Maybe you’re a first-time visitor to the city, or maybe you’ve lived in Austin your whole life like me and are just on the hunt for unique photo spots to improve your ‘gram. Either way, I’ve got you covered! Austin has a little bit of something for everyone, from our famous murals to scenic viewpoints to swimming holes.
It is possible to travel safely and responsibly during the pandemic. Just remember to social distance, wear a mask, wash your hands and stay home if you’re feeling unwell. For more safe travel resources to help keep you healthy while exploring Texas, check out these guidelines. And now, without further ado, here are some of the best photo spots that ATX has to offer!
Austin has so many great murals around the city. You could probably spend a whole day just searching for the best ones! Some of the most famous murals around downtown include the “I love you so much” wall at Jo’s Coffee on South Congress, the “Greetings from Austin” postcard on South 1st Street, “You’re My Butter Half” on East MLK Jr Blvd, “Tau Ceti” by Josef Kristofoletti (the rainbow mural that is Austin’s tallest public artwork) at 2nd and Brazos and the “Hi, How Are You?” frog on Guadalupe and 21st. Those are really just a few of the many great murals you can find all over Austin though!
Mt. Bonnell is one of my favorite nature spots and scenic viewpoints near downtown, especially since it’s a high-payoff view with low physical effort required. You can choose to walk higher up the trail, or just park and walk a few feet over and the view is still fantastic. Trust me, not having to do a hike for the view makes a difference in that summer heat! I think this spot is best at golden hour and sunset, as on a good day, the sky lights up with one of our spectacular Texan sunsets and the water turns gold. Just pick a rock ledge, set up a little picnic, and you’ve got the ultimate Austin sunset photo.
Ellsworth Kelly’s “Austin” at the Blanton Museum of Art
There’s a good chance you’ve seen the “Instagram church” all over the internet already, but maybe you didn’t know what it was. It’s actually a work of art! Designed by artist Ellsworth Kelly (it’s actually the only building he’s ever designed), the 2,715-square-foot stone building with rainbow glass windows makes for quite the photo backdrop and is ultra popular on the ‘gram. You do have to pay admission to go inside the installation (which I highly recommend doing and checking out the rest of the Blanton while you’re at it), but it’s free to walk around and enjoy the exterior of the building.
Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail
This 10-mile trail along the river in downtown Austin has so many excellent photo spots, especially if you’re looking for angles of the city’s skyline. If you have the time, a fun activity to do is to rent a bike and spend the day biking the whole trail! One of the highlights is that from along the trail you’ll find one of the best locations for viewing our famous bats as they come out from under the Congress Avenue Bridge (one of the city’s main tourist attractions and a must-see if you’re in Austin during bat season). My personal favorite spot though is the boardwalk portion over the water over by I-35. You’ve got the city skyline across the water, including the Frost Bank Tower, and if the water is calm, it turns into liquid gold at sunset. There are also little rest areas along the trail that get you out of the people traffic and are perfect for staging your photo op without getting in the way of runners and bikers.
The Swimming Holes
There are too many great swimming holes in the Austin area to just name one! And pretty much all of them make for Instagram gold. Within the city, you’ve got spots like our famous Barton Springs Pool (which is a must-visit for any tourist anyway), the Barton Creek Greenbelt and McKinney Falls State Park, just to name a few. If you’re willing to make more of a daytrip of it, consider driving nearby out of the city to Krause Springs, Jacob’s Well, Hamilton Pool and Blue Hole Regional Park. Some of these locations do require advance reservations though, so make sure to look it up and plan your visit appropriately. For example, Hamilton Pool is so popular that it’s often booked up 2+ months in advance!
Note: During the pandemic, many of these spots are currently closed or requiring reservations when they didn’t before. For the most up-to-date information, check out their websites here: Hamilton Pool, McKinney Falls, Barton Creek Greenbelt, Barton Springs Pool, Jacob’s Well, Blue Hole Regional Park, Krause Springs.
This is really just a taster of all that Austin has to offer, but I hope it has helped you plan out your time in my wonderful city. Thanks for reading!