Springtime in Austin always gets me excited to plan adventures for the coming summer. This year, however, I am even more eager than I normally would be. Now, I do not want to jinx anything, but I cannot help but see glimmers of light starting to appear at the end of the pandemic tunnel. If this summer does turn out to be even normal-ish, you should start making plans now for the great adventures to be had in Austin and its environs. Here are a few ideas to help you get started, but the sky’s the limit, so think outside of the box and get ready for a truly special summer in Austin this year.
1. It is hard not to suggest beginning your summer with a hike up the stone steps of Mount Bonnell. The great hiking trails in and around Austin just can’t be beaten, and my personal favorite is Mount Bonnell. Yes, the hike itself is beautiful, exciting, and (most importantly) fairly short; however, the real prize is the view at the top. You will be treated to a perfect view of Lake Austin and the entire Austin area. What better way to begin your adventures than by taking in a panoramic view of the landscape that you are planning to explore for the rest of the summer.
2. The heat can get oppressive quickly in Austin, so I like to plan to include as much time in, on, and around the water as I possibly can. One of my favorites spots is Lady Bird Lake. If you go, be sure to bring a good pair of walking sandals – the lake is right downtown and you want to be able to get your feet wet and then take right off to explore all of the shops, restaurants, and attractions that downtown has to offer. You can rent kayaks and canoes, and they are always a great time; however, you can also rent stand-up paddleboards at the lake, and that’s an experience well-worth the price of admission!
3. As much as I love downtown Austin, the natural beauty surrounding the city might even be more of a draw for me. To get a curated overview of the flora that you can find around the city, there is no better place to go than the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The variety, color, and beauty of the flowers on the grounds are just awe-inspiring. Even if you or your family are not usually drawn to outdoor attractions, this one is still a must-see. Fortunately, it is only about ten miles outside of downtown, so you could even stop by on your way somewhere else if you want to check it out – you will be glad you did.
4. Bats are probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you are contemplating a fun outing, but “Bat Fest” is absolutely a can’t miss event; and, for those who do not live in Austin, it is also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This is because you can expect to see over one million Mexican free-tailed bats explode from underneath the Congress Avenue Bridge. You can see the bats throughout the summer, but you might want to wait until August when “Bat Fest” officially begins. Aside from bat-themed everything imaginable, you will be treated to live music, artisanal craft vendors, children’s activities, and a jovial environment as warm as the evening itself.
5. To really understand a city, you have to get to know its history. Luckily, the Texas State Capital offers free tours and is intrinsically interesting because the granite from which it is built exudes a unique pink hue. The building dates back to 1885 and has undergone several renovations and improvements over the years. In the late 1990s, the grounds around the Capital were renovated to seem more park-like, and the environment is great for a picnic, people watching, or just taking a rest before you go out and explore the rest of the city.
Austin in the summer is something special, and these few ideas for ways to take advantage of everything it has to offer are just the tip of the iceberg. There is something for everybody. Whether you like boating and hiking or partying downtown, Austin has you covered. This summer is going to mean even more than usual to many of us, so start your planning now. Even if you have lived here for a good while now, there is always more to do. Be creative, have fun, and stay safe!