As you may expect, Austin has many hot days in a year, which is why the city has so many great indoor activities (all with air-conditioning) to help locals and visitors stay cool and comfortable. For those who don't mind the heat, there are awesome outdoor activities that are just right when temperatures are high.
Here are 26 of the best things to do on a hot day in Austin, Texas!
Top Indoor Activities in Austin
Below are some of the best indoor activities in Austin with air-conditioning so you’ll stay cool while having a blast!
1. See Austin on a bus tour
Just because it's steamy outside, you don't have to miss out on seeing Austin's attractions. Taking a sightseeing bus tour in an air-conditioned bus is one of the best choices of things to do in Austin on a hot day. You’ll get an overview of Austin while a knowledgeable guide tells you about the city's past and present. Sightseeing bus tours typically last between 90 minutes to 3 hours.
AO Tours takes you around in a glass-top, convertible, Mercedes tour bus. Talk about cool comfort! Their Best of ATX Panoramic City Center Tour is one and a half hours and visits Downtown Austin and surrounding areas. When the temperature drops to a comfortable level, you can go back to any attractions that interest you.
Bus tours are also a great activity should you get stuck with a rainy day in Austin.
2. Play an escape room
Escape from a hot day at The Escape Game Austin where you’ll have to use your very best sleuthing skills to discover a way out of a ‘locked’ room! You'll race the clock to escape one of several uniquely themed escape rooms in just 60 minutes! Each game has multiple rooms to explore looking for clues. Choose from a variety of themes and difficulty levels.
In Gold Rush, you’ll make a mad dash for a hidden stash of gold. In Classified, you must collect critical information to prevent a major international crisis. The most challenging game is Prison Break where you’ve been wrongfully imprisoned in a 1950s jail. Can you escape in time? Whether you do or don't, you will have fun trying!
3. Explore a 20 million-year-old cave
So this isn't exactly something to do indoors in Austin, but the Inner Space Cavern will keep you cool on a hot day. The Inner Space Cavern is a colossal cave formed nearly 20 million years ago. It’s one of the best-preserved caves in Texas and has breathtaking rock formations including massive stalagmites and stalactites. The cave is a constant 72 degrees making it one of the best indoor places to head to in Austin on a hot day if you are visiting the city!
4. Enjoy games galore at Pinstack
Pinstack Arcade is a fantastic place to be when Austin temperatures are boiling over. This air-conditioned 45,000-square-foot recreational center and arcade has loads of activities to do, in addition to playing more than 100 video games and simulator technology games. There are bumper cars, bowling lanes, a 24-foot rock climbing wall, and, twenty feet above the arcade, is a high-ropes course! With a menu featuring American classics like burgers and giant milkshakes, Pinstack will keep you cool, entertained, and well-fed!
5. Immerse yourself in light and sound
Wonderspaces is an astonishing immersive art show located in various cities across the country. The show comprises 14 exceptional art installations that use lights, video, and even 3-D printing to create a magical experience.
Current installations include “Submergence” which consists of over 8,000 individual points of light. As visitors walk through, the colored lights and corresponding music change in response to the movement in the space. Plus, there’s a full bar making this a great indoor activity in Austin for adults.
6. See an indoor sports event at The Moody Center
The Moody Center, built in 2022, is home to Austin’s hottest concerts and the University of Texas athletic teams, the Texas Longhorns men’s and women’s basketball teams. The Moody Center is one of the ‘coolest’ places in town, thanks to its innovative air-conditioning system that pushes cool air under every seat! Attending a game or event here is one of the best things to do in Austin at night.
While the AC is great, the packed calendar of events is even better. In addition to the many sports events, you can also attend the city’s biggest concerts with top bands from around the world. Plus Monster Truck jams and Bull Riding events make Austin’s Moody Center a fun indoor place to be when Austin is too hot to handle!
7. Try indoor rock climbing
When it’s too hot to go hiking in Austin’s great outdoors, you can still get a healthy workout inside the air-conditioned indoor rock climbing facility, the Austin Bouldering Project. Not only can you give indoor rock climbing a try, but you can also take full advantage of the state-of-the-art 50,000-square-foot facility that offers lots of fitness activities.
8. Indulge in all-you-can-eat ice cream
The Museum of Ice Cream will cool you down when temps are high! It has 12 multi-sensory installations that teach visitors about the history of ice cream. The museum experience also includes unlimited ice cream and a big sprinkle pool to jump in.
If you want to skip the museum part and go right to the sweets, Austin has many ice cream shops to choose from. Here are just a few of them: Amy’s Ice Creams, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Lick Honest Ice Creams, Luv Fats Ice Cream, Dolce Neve Gelato, Frozen Rolls Creamery, and Cold Cookie Company.
9. Catch a flick
Whether you are a movie lover or not, seeking refuge in an air-conditioned movie theater is one of the very best indoor activities in Austin. At the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema multiplex, you can see a wide array of film genres, from classics to blockbusters, and enjoy great food and drinks served right to your seat!
The independently-owned Violet Crown Cinema shows classics as well as current hits and has a full bar. For the ultimate experience go to the Moviehouse & Eatery which has 11 dine-in theaters, plush recliners, and a full-service bar. Austinites know how to enjoy their movies! The most family-friendly movie theater is Galaxy Theatres where classic movie snacks are served -- and no full bar, just beer!
10. Go indoor skydiving
One of the most fun things to do indoors in Austin is found at iFly Indoor Skydiving. There you can experience the thrill of skydiving from the safety of their manmade wind tunnel. Without going anywhere near a plane, you can experience what it's like to defy gravity while only a few feet above the ground. You’ll stay cool in the air-conditioning and will even catch a breeze!
11. Shop ‘til you drop
Going to a shopping mall is one option for something to do inside on a very hot day in Austin. The air-conditioned Domain Shopping Center is so big, you could kill several hours there. There are 400 stores including both popular chain stores and upscale designer shops. You’ll recognize names like H&M, Zara, Aeropostale, and more. If you don't mind breaking the bank, you can indulge at Tory Birch, Gucci, Ted Baker, and other high-end boutiques.
Plus there are sit-down restaurants like The Cheesecake Factory, California Pizza Kitchen, and Shake Shack. For an extra-cooling treat stop by The Yard Milkshake Bar for ice cream, frozen yogurt, and milkshakes.
12. Visit the Austin Aquarium
If you are looking for indoor activities for families in Austin, the Austin Aquarium will keep you and your kids interested and comfortably cool. The aquarium has thousands of sea creatures as well as reptiles, amphibians, birds, and even a few adorable mammals. For an extra fee, you can participate in one of their Animal Encounters which allows visitors to get up close with fish, birds, lemurs, sloths, and even sharks! See other family-friendly things there are to do in Austin.
13. Arcade fun at Cidercade Austin
With more than 150 games, Cidercade is one of Austin’s best arcades. They have both new and classic video games, pinball machines, racing car games, and more. They have a menu featuring artisan thin-crust pizzas, wings, salads, and delicious desserts. The bar serves dozens of hard ciders and hard seltzers.
Cidercade is open every day from 10 am to 12 am so that’s a whole lot of cool time indoors! Admission is $10 for a day pass which includes unlimited play on all their games. That’s a pretty sweet deal considering that hours of air-conditioning is part of the package. Cidercade is 21+ only after 8 pm so its a perfect place for adults to let loose.
Top Museums for a Hot Day in Austin
Everyone knows that spending a few hours in an air-conditioned museum is a smart way to beat the heat. Austin’s diverse museums make it easy to have an interesting time even when it's a scorching hot day in Austin.
The seat of the Texas government is located in Austin in a massive three-story Renaissance Revival-style building. Its construction was completed in 1888 using the U.S. Capitol as a model. The Texas State Capitol outdid the U..S Capitol by being 15 feet taller! The Capitol offers free tours, making a visit here one of the best free things to do in Austin on a hot day.
Stop off at the Capitol Visitors Center where the staff is friendly and happy to answer any questions about things to do in Austin. Check out the several exhibits about the Capitol’s history and a large LEGO Capitol made with 65,000 LEGO blocks.
The air-conditioned Blanton Museum of Art houses the University of Texas’s art collection which consists of more than 21,000 pieces of art. The collection has excellent works including Roman-era pottery, early Renaissance paintings, modern art, and Native American, Latin American, and African American art.
By preserving and exhibiting works and objects of African-American culture, history, and artistic expression, this museum celebrates the accomplishments of the African-Americans.
Permanent exhibits explore the Texas communities of freed slaves as well as the history of Juneteenth (the holiday originated in Texas). The Children's Gallery covers famous Black inventors, including George Washington Carver who created the concept of crop rotation and who developed 300 uses for peanuts!
Learn about the Lone Star State and Austin itself at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. This museum chronicles the state’s history from the time it was part of Mexico up to the present day. Some of the topics the museum covers are Austin's famous local music scene, the lives of the Texas Comanches, and the discovery of oil.
18. Texas Toy Museum
This small museum is jam-packed with more than 20,000 toys and figurines, some dating back to the early 1900s! As you scan the shelves, you’ll see Ken and Barbie dolls, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Marvel action figures, Smurfs, Star Wars characters, and many, many more figurines. The museum also has vintage video game consoles like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Mortal Kombat, and Space Invaders. The museum has a large comic book collection with some for purchase.
This community museum has been gathering works of art, cultural artifacts, and writing by Chicanx (Americans of Mexican ancestry) since 1984. Although the museum is small, the collection it houses is quite good. The Mexic-Arte Museum aims to “enrich the community through education programs, exhibitions, and the collection, preservation, and interpretation of Mexican, Latino, and Latin American art and culture for visitors of all ages.” The museum has a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere and frequently holds festivals and special events.
Since 1856, the official home of Texas governors and their families has been this stunning Greek Revival-style mansion. It's the fourth-oldest governor's mansion to be inhabited continuously in America! A free 20-minute tour of the Texas Governor's Mansion will teach you about Texas's illustrious past. Tours are offered only on certain dates and must be reserved one week in advance.
This is Austin’s children’s museum and it’s a fine example of hands-on educational experiences for kids. Different spaces in the museum teach children through play. The Move Studio allows children to practice coordination while the Innovators’ Workshop combines science with art. The “Smile Here” photobooth lets kids become part of the museum and the Story Nook hosts story times.
Austin is referred to as the “Live Music Capital of the World” so a music museum seems necessary here. This free museum does an excellent job telling the story of the local musicians who helped give Austin its reputation.
Using live music videos, exclusive recordings, rare photographs, and historic posters, one exhibit focuses on the musical contributions of East Austin’s African-American community. Another exhibit, the “Texas Music Pioneers”, features over 60 Texas musicians from 14 musical genres, including blues, country, gospel, jazz, pop, rock, and others.
Fun Outdoors Things To Do on a Hot Day in Austin
Most of these activities involve crisp, cool water in one way or another and are open primarily in the hot summer months in Austin.
Taking a dip at this natural spring-fed pool is one of Austin’s best things to do when it's hot out. The pool isn't icy cold though - it's an average temperature of 68 to 70 degrees all year long due to the natural source of water. Most people find this temperature ideal and you can expect that the pool will be busy.
24. Lady Bird Lake
Named for former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, this lake is a perfect place to cool down on a hot day in Austin. Though there is no swimming, you can engage in water sports like kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding. Texas Rowing Center offers rentals and lessons on the north shore of the lake while The Rowing Dock offers rentals and instruction on the south shore.
About a 90-minute drive from Austin is this mammoth water park. The park is divided into four separate sections, each with its own waterpark larger than most local water parks! Each of the four sections of the park has a children's area, a ‘not-so-lazy-river’, unique rides, and a swim-up bar.
With a long list of rides, towering waterslides, wave pools, river rides, and more, this is where you want to be on a hot day in Austin, especially if you are in Austin with teens, who will love it here! Schlitterbahn Waterpark is open from April to mid-September.
If you don't mind some hiking with a refreshing swim at the end, Sculpture Falls is for you. Tucked away in the Barton Creek Greenbelt in Austin, this swimming hole has clear, cool waters that are about 70 degrees (provided that the water levels are high enough to swim).
The Barton Creek Greenbelt travels through South Austin and has 12 miles of trails. It’s one of Austin’s gems as it provides an opportunity to enjoy nature inside the city limits. It’s also one of the most dog-friendly parks so if you brought along a furry friend, bring them along.
With this list of fun indoor things to do in Austin on a hot day and outdoor activities to enjoy when temperatures are not too high, you can find an activity that’s right for you!
Find out more things to do in Austin here.
For suggestions on how to spend your time in Austin, see our Austin 2-day itinerary!
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