SPRING BREAK!! If those two words in all caps don’t make you want to jump in a swimming pool and open a can of ice-cold beer, not sure anything will… 😉 Austin Texas is one of the premier destinations for spring break travelers around the country. Why? Sun, tacos, music, swimming. Do you really need anything else? Actually, yeah…it’s also home to one of the biggest music festivals in the entire country, which happens to occur during spring break. If you’ve decided to head to Austin in March and you’re looking for spring break ideas in Austin, we’ve got you covered.
But first of all…hang tight. March in Austin is bonkers. With about 275,000 people attending the SXSW music festival, it’s easily one of the most expensive times to book a flight or a hotel in Austin.
Maybe you can drive to Austin or you already live here. And you can crash with some friends, or book an Airbnb far on the outskirts of town, away from the SXSW crowds.
Or maybe you’re 100% just committed to visiting Austin during spring break in order to get a taste of South By. (In that case, here are some ideas of how to do SXSW for free.)
What To Do In Austin For Spring Break
1. Explore East Austin
Easily one of the coolest pockets of Austin, the east side has murals, breweries, restaurants, bars, food trucks, and concert venues. It still has that grungy, “weird” vibe that just feels like Austin, unlike downtown, which is all shiny new skyscrapers at this point.
East Austin is great for a day or two of exploring. You can check out a few taco trucks, or maybe just find a fun patio that has tacos and margaritas. And you could easily just ride or walk around and check out some of these instagrammable spots in east Austin.
3 East Austin must visits:
2. Rent A Boat on Lake Austin
If you’re lucky and get warm weather in March (because we all know that the crazy Austin weather does whatever it wants…), definitely rent a boat for a half or a full day. There are several great boating companies on Lake Austin and Lake Travis (Float On is a good one), and they’ll provide a boat, a driver, and even a Lily Pad and a cooler for beers!
3. Go Hiking
March is one of the best times to go hiking in Austin! From the challenging, hilly path of River Place Nature Trail to the quick and easy Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve, there are plenty of places where you can get out in nature without driving far at all. Here’s a map of some of our favorite hiking trails in Austin.
3 Austin Hiking Trails You Should Try
- River Place Nature Trail
- Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve
- Hike and Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake
4. Jump In Barton Springs
Is it even spring break if you don’t jump in Barton Springs? This spring-fed swimming pool near Zilker Park is three acres in size and 68 degrees year-round…perfect on a hot Texas day! And if Barton Springs is really crowded (again, hundreds of thousands of folks come to Austin to attend SXSW, so the popular spots can be a bit crowded), here are some other swimming holes in and around Austin that are worth visiting.
5. Stand In Line At A Few Austin BBQ Spots
Honestly, this probably should be first on the list of spring break ideas in Austin. If you’re visiting Austin, you must check out at least one Texas BBQ joint. Some of the best bbq in the country are right here in Austin (Interstellar, Franklin Barbecue, LeRoy, and Lewis, just to name a few) and you can find one near you on this map.
6. Go On A Breakfast Taco Crawl
Austin and breakfast tacos go hand-in-hand, and if you're in Austin for spring break, there's a good chance you’ll have a hangover at least one day and you’ll need a big potato/egg/bacon/cheese taco for breakfast.
Start by looking at this list of the legit BEST breakfast tacos in Austin, and then pick one or two to visit during your spring break in Austin.
7. Check Out Some Museums In Austin
Spring break might actually be one of the best times to go to a museum in Austin because all of the school-aged children won’t be doing their field trips this week. There are some fascinating museums in Austin, including a Texas history museum, and incredible art museum at The University of Texas, and a presidential library (there are only 15 of those in the entire country!)
There are actually a lot of ways to visit these museums for free; if you’re interested in that, here are some ideas of how to visit the best museums in Austin for free.
8. Spend A Day Doing 100% Free Things In Austin
Speaking of free, you could absolutely figure out a way to only do free things in Austin for a day! From seeing the Congress Bridge bats to mural-hopping to saying hi to the peacocks at Mayfield park, there are plenty of weird things to do in Austin that are free.
9. Try To Do SXSW For Free
We’re saying “try” because it's definitely easy to buy passes and wristbands…but if you’re up for the challenge, there are a lot of free shows at SXSW. Here’s a list of some of the best social media accounts to start following if you’re trying to do SXSW for free.
Tip: Banger’s on Rainey Street has a bunch of free music shows during SXSW - no wristband required!
10. Listen To Some Live Music
Yes, you can come to Austin during spring break and listen to some live music that’s not part of SXSW. It’s few and far between, and most places will just say it’s an “unofficial SXSW show,” but go ahead and look at this map of the best live music venues in Austin.
Find a venue that looks good to you, and then see who’s playing there during spring break in Austin.
11. Rent A Bike In Austin
There are few things better than renting a bike during your spring break in Austin and riding it on a sunny day! In fact, many of these Austin bike rental companies offer guided tours, in case you’d like to make sure you see all of the hot spots in Austin.
Or just rent a bike on your own and use it to ride around town. Be sure to visit SOCO, stop by some famous murals, get ice cream at Amy’s, ride around the Texas State Capitol Building, and visit a taco truck.
12. Go Two-Stepping At A Honky Tonk
Ready to get your country on? Grab your boots and shine up your belt buckle and get ready to two-step!
Let’s be honest…most people don’t know how to do the Texas two-step. But that’s ok, because a lot of these honky tonks in Austin offer lessons!
13. Find An Epic Place To Watch The Austin Sunset
Daylight Savings starts just before spring break in Austin, which means you’ll be able to enjoy longer evenings and prettier sunsets. There’s something incredible about watching the sun slip behind the horizon, especially when you’re watching from a beautiful place like Mount Bonnel or the 360 Bridge Overlook. We have a map of the best places to watch the sunset in Austin. Try to carve out one evening to slow down, unwind, and finish your day by watching the sunset.