When the sun makes an appearance, there’s no better way to spend the day than seeing the city in its entirety at one of the brilliant lookouts in Austin. In fact, come rain or shine, these magnificent viewpoints are worth braving the elements for. Needless to say, a snazzy rooftop bar offers fabulous vistas in a fancy sheltered environment, but our list of open-air viewing spots take you right into the action of the outdoors, so you can get up close and personal with nature while enjoying the city’s unbeatable views. Oh, and they’re completely free to visit, too, which is always an added bonus.
Whether you’re an outdoorsy type or consider yourself a couch potato, the remarkable panoramic views that these brilliant lookouts in Austin deliver can be appreciated by anyone and everyone. From mighty hill peaks to a world-renowned bridge, paying these observation points a visit is the best way to level up your views while getting to explore new parts of the city at the same time.
1. Lou Neff Point
Take a stroll along the southern banks of Town Lake and you’re sure to come across Lou Neff Point. Constructed in the early 90s, this fantastic lookout is a beloved gem for the community which is evident if you take a quick look at the structure’s brickwork. Hundreds of names have been carved into these mighty slabs of stone to give thanks to the generous donors who have helped preserve this open-air wonder.
Covered in tangled vines and lush shrubbery, the viewpoint’s partially covered canopy gives a little natural protection from the often overwhelming Texas sun. This gives visitors the chance to enjoy the stunning views of Lady Bird Lake without having to worry about getting a nasty sunburn.
📍Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail, Austin, TX 78746
2. Mount Bonnell
At 781 feet, Mount Bonnell is one of the highest points in Austin. Sure, you’ll have to walk a little to reach the summit, but this impressive lookout provides magnificent views of the famous Pennybacker Bridge as well as downtown Austin, so the small trek is definitely worth it. The park opens from 5 am to 10 pm, so depending on whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, you can enjoy a magical early morning sunrise or spectacular evening sunset here. Slap on the sunscreen, bring a picnic and enjoy one of nature’s most stunning scenic shows from atop of Mount Bonnell.
📍 3800 Mount Bonnell Rd, Austin, TX 78731
3. The Boardwalk Trail at Lady Bird Lake
Located at the end of the Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake, this magnificent boardwalk is a welcome relief for runners and bike riders who’ve just taken on the 10-mile trail. Not only does the 3-mile loop offer fabulous views of the city’s skyline, but it also gives passersby the opportunity to watch an army of kayaks and canoes enjoying a bit of friendly competition while racing down the lake.
As you saunter down The Boardwalk Trail, you’ll most likely notice some of the 36 cast bronze western-style belts that have been integrated into the railings. Ingrained with lyrics from famous songs by Texan artists, these ever-lasting belts make up an art installation created by local sculptor Ken Little. This outdoor exhibition certainly begs the question – who needs a museum when you’ve got The Boardwalk Trail?
📍1820 S Lakeshore Blvd, Austin, TX 78741
4. Doug Sahm Hill
Named after the frontman of the beloved supergroup Texas Tornados, Doug Sahm Hill undoubtedly provides one of the best views of Austin’s skyline. This marvelous lookout measures up to 35-feet tall and is actually the highest point of Bouldin Creek Park. Towering skyscrapers including The Austonian and The Independent can be seen from the top of the hill, so you can get a great shot of some of Austin’s tallest giants here.
Looking for a bit of respite from the Austin heat? You can dip your feet in the park’s splash fountain for some light relief. What’s more, the hill also has a large kite running field, so it’s a great spot to bring kids and get all tangled up in endless amounts of kite string.
📍836-898 W Riverside Dr. Austin, TX 78704
5. Pennybacker Bridge
Sunset seekers, seek no more. Pennybacker Bridge overlooks the rippling Colorado River and the rolling Hill Country, so when the sun begins to set on this beautiful backdrop, the results are simply breathtaking. Opened in 1982, the bridge was designed to blend in with its natural surroundings, hence its brownish rusty look. As the sun sinks beneath the horizon, make sure to have the camera ready and take a shot of the orange, red and yellow tinges in the sky.
If you were hoping to have the bridge take center stage for your Instagram pic, then head to the trail nearby where you’ll find a large viewpoint made out of stone. This lookout has supplied both social media influencers and experienced hikers with brag-worthy views of the bridge and its stunning surroundings.
📍5300 N Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin, TX 78730