One of the great things about Austin is that it has something for everyone. While we admit it’s harder finding spots in Austin if you’re under 21, it’s not impossible. Growing up, we were mesmerized by this city. We still are!
Lucky for us (and you!), we’ve always been able to find things to do in the ATX, even when under 21. That’s why we put together this list of the top spots. Because even if you aren’t legal, there’s a little bit of something for everyone in Austin!
Enjoy The Great Outdoors
Austin is a very active city. No matter what time of day, you’ll see people out and about. The best thing about these outdoor activities is that they’re great for everyone no matter their age. Whether you’re visiting or a local, Zilker Park is one of the best spots in town for just about any outdoor activity you can think of.
The 350-acre park runs adjacent to Lady Bird Lake, which includes a number of popular spots for kayaking and paddle boarding. Zilker also has Barton Springs Pool which is a natural spring pool that’s been a favorite of Austinites for centuries.
Zilker also provides a lot of seasonal events. For a full list of their seasonal calendar click here.
Another favorite outdoor spot in the city is Mount Bonnell. It’s a must see as it’s one of the highest points in Austin at 775 feet. If you’re not out of breath after the 102 stair climb up then you will be once you see the view from the top! After a hike up Mount Bonnell, we recommend heading down to Mozart’s Coffee Roaster for a post-hike cup of coffee while sitting on their massive wooden deck located right on Lake Austin. Try their bottomless cold brau paired with a fresh fruit tart. It’s the perfect combo!
Zilker Park – 2100 Barton Springs Rd.
Barton Springs – 2131 William Barton Dr.
Mount Bonnell – 3800 Mount Bonnell Rd.
Mozart’s Coffee – 3825 Lake Austin Blvd.
Shop Till You Drop
Another activity that’s great in Austin, especially if you’re under 21, is shopping! There are plenty of options to choose from whether you’re into thrifting or name brands.
If you’re heavy into thrifting and vintage t-shirts then head over to The Drag. Located across from the UT campus there’s plenty to do even if you aren’t technically a Longhorn. One of our favorite stops is Buffalo Exchange. Whether you’re selling or simply shopping, it’s one of the first stops you should make on your thrifting adventure.
Next up, head over to Lo-Fi Vintage were you’ll also find wall-to-wall racks of awesome vintage t-shirts alongside some great instagram worthy murals. There’s plenty to choose from!
If you want even more thrift and consignment, but also like handmade and locally crafted items, head to South Congress! SOCO has a lot to offer from consignment and thrift stores like Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds, to great coffee shops and restaurants, as well as more upscale stores like Madewell and Kendra Scott.
We’ve chatted with the Austin jewelry designer many time over the years. KS moved to Austin when she was 19, so she probably has a her own list of things to do in Austin when you’re under 21. And we’re betting we’d have some overlap! If you want to check out one of our chats with her, click here.
As we were saying, SOCO has it all. Make sure to stop at the beloved local Amy’s Ice Cream on your way out. And don’t miss getting a picture with the famous “I love you so much” mural across the street at Jo’s Coffee. Don’t kid yourselves… even if you’re a local we know you still want a picture with that infamous mural.
Even More Shopping
OH, one more place that’s near downtown you need to hit up; Waterloo Records is an absolute must. If you love listening to music, talking about music and/ or purchasing music, this is your spot. Waterloo Records is an Austin staple and has been for years. If those walls could talk, they’d be humming Willie Nelson, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, all of which are some of the past in store performers. Trust us, you want to check this place out. It’s legendary.
Of course, if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of downtown then you’ll probably find yourself at The Domain. The shopping and entertainment mecca is practically a city in itself with retail, restaurants, office space and residential. The Domain is constantly growing and there’s always something “coming soon,” especially at the Domain Northside. It’s a great place to spend time with friends, family and even your dog!
The Drag – 2100 Guadalupe St.
Buffalo Exchange – 2904 Guadalupe St.
Lo-Fi Vintage – 604 W 29th St.
Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds – 1506 S. Congress Ave.
Madewell – 1329 S. Congress Ave.
Kendra Scott – 1701 S. Congress Ave.
Amy’s Ice Cream – 1301 S. Congress Ave.
Waterloo Records – 600 N. Lamar Blvd.
The Domain – 11410 Century Oaks Terrace
Rock On With The Live Music Capital of the World
Ever wonder why Austin is known as the Live Music Capital of the World? It’s because in the early 90’s they discovered that Austin had more live music venues per capita than anywhere else in the United States. Music is another thing that is, for the most part, inclusive.
The only issue with some of the concert venues are the age restrictions on specific shows. We highly suggest looking up venues you love and checking their monthly calendars to see which shows are 18+. Sorry in advance about the embarrassing X’s on your hands. We’ve all been there.
Some of our favorite venues are Antone’s, Emos and Stubb’s, though many of the shows there are 21+. There is, however, an all ages venue that we also love. ACL Live at Moody Theater is an all ages venue that hosts over a 100 concerts a year. It’s the venue where they tape Austin City Limits, the PBS series that is the longest running music series in American television history.
That’s not where the Austin City Limits brand stops. Austin City Limits is a TV show, festival, venue and radio show. It’s even expanded to Sydney, Australia for Sydney City Limits and Auckland, New Zealand for Auckland City Limits.
All ages are welcome at the festival that happens every October in Zilker Park. Make sure to check out this year’s ACL line-up here.
Another festival fave is South by South West. The 10 day festival takes over the entire city, spanning multiple venues, hotels, restaurants, bars and even empty lots. Growing up, the festival did not have an app that made it easy for me to see if an event was 21+. Lucky for you they now have that convenient option. You can also volunteer with the fest! As a volunteer you can choose how many hours you work, dependent on the perk you want. It’s a great way to experience the festival from the inside out. The SXSW volunteer program is open to both Austin residents and out of town residents. Whether you volunteer, attend the free SXSW events, or you decide to just hang out at the food trucks and people watch, it’s an experience. And a very Austin one at that.
Antone’s Nightclub – 305 E. 5th St.
Emo’s – 2015 E Riverside Dr.
Stubb’s – 801 Red River St.
ACL Live at Moody Theater – 310 W. Willie Nelson Blvd.
ACL Music Festival – Zilker Park – 2100 Barton Springs Rd.
Take in Some Street Art
Back in our day, tagging blank public walls with spray paint was called graffiti and sometimes considered vandalism. Now, thanks to social media, it’s called street art. Not that we’re complaining. We love them no matter what they’re called. We may be biased but we think Austin’s street art rivals cities like New York these days.
Art is another activity that doesn’t require you to pull out your ID. It seems like Austin has a new mural popping up every other day. If you’re lucky enough you might just get asked to help paint one. So grab a cup of joe from a local coffee shop and hit the streets of Austin to see some of our favorite works of (street) art.
Hi, How Are You? – Guadalupe and 21st St.
I <3 Queso – 2606 Guadalupe St.
We Rise – 12th and Chicon
I Love You So Much – 1300 S. Congress Ave.
Willie For President – 1415 S Congress Ave.
Criquet Shirts Billboard (designs vary) – 1603 S. 1st St.
Greetings From Austin – 720 S. 1st. St. at Annie
And if that’s not enough for you, you can always get in on the grub. Eating is another thing that has no age requirement and there’s so much to choose from! Yet another great thing about Austinites is that while we’re very health conscious, yet we still know good food! There are so many options, not just in the type of food but each menu catering to different dietary restrictions. And since there are very few bad choices you can make on the food front (and so very many good), we’re going to leave this topic for another day.
So there you have it! The top things to do in Austin if you’re under 21! No need to worry about your age and what you can’t do! In Austin, you can always find something amazing to do. You just have to get out there and do it!
This post was completed with reporting assistance from Sofia Herrera.