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Things to do in Austin

Itineraries for Your Trip to Austin

Austin locals share their perfect days.
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3 Days in Austin for First Timers

Curated by Lydia SchrandtLydia Schrandt is a writer, editor, and award-winning photographer currently based in Houston. She’s a contributor for USA TODAY 10Best and serves as the first chair of the Editors Council of the Society of American Travel Writers. Her work has appeared in Draft, Time Out Beijing, Travel+, USA TODAY, San Francisco Chronicle, and others.

Whether for a long weekend or midweek getaway, three days in Austin allows enough time to experience the town’s funky culture, enjoy its plentiful green spaces, hear its live music, taste its food, and get out into the Texas Hill Country to enjoy the countryside. Here’s how to spend three days in Austin.

Day 1

Immerse yourself in all things Austin with an exploration of the city’s quirky culture. Options abound, from bike or Segway tours of downtown and the Texas State Capitol to hop-on hop-off bus tours or a walk around Lady Bird Lake. Don’t miss some of the capital’s most iconic neighborhoods, like South Lamar and South Congress.

In the evening, gear up for a night out on the town. Austin is world famous for its live music, but you’ll also find top-notch comedy, performing arts, nightclubs, and cocktail lounges. Sign up for a bar crawl through nightlife hot spots like Sixth Street and Rainey Street.

Day 2

Austin seems made for active travelers, so use your second day to take advantage of the city’s many offerings. Go mountain biking along Barton Creek, take a kayaking tour of Lady Bird Lake, get behind the wheel of a race car on a professional track, or experience the rush of indoor skydiving. If the weather isn’t cooperating, you can always try one of Austin’s many escape rooms.

In the afternoon, reward your active efforts with a culinary exploration of the Texas capital. Visit some of the city’s top craft-beer bars and breweries, or take a food tour to sample the best barbecue, Tex-Mex, and sweet treats Austin has to offer.

Day 3

Austin lies in the heart of Texas Hill Country, and three days gives you plenty of time for a day trip to explore beyond the capital. In the summer, enjoy the local pastime of tubing down the San Marcos River alongside a floating cooler. Alternatively, make the short drive to Dripping Springs to visit olive orchards and an Italian-style mill, or do some wine tasting at the wineries of Driftwood or Marble Falls.

Lake Travis, located just a short drive from downtown, is a popular destination for sailing, paddleboarding, kayaking, or simply relaxing on the sunny shores.

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