From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.
Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.
While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:
More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.
Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.
Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.
Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.
More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.
Our first local spotlight is Austin, Texas! This guide is perfect for those living in or near Austin who want to get to know the city even more. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Austin, this is the guide for you!
*Note: Some of the suggestions may not be doable due to coronavirus closures, but keep this list handy for when things start opening back up more! Be sure to check individual pages for specific operation details.
If you’re in the Austin area, you’re likely already familiar with McKinney Falls State Park. But just because you’ve visited before doesn’t mean you won’t experience it in a new way! McKinney Falls offers a great place to retreat. Check out an Austin RV rental for your trip!
Hike & bike – There are nearly 9 miles of trails to hike and bike at this park. There are even paved trails, perfect for strollers, such as the 2.8-mile Onion Creek Hike and Bike Trail.
Fish & swim – Listen to the rush of falls at Onion Creek or hop in for a dip to cool off! Bring your fishing pole to cast off in Onion or Williamson creeks.
While not a state park, Lady Bird Lake is definitely another must-see park. The Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail is definitely one of the top hiking trails in Austin. The trail is over 10 miles long and makes a complete circuit around Lady Bird Lake.
You must hit up the boardwalk while you’re there! Technically, part of the Ann and Roy Butler trial, the boardwalk at Lady Bird Lake offers a beautiful scenic view of Austin. Be sure to stick around at sunset to see the popular and unforgettable display of bats. Between March and November, they hide out under the Congress Avenue bridge and take flight each evening.
Of course, going to Lady Bird Lake, you’ll want to participate in some lake activities! Visitors of this park can enjoy kayaking, canoeing, swimming, and fishing. You can also stand up paddleboard or take a river cruise at Lady Bird!
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Austin today, we have the perfect answer for you: bird watching. Hear us out because if you haven’t gone bird watching before, it’s pretty cool! Bird watching is a great way to spend time outdoors mindfully and learn more about the wildlife in your area. It’s also something that you can do without leaving the house or at least venturing too far from home. We have a full bird watching guide here. While bird watching in Austin, keep your eye out for a Painted Bunting, Purple Martin, Barn Swallow, and more!
Another activity that is great for getting outdoors while also practicing social distancing is learning about local plants. There are so many beautiful plants that are native to Austin. How cool would it be to be able to identify them? Check out our plant identification guide!
One of the best ways to get to know a city is through its food. During coronavirus, we can’t go out to eat and get the full restaurant experience, but we can still order take-out and support our favorite eateries. These Austin hot spots are a great place to start!
Just as the name suggests, Franklin Barbecue is where you can get amazing BBQ. They even sell their delicious sauce by the bottle, so be sure to pick up your favorite flavor!
Head to Torchy’s for tacos (obviously!) but salads, too! Also, you can pick up some ingredients for at-home margaritas to round out your meal.
Find delicious homemade sausage and meats at Banger’s. You can order to-go now and head back post-COVID with your pup!
In the mood for pizza? Check out Via 313 – their rectangle pizza has been a local favorite for years.
While you’re picking up a coffee, getting your photo at Jo’s Coffee is a must while in Austin, even if you live there full time.
Loro is an Asian smokehouse with lots of unique dishes for every palette!
Fresa’s may specialize in chicken, but they have tons of wood-grilled meats and other treats that are a must-stop for all.
If you’re craving burgers, you have to check out Hopdoddy Burger Bar. They also have vegan and chicken options available.
Lucky Robot is the first sustainable sushi restaurant in all of Texas! Enjoy your roll knowing the fish has been caught responsibly.
El Arroyo is not just a pretty sign! From great Mexican food and margs to-go, everyone loves El Arroyo.
What’s more comforting than a bowl of ramen? Head to Ramen Tatsuya for bowls that can be made to your liking.
Fun, colorful, and inviting not only describes Amy’s Ice Cream but the other sweet treats you’ll find here, too!
Kerby Lane is a go-to for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! With delicious options for every meal, a must for everyone in Austin to try.
Another must-try for every meal of the day is Magnolia Cafe. From breakfast to burgers, definitely a favorite spot for Austin locals.
For my money, nothing exemplifies Southern food in Austin quite likeHoover’s. It’s the type of food your grandmother used to make on Sunday after church. The restaurant bears a homey feel with courteous waitstaff and chefs who’ve been preparing soul food all their lives. From pork chops to chicken-fried steak and everything in between, Hoover’s doesn’t miss a beat. Throw some candied yams and macaroni and cheese next to that fried goodness to make your meal complete. You might fall asleep shortly after, but it’ll be worth it.
There’s a whole creative movement happening on St. Elmo: There are new breweries, music studios, budding businesses, and, of course, coffee shops. Spokesman cleverly binds coffee, beer, and oftentimes live music into one cohesive space. It’s a massive spot where seating is never an issue and the Wi-Fi is always strong. Plus, if you find yourself working from day to night, they make the transition seamless with a full food menu and an assortment of freshly brewed beer. Much of the development in this area predates the highly anticipated 2020 opening of St. Elmo Public Market, just one block west on South Congress Avenue. Get familiar with this area now. It’s about to blow.
While of course, the number one way to enjoy food is to get a great meal, one of the fun things to do in Austin, Texas is to make an activity around food and drink! From tastings to cooking classes, here are some activities that are fun for families, friends, and even team building! Some of these have limited offerings during coronavirus closures, but like other suggestions on this list, keep these in mind for the future!
Learn about the kinds of flavor notes from different kinds of coffee. Coffee lovers and admirers can all get something out of these tastings!
Ever want to learn how to make amazing cocktails at home? This mixology class from Gustology is perfect for you!
Brew tours are a must for any city, and Austin is no exception! Grab your friends and go on a tour once Austin starts to open back up! Do 512 gathered up the best brew tours in Austin to get you started.
Food and outdoor activities aside, Austin is bursting with so much to see and do. From educational opportunities to getting active to finding the perfect places to shop, we have you covered!
To learn more about the great state of Texas, head to the Bullock Museum. There is also an iMax Theater that plays a lot of Texas-themed movies. While they are closed due to COVID-19, you can explore many offerings online.
The Capitol Building has many exhibits to experience – many you can explore online while it’s temporarily closed to visitors. When you can visit in person, be sure to take a tour of the Capitol and spend time in the surrounding grounds as well.
There are so many cool murals all around the city of Austin. This walking tour guides you through Austin’s largest concentrations of public art. Starting in East Austin, you’ll be guided through 1.2 miles of awesome murals, street art, or graffiti.
You’ve heard of bar crawls, we shared food and beer tours above, but what about music? This company leads tours through all the best music spots in Austin! The tours are led by an Austin musician who will take you to multiple shows in one night.
Want a fun way to learn something new and get a good workout in? Take a dance class! You can even start today, as some of the studios below are offering online classes. This can also be a family activity, as the studios below offer kids classes as well.
Some pools are destinations, so you need to be there on certain days to optimize your experience. Sundays are for theAustin Motelpool: You’ll find an abundance of locals, great music, and food in every direction. The motel is connected to Joann’s, a contemporary diner stylized in a retrofitted mold. Their Endless Sundays events take place from 3-6 p.m. and feature drink specials and local DJs.
For cute home goods, paper supplies, plants, and more support Austin-owned small businesses! There are many to patron throughout the city, but here are just a few to start with!
Most of the studios below offer their amazing classes online during coronavirus, so you can still work out with your favorite instructors from home!
Experience a retreat without leaving the city at these relaxing spas!
Their mission is to “inspire a life in balance through mindfulness”. At Miraval, you can rest and restore, but it’s more than a spa. Here, you can enjoy many fun outdoor activities like an obstacle course, horseback riding, and learn about sustainable farming.
Another beautiful place to recharge your batteries is at Lake Austin Spa Resort. Right on the water, you can enjoy pampering at the spa or participate in some of the other activities provided, like group yoga and fitness classes. There are also many lake events and activities to take advantage of during your time there.
This guide just scratches the surface of all there is to explore Austin, but there are some pretty cool places to see outside of the city as well!
Just an hour and a half north of Austin is Waco, Texas, and a must-stop here is Magnolia Market at the Silos. Shop for a while before taking a break on the lawn. Magnolia Market was started by our favorite Fixer Upper couple, Chip and Joanna Gaines, who still own and operate the market today. In fact, there are a handful of other Magnolia properties that are worth a visit while you’re there, like their bakery and restaurant.
Roam Ranch – Fredericksburg, Texas
Another hour and a half trip from Austin can be to Fredericksburg, Texas. Here you will find Roam Ranch, a farm that uses regenerative farming techniques to raise their livestock. Guests are welcome to tour and learn about the farm, as well as see how the animals are cared for and how the meat is procured.
While there aren’t any National Parks super close to Austin, there are two that are within driving distance for a weekend trip or longer! Pick up an RV or camper rental in Austin, and make the drive to Big Bend National Park or Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
As a final reminder, some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in Austin that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in Austin? Send them our way to [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal.