The Runner's Guide to Austin, Texas
Read on to discover why Austin should be added ASAP to your bucket running list.
Rave-Worthy Routes1 of 16
Nothing speaks to the vitality of Austin's outdoor mindset like the 10.1-mile Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail that bisects the heart of downtown. Bordering Lady Bird Lake, the trail offers shaded, canopied paths and convenient mile markers for runners, walkers and cyclists (with various turning points to log shorter distances and frequent water/rest stops). Photo credit: Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Rave-Worthy Routes2 of 16
Bonus: The recent opening of the Boardwalk provides a continuous connection of Austin's beloved trail over the lake, not to mention spectacular views of the skyline. Insider tip: Make sure to pause and take in the (squeaky) sounds from under the Congress Avenue Bridge — it shelters North America's largest urban bat colony. Photo credit: Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Rave-Worthy Routes3 of 16
Trail running more your tempo? As part of the beautiful and beloved Hill Country, Austin defies stereotypical Texas terrain. Case in point: the Barton Creek Greenbelt. Just minutes from downtown Austin, the greenbelt features over seven miles of hiking, biking and swimming holes, and is great for trail runners, mountain bikers and rock climbers alike. Trail difficulty varies from easy to technical — check out the Hill of Life for some serious hill repeats — with several access points along the way. For more gems worth the extra steps, check out Twin Falls and Sculpture Falls at the south end of the trail, favored among locals for swimming, lounging and people-watching.
Rave-Worthy Routes4 of 16
If you like your run with a side of suffering, the Scenic Loop starts and ends at The Rock near Austin High, taking runners through the historic (and hilly) neighborhood of Tarrytown adjacent to Lake Austin. For a selfie-worthy snapshot, head northwest through Tarrytown to Mount Bonnell, known for some of the best panoramic views. At 785 feet, Mount Bonnell stands as one of the highest points in the city and is one of Austin's top tourist attractions. Photo credit: Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Rave-Worthy Routes5 of 16
Seeking more of a social experience? Austin City Running Tours offers guided group and personalized runs around historic downtown, the University of Texas at Austin campus and local breweries.
Food Fit for Refueling6 of 16
In Austin, breakfast tacos are practically a food group all their own—not to mention a great reward for knocking out an early morning run. Can't-miss stops include Torchy's Tacos ("damn good" and worth the visit to their original trailer park location in South Austin), Tacodeli (known for locally sourced, organic ingredients used to create some of the best Tex-Mex-inspired tacos around) and Maria's Taco Xpress (help Keep Austin Weird and check out their gospel brunch — or "Hippie Church" — on Sundays). Photo credit: Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Food Fit for Refueling7 of 16
For more health-conscious fare, Juiceland is one of Austin's most beloved juice and smoothie joints, serving up tasty hydration creations like Mango Habanero and Peach Watermelon Agua Fresca. The juice specialists have two convenient locations just steps from the hike and bike trail on Deep Eddy and Barton Springs. For a stop sure to please every palate, the Whole Foods World Headquarters Store on North Lamar is a virtual culinary theme park, featuring 80,000 square feet, more than a dozen in-store eateries and touch-screen taco ordering (we weren't kidding when we said Austinites love their tacos). Keep an ear out for live music while you're there, as concerts and events atop their rooftop plaza are routine. Austin is the Live Music Capital of the World®, after all.
Shop Like a Local8 of 16
Looking for running essentials or just some cool new swag? There's no shortage of great run shops in Austin — starting with locally-owned Rogue Running, a retail and training specialty store under one roof. Check their calendar for the latest lineup of events including pub runs and scavenger hunts. For extensive training and running essentials, head to Texas-based Luke's Locker — a "shoe-in" for the latest training and running gear, gadgets and free weekly workouts, including yoga and (of course) Taco Runs. Photo credit: Riff Raff Running (part of Rogue Running).
Bucket List Events9 of 16
Austin Marathon & Half Marathon — Feb. 14, 2016
The 25th anniversary of this favorite hometown race will feature music from more than 40 local bands and a course that winds through Austin's most scenic neighborhoods. Photo credit: Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Bucket List Events10 of 16
Austin 10/20 — April 3, 2016
Leave your iPod at home for this tune-packed event. Featuring 10 miles and 20 bands, the Austin 10/20 run offers a live music stage every half mile along the route, promising more music motivation per mile than you've ever experienced. Photo credit: Bertrand Chiu.
Bucket List Events11 of 16
Statesman Capitol 10K — April 10, 2016
Congress Avenue to Auditorium Shores
Texas' largest 10K race and one of the nation's top runs draws some 10,000 serious and not-so-serious runners. Photo credit: Deborah Cannon.
Bucket List Events12 of 16
Keep Austin Weird 5K — June 2016
Auditorium Shores at Riverside Drive
Toss the timing chip and embrace the bizarre with this wacky un-timed fun run which features music, food and unconventional stops, including Slip 'n Slides and local favorite Amy's Ice Cream. Billed as "the slowest 5K you'll ever run," the costume contest makes for fantastic spectating. Photo credit: Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Bucket List Events13 of 16
Maudie's Moonlight Margarita Run — June 2016
Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail
The name alone merits a mention. Celebrate Austin's love for Tex Mex and margaritas at this evening 5K fun run. Starting at 8 p.m., runners depart from the trail at Lady Bird Lake en route to a post-race party featuring margaritas (naturally) and a catered Tex-Mex dinner under live oak trees. The event serves as the Austin Trail Foundation's top fundraiser for Austin's beloved trail.
Rock Out14 of 16
A trip to the Live Music Capital of the World just wouldn't be complete without taking in some live music. Austin offers 250 live music venues with soulful sounds ranging from rock to pop, indie to jazz and beyond. The Continental Club on South Congress is one of Austin's most iconic music venues, revered for rockabilly, country and swing seven nights a week. For a traditional Texas experience, a visit to the Broken Spoke honky tonk is a must. Billed as the last of the true Texas dance halls, it serves up some of the best chicken fried steak and nightly two-step lessons (beginners welcome). The state-of-the-art ACL Live at the Moody Theater hosts some of the nation's biggest touring acts including Sting, Willie Nelson and Snoop Dogg, and is home to "Austin City Limits," the longest-running music series in American television history. Photo credit: Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau.
How Much Do You Love Austin?15 of 16
Want more inside info on how to experience Austin's running scene? Visit AustinTexas.org.
What's your favorite Austin running experience? Tweet us @Active.
Photo credit: Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau.