Top Attractions for First-Timers

With so many things going on in Austin, it can be tricky to narrow down your must-see list on your initial visit. If it’s your first time in Austin, make sure to hit up these essential attractions and quintessentially “weird” Austin experiences during your trip.

Live Music

You can’t visit the Live Music Capital of the World without catching some live tunes! The iconic Sixth Street is the heart of Austin’s live music scene. Venues like Esther’s Follies, The Continental Club, and The Parish give you a taste of Austin’s eclectic music. Catch blues, rock, indie, country, jazz, and more at these historic venues. Many places on Sixth have free live music during happy hours too! Other top music venues off Sixth Street include ACL Live at The Moody Theater, where you can see major acts in an intimate theater, and Stubb’s BBQ for tender brisket and outdoor concerts. Don’t miss live music kayaking at Waterloo Park, concerts at Zilker Park, or a show at the outdoor Austin City Limits theater.

Outdoor Adventures

Austin isn’t all music and BBQ (though those are big perks!) There’s also plenty of outdoor recreation to enjoy. Top outdoor spots include Zilker Park, home of the ACL Music Festival grounds. Here you’ll find hiking trails, canoe rentals, Barton Springs Pool, and more family fun. Lady Bird Lake is great for kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, or hiking the scenic trail. McKinney Falls State Park offers peaceful hiking alongside two gorgeous waterfalls. And Hamilton Pool Preserve lets you swim in an incredible grotto-style pool beneath a waterfall-just be sure to make reservations first as it fills up fast!

Food Trailers & Funky Restaurants

You simply can’t leave Austin without experiencing the food trucks! These mobile kitchens dish out everything from tacos to banh mi to lobster rolls from the comfort of their trailers. Top spots include south Austin’s famous trailer park Lot, East Side King’s Thai fusion trailers, and any of the trucks at the open-air Brew & Brew. Some uniquely Austin restaurants you have to try include the kitschy South Congress Hotel cafe Mañana with coffee and breakfast tacos, upscale ranch Water Taco, Southern comfort food at Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill, and Tex-Mex favorite Chuy’s. Everything’s better outdoors, so look for places with patios!


When you need a break from the sun, duck into one of Austin’s fantastic museums. The Blanton Museum of Art on UT’s campus boasts an impressive collection of American and Latin American art. The Bullock Texas State History Museum covers everything from revolutionary battles to midcentury pop culture. The Contemporary Austin encompasses two locations – the Jones Center downtown and the Laguna Gloria grounds with sculptures and nature trails. Families will love the Thinkery with its interactive STEAM exhibits. And up on UT’s observation deck, visit the fascinating Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library chronicling the 36th president’s life.

Breweries & Distilleries

With a lively bar scene, you’ll have your pick of places to grab a cold one in Austin. Beer lovers should add brewery tours to their Austin itinerary. Top picks include Austin Beerworks, one of the city’s largest breweries known for their 101 Pale Ale. Live Oak Brewing offers European-style beers and beautiful grounds. If distilled spirits are more your speed, hit up Still Austin for moonshine tastings in a country setting or Dulce Vida for tours and margaritas at an organic tequila distillery. And don’t forget wineries-Texas wine country provides a scenic escape just outside the city.

Bat Watching

Here’s your chance to see one of Austin’s most iconic wildlife inhabitants up close! From March to October, watch over a million Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from under Congress Avenue Bridge right before sunset. It’s totally free to observe and a quintessential Austin experience for nature lovers and families. The best spots to post up with a blanket or lawn chair are along the bridge or on the lawn at the Austin American-Statesman. Get there early to claim your spot for the bat show. Pro tip: the bats like to show off, so you’ll see more fly outs on a nice, warm evening.


Austin has an awesome mix of local Austin boutiques and big brands. Hit up South Congress Avenue for a spread of the city’s funkiest stores, like the flagship Allen’s Boots, quirky Uncommon Objects antique mall, and Texas-proud Tesoros Trading Co. You’ll also find chains like Kendra Scott and Patagonia housed in cute cottages. On South First, find vintage garments at New Bohemia and one-of-a-kind gifts at Austin Art Garage. North of the river, Domain NORTHSIDE houses high-end stores. And don’t miss city staples like Waterloo Records, BookPeople, Tesoros Trading Co., and the massive Whole Foods flagship.

How to Get Around Austin?

Once you arrive in Austin, you’ll have several options to navigate this sprawling city:

Public Transportation

CapMetro operates Austin’s local buses, MetroRapid routes, and MetroRail light rail service. Their bus system reaches most major destinations and tourist spots. The 801 and 803 MetroRapid routes offer quicker crosstown service. Purchase tickets on the CapMetro app or pay cash on board. MetroRail currently has just one line (the Red Line) from downtown to Leander with a stop at the Convention Center. More lines are being added, but the network is still limited. The train runs about every 15 minutes on weekdays and every 30 minutes weekends.

Taxis and Rideshares

You’ll have your pick of taxis and rideshares in Austin. Major operators include Austin Taxi, Lone Star Cab, Uber, and Lyft. Rideshare apps and booking a taxi by phone offer guaranteed pickup versus trying to hail a cab on the street. Surge pricing comes into play during major festivals and events. For a cheaper option, try Fasten rideshare with fixed pricing and no surge fees.

Charter Buses

For group travel or events, renting a charter bus is the way to go in Austin! You’ll get an experienced driver to handle traffic and navigate the city while your group relaxes. Charter buses offer seating for anywhere from 14 to 56 passengers. Perks include added cargo space for gear or shopping bags, entertainment like WiFi and TVs, and comfortable reclining seats. No parking headaches either-your driver will handle that after dropping you off at each destination. Charter buses are great for weddings, corporate events, school field trips, and more.

Ready to Get Started?

We hope this first timer’s guide gets you excited to visit Austin! With live music, outdoor escapes, tasty food, and local flavor, you’ll never have a dull moment here. Getting around this spread out city is easier than you’d expect too. For group transportation to Austin’s top attractions, contact Austin Party Bus Company at 512-375-4204 to reserve your party bus rental today. We serve central Texas with Austin Party Bus Company for weddings, corporate outings, school groups, nights out, and any special event. Let us handle your transportation so you can focus on fun!