Walk Around Town Lake
Town Lake is part of what makes Austin, Austin. 10 miles of hike-and-bike trail set between Downtown and South Austin that is dog-friendly, what more could you ask for? Inviting more than 2.6 million visitors per year, this trail is fun for anyone and totally free (not to mention, with restaurants, grocers, and the occasional farmers’ market along the way, you’re bound to not be going hungry).
Visit Barton Springs
According to the Austin History Center, “Uncle Billy” Barton bought the springs in 1837 (just before Austin was named the capital of The Republic of Texas), and was under private ownership until 1918 when Andrew Zilker donated the land which then became Zilker Park. The current entrance building was even built back in 1946 after a flood in 1935. All this is to say that Barton Springs is a part of Austin History. In fact, it is integral to Austin history and has been attracting swimmers from all over for a very long time. If you ask me: nothing beats jumping into that cold water on a 100+ degree day.
P.S. If you’re looking for something dog-friendly, there’s a free-of-charge side to Barton Springs that allows dogs (a lot of locals, call it “Barkin’ Springs”).
Go Kayaking/SUPing/Canoeing on Town Lake
One of the favorite pastimes in Austin among students in nearby colleges. All three are great exercise, loads of fun for everyone of (almost) all ages, pet-friendly, and a great exposure to the beauty of Austin (both nature and the skyline). There are plenty of Kayak and Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP) rentals along the Town Lake Trail and if you don’t see one, a quick Google search will definitely yield many results quickly.
Visit Zilker Park
What’s better than a picnic at a park? A picnic at a giant park in the heart of Austin, that’s what! Zilker Park (the home of Barton Springs) is another iconic location of the city. With concerts throughout the year, free (or donation-based) yoga sessions, places to swim, restaurants nearby, and beautiful shade trees, Zilker Park is a park-lover mecca. It’s totally free and normally has great parking. How better can you relax on a budget? Grab a picnic, grab some friends, grab you dog (or your friend’s dog), and have a great time.
Visit A Famous Overlook
This list could continue on for a long time with all the things to do in Austin, especially outdoors, but I end this list with those sometimes-overlooked gems: the overlooks. The two that I tend to visit and bring my guests to are the 360 Bridge Overlook and Mt. Bonnell, both amazing options with a short hike and an amazing view (if you know of more please leave a comment for others to see). Both of these places are outdoors, beautiful, fun, and have a great view of the city. Catch one of these at sunrise and you’re in for a real treat.