10 things to do in Austin before it's too hot (or too much hotter, if we're honest)
While spring doesn't officially end until June 21, we are running out of days when it's not horrible outside in Austin. Lows in the upper 60s are expected Saturday and Sunday, with rain chances starting Friday and lasting through the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.
A low of 68 degrees on Sunday is basically chilly at this point, so take advantage. Since time is ticking, we compiled a little late-spring guide to give you some recreation ideas before the season ends.
Some may argue that one could do all the activities in our guide when it's summertime, too, and they would be right. We're just suggesting doing these things now before July and August, when all you can dream about is air conditioning.
1. See some art outdoors.
- Head to the Contemporary Austin's Laguna Gloria in Northwest Austin. Walk through the museum's sculpture garden and stare at the Colorado River, which runs along the space. Laguna Gloria is free on Thursdays. (www.thecontemporaryaustin.org)
- Make a reservation to see James Turrell's Skyspace at the University of Texas. Turrell's Skyspace, "The Color Inside," is on the third floor roof of the William C. Powers Jr. Student Activity Center at the university. The installation is a room with an oval-shaped hole in the ceiling. During sunrise and sunset, a pre-programmed light sequence goes off. Visitors can watch the lights change color as the sky changes color. The Skyspace is free to visit, but you must make a reservation. Reservations can be made at turrell.utexas.edu.
2. Hop on a paddle board.
There's something about paddle-boarding in Austin. The views, the water, it can be so calming and nice. Go early in the morning or in the evening to avoid the sun beating down on your back while you're out there. We recommend:
- The Rowing Dock at 2418 Stratford Drive. You can also rent kayaks, canoes, and pedal kayaks here. (www.rowingdock.com)
- EpicSUP at 2220 South Lakeshore Blvd. Look for a barnyard dock. (www.epicsup.com)
- Austin Paddle Shack behind Cidercade Austin, at 600 East Riverside Drive. Parking is available in designated spots behind 512 East Riverside Drive. (www.austinpaddle.com)
3. Go out dancing.
At some point between July and August, going out on the town is like venturing into a swimming pool. We're in that brief period of time when it's warm, yes, but not too warm to make dancing in a club sweat-through-your-clothes miserable. We recommend:
- Barbarella Austin at 611 Red River St.
- Outer Heaven Disco Club at 1808 East 12th St. (www.outerheavendiscoclubatx.com)
- Rain at 217 West Fourth St. (www.rainon4th.com)
4. Have the happiest hour.
One of the best parts of living in Austin is the ample number of patios available for afternoon drinks and snacks. A few options:
- Head to Kitty Cohen's at 2211 Webberville Road between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Monday-Friday for $2 Lonestars and $7 margaritas and aperol spritzes. (www.kittycohens.com)
- Get to Kinda Tropical at 3501 East Seventh St. between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays for $7 food and drinks. (www.kindatropical.com)
- Happy hour at Loro at 2115 South Lamar Blvd. runs from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and includes $5 boozy slushees and $9 cheeseburgers. (www.loroeats.com)
5. Get outside for a brew or glass of wine.
Take advantage of the longer, sunshine-y days and get a group of friends out to a brewery or winery. There's something luxurious about both kinds of drinking spots, and we think it's the perfect spring activity. We recommend a few to get you started:
- Jester King at 13187 Fitzhugh Road. (www.jesterkingbrewery.com).
- Saddle Up at 1309 Rosewood Ave. (www.saddleupbeerhouse.com) .
- Duchman Family Winery at 13308 FM150 West in Driftwood. (www.duchmanwinery.com).
6. Go for a bike ride.
You know what's better than wind in your hair? Wait. It's nothing. There's nothing better than wind in your hair. That's why we suggest heading out for a bike ride. If you're doing it correctly and wearing a helmet, you might not get much breeze in your hair, but something is better than nothing. We recommend:
- A bike through the city. Start at the intersection of Riverside Drive and Congress Avenue, and head north. From there, you can ride up to the state Capitol building and then head east toward the Texas State Cemetery or keep riding north through the University of Texas campus. Honestly, we could direct you all day from there. We recommend going with how you're feeling. Taking a left sound good? Do it. Make sure you wear a helmet, and stay alert.
- For a rougher ride, head to Barton Creek Greenbelt for mountain biking. You can also road bike at McKinney Falls State Park.
Hot tip: Rent a bike via Capital Metro's Austin B Cycle. You can pay as you ride, starting at $0.23 a minute, rent a bike for the weekend at $19.49 or buy a membership, starting at $11.
7. Take a hike.
You should hit up Barton Creek Greenbelt for obvious reasons, one being that it's right in town. The greenbelt has multiple access points around town, according to the Austin Parks Foundation. Access points include:
- Loop 360: 3755-B Capital of Texas Highway
- Gus Fruh: 2642 Barton Hills Drive
- Spyglass: 1599 Spyglass Drive
- Twin Falls: 3900 Mopac Frontage Road
- Trails End: 1710 Camp Craft Road
- Homedale Access Point: 2010 Homedale Drive
- Violet Crown Trail at Zilker: 2212 William Barton Drive
McKinney Falls State Park is another option and is just a quick drive southeast at 5808 McKinney Falls Parkway. You can bring your dog, go camping, fishing, hiking and swimming here. Reservations are not required, but you should make one just in case.
You can also check out our guide to 15 hikes you can do with your dog, alone or with friends at austin360.com.
8. Take a dip.
We know what you're thinking. Don't worry, we know you can swim in the summer. But we recommend getting out there now to avoid summer crowds.
- Get your booty over to Barton Springs Pool to enjoy the always-cool water and lots of grass yardage for lounging. Make sure you help cheer on the kids who get nervous on the diving board. The pool is closed Mondays and Wednesdays because of a lifeguard shortage and on Thursdays for pool cleanings. (www.austintexas.gov/department/barton-springs-pool)
- Use Barton Creek Greenbelt's Spyglass trailhead to get to Campbell's Hole. This spot relies on how much rain we've had. But if the water's there, it's a nice spot to hang in the water and, if you're brave enough, jump from rocks along the side (always check the depth of water before jumping into any swimming hole, creek or river).
- Take a little drive out to Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park. You can birdwatch or take a dip in the chilly water. The park comes with plenty of room to spread out in the grass for a nap or to play catch, football or whatever else your heart desires. (www.austintexas.gov/department/commons-ford-ranch)
9. Enjoy a picnic.
Now, in Texas, you don't often hear people saying "we should have a picnic" during the spring and summer months. But we do think there are times to treat yourself to an al fresco experience.
- Zilker Park at 2207 Lou Neff Road is spacious and one of the jewels of Austin. Bring your dog, a blanket and a basket of snacks. (www.austintexas.gov/department/zilker-metropolitan-park)
- Mueller Lake Park at 4550 Mueller Blvd. has a fountain, spots for kids to play, and lots of space for a picnic. (www.austintexas.org/listings/mueller-lake-park/10219/)
You could also visit one of the city's or Travis County's many, many parks, including: Arkansas Bend, Bob Wentz, Little Stacy Neighborhood Park, Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Metro Park or Shipe Neighborhood Park.
10. Go see a flower.
Take some time to get grounded and be outside with pretty plants and flowers.