Central Texas gets hot during the summer, meaning people here love to jump in any body of water they can find. But nice weather the rest of the year means that Austinites are always out and about, whether they’re biking, bathing, or bat-watching.
Go Swimming at Barton Springs Pool
Austin’s favorite places to cool is this three-acre pool in Zilker Metropolitan Park. It’s fed by underground springs, meaning the water stays a consistent 68 to 70 degrees throughout the year. No wonder it draws so many people—around 800,000 visitors flock here every year.
Try Out the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail
This 10-mile trail circles Lady Bird Lake (named after LBJ’s First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson) in downtown Austin and is immensely popular among locals and tourists alike, with 2.6 million people kiking, biking, or strolling along it each year. A boardwalk with skyline views was opened in 2014, and those who want to get out on the water can rent canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards.
Watch for Bats at the Congress Avenue Bridge
From March through November, Austin’s spookiest natural wonder takes place each evening at sunset. Nearly 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats live in crevices under the South Congress bridge, and as the sun sets they take to the sky in an astonishing swarm, flying up to 60 miles per hour and consuming in excess of 20,000 pounds of insects each night. While many people watch the bats from the bridge, they can also be viewed from a variety of places along the shore of Lady Bird Lake.
Go for a Bike Ride
The capital of Texas is also one of America’s cycling capitals. Aside from the rolling terrain of Texas Hill Country and trails such as the aforementioned Ann and Roy Butler, the city also hosts the Driveway Series, a weekly competition that runs on the Driveway Motorsports track from spring through fall. No wonder Lance Armstrong has a home—and a bike shop, Mellow Johnny’s—here.
Fly Down a Zipline
Just a few minutes northwest of downtown, along 18,929-acre Lake Travis, is Lake Travis Zipline Adventures. The course offers five ziplines, including three of Texas’ longest and fastest. Take the three-hour zipline tour and launch yourself through canyons and over the lake, enjoying incredible views and heart-stopping thrills.