8 Outdoor Austin Activities to Do with your Family this Spring and Summer

There’s something about this time of year that puts a spring in your step and gives you a little extra energy. It could be the arrival of daylight savings time, the warming temperatures or knowing you still have a bit of time before summer heat throttles outside activities. So don’t wait till the air gets too hot and the mosquitos too thick. Head outdoors and enjoy life in Austin with the family doing one or all of these eight fun activities.  

Visit Auditorium Shores An Austin favorite, Auditorium Shores is the perfect place for a morning jog, bike or boat ride. It’s also a great open space for a game of Frisbee with your dog or to fly a kite. You’ll find outdoor concerts and festivals here throughout the spring and summer. With nearly 50 acres, it’s easy to get lost in the best way. Meet you at the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue!

Laugh Out Loud at the O. Henry Pun-Off World ChampionshipsWhat do you call a fake noodle? An impasta! If Dad jokes are your thing, this event is for you. The annual O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships are in their 42nd year and going strong. The hilarious happening features several different competitions of wit. The Punniest of Show competition features contestants using props, costumes, music and more to roll out their best puns. The Punslingers competition is an improv tournament where only the quickest of tongue survive. The 2019 Pun-Off World Championships takes place May 11, behind Austin’s O. Henry Museum in Brush Square Park. It’s free and open to the community. It’s for a wordy cause, so check it out and see some homegrown talent. For more information, click here

Enjoy Movies in the ParkWho doesn’t like free movies? Here’s your chance to experience the cinema under the stars. The Austin Parks Foundation aims to enhance your life by getting you outdoors with Movies in the Park, going on for more than 10 years now. The films pop up in different parks throughout the city. There might be a movie coming to a park near you. There are food trucks on-site, but you can bring your own popcorn and picnic dinner if you’d rather. There are eight films in all, that run through October. So grab your kids, pups, and blankets and catch a moonlight show. For more information, click here

Get Thrilled at “Jaws” on the WaterIf you really want an adventure, you can head just outside the city limits to Leander, TX to watch the movie “Jaws” while floating on the water. The 2019 edition of the dive-in movie begins June 8 and runs every Saturday night at The Volente Beach Resort and Beachside Billy’s on the shores of Lake Travis. Don’t be surprised if you feel something tug at your leg during the scariest parts of the movie.

Take in Some Fresh AirWhen you crave the calming effects of nature, the Austin area has you covered. Lady Bird Lake has a 10-mile hike-and-bike trail that borders the lake. You can run, walk, cycle or just immerse yourself in the beauty of nearby Barton Creek Greenbelt. If you prefer to spend your time on the water instead of next to it, you can rent canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. In addition to those more popular locations, there are countless places around Austin where you can hike in the hills, take in the colors of Texas wildflowers and celebrate the beauty of the outdoors. 

Swim at Austin LandmarksHead on over to Barton Springs Pool where the temperature is a cool 68 degrees year round. Hamilton Pool is another favorite. The natural pool was formed thousands of years ago when the dome of an underground river collapsed. Hamilton Pool is open year-round, but unlike Barton Springs pool, you need reservations to get in.

Witness Ballet Under the StarsNeed a little culture in your life? Austin Metamorphosis Dance Ensemble has been dishing it out for free, for 25 years. Picture graceful ballerinas performing pirouettes as the professional dance company presents its annual Ballet Under the Stars. The free show draws large and diverse crowds, in hopes of provoking thought and emotion. This high-quality production takes place at the Zilker Hillside Theater and begins just before sundown on May 31 and June 1. For more information, click here

Go Batty with the Whole FamilyThere’s a reason so many people hang out on the Congress Avenue Bridge every evening from spring to early fall. Tourists and locals flock to downtown Austin to see the world’s largest urban bat colony emerge at dusk. You’ll get a bird’s eye view from the bridge. For another awesome perspective, take the bat cruise down Auditorium Shores and see the 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats come out from their homes under the bridge and begin their nightly feeding on an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 pounds of insects.


Start marking your calendar! These are just a few of the activities to get you started for the season ahead. You’ll need to free up every weekend of the spring and summer to see and do everything the Austin outdoors offers.


Kath Morgan Johnson is a freelance writer in Austin, TX with an affinity to organic cooking and gardening. She spends her free time testing different growing techniques to make her beloved fruit and vegetable garden flourish with flavor.

All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and/or contributors and not of their employer. Any questions or concerns regarding the content found here may be sent to info@austinymca.org

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