As the state capital of Texas, the city of Austin is home to a thriving tech sector, which has earned it the nickname of “Silicon Hills.” Situated along the Colorado River, this bustling city hosts a diverse mix of residents, from musicians and students to government workers and tech employees. Many older millennials enjoy the city’s laid-back ambiance and range of entertainment options. The locals stay true to the city’s motto of “Keep Austin Weird.” Stay at one of many incredible Austin vacation rentals to easily explore this charming Central Texan city. Here are just a few things to do in Austin.

1. View the World’s Largest Bat Colony

One of the most famous attractions in the city, the Congress Avenue Bridge hosts the world’s largest bat colony, which contains over 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats. While you can leave your vacation rental at any time near dusk to see these flying mammals head out for an exciting evening on the town, the city hosts a yearly festival, called Annual Bat Fest, which celebrates these tiny inhabitants. If you’re lucky enough to visit in late-summer, this festival boasts live music, arts and crafts vendors, and lots of food and drinks from local establishments. You can also enter bat costume contests and let your kids participate in interactive learning activities, making this the place to be for the entire family.

2. Learn About Texas at the Bullock Museum

Situated on Congress Avenue, the Bullock Museum showcases all things Texas. This museum doesn’t relegate itself to stuff historic tales — it also highlights the Lonestar States more modern accomplishments and heroes. From science-themed exhibits for both kids and adults and free concerts during the summer to attractions filled with historic artifacts and days set aside to honor the native population, this museum offers a little something for everyone, and if you go on the first Sunday of each month, Texas grocery store H-E-B provides you with free admission.

3. Take a Free Tour of the Texas State Capitol

Grab the kids, and enjoy a day exploring the Texas State Capitol. Located on Congress Avenue like many of the city’s other attractions, this building offers free tours most days of the week, giving you a good grounding on Texas’s history, first as a nation of its own, then as a part of the United States. Head into the Visitors Center here to arrange a tour, then explore photographs and exhibits ranging from historic to more contemporary concerns. While here, take a peek at some of the special projects the city has in play to make Austin an even more exciting place to visit.

4. Munch Away on an Austin Eats Food Tour

Taste the best food options Austin has to offer by going on an Austin Eats food tour. Let a well-seasoned local take you around to all the must-try area restaurants, food trucks, and pubs, and enjoy everything from requisite Tex-Mex flavors and delectable Texas barbecue to delicious dive dishes paired with craft beers and a wide array of ethnic treats, such as Italian sandwiches and brisket kolaches.

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5. Romp With your Kids and Dog at Zilker Park

Venture out from your vacation rental, and spend a day in the great outdoors at Zilker Park. Located on 351 acres donated to the city by Andrew Jackson Zilker, this park offers various activities year-round, including sand volleyball courts, botanical and sculpture gardens, and a miniature kids’ train that gives them 20-minute park tours. If you’re feeling brave, take a dip in Barton Springs Pool, a spring-fed pool that sits between 68 and 70 degrees F, giving you an easy option for cooling down on hot summer days.

6. Wind Down on Rainey Street

Spend a lazy day exploring historic Rainey Street, an area filled with old houses converted into top-notch restaurants and pubs, most with outdoor patios that are great for people watching. Whether you enjoy fine dining or just want to cool down with a craft beer from a local brewery, this street has something for you, including kid-friendly options and those with live music.

7. Relax on the San Marcos River

Head 30 miles south of Austin on hot summer days to cool down as you float on the San Marcos River. Austin Tour Company provides float rentals from Friday to Sunday throughout the summer, giving you amazing views of Texas Hill Country. Pack up the kids and a waterproof cooler, then head out from your vacation home for a cool, relaxing day enjoying nature.

8. Take in a Movie and a Meal at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

Check out the listings, then make your way to the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. This theater shows all kinds of movies, including kid-appropriate fare, cult film classics, and the latest blockbusters. While watching the movie, you can order from an extensive menu of delectable dishes and enjoy a cold brew, glass of wine, or cocktails. This chilled-out venue makes a great way to escape the heat of Austin summers.

9. Enjoy Live Music Indoors or Out

Famous for its patronage of up-and-coming musicians, Austin lives up to its nickname as Live Music Capital of the World. The city hosts an exceptional range of music festivals throughout the year, lots of live music venues, and tapings of the iconic Austin City Limits at the Moody Theater. Other must-see venues include Emo’s, Stubb’s, and Mohawk.

10. Take a Trek up Mount Bonnell

At 775 feet, Mount Bonnell is the highest point in Austin, providing amazing views of the city below. Use the hand rails and 102 steps to reach the top of this stunning peak, then make your way to the 360-degree bridge at the top to experience a panoramic view. Open to tourists since the 1850s, this spot serves as one of the city’s oldest attractions, and it’s free to visit, making it a great way to spend time outdoors with your family.

11. Celebrate Your Love for Eeyore

Winnie the Pooh fans flock to Austin on the last Saturday of April to celebrate Eeyore’s birthday at Pease Park. Ideal for family time, this annual event provides lots of food and drinks plus live music, and all the proceeds go to area nonprofit organizations, so you can feel good about enjoying the famous donkey’s birthday party with your kids.

12. Become an Expert on All Things Cheese

Learn all about cheeses and how to pair them with various meals and wines with a class at Antonelli’s Cheese. Take a break from your Austin vacation rental, and enjoy sampling themed cheeses and get the inside scoop on their origins and how they’re made. This establishment offers classes throughout the year tailored to specific holidays and other Austin events.

13. Go Swimming at Hamilton Pool

Reserve a spot with the Travis County Parks System, then enjoy a day in the cool, clear water of Hamilton Pool, a natural grotto ideal for swimming. This pool sits inside a reserve, and throughout the summer, admission requires reservations, though off-visits don’t. Here, you can explore the surrounding area for an up-close and personal look at native flora and fauna amid amazing scenery.

14. Explore Oddities at Uncommon Objects

Lose yourself in exploring an infinite variety of items at South Congress Avenue’s Uncommon Objects. This shop has loads of old-fashioned dolls and jewelry just waiting for a new home, and you can peruse numerous antique photographs to indulge your sense of mystery and spark your imagination. This shop also has lots of taxidermied animals, letting you get a close-up look at preserved versions of Texas’s native wildlife alongside creatures from around the world.

15. Take a Bike Ride Around Lady Bird Lake

Make the most of balmy days by renting a bike and touring around Lady Bird Lake. Numerous city parks sit around this body of water, giving you a chance to explore numerous nature areas, including Auditorium Shores. This two-hour tour includes a guide, bike, and equipment, and when you finish, you can explore the Boardwalk for ample dining and shopping opportunities.

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