All Around Austin

16 Fun Things to Do with This 4 Day Itinerary for Austin

mural 4 day itinerary for Austin Texas
See outdoor art during your Austin getaway. Photo Credit: Visit Austin

After living in the Austin area for over 20 years, its laid-back vibe, urban offerings and outdoor recreation are top favorites with travelers. Add top museums, a wide array of restaurants, and a vibrant live music scene, then visitors can stay for days. Don’t forget the public art, visitors will find art and sculpture in popular areas. To top it off, Austinites love their outdoors, so follow the lead and rent a kayak or SUP and paddle downtown’s Lady Bird Lake.  Here are the top things to do in Austin in a 4-day itinerary for Austin, Texas, by a longtime local.

Table of Contents

16 Top Things to Do in Austin 

  • Zilker Park
  • Barton Springs Pool
  • Zilker Park Boat Rentals
  • Austin Nature Center
  • Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum
  • Mayfield Park
  • Laguna Gloria–The Contemporary Austin
  • Texas Military Forces Museum
  • Deep Eddy Pool
  • Mount Bonnell
  • South Congress Avenue
  • Congress Avenue Bridge Bats
  • Texas State Capitol
  • The Bullock Texas State History Museum
  • The University of Texas Campus

Day 1: Out and About in Zilker Park

Zilker Park is Austin’s backyard and is located just across the Colorado River (also known as Lady Bird Lake)  from downtown.  It is home to Barton Springs Pool, Zilker Botanical Garden and the Austin Nature Center, all in its 361-acre parcel.

Zilker Park hosts many activities throughout the year, like the Zilker Kite Festival, Austin City Limits Music Festival and the holiday favorite Trail of Lights.

Parking is free during the week, though on weekends and special events, parking is additional. It is free to enter the park though events are additional. Zilker Park is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. outside of special events.

Barton Springs Pool offers a spring-fed pool in the center of Austin.
Barton Springs Pool offers three acres of family fun in the center of Austin, Texas. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Barton Springs Pool

2131 William Barton Dr.
Open every day 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., closed Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. for cleaning. Guarded Swim is 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Admission: Adults 18 to 62 $9.00, Seniors 62+ and teens (12 to 17) $5.00, Kids (1 to 11) $4.00 and free for babies.

Enjoy a sparkling blue oasis at the Barton Spring Pool, with a year-round constant water temperature of 68 to 70 degrees F. With three acres of spring-fed water, swimmers can jump off the diving board, walk in on the zero-entry rock entrance, or swim laps for exercise.

Splash! Into the Edwards Aquifer Exhibit

2201 Barton Springs Rd.
Closed for Renovations

Learn about the Barton Springs that feed the pool along with the endangered Barton Springs Salamander. This is an interactive exhibit with hands-on activities just right for school-age kids.

Top Texas Swimming Holes
Zilker Zephry. Austin Itinerary
Choo! Choo! The Zilker Zephyr in Zilker Park. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Zilker Eagle Miniature Train

2100 Barton Springs Dr.
Coming Soon

Look for the Zilker train to be back soon.


Next to the Zilker Eagle Depot

Find a shaded playscape for the kids to run off some energy. Lots of play equipment on a large playground.

Zilker Hillside Theatre

2206 William Barton Dr.
Shows Thursday to Sunday evenings during the summer season

Across from the Barton Springs Pool, enjoy Broadway classics under the stars during the summer. For over 60 years, visitors have thrown down blankets and packed picnic baskets for dinner and a show al-fresco.

Zilker Park Boat Rentals

2101 Andrew Zilker Rd.
Open every day 9 a.m. to dusk
$21/an hour per boat or $57 all-day

Nestled along the banks of Barton Creek, rent a boat or board to explore Zilker Park by water. The creek features calm water and lots of turtles and birds to see.

Since Barton Creek feeds into Lady Bird Lake, turn around at the entrance with inexperienced paddlers. Larger boats navigate Lake Bird Lake.

Top Zoos and Wildlife Safaris around Austin
Austin Nature Center. Austin Itinerary
The Austin Nature Center offers hiking along with rehabilitated animals. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Austin Nature Center

2389 Strafford Drive
Open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

Learn about environmental science in an indoor/outdoor space. See native animals in rehabilitative care. Take the Forest Trail to see native trees. Then, hike to the overlook to see the Austin skyline.

Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum

605 Azie Morton Rd.
Open Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Monday
Admission Adults $7, Students $1, Kids 12 and younger are free, Senior Discount

Walk through a landscaped garden featuring Charles Umlauf’s bronze sculptures. This is a nice combination for parents who appreciate art and kids who get bored in indoor museums.

Where to Eat near Zilker Park

Chuy’s Restaurant

For Tex-Mex aficionados, a meal at Chuy’s Restaurant is a must. Keeping it the way it should be, this is the original location. Find Tex-Mex classics, like taco plates and enchiladas. And find a menu of margaritas, all solid.

Located at 1728 Barton Springs Road, it’s open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Best Museums in Austin 
Austin Itinerary
See the Peacocks of Mayfield Park. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Day 2: Parks and Art of West Austin

Find a delightful mix of art, parks and the best Austin city view, all west of Mopac (Loop 1). Austin’s Mopac is the western north-south highway artery. It’s named after the Missouri-Pacific Railroad line that runs in between the lanes.

Mayfield Park

3505 W. 35th St.
Open from dawn to dusk

Mayfield Park is like two parks in one. The central area is a formal landscaped water lily garden with a vintage cottage. The show-stopper is the flock of peacocks that roam the property, perching in the trees.

Outside the landscaped area, find an additional 21-acres of wilderness area to explore. Located next to Laguna Gloria.

Laguna Gloria, Austin Itinerary
Laguna Gloria offers a rambling property to explore dotted with sculptures. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Laguna Gloria–The Contemporary Austin

3809 W. 35th St.
Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Admission $10 for adults, $5 for students, free for kids under 18.

An art museum for art and nature lovers, it features an outdoor contemporary sculpture garden where kids can roam while adults enjoy art. Set on a Lake Austin estate, the museum is also open to the public. Check-in at the desk for a backpack filled with art supplies and an iPod with music to complement the art for kids.

Texas Military Forces Museum. Austin Itinerary
Explore the Texas Military Forces Museum for an off-the-radar museum. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Texas Military Forces Museum

3038 W. 35th St.
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

I didn’t know what to expect, especially when I had to stop at security to get onto Camp Mabry, a Texas military installation. But as soon as we walked in, my boys, 10 and 14, were entranced.

I found everything from old uniforms to a fighter jet trainer kids can climb in. There are lots of WWII artifacts, too. Learn how Texans contributed to the military from the Texas Revolution until the present.

If this falls flat for your family, then skip it. Add Deep Eddy Pool if the weather is warm, usually from March through October.

Austin Pool for kids Deep Eddy Pool in central Austin
Deep Eddy Pool features two pools side by side, the family pool offers zero-entry for the littlest swimmers. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Deep Eddy Pool

401 Deep Eddy Avenue
Open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for recreational swimming
Admission: Adults 18 to 62 $9, Adults 62+ and teens 12 to 17 $5, kids 1 to 11 $4 and babies are free. Free during the Fall and Winter.

Deep Eddy Pool’s water draws most swimmers because of the natural water. Fresh spring water is pumped into the pool every other day and never treated with chlorine. The temperature ranges from 65F to 75F, quite refreshing on a hot summer day. A local favorite, and just a few miles away from the more popular Barton Springs Pool.

Mount Bonnell. Austin Itinerary
Catch the sunset at Mount Bonnell. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Mount Bonnell

3800 Mount Bonnell Rd.
Open from dawn to dusk

Head up the rock stairs for some of Austin’s best views. At the top, find a pavilion and look down on the Lake Austin section of the Colorado River. This is the place to watch the sunset.

At this 5-acre park, you can see the downtown Austin skyline in the opposite direction. The pavilion area has a fence, but the trail back to the parking lot doesn’t, so watch the little kids.

Top Restaurants in Austin

Where to Eat in West Austin

Hula Hut

Take in the views at Hula Hut on Lake Austin, an ATX institution that offers boat parking. Try the Tubular Tacos for a Hawaiian take on a burrito.

Located at 3825 Lake Austin Blvd. Open from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Mozart’s Coffee Roasters

For a quick snack, head to Mozart’s Coffee Roasters. It offers desserts, coffee drinks and ice cream.

Located at 3825 Lake Austin Blvd., next to Hula Hut at Open 7 a.m. to midnight, most days.

Big Top Candy Shop. Austin Itinerary
Got kids then you need candy, find it all at Big Top Candy Shop. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Day 3: Discover SoCo—South Congress

After exploring the parks and museums across Austin, change gears and head to South Congress. Packed with funky shopping, dining and iconic murals, it’s an easy stroll for families. Though watch the kids, South Congress is a busy street.

Where to Shop on South Congress

South Congress offers unique and local shopping.

Big Top Candy Shop—The kids will see this old-fashioned candy store before the adults. Located at 1706 S. Congress Ave.

Allen’s Boots—If you’re looking for cowboy boots, head here. It’s where I bought my Lucchese boots. You can also just window shop and breathe in the rich leather smell. It is located at 1522 S. Congress Ave.

Hey Cupcake Trailer.4 day Itinerary for Austin Texas
It’s cupcake time on South Congress. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Where to Eat on South Congress

Since I love to eat, I suggest the following local places.

Guero’s Mexican Food—Lots of tables and Tex-Mex staples, located at 1412 S. Congress Ave.

Home Slice Pizza—A home-grown Austin chain baking up thin-crust pizza. Located at 1415 S. Congress Ave.

Torchy’s Tacos—An Austin original with inventive tacos sold individually. Located at 1822 S. Congress Ave.

Willie for President Mural. 4 day itinerary for Austin Texas.
See Willie while in town along SoCo. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The Murals of South Congress

The kids have been good, so it’s time for a treat. As a bonus, you can see some of the best murals in Austin.

Amy’s Ice Cream + Amy’s Cartoon People Mural—Another ATX original with ice cream so creamy and rich most adults grab a cone. Located at 1301 S. Congress Ave.

Jo’s Coffee and the I Love You So Much Mural—Mom needs a pick-me-up, so stop at Jo’s, then snap a selfie at the street art on the side of the building.

Check out the Willie for President Mural located at the intersection of Elizabeth and S. Congress Ave. There are loads of murals up and down S. Congress Ave. So play mural hide-and-seek with the kids.

Congress Avenue Bridge Bats

South Congress Avenue
Dusk from March through November
Free, but pay to park in a nearby garage.

Every spring, over a million bats move into the South Congress Bridge over Lake Bird Lake. As Austin’s unofficial mascot, the bats fly out each sunset in a dizzying pattern, munching on bugs.

Choose your viewing stop carefully since the sleepy bats like to pee-pee first thing after leaving their roost. Several bats colonies live in Austin, this is the most famous colony.

Guide to Texas Caves
Texas State Capitol, 4 day itinerary for Austin Texas
If you or your kids haven’t been to the Texas State Capitol, then it’s a must. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Day 4: All about Texas

If this is your first trip to Austin, learn more about Texas. A trip to the State Capital is a must. It’s the only state that was originally an independent country before becoming a U.S. state. If they have time, Native Texans will tell you all about it and the story of the Alamo.

Texas State Capitol

1100 Congress Ave.
Tours Monday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
 Tours Saturday and Sunday from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

For Texans, a trip to the capital is a must. Built from 1882 to 1888, it’s actually taller than the U.S. Capital. The capitol grounds offer shaded walking paths, and the interior features the sculptures of Sam Houston and Stephen Austin, by local artist Elizabeth Ney.

Stop by the Capitol Visitors Center for more information. The Texas Travel Center is also located in this building. It’s located at 112 East 11th St., and it’s not required to visit the visitor center before heading to the Capitol Tour. The center is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.

Visitors to the Texas State Capitol must pass through airport-style security. Parking is available at the Capitol Visitors Parking Garage, 1201 San Jacinto Blvd.

Bullock State History Museum 4 day itinerary for Austin Texas
Learn about Texas History at The Bullock Texas State History Museum. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The Bullock Texas State History Museum

1800 Congress Ave.
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission Adults $13, Students $11 and Kids (4 to 17) $9 IMAX Theatre extra. 

Learn more about Texas history and catch an IMAX movie at this popular museum for families. Check out the artifacts area for unique objects from Texas history. Located just north of the Texas State capitol.

University of Texas. 4 day Itinerary for Austin.
If you have a teen, then tour the University of Texas. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The University of Texas Campus

Visitor Center
405 W. 25th St.
Open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

If you’ve got a teen in the car, then head to the University of Texas for a college tour. Even on the busiest of college tours week (Spring Break) you can see the school.

Start with making an online reservation for an information session and campus tour. Then reserve a tour for individual college tours and on-campus housing.

If no one is headed to college, then head to the Museums located on campus, like the Blanton Museum of Art, Harry Ranson Center, LBJ Presidential Library, Texas Memorial Museum and the Briscoe Center.

Elizabeth Ney Museum. 4 day itinerary for Austin Texas
Explore the former home and studio of Elizabeth Ney, a notable early Texas sculptor. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Elizabeth Ney Museum

304 E. 44th St.
Open Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Closed Monday and Tuesday

If you visited the Texas State Capitol, then you saw Elizabeth Ney’s sculptures of Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston. Originally born and educated in Germany she immigrated to Texas in 1882.

This is her former studio where she lived and worked. See lots of examples of her sculpture then continue outside to see the gardens around the museum. Located in Hyde Park, the historic neighborhood, north of the University of Texas.

Martins Cum Bak. 4 day itinerary for Austin Texas
Martin’s serves up solid hamburgers and shakes in the legendary burger joint. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Where to Eat near the UT Campus

Dirty Martin’s KumBack Place

On Guadalupe, or “the drag,” as the locals call it, find an iconic burger joint. Dirty Martin’s KumBack Place has been grilling up burgers since 1926. The front entrance looks a bit sketchy, though. Head to the back room for a picnic table with the kids. Along with the burgers served in baskets, I recommend the shakes.

Located at 2808 Guadalupe and is open every day from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Hyde Park Bar and Grill

Another Austin institution, Hyde Park Bar and Grill, has been serving up its addictive fries since 1982. Housed in a vintage 1920s cottage with a giant fork sculpture out front, it’s the place for brunch. Though I enjoy the lunch too. Along with the fries, the Pimento Cheese and Cucumber Sandwich is tops.

Located at 4206 Duval and is open every day from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Look no further for your next getaway than Austin, Texas, for lots of outdoor adventure and a funky cultural vibe. Austin is the darling of the Lone Star State. Find the Top Things to do in Austin like eat tacos and take a train along with murals and museums, perfect for a long weekend. It's all for your long weekend trip including some iconic restaurants to sample. What to do in Austin, Texas | Weekend Itinerary for Austin, Texas #Texas #ATX #Austin


Catherine Parker has a passion for travel and seen all 50 U.S. States. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn't a North American airport that she hasn't landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting architectural and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas dividing her time between writing and restoring a pair of 100-year-old houses. She shares her life with her three kids and her husband.

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