Long known for its music scene, its “Keep Austin Weird” aesthetic and its inventive culinary talents, Austin is a crowd-pleaser. But when’s the best time to go?
As we head into winter, Austin’s sweltering summer has been replaced by cool days and long nights, so if you’ve been considering a visit, now’s the time.
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But if you’re planning future trips, Austin has something in store for every season: mild winters are perfect for bar-hopping on Rainey St, spring brings wildflowers to the nearby Hill Country and summer is the perfect time to sweat it out at Franklin Barbecue before diving into Barton Springs Pool.
Here’s our guide on when to visit Austin, Texas.
Winter is a great time to heat up the dance floor at Austin honky-tonks like the Broken Spoke © TLF Images / Shutterstock
Winter is the best time to find deals on accommodations
In winter, you’ll avoid the crowds and have a much more local experience of Austin. Although rarely “cold,” the city does see chilly temperatures (ranging from the low 40s°F to the low 60s°F) between December and February, and you might get some rain.
On the bright side? Tourism is light, and good hotel deals are common – although prices generally stay consistent year-round, this is your best chance at landing discounted accommodations.
Not one to let the weather get in the way of a good time, Austin still loves its live music, vinyl shopping and late-night parties, even when the temperatures drop. If you want to chase away a chill, winter is a great time to heat up the dance floor at one of Austin’s top music venues and honky-tonks, like the Broken Spoke.
Beginning in December, look for Christmas bazaars and markets, caroling, ice skating and holiday-themed performances across the city. The Austin Trail of Lights is a local favorite.
Festivals like SXSW are at the center of Austin social life in spring and fall © stock_photo_world / Shutterstock
Spring and fall are the best times for attending festivals and seeing wildflowers
From South by Southwest in March and the Urban Music Fest in April to Austin City Limits and the Austin Film Festival in October, festivals in the spring and fall are at the center of Austin social life.
Nearby in Hill Country, bluebonnets begin to peak in mid-March and bloom through mid-April, the latter being the heart of wildflower season. Consider making a day trip outside of town to witness the fields of blossoms carpeting the hills. Closer to town, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center will scratch the wildflower itch; the center hosts National Wildflower Week in May.
In fall, Austin doesn’t necessarily explode with autumn colors (with the exception of a few parks), but September sees a break from the heat of summer. Still, it can remain downright hot at the start of the season, with high temperatures in the upper 80s°F and low 90s°F.
Take a refreshing dip in Barton Springs Pool in Austin in summer © Alizada Studios / Shutterstock
Summer is the best time to see bats and chill at Barton Springs
The summer months of June, July and August are technically high season, when schools are out and families travel, but temperatures are blazing-hot, with average highs of 95℉ in June and July. It’s prime time to cool off in places like Barton Springs Pool, a chilly natural-spring pool lined with century-old pecan trees.
August is the best time to witness the bat colony under Congress Avenue Bridge. Each year, North America’s largest colony of Mexican free-tailed bats (about 1.5 million) nest on the platform underneath the bridge. As the sun sets, the bats make their nightly foray into the sky in great columns over the Colorado River.
Popular viewing points include the Congress Ave Bridge or on the grassy banks of Lady Bird Lake. Can’t get enough of the world’s only true flying mammal? Bat Fest also takes place this month.
On the Fourth of July, a grand fireworks display over Lady Bird Lake celebrates the nation’s independence, and Austin Pride marches into town in August. Summer vacationing comes to an end on Labor Day.