A Student's Perspective on How To Spend Your Free Time In Downtown Austin

AustinThere’s a lot to see and do in this multi-colored, exhilarating city, with Austin proclaiming as nearly perfect in latest ranking of America’s dream cities due to its intense music, food, bar, and café culture. This makes it a popular tourist hotspot for both Americans and the rest of the world; however, it is also a major draw to students studying at The University of Texas.

Students needing a break from hours of studying, and tourists looking to have a memorable time all have something in common. They both want to know the best ways to spend their free time! With so many bars, restaurants, cafes, landmarks, and music venues to choose from, this following guide is going to take the pressure off and suggest the best of the best. Here’s how to spend your free time in Austin.


There’s been a massive shift in café culture the world over, so it’s no surprise that Austin is now home to some fantastic cafes which offer delicious food and coffee that’ll caffeinate your taste buds. 

  • Epoch Coffee - This café is open 24/7, and an ideal place for students to either unwind or study. This establishment has a standard menu of coffee drinks and tea. However, its simplicity makes a great hot cup of Joe in a relaxing and unique environment.
  • Radio Coffee - First and foremost, this café doesn’t have Wi-Fi. While this may be a deal breaker for some, Radio Coffee is the perfect place to unplug and disconnect from your laptop, tablet, and smartphone. The menu is substantial, with beers and kombucha on draft as well as tacos that’ll knock your socks off.
  • Cenote - If you want food with your coffee, then this is the place to go. Located in an old house, it has a large outdoor patio area with plenty of seating and shade. Great for summer.

Epoch Coffee


If your stomach is rumbling and you’re dying to taste the delicacies of Austin, you’re in for one mighty ride. The eating scene in Austin is eclectic; you can choose from fancy restaurants with more traditional foods or grab a bagel that’s filling and out of this world.
  • Nervous Charlie’s - Unlike the name suggests, you don’t have to be nervous when eating here. In fact, Nervous Charlie’s refers to Charlie the dog, who belongs to the owners of this bagel café. Choose from an Bird Bird Biscuitincredible selection of bagels, ranging from poppy seed to cinnamon raisin. Then select your choice of filling. Simple but exquisite. 
  • Bird Bird Biscuit - A new fast-casual restaurant, Bird Bird Biscuit is focused on providing the very best biscuit sandwiches. There’s a vast selection of fillings, including fried chicken thighs coated in cayenne-black pepper honey, topped with bacon-infused chipotle mayonnaise.
  • She’s Not Here - Expect fine Asian-Pacific dishes and tropical-inspired drinks here. What’s more, there’s a daily sushi special and fun plates like the sakana tempura.
  • Arlo Grey - For an upmarket dining experience, the Arlo Grey is located in a trendy hotel and run by Top Chef winner Kristen Kish. For those who want their burgers topped with caviar, this is for them.


From luscious green parks to historical monuments and museums, there’s enough to keep you busy for days if not weeks at a time. 

  • Capital of TexasTexas State Capitol - The building with its magnificent dome and granite and marble structure is sure to leave you breathless. A short walk away from the Bullock Texas State History Museum; these two landmarks make a great day out.
  • Bullock Texas State History Museum - Ever wondered about the history behind Texas? If so, this museum is owned by the Texas State Preservation Board, with its mission being to tell the story of Texas.
  • Barton Creek Greenbelt - Have the need to hike, bike, swim or even rock climb? If so, this is the must visit spot with its idyllic nature areas. 
  • Zilker Metropolitan Park - A recreational area in south Austin, this park is close to Barton Creek and the Colorado River, meaning you can canoe, kayak and paddle board. It’s also a dog-friendly park, so you and your pooch can relax together.

Live Music

Deeming itself as the live music capital of the world, Austin has live music at many venues across the city. From indie rock to pop, to jazz, no matter your genre of taste, you’ll find a spot to your liking.

  • The Continental Club - First opening their doors in 1955, this club is still considered one of the best places to visit for live music. Music legends Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant and Wanda Jackson has played here, with frequent bandsand musicians wanting to stand in front of the iconic red curtain. 
  • live music in AustinThe Mohawk - A lover of all genres? The Mohawk does not discriminate, so you can visit all kinds of music at this local favorite. Whether you want to dance up front or sit and chill in the back, this venue allows people to do both.
  • Empire Control Room & Garage - A fan of trippy light shows? If the answer’s yes, this is a must-visit venue for you. Known for their lively hip-hop parties and DJ-fueled dance parties, this is a likely favorite for students looking to put the books down and let loose. 
  • Cheer Up Charlies - Come for the bohemian music culture, stay for the fruity juice cocktails and kombucha on tap. Cheer Up (as the locals like to call it) mostly books local acts, so you can enjoy a more intimate atmosphere. 

Check out this page on Fun Things To Do In Austin loaded with fun things to see and do in and around Austin.

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Texas Outside has been alive & well since 1996 - that's ancient by today's internet standards! Texas Outside was originally developed by Lone Star Internet which is an Austin based web development company with an excellent reputation & client base. In March of 2006, we purchased Texas Outside & made a commitment to add new, exciting, & informative content on Texas outdoor activities & fun things to see & do.

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