All the things that continue to keep Austin weird.
Though you may be in the "The Live Music Capital of the World" when in Austin (apologies to Nashville), but there is plenty to fill your itinerary in between sets. Lace up your sneakers, because much of the best things happen outside. Stroll public art installations, and visit revitalized waterside parks, natural swimming holes, and a pride of peacocks by day; then watch the famous Austin bat colony fly as the sun sets (everyone has to do it once) by night, preferably with a good drink in hand. You’ll still have time to shop for a pair of cowboy boots before a two-step dance lesson set to a live show. If you're wondering where to start, here are the best things to do in Austin.
Congress Avenue Bridge
Crowds gather nightly on the Congress Avenue Bridge, at sunset, to watch Austin’s urban bat colony fly out from their home on the underside of the bridge over Lady Bird Lake. The 45-minute spectacle is one of those only-in-Austin happenings. The colony of Mexican free-tailed bats is the largest in an urban environment in North America—about 1.5 million bats take flight each night to feed (on pesky insects like mosquitoes, making the animal a local hero). Note that the spectacle is seasonal, typically from May through October; during the winter, the bats migrate elsewhere. And even though the whole thing lasts 45 minutes, you get the idea in under five. If you can pair your viewing with another activity downtown—not difficult, as this part of town is extremely lively—it's worth making time to watch.
Blanton Museum of Art
This museum at The University of Texas has a compact collection that does an excellent job covering numerous genres. There are early Renaissance paintings, Roman-era pottery, modern works housed in the contemporary gallery, a vast prints collection, and Native American and Latin American works. It's impossible to miss (as in, you should not skip, as well as it is literally not possible to miss since it's at the front door) Teresita Fernández Stacked Waters: acrylic panels in ombre shades of blue that cover the walls and staircase in the museum's atrium to create a submerged-in-water feeling.