Austinites are an outwardly athletic bunch, as exhibited by the large concentration of yoga pants and cutoff shirts. And it’s no surprise, Austin is a great place to stay healthy and get in shape with everything from cycling to rock climbing at your disposal.
Here are a few activities to get your heart rate going in Texas’s capital.
Watch the Texas Roller Derby League
There’s no question that Texas is football country, but in Austin, the second most popular sport is Roller Derby where women can show the men how to take a hit. The Texas roller derby league runs a five-team system that is truly fun to watch with kitschy names flying around on skates that was actually the basis for the film Whip It.
Paddleboard on Town Lake
Now called Lady Bird Lake, this popular local spot is the center of Austin's active lifestyle (and super dog-friendly). Offering canoeing, kayaking, and stand up paddle rentals, Austin's aquatically-inclined populate the shores almost every weekend of the year. With over ten miles of bike and running trails, you'll be hard pressed not to work up a sweat. The place is slammed between 4 and 6 pm so try to get there on an off-peak time.
Climb at Austin Rock Gym
With two indoor rock wall facilities, Austin Rock Gym offers guests of all levels a safe environment to learn and practice rock climbing. For the more experienced climbers, ARG offers outdoor guiding and assistance with highly trained guides and indoor classes for newbies. You'll be feeling the burn a few days afterwards, we promise.
Go for a Run at Auditorium Shores
Auditorium Shores is a huge public park in the middle of downtown Austin. Located on the shores of Lady Bird Lake, it offers some of the most well maintained running trails in the city. Many of Austin's well know festivals like South by Southwest have events here, as well, so don't be surprised if some impromptu Bluegrass or Indie Rock interrupts your run. Bring a blanket, bottle of wine, and enjoy the people watching.
Play a Pick-up game at UT IM Fields
The University of Texas is the center of the Austin universe, and the IM fields are where "semi" pros go to show off their skills. During the weekends you'll find soccer, football, and softball games to join. Usually populated by undergrads, you'll occasionally find locals joining in the fun. Well kept grounds and plenty of youth make this a great spot to hang, but only UT students are allowed to rent gear from the field house so bring your own.
Climb Mount Bonnell at sunset
Mount Bonnell is a must for anyone looking to experience a true Austin landmark. With views of the Colorado River, Lake Austin, and the downtown Skyline, it's more than worth the assent to the 775-foot peak. Not particularly challenging for anyone decently active, the stair climb will definitely get those hamstrings and gluts a bit tighter. Be sure to bring water or a picnic and enjoy the twinkle of the big Texas sky.
Take a cooking class at Whole Foods
Austin is the birthplace of Whole Foods and with that distinction comes expectations. The Whole Food headquarters in downtown Austin not only offers some of the freshest produce in the city, but fun cooking classes, as well. They often host events that are free to the public and a great way to get healthy with the whole family.
Enjoy the expansive cycling culture
As the hometown of Lance Armstrong, Austin is a mecca of cycling. On any given weekend, you can find a cycling meetup or spot the Texas 4000 team in training. The Bee Caves trails, 12 miles west of Austin, are one of the few underdeveloped areas to enjoy a peaceful nature ride. Although a bit daunting, it's a must for any bike enthusiast. For the casual rider, Austin also has bike rental stations over the city and clearly marked paths.