reviews on Yelp.) Pro Tip: Make a reservation, take your time and try to enjoy every second. You’ll wake up the next morning wishing you could experience it again. Back to top

V – Veracruz Tacos

AtoX List for Newbies - Vera Cruz - Realty Austin

Celebrity chef and television personality, Rachael Ray, declared Veracruz the “best tacos in Texas”. While that notoriety will always be up for debate, there’s no denying Veracruz a shot at the title. Their tacos are mouthwateringly simple and fresh. Located on 6th and Waller in the food trailer park on East Sixth Street, they offer top-notch breakfast, chicken, steak, fish, and awesome veggie tacos for a very reasonable price. Veracruz’s Facebook Page Pro Tip: Order an Agua Fresca for maximum refreshment. Back to top

W – Waterloo Records

AtoX List for Newbies - Waterloo Records - Realty Austin

Regarded as the go to spot for music loving out-of-towners, Waterloo Records has been an integral part of the Austin music scene since its inception in 1982. With a vast collection of vinyl, CDs, music DVDs and all things music related, you’re sure to find something you love inside Waterloo, even if it’s just their killer vibes. While you’re there, be sure to check out the local wall dedicated especially for Austin-based artists and bands. Pro Tip: Waterloo regularly hosts in-store performances, especially during SXSW. Check their website to see who’s coming next. Back to top

X – 101X Summer Cinema Series

AtoX List for Newbies - 101X Summer Cinema Series - Realty Austin

101X is one of the most prominent radio stations in our fair city, focusing on both widely-known pop music to local musicians. Beginning in early June, 101X hosts their Summer Cinema Series every other Wednesday night, on the lawn at Central Market North Lamar, where they play movies voted on by their avid listeners. Guests are encouraged to arrive early and bring lawn chairs and blankets. Free movies and cheap drinks? Yes, please. Pro Tip: On top of $2.50 Blue Moons and awesome food from Central Market, each sponsor offers a bunch of great free prizes, so be sure to stop at their tents. Back to top There you have it, folks! That is our absolute-must AToX things to do in Austin list for all of you newbies. Be sure to check out our AToX list for Austinites once you’ve visited all of these awesome places!

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