The best things to do in Austin, by an Austinite

You'll never be bored again

Let’s face it, after the first few weeks of school, campus can get pretty boring. There also aren’t many things to do within reasonable walking distance. Luckily I, an Austinite of 18 years, have put together this list of fun things to do with your friends around Austin for just a few dollars, or even free.

One view of Castle Hill Graffiti Park

One view of Castle Hill Graffiti Park

Graffiti Park at Castle Hills

Est. Lyft/Uber fare (estimate one-way): $7

This local graffiti park is a photo-op favorite. This art featured on the walls of the park can be compared to that of the Berlin Wall. Professional and amateur artists alike flock to this attraction to leave their mark on the city, whether it be detailed murals or a simple name. Anyone can contribute to the walls of the graffiti park, so be sure to bring your spray paint! It is also a perfect place for photographs.

One bonus is visiting the park closer to sunset. People like to sit on the ledges of the hill and over look the sun setting against the city backdrop.

Highway view of Lady Bird Lake during the day.

Highway view of Lady Bird Lake during the day

Lady Bird Lake

Est. Lyft/Uber Fare (estimate one-way): $10

You may refer to this river as the Colorado, but locals like to call it “Town Lake.” On warmer days, you’ll see tens of dozens of kayaks, paddle boards, canoes and water bikes cruising down the river. Most of these people like to come out and stay for the sunset as it’s the prettiest time of day. However, you have to be back on land by the time the sun fully sets because most rental companies don’t let you on the water after dark.

Aside from being on the water, there is a 10.1 mile trail around the river that is perfect for a leisurely stroll or a scenic run. You can often see people walking their dogs, fishing or feeding the ducks. It is a beautiful place to hang out with your significant other, family or friends.

Zilker Park during ACL weekend 2013.

Zilker Park during ACL weekend 2013

Zilker Park/Barton Springs

Est. Lyft/Uber Fare (estimate one-way): $11

Zilker Park is a staple hangout spot in Austin, whether you’re a tourist or a native. You can do anything with your friends – or alone – whether you’re laying out a picnic, throwing a Frisbee or just people-watching. If you want something a little bit more adventurous, visit Barton Springs just across the street. With a constant water temperature of 69 degrees throughout the year, most people don’t spend too much time in the water, but rather lay out a tower, sunbathe and chat among friends.

In the spring, summer and fall, Zilker Park is home to South by South West, Blues on the Green and Austin City Limits, respectively. Get a feel for what it means to live in the Live Music Capital of the World. In the winter, HEB sponsors the annual Christmas light display, Trail of Lights. Each display is sponsored by different local businesses, and attractions include a Ferris Wheel, a carousel, local food trucks and more.

Street view of South Congress during the day.

Street view of South Congress during the day.

South Congress (SoCo)

Est. Lyft/Uber Fare (estimate one-way): $9

Looking for good places to eat? Want a great view of downtown Austin? A visit to SoCo wouldn’t be a bad idea. With shops ranging from Lucy in Disguise to Big Top Candy Shop, there is something for everyone. South Congress is also home to some of the famous murals you may have seen on your friend’s Instagram. You’ll want to visit the “I love you so much” wall across the street from Amy’s ice cream.

For the foodie, stop by Hop Doddy’s hamburger bar for arguably the best burgers in town – and don’t forget to order the truffle fries. If you’re a pizza lover, Home Slice will be your new heaven. Other favorite eateries include TOMS Roasting Co., Blue Bistro and Elizabeth Street Café.

An oreo mousse sold at Mozart's Coffee Shop.

An oreo mousse sold at Mozart’s Coffee Shop.

Mozart’s Coffee Shop

Est. Lyft/Uber Fare (estimate one-way): $10

If you’re bored with study spots on campus, visit a local favorite: Mozart’s. Known for it’s coffee, outdoor patio and location on the lake, students love coming to Mozart’s to study and relax. A prime time to visit is when the sun starts to set because the light reflecting from the water is breathtaking. And if you find yourself getting puckish, local favorite restaurants, Abel’s on the Lake and Hula Hut, are located in the same vicinity.

Mozart’s also has a Christmas light show every year from Nov. 20 to Jan. 10 that locals love to attend. The 15 minute show plays every hour, on the hour, from 6pm to 11pm. Be careful, tables fill up quick, and parking can be a hassle.

A view of one course at Peter Pan Mini Golf.

A view of one course at Peter Pan Mini Golf

Peter Pan Mini Golf/Barton Springs Road

Est. Lyft/Uber Fare (estimate one-way): $9

Whether you’re five or 85, you are never too old for some classic mini-golf. Peter Pan Mini Golf has been around for over 65 years and has served as an entertainment center for locals. Grab your friends or your significant other and take a trip to Barton Springs road. Barton Springs Road is a street filled with local favorites from Sno Beach in the summer to the trailer food park.

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