25 Air-Conditioned Things To Do In Austin When It’s HELA HOT Outside

You’re looking at your weather app and it’s going to be a high of 106 degrees today…for the 10th day in a row. You’re starting to run out of ideas of things to do in Austin when it’s hot outside because let’s face it: those Austin patios stop being fun when the weather gets above about 90 degrees. 

I get it: Texas summers are brutal! I grew up in Texas and have survived my fair share of them. I make summer bucket lists with my kids and do my best. But it’s just SO hot from July through September. 

Since I live in Austin and spend all of my time getting to know this city and looking for fun things to do here, I figured I’d share a bunch of ideas of things to do in Austin when it’s too hot to be outside. Air conditioning, here we come! 

Barton Springs Pool

25 Things To Do In Austin When It’s REALLY HOT Outside

1. Do A Cave Tour

Inner Space Cavern | things to do in Austin with kids

This is a really fun thing to do in Austin when it’s hot outside because you’ll be underground! There are two enormous underground caverns that you can visit near Austin. Inner Space Cavern is north of Austin in Georgetown, and Natural Bridge Caverns is south of Austin near San Antonio. 

Both of these caves offer a similar experience: a dark, underground guided tour of the cave, where you’ll be shown the dark and drippy preserved Texas caves, and an above-ground adventure park. 

One thing to keep in mind is that these caves are not cold by any means. You might expect that since they’re dark and underground, but they’re consistently 72 degrees but 98% humidity, so they feel about 80 degrees. 

However, 80 degrees is a LOT better than 105 degrees that everyone is feeling above ground! So this is a really great idea for an off-the-radar thing to do in Austin when it’s incredibly hot outside.

2. Go Shopping at Barton Creek Mall

Barton Creek Square Mall play place

Even though The Domain is Austin’s premier shopping destination, Barton Creek Mall is my pick for a shopping destination on a hot day in Austin. Why? The Domain is an outdoor mall, so you’ll have to head outside every time you want to go from store to store. 

Barton Creek Mall is an older, more traditional shopping mall. But they have some great stores (Nordstrom, Anthropologie, Apple Store, Coach, Lululemon, Sephora), and there’s a little indoor play space if you’re looking for some indoor things to do with kids in Austin. 

When you get hungry, check out the Four Brothers Venezuelan at the food court. It’s one of the best food trucks in Austin, and they have a booth at Barton Creek Mall. And if you want a sit-down restauran experience, be sure to check out the Barton Creek Mall location of Polvo’s Tex-Mex. It’s a free-standing restaurant just outside the mall, but it’s one of Austin’s best Tex Mex restaurants. 

WEBSITE | 2901 S Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin, TX 78746

3. Spend The Afternoon At Pinballz

Pinballz - things to do in the Austin summers

Pinballz is a nostalgic arcade in Austin with three different locations! It will take you right back to the 80s and 90s with the vinyl chairs, checkered floors, and classic games. Their motto is “if you played it in the past, we probably have it!” 

It’s actually a really fun thing to do with a group of adults because it’s an interactive activity. If you’re looking for fun indoor things to do in Austin other than eating at restaurants or going to the movies, try checking out the arcade games at Pinballz. {Photo credit: Pinballz}

WEBSITE | 8940 Research Blvd, Austin, TX 78758

4. Spa Day at Viva Day Spa

Best Day Spas in Austin

There’s pretty much no better splurge-worthy indoor activity in Austin than booking a fabulous spa package at Viva Day Spa. It’s Austin’s premier day spa, and its massages, facials, manicures, and medical spa treatments are absolutely fabulous. 

Each one of their spas is beautifully decorated, giving off a modern, calming vibe. You’re greeted at the front desk and then brought back to a private waiting room before your treatment. The smell of lavender essential oils wafts through the air, and you’ll be offered herbal tea and peppermints while your private room is being prepared. 

When it’s a hundred degrees outside and you can’t imagine sweating the day away in the sun, try a spa day in Austin! Getting a facial inside a cold, quiet room at Viva Day Spa might be just what you need.

WEBSITE | 215 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

5. Watch A Movie At Alamo Drafthouse

Alamo Drafthouse

Sure, watching a movie is one of the most popular things to do when it’s really hot outside. But that’s because the options are nearly endless, and a cool, dark theater just feels so good. One of my favorite sensations is walking through that hot parking lot at the movie theater and then feeling the blast of AC and smell of popcorn when you walk through the theater doors. 

And Alamo Drafthouse is way more fun than a normal movie theater, anyway. They have a delicious food menu (try their Alamo Bowl if you want something healthy, or go for their burger or pizza if you just want to indulge.) They also have cocktails, boozy milkshakes, and local Austin craft beer. And for dessert, their trio of chocolate chip cookies is scrumptious. 

Alamo Drafthouse occasionally offers summer movie discounts, like $5 movies for kids, or Tuesday discounts for adults. Keep an eye on their website or get on their email list for any summer movie specials. 

WEBSITE | 1120 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

6. Swimming Holes (But Early In The Day!)

barton springs pool

I love the natural swimming holes in Austin. Barton Springs Pool, Deep Eddy, and other local hidden swimming holes are spring-fed and remain around 68 degrees year-round. While this is coooold in the spring and fall months, the water actually feels amazing when the temps hit triple digits in the summer! 

Deep Eddy is one of my favorite local Austin swimming spots. It’s the oldest swimming pool in Texas (the bath house was built during the Great Depression era!) and fed from a natural spring. Dive into the lap swimming side on the deeper end or enjoy the beach-entry on the shallow end for little kids to enjoy. 

Just be sure to avoid the middle of the day when you’re hanging out at the pool. It really is so crazy how hot it can get from 1-5 pm - yes, even at swimming pools!

7. Indoor Mini Golf At Dirdie Birdie

Dirdie Birdie

Want to play some indoor golf in Austin? It’s the perfect thing to do in Austin on a really hot day! Air conditioning, cocktails, food, and good times! 

Dirdie Birdie is one of the best restaurants at The Domain, but it’s so much more than a restaurant. It’s a locally-owned spot that’s perfect for bachelorette parties, birthdays, office gatherings, or just a fun indoor activity before dinner and drinks.

The course is really unique - definitely not your typical mini golf course! And yeah - having it all be 100% INDOORS is an absolute game-changer here in Austin. You could book this on a hot afternoon in Austin as your indoor activity and then head to dinner/show afterwards for a fun date! {Photo: Dirdie Birdie}

WEBSITE | 10910 Domain Dr Suite 120, Austin, TX 78758

8. Go To An Austin Museum

Elisabet Ney Museum

Going to an Austin Museum is one of those things that’s listed on “things to do in Austin” guides everywhere, but have you actually ever done it? It’s something that takes a bit of planning…you have to try to figure out when they’re open, book tickets, arrange parking. But I’m telling you, if you haven’t been to some of these museums in a while (or ever), you should go! 

The Blanton Museum of Art is one of the largest University art museums in the country. There are more than 21,000 works of art here! (And did you know that there’s free admission for everyone on Tuesdays at The Blanton?) The Bob Bullock Museum is a very popular spot for school-age kids to take field trips. But if you haven’t been as an adult, it’s a great thing to do on a hot summer day in Austin. No school crowds, and the museum is really well done. You might learn something about Texas’s history that you never knew. Of course, the LBJ Presidential Library is a must in Texas. Plan on spending about a half day there. And if you want something small and quick, the Elisabet Ney Sculpture Museum is located in central Austin. It’s actually the prolific sculptor's former art workshop and you can also see a selection of her art there. You can tour it (for free - donations accepted) and see where she lived, slept, and worked. 

To see a guide to getting into these 11 Austin museums for free, click here

9. Cap City Comedy Club

Nothing like a comedy club for a fun night out! It’s more interactive than a movie, often more interesting than a music show, and (best of all) it’s INDOORS! Cap City Comedy Club is a good way to escape the Austin heat and get in a few laughs.

WEBSITE | Bldg B, 11506 Century Oaks Terrace Unit 100, Austin, TX 78758

10. Book A Staycation At An Austin Hotel

Best Boutique Hotels in Austin

If it’s way too hot in Austin to do anything, why don’t you just book a swanky hotel for the day and enjoy staying indoors? There are some fantastic Austin hotels that have stunning lobbies, gorgeous rooms, award-winning restaurants, and rooftop pools. You could never leave the hotel for a weekend and have a fabulous time. 

Check out The Proper in downtown Austin if you want to splurge. It’s home to two fantastic restaurants (Mexican and Mediterranean) as well as a fantastic cocktail bar, and the rooftop pool is gorgeous.) South Congress Hotel is lots of fun with 3 fantastic restaurants, a coffee shop with GREAT pastries, and a speakeasy cocktail bar + a rooftop pool. And Hotel Magdalena at Music Lane has a lovely grassy pool oasis, a beautiful restaurant, and a hidden underground vinyl bar featuring custom vintage hi-fi equipment. 

11. Climb at Crux Climbing Center

crux climbing center in austin

Book an afternoon climbing session at Crux Climbing Center if it’s really hot in Austin! This rock-climbing gym has regular members who show up daily for their workout, but they also have visitors who are stopping by and learning how to rock climb for the first time. 

You’ll be given a brief instruction period from one of the employees so that you can safely climb and explore on your own or with a friend. After you're done climbing, walk across the parking lot to Cosmic Coffee and Cocktails and enjoy a beverage and a bite of food from one of their awesome food trucks.

WEBSITE | 6015 Dillard Cir #B, Austin, TX 78752

12. Do your grocery shopping at HEB Lake Austin Blvd

Ok, hear me out on this one… When it’s HOT outside, there’s nothing more fabulous than never ever ever having to leave the air conditioning. This big new HEB on Lake Austin Blvd has an underground parking garage, elevators up to the grocery store, and escalators to get back to your car. Yep, there’s even a private escalator for your shopping cart! 

The HEB shopping experience here is quite swanky. They have a sushi bar, a Texas craft BBQ restaurant, and a coffee shop. Enjoy a bite to eat, and then leisurely browse the grocery store for everything you want or need before heading back to your car. And your car won’t be a hundred and ten degrees because you parked it underground in their private parking lot. Genius.

WEBSITE | 2652 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin

13. Old School Bowling at Westgate Lanes

Westgate Lanes

There are so many trendy new places to go for bowling and karaoke and cocktails, but how about an old-school bowling alley in Austin? Westgate Lanes has been around forever. It’s not flashy, but it’s classic. 

If you need some things to do in Austin when it’s really hot outside, book a few lanes at Westgate Lanes with a group of friends, order a beer, and enjoy the air conditioning. Bowling is one of those things that’s a blast whether you're a total pro or you’re really bad at it. (*Raises hand.) 

WEBSITE | 2701 W William Cannon Dr, Austin, TX 78745

14. Get Out In Nature (EARLY In The Day!)

Shoal Creek Greenbelt Running Trail in Austin

Even on the hottest days of the year, you can enjoy the mornings in Austin! The sun rises early in the summer, so get out there and enjoy the cooler temperatures while you go on a walk, run by the Lady Bird Lake trail, go to your favorite bike trail, or explore a nearby hiking spot

15. Pick Your Favorite Austin Activity And Find The Equivalent In A Nearby City

A Guide To Texas Craft Brewers Festival-2

This is something that I often do when I’ve exhausted all of my Austin options and I’m still looking for fun things to do when it’s hot outside.

I pick one of my favorite indoor activities in Austin (taking my kids to the kids museum, visiting craft breweries with my husband, going to one of my favorite Austin hotels) and then I’ll just do the same thing - but in a nearby town like New Braunfels or San Antonio or Driftwood. 

Try picking something you often do in Austin and then just find the equivalent in a nearby city! 

16. Browse The Epic Austin Library

The Coolest Libraries in Austin

It was named one of the WORLD’S GREATEST PLACES by TIME in 2018. The downtown central Austin library cost $125 million to build and features outdoor porches, a technology room, private meeting rooms, a technology lab, and a floating staircase. 

It’s a jaw-dropping place to visit and walkthrough. If you have some time, stop by the periodicals section and read a magazine, or browse the aisles to find your next favorite book.

17. Drink A Ton Of Electrolytes

Duh, but just make sure you’re staying hydrated in the Austin heat. I like to start my day with one of these so I’m super hydrated from the beginning. Not kidding here - these are the most delicious, science-backed hydration sticks I’ve ever tried. I love how they basically taste like you’re sipping on a salty margarita….minus the tequila! 

18. Find A Dark Speakeasy Bar

best cocktail bars in Austin - Here Nor There

Nothing like stepping out of the Austin heat into a hidden dark speakeasy! There are a lot of really cool ones in Austin. 

Try Here Nor There, my pick for speakeasy with the very best cocktails or Small Victory (which I mention in my book!). Two other cool ones are Bosses Office in east Austin and Firehouse Lounge, which is inside the city’s oldest standing firehouse in downtown Austin. 

19. Go Ice Skating at Chaparral Ice

You know what’s great on a hot Austin afternoon? ICE ICE BABY! (And lots of it!)

Chaparral Ice is Austin’s skating rink. It’s used for hockey games and practices, but it’s also open to the public for free skate at certain times. Skate rental is very inexpensive. This is a fun thing to do in Austin when it’s REALLY hot outside and you need air conditioning and lots of ice! 

WEBSITE | 2525 W Anderson Ln. #400, Austin, TX 78757

20. Punch Bowl Social

Best Restaurants At The Domain

Punch Bowl Social is a fun spot in Austin for a big group hangout in the summer months! It’s a restaurant, bar, and gaming destination with two locations in Austin. 

Their downtown location has a restaurant on the ground floor and then the bowling alley, karaoke, and arcade room are all downstairs on the basement floor. So this spot really is dark and cool and perfect for an indoor activity when it’s hot outside. 

WEBSITE | 11310 Domain Dr Suite 100, Austin, TX 78758

21. GameOn! ATX

GameOn! is a group experience inspired by classic TV game shows that we all know and love. If you’ve ever wanted to be one of the contestants on one of those TV shows with the buzzers and the countdowns and the screaming crowds, try this place out. They even have an XL Game Show experience for up to 44 people. You can book that one for a joint bachelor/bachelorette party, or a big office party bonding experience. 

WEBSITE | 1515 Dungan Ln #200, Austin, TX 78754

22. Rent A Boat with Float On

Float On Boat Rentals

When the weather is really hot in Austin, it’s hard to beat a day out on the water. Lake Austin and Lake Travis have lots of boat rental companies, but I’ve used Float On a few times and I always love their friendly drivers, the ease of pick up/drop off, and those giant lilly pads for floating in the water when the boat stops! 

23. Listen To Live Music (Indoors)

C-Boys Heart And Soul

You probably won’t find me at an outdoor concert venue in Austin during the hottest months of the year…but luckily we have a lot of great indoor spots! This is the live music capital of the world, after all. 

If it’s too hot outside and you’re looking for some fun stuff to do in Austin in the summer months, be sure to check out the calendar at Saxon Pub on South Lamar, C Boys on South Congress, and both Parker Jazz Club and Elephant Room in downtown Austin. 

24. Eat Ice cream!

Zed's Ice Cream in Austin Texas

It’s hot outside, ice cream is cold. Need I say more?

25. Just Acclimate And Go Outdoors…Safely!

best restaurants with a view in Austin

The weird thing about living in Texas is that you slowly start to acclimate to the 100+ degrees. Of course, this isn’t true if you want to be outside ALL day (or if you have to work in the heat as, say, a Texas roofer or construction worker.) But if you’re living in Austin and want to be outdoors, it’s totally possible to spend time outside in the summer. 

Just following these guidelines for being outside in Austin in the summer: 

- Be sure to bring lots and lots of water. Ice, too! Bring more than you think. Invest in a high-quality water bottle that keeps things cold all day and you’ll use it forever. 

- Keep a pack of electrolytes nearby. You’ll feel it if you’re starting to get overheated and dehydrated, and these sticks help your body replace the salt it has lost. I’ve found that if I have a dehydration headache coming on, I can just consume one of these and I won’t need any ibuprofen or pain relievers to get rid of the headache. 

- It’s a bit dorky, but those misting fans really are nice when you’re outside! If you have a music festival or outdoor activity in Austin, bring one of these! 

- Dress accordingly. Shorts and a sports bra are totally appropriate clothing in the Austin summers. 

- Get inside when you need to. If you’re at an outdoor concert or you’re exploring Austin in the middle of a hot day, plan some air conditioning breaks. And if you feel really overheated, find a place to get inside when you need to cool down. 

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