1. Walk, jog, or bike along the Boardwalk at Lady Bird Lake. The boardwalk was completed in 2014 and meanders along the south shore of the lake. The 1.3-mile boardwalk features beautiful views of downtown Austin and completes the 10-mile loop of Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail (known as Town Lake Trail to most locals). Runners, walkers, cyclists, and commuters alike share this path, and it is just one example of Austin’s vibrant and healthy lifestyle.
2. Drink some beer! East Austin boasts a number of breweries with great outdoor space, including Blue Owl, Hops & Grain, Zilker, and Lazarus. Whether you’re looking for beer full of hops, something easy to drink in the Austin heat, a good sour, or an all-around beer flight, you’ll find it on the East Side.
3. Take your turn on the water slide at Bartholomew Park and Pool. This municipal pool off E. 51st street reopened after renovations last summer and has been extremely popular since. New features include a water slide and shade canopies. This site has multiple pools with varying depths for recreational swim in addition to lap lanes.
4. Shop at the Texas Farmers’ Market at Mueller. If you ask around town for the best farmers’ market, many people will say “Mueller” without hesitation. This family- and dog-friendly market is open on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. In addition to the traditional farm stands and fresh flowers, you’ll find kid activities, free community composting, and local artisans. Often you’ll hear live music playing as you shop.
5. Chow down on some brisket and ribs at La Barbecue or J. Leonardi’s. Austin is known for many things. In addition to being the live music capital of the world and being one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, Austin is known for its barbeque. It’s true that you may have to wait in a long line wherever you go (looking at you, Franklin), but the food is well worth the wait.
6. Enjoy an afternoon at East Austin Succulents. Bring your own container or buy a container there; it is up to you! The staff at East Austin Succulents is there to help. This business creates custom arrangements of cacti and succulents and will provide estimates to get the job done for you or simply point you in the right direction if you’re on the DIY track. They also stock pottery, individual cactus and succulents, and potting soil. It’s a creative, beautiful spot.
7. Hike or swim at McKinney Falls State Park. Located just minutes outside Austin’s urban core, McKinney Falls State Park offers a convenient respite from the city. The park features almost nine miles of hiking trails, 81 campsites, and numerous swimming holes and fishing spots fed by Onion Creek. Recently, the park added six cabins available to rent for overnight stays as well. In addition, the limestone throughout the park keeps people bouldering and climbing all day long.
8. Enjoy a drink or meal on a nice patio. Did we mention Austin is also known for patios and decks? Every restaurant and bar that wants to make it here seems to have one! East of I-35 there are countless delicious eats and drinks to choose from, including Yellow Jacket Social Club, Weather Up, and Licha’s Cantina.
Austin’s East Side has grown markedly in the last several years. It’s hip; it’s quirky; it’s fun. There are countless restaurants, bars, and outdoor opportunities to check out, and this area of town has boundless character and culture if you know where to look.