The Summer is here, and she is making her presence known to Texas. From heat waves, to hot summer nights, the only thing hotter in Austin right now is the real estate market. Thankfully we’re not left to simply pass the time maxing out our electric bill blasting the A/C in our homes.
Break out of your bedroom, turn off your fan, and collect your friends to cross off this summer bucket list. For those looking to explore the great outdoors or still prefer to seek shelter indoors, there’s plenty to see and do all season long.
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Blue Star-Lite Drive-In
There’s something truly magical about pulling up in your car to a big screen at twilight to enjoy a good movie with great company beyond the confines of a typical theater. The breeze mixing with the aroma of fresh popcorn as you walk over to the concession stands can’t be beat. Thankfully while Drive-ins became a thing of the past in most cities, Blue Star-Lite sparked their revival in Austin. Offering a mix of new releases and cult classics showing at their original spot outside of Mueller, complete with a forrest experience, to their downtown screen overlooking Republic Square, you can’t go wrong picking where you park it.
A great spot to get out onto LadyBird Lake and into a kayak, stand up paddle board, or put your relationships to the test by sharing a canoe, Rowing Dock is your gateway to getting into aquatic sports. Or simply get you that coveted SUP pic, at the very least.
On top of its regular operating schedule, Rowing Dock offers a multitude of ways to get out on the lake well past its typical hours.
Sunset Bat Paddle
Set out on this guided adventure to the perfect spot for watching the bats dance in the skies at sunset, comfortably close to the cool air of the water. Call it an educational tour as the guides provide insight into the Mexican Free-Tailed Bats while you float under this uniquely Austin summer must-see.
Full Moon Paddle
Stay out late on the water to see a sliver of the weirdness kept alive here by locals howling at the full moon. The dock keeps the lights on from 7:30 pm to 10 pm, allowing you a chance to soak up the moonlight well past their normal hours.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
If the prospect of looking at the gardens down south in this heatwave sounds like torment, there is salvation for the amateur botanists looking to get their wildflower fix. With a new theme every week, the free Nature Nights at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center offers a chance to explore their gardens under starlight. Bonus for the potential to see the trails light up from lightning bugs.
4801 La Crosse Ave, wildflower.org
Austin Farmers Markets
During the summer, early mornings are your best friend. With the cooler temps, and fewer crowds generating all that body heat, it’s a whole different Austin before brunch. One of the best motivators for making up before 7 am are our farmers’ markets. From Mueller to Barton Creek Mall, all the way to Georgetown and Leander, you’ll find a fresh reason to be an early riser.
The Contemporary Green Screen series
The movies have landed on the grounds of the Contemporary. Taking inspiration from their looming silver alien-like sculpture Looking up, come out to the Laguna Gloria lakeside amphitheater for an evening under the stars.
3809 W 35th St, buy tickets here
For the full low down on where to float the summer heat away around Austin, you can check out these swimming holes offering spring-fed waters to cool you down. Beyond the beloved institution that’s Barton Springs, there are spots scattered around town that offer the chance to dip out of the heat and into some refreshing waters.
This reclusive shore south of the Longhorn Dam may not compete with seaside beaches, but it more than makes up for it in feeling like your own oasis minutes outside the city. With the Colorado River flowing by, the sandy shores are a great choice for a beach day without having to drive past city limits.
Commons Ford Ranch
When the waterfalls flow, the hike up to see them is well worth the trek. But while this summer looks to be pretty dry, the rejuvenating waters of Lake Austin just over the retaining wall offers a better means to get wet in the park. Bring a float, and some friends, and wash away the heat.
Pflugerville? Yes, our far north suburb has a refreshing reason to skip the drive out to Lake Travis with blue waters and a sandy beach for Austinites to savor this summer. Break out your paddle board, picnic on the sandy shores, and you’ll see why this sleepy suburb should not to be slept on for long.
SEE ALSO: 11 Best Swimming Holes in Austin
Jaws on the water
The annual reason to get scared out of your swim shorts, Jaws on the Water brings the spook to Summer. Typically shown on Lake Travis but it can vary, Alamo Drafthouse hosts float-up screenings of the iconic shark complete with trained divers to retrieve any dropped phones. Totally not to scare you as lurking underwater menaces.
Austin Hotel Pool Parties
You’re in the loop, and you know the poorly kept secret to gaining access to those envy-inducing hotel pools is their pool passes. But are you taking advantage of the various parties and events these hotels host poolside? From pool aerobics, to BBQs, there’s more summertime potential beyond the lobbies.
This South Congress landmark serves up a multitude of splashy events, but there are two that last the whole season. Get Wet Set with DJ Ulovei every Tuesday night, or hop in for some Poolside Aerobics with Erica Nix every Sunday before prime brunch hours.
The latest to join the cool kids at Bunkhouse, the 70s influenced oasis off South Lamar also offers several chances to get past their asethethically pleasing pool gate. Flex on everyone doing yoga on their paddleboards by getting Aquafit with Castle Hill Fitness on Mondays this summer, or spend your Sundays bitting into some BBQ + Pool Party with classic backyard barbeque poolside.
The romantic mansion right outside campus, the historically good time Hotel Ella’s back with their summer night series. Night of Night Swim are monthly nights when Austin can check into the Hotel Ella pool for good drinks, good food, and great music. For those looking to get some rays, Ellaerobics has the fit fix for you.
Blues on the Green
The beloved marker that summer’s arrived is back again and ready to welcome all the new comers to their next favorite musical tradition. Pick a spot on the field, maybe plan a picnic, or simply enjoy the entire town coming together at sunset to listen to incredible music, for free! Put on annually by ACL Radio, this summer season gem is a can’t miss moment.
More than a means to take your Instagram level into the pros, this interactive art gallery with their signature cocktails is a true encounter with the art world. Bridging the gap between the art and audience, fully spend an evening immersed in a wonderful world of color.
10% off with code: ATASTEOFKOKO
1205 Sheldon Cove #2A, austin.wonderspaces.com/
Austin Central Library
The crown jewel of downtown, our city’s living room is a wonderfully air-conditioned escape from the heat. Beyond serving as a perfect spot to grab a good book, or drink from their CookBook Cafe, there are a whole host of events to bring you into our beloved library. Especially for those looking to entertain their kids over summer vacation, come out to enjoy a screening of Studio Ghibli films, or get them dancing with music & movement. For those with more mature tastes and an eagerness for the spooky season to start, there’s always the True Crime Book Club.
Paramount Theatre Summer Series
Running from June to September, sink into the breathtakingly beautiful historic movie palace and enjoy a return to classic films all summer long. From cinematic treasures like The Godfather to cult classics like Rocky Horror Picture Show, “classic” caters to everyone.
Texas Games Lounge
Get out of the game of bumper tag on 35 and into a race on rainbow road inside Texas Games Lounge. An arcade covered in a technicolor wash of iconic characters, it’s hard to miss this gamers paradise. Featuring old-school games to consoles for competitive gaming, TGL will take every last one of your quarters.
While the natural world of Austin mainly focuses on our abundance of springs, we’re home to a whole host of underrated caverns worth exploring this summer. Longhorn Cavern State Park and Inner Space Caverns offer adventurous tours of the world under Austin, while Cave Without A Name provides live classical music inside their acoustically perfect caves. All truly cool experiences to put on your bucket list. Bonus points for the BBQ spots on the way to each of them.
Why do we have to leave laser tag back in middle school? With three entire floors of bridges and towers, Blazer Tag’s the largest arena for laser tag in the state. Get into the space adventure and suit up for the laser fight of your life.
Austin Bouldering Project
If you’re going to sweat it out this summer, why not have a blast while you do it? Open to anyone willing to climb a wall, Austin Bouldering Project’s far beyond the typical workout experience. With puzzling ways to navigate their walls challenging both mind and body, you’ll tear up that big box gym contract after your first visit.
Bull & Bowl
Regular bowling is for the birds. Duckpin bowling, now there’s something worth the wrist pain the next day. Off of west 6th, Bull & Bowl is the first restaurant to combine duckpin bowling, gaming, and dining all under one roof. Come to try your hand at a new old-fashioned bowl stay for their mechanical bull.
Playland Skate Center
With the nostalgia fuel that is Stranger Things Season 4, skating is back with a vengeance. A true Austin original, Playland Skate Center’s spinning the city into a neon light frenzy. With an arcade and 80s flair, you’ll easily skate this heat away into the fall. No promises the DJ plays Kate Bush.
Inside and Out
Hot Summer Nights
The summer’s answer to the Red River Districts Free Week in the winter, come out for a sultry evening of live music. Featuring artists in a slew of Red River venues, come out for three full days of no-cover shows promoting a mix of local and regional acts. With stages inside and out, it’s a choose your own adventure for how you want to get out or in this August.