Staycation Ideas in Austin

So let’s say, hypothetically speaking, you have some days off coming up.

Maybe you’re retired and you have free days as far as the eye can see! Maybe (and perhaps this is more likely) you have a bunch of non-rollover PTO to use, but lack the financial or motivational oomph to take an extravagant vacation away from home. Or, say you’re recovering from a foot surgery, or your spouse is and you took some time off to help out.

What’s the obvious solution here? A staycation, of course!

After all, while Austin might not have the international profile or the glitz and glamour of Manhattan or Disney World, there’s still more great things to do and see than you could ever possibly cover within the span of a week or two. People from around the world visit all the time! The fact that you actually live here doesn’t mean you can’t, too!

Day Tripper
Outdoor Enthusiast

We love The Day Tripper with Chet Garner! Take a page from their book and explore all that Texas has to offer—only a day away!

With Austin as your home base, there’s a truly staggering variety of attractions, activities, and amusements within an easy day trip. Go be a tourist, then return home and sleep in your bed at night. It’s the best of both worlds.

  • For the outdoor enthusiast. There’s certainly no shortage of jaw-dropping natural vistas, hiking trails for every skill level, and outdoor activities. Just 10 miles from downtown, McKinney Falls State Park offers camping, hiking, fishing, geocaching, biking, and is more accessible to even the most travel-allergic Austinites. Further afield, you’ll find plenty of state parks, natural preserves, and stunning caves, waterfalls, karst topography, and more throughout the Hill Country—check out Hamilton Pool if you’ve never been!
  • For the thrill seeker. Schlitterbahn has been the world’s greatest waterpark since pretty much forever—in fact, it’s won the “Best Waterpark” Golden Ticket Award from Amusement Today every single year since polling began. And Six Flags Fiesta Texas is home to, among other things, Iron Rattler—declared the 4th best steel roller coaster in the world by the same publication last year. Both are easily within a 2-hour drive of just about anywhere in Greater Austin.
  • For the appreciator of “the finer things.” How often do you treat yourself to a spa day? How about a winery tour? A trip to the art gallery? High-end boutique shopping? Fine dining? The staycation is the perfect opportunity to treat yourself and stay classy. Remember—you’re on vacation! Treat your town like a tourist instead of a resident, and indulge a little bit.
  • For the amateur historian. Austin is home to dozens of great museums—we’re partial to the Bullock Museum downtown, which is packed the brim with permanent exhibits on Texas history and special exhibits on a wide range of topics. Of course, the Hill Country is packed with historic towns, and if you’re up for a trek down to San Antonio there’s plenty more museums and historic architecture to explore. Remember the Alamo! (Groan.)

For the True Homebodies

Compile a Reading List

Of course, some people want or need to be really hardcore about the “stay” portion of the staycation. Whether a recent foot injury or surgery is forcing you to stay indoors, or you just really, really like your alone time, there are plenty of ways you can stay engaged even within your own four walls.

  • Compile a reading list. The best in new fiction? Classics of yesteryear you never got around to? Trashy romance? Whatever your pleasure, make yourself a reading list, then grab your sturdiest tote and fill it up at the library.
  • Fill up the Netflix queue. How many movies are on your “I’ve been meaning to see that” or “I’ve heard that one’s good” lists? Now’s your chance. Instead of just browsing aimlessly and ending up watching nothing (our very scientific research indicates this is how about 77% of Netflix sessions turn out), select a handful of films or TV shows beforehand and stick to it.
  • Camp in the backyard. Here’s a good one if you’ve got a couple of kiddos. You don’t have to make the trek out to a state park to get in some camping—just pop up that tent right in the backyard, and cook some s’mores over the grill. Sure, you’ll have to keep the noise down to maintain the neighborhood peace. But there’s something nice about enjoying an evening under the stars. Plus, if you need to bail, your bed is less than a minute away.
  • Learn a new hobby or skill. Haven’t you always wanted to learn how to crochet? Okay, maybe not crochet, but something else maybe? Origami? Needlework? Scrapbooking? Making your own soap or candles? Learning a new craft can be a lot of fun, and can keep you entertained not just for a week, but potentially the rest of your life. Most of them aren’t really that hard to learn either—you just have to make the time for them. On your staycation, time is something you have in abundance.

The most important thing to remember with any staycation is that you don’t allow yourself to fall into your normal patterns and routines—watching TV, surfing the internet, doing the laundry. It shouldn’t feel like a bunch of normal Saturdays in a row. You’re on vacation! You just happen to be sleeping at home.

So set some ground rules about screen time and chores (i.e., don’t do them), make an itinerary of cool and fun things to do, and then go do them! In the end, you’ll feel a lot more satisfied and energized, and while it might make for an “expensive” week by your typical standards, it’ll provide vacation-level refreshment without the travel anxiety and at a fraction of the cost.

Enjoy your staycation, Austin! And if you do happen to find that foot pain is keeping you from really enjoying and exploring the world around you to the fullest extent, you know where to find us.

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