The Austin Bucket List

By Gretchen Goswitz – October 1, 2015

Fitness For You

1. 3M Half Marathon

January 24, 2016

The 3M Half Marathon is one of Austin's largest road racing events, with a route that winds through the streets of central Austin and a finish line in the heart of downtown. The 13.1 miles follow a fast, fun, mostly downhill course (an average elevation drop of 41 feet per mile), which is optimal for any first-timer wanting to step up to the challenge of a half marathon. We’re not alone in this nomination; Outside Magazine recently ranked the 3M Half Marathon as one of the top 10 iconic races in the U.S.

2. Austin Marathon

February 14, 2016

The 2016 Austin Marathon and Half Marathon presented by Freescale will mark the 25th anniversary of the race that excites and engages The Capitol City. The marathon route starts and finishes on Congress Avenue and takes runners through popular Austin neighborhoods, where every mile is paved with residents hoisting posters with witty words of encouragement, giving out water and snacks, or offering Port-A-Potty alternative bathroom stops. It’s easy to see that even after 25 years, the Austin Marathon is still calling the crowds and one of the reasons Austin is considered a mecca for avid runners.

3. Couples Triathlon

Summer 2016

The old adage says two is better than one, so grab a friend, family member, or romantic partner and race in this traffic-free, sprint distance triathlon. Find out how you fare against other friend groups, married couples, “more than friends” duos and sibling pairs. Don’t let the name throw you off, though—this race is also open to individuals.

4. Rookie Triathlon

Spring 2016

When the idea of a race involving swimming, biking and running starts to sound appealing but the intimidation of it feels overwhelming, turn to the Rookie Triathlon. It’s inviting to all skill levels, serving as a solid season opener for veterans or a fun first-time experience for beginners.

5. Zilker Relays

Fall 2016

The Zilker Relays is a 10-mile relay with teams composed of four runners, each running approximately 2.5-mile loops throughout Zilker Park. The team concept of the Zilker Relays is not unique, but the combination of a relay, festival home base, drinks and music make this experience a favorite for runners of all calibers and ages. 

6. Life Time Tri: CapTex

Spring 2016 (Memorial Day)

The Life Time Tri CapTex fills the streets of Austin on Memorial Day, selling out with 3,000 participants each year. The challenge levels of the routes run the gamut, from SuperSprint, Sprint and International courses. Enjoy the beauty of Austin landmarks while completing a Lady Bird Lake swim, South Congress Avenue bike ride and Zilker Park run.

7. Statesman Capitol 10K

Spring 2016

Austin’s oldest annual race celebrates the city’s culture of fitness, festivals and food. The “Rite of Spring” event for runners and walkers attracts all ages and skill levels. Live music along the course from local artists keeps rhythm with the thousands of footsteps winding through historical Austin neighborhoods. Join the fun at the Auditorium Shores Finish Line Festival on the banks of Lady Bird Lake where food trucks, beer garden, live music, kids zone and race vendors celebrate your finish.

8. Free Day of Yoga


It’s no secret that Austinites love yoga, and when it’s offered for free, residents flock to their mats. This perennial city wide practice takes place at studios in every nook of Austin with a variety of classes offered at nearly every hour of the day.

9. Mighty Texas Dog Walk

March 5, 2016

On the “Doggiest Day in Austin,” enjoy a scenic stroll with your pup at Auditorium Shores. Your dog will look forward to receiving a goody bag, dog food samples, veterinarian advice, and games. Proceeds go to Service Dogs Inc.

10. Charlie Strong’s Women’s Clinic


Ladies, this is your chance to work up a sweat and show Charlie Strong that you’re Texas Strong! The five-hour football clinic invites women to be part of the University of Texas athletics department for a day, with activities including football presentations, Q&A with players, nutrition and strength demonstrations and football drills.

11. Rosedale Ride


The Rosedale Ride is an annual charity bicycle ride with routes of 23, 42 and 62 miles, plus a children’s fun ride of two miles. The event has been taking place for over 20 years, with the purpose to raise money for the Rosedale Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to support the children of Rosedale School, AISD’s only school exclusively for children with multiple disabilities.

12. Skating on the Plaza


Because we can’t ever expect a winter wonderland in Central Texas, we have to relish in the improvised seasonal activities. Whole Foods Market’s flagship store installs an ice skating rink on its rooftop, rents out ice skates, serves hot cocoa and plays tunes to get Austin residents into the holiday spirit.

13. Driveway Series

March through October

The Driveway Series produced by Holland Racing attracts cyclists looking for a high-intensity racing experience. The event occurs every Thursday evening from March to October and is held on a short, closed course. Unlike any other circuit cycling race, the Driveway Series demands focus at all times and intermediate to advanced skills like bike handling, cornering, riding in a pace line, and riding in a pack. To learn more about the Driveway Series, read race director Andrew Willis’ interview on page 48.

14. Maudie’s Moonlight Margarita Run


The Maudie's Moonlight Margarita Run and Party is The Trail Foundation's annual fundraising event. The evening begins at 8 p.m. with a shotgun start to the 5K course along Lady Bird Lake. Join the post-race party at the American Legion Hall ground, and reward your efforts with Maudie's Tex-Mex dinner and margaritas while listening to live music.

15. Social Cycling


Drawing in about 250 riders each week, the Thursday Night Social Ride is a favorite on the quirky Social Ride calendar. Events include a “Bike Curious” art viewing ride on Sundays, a “Bikin’ Betties” ladies exclusive ride on Mondays, and a Yoga Ride that entails an hour of yoga prior to the bike ride. There’s even a weekly “Lend Your Legs” event that’s partnered with the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, where riders take students around on a tandem bicycle to aid them in the experience of bike riding. Any of these casual cruises around Austin will introduce you to new friends and give you the confidence to cycle the city more often. 


Spectator Sports

1. Formula One

Formula One racing made a welcome return to the United States in 2012 at the country's first purpose-built F1 facility, the Circuit Of The Americas. The Grand Prix racing event showcases the pinnacle of motor racing both technologically and in terms of highly skilled drivers.

2. X Games

BMX, Motocross and big trucks break the laws of gravity at the event that is utopia for thrill-seekers and daredevils alike. Anyone searching for spectacles of speed and surreal feats of bravery (and a little bit of insanity) can find it at the annual X Games.

3. Match Play PGA Tournament

Starting in 2016, Austin Country Club will host the World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play for four straight years. The golf course renovation at Austin Country Club in conjunction with the partnership with Dell is sure to make Austin one of the most popular stops on the tour.

4. Round Rock Express

The Austin area’s minor league baseball team draws crowds of all ages and year after year proves to be a family favorite. As a Texas Rangers affiliate, it’s likely you’ll see some big leaguers get their start at the Dell Diamond.

5. Texas Rollergirls

As flat track roller derby makes its comeback, the spotlight shines on the Austin-based Texas Rollergirls. Girls will be girls at these no-nonsense events, as the roller derby takes the term “contact sport” to the extreme in what is essentially a Red Rover redux on wheels.

6. Texas Relays

As a major destination for NCAA Division 1 athletes, the Texas Relays holds the hype for high school, college, university and invitational divisions in competitive track and field. The event has been in production for 88 years and continues to draw upwards of 20,000 people in attendance to fill the Mike A. Myers Stadium.

7. Austin Aztex

Austin Aztex brings a different kind of football to the Texas sports scene. Catch a game and watch our highly skilled American soccer team play with power and passion at the Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex.

8. Austin Aces

The Aces give Austinites a special opportunity to enjoy tennis in an intimate setting. With major players like hometown favorite Andy Roddick on the roster, the matches serve up serious excitement for tennis aficionados.

9. Austin Spurs

Seeing the five-time world champion San Antonio Spurs basketball team may only be an hour’s drive away, but Austin Spurs can offer the convenience and sometimes match the star power. It’s not unusual to see San Antonio studs like Boris Diaw cheering on the up-and-comers as they fine-tune their skills in hopes of making the senior roster.

10. UT Football Game

Often revered as “the closest thing Austin has to a professional sports team,” the boys in burnt orange have residents beaming with pride year after year. With new coach Charlie Strong heading the football program, there’s even more anticipation to see whether he can put the “Strong” in “Texas Strong.”


Best-Kept Secrets

1. Night Ops

Think of Night Ops (short for Night Operations) as an extreme, physically demanding, mentally challenging scavenger hunt in the dark. The course is six to seven miles in length with an expected completion time at 1.5 to 2.5 hours. For more information, read the story on page 38.

2. Pair it with Claret

Casual food meets classy wine at Spicewood Vineyards’ annual Pair it with Claret Chili Cookoff. About 40 groups battle to prepare the chili that best pairs with the winery’s Cabernet Claret.

3. Full Moon Barton Springs Swim

Only in Austin will you find folks frolicking through the 68-degree Springs at night (regardless of the time of year) and embracing the illumination of a full moon by howling at it. Barton Springs night swims are normal, but the Full Moon Swim is a spectacular social event that adds to Austin’s charm.


Do Good

1. Amplify Austin

Amplify Austin Day, which debuted in 2013, is our city’s annual community wide day of online giving. The 24-hour period provides an easy and fun way for our entire community to give together while helping hundreds of local nonprofits. Last year, the event raised $7,715,391.32 in the one-day period!

2. Farmer’s Market

Support sustainable practices and farm fresh food at the multiple Farmer’s Markets Austin has to offer. Hosted in every area of the city from Lakeline to Mueller, and downtown to Sunset Valley and beyond, these markets are providing healthy, local food to the masses.

3. Trail of Lights

If the Trail of Lights seems like an authentically Austin seasonal staple, you’d be correct. Dedication from The Trail of Lights Foundation has kept this special event alive through the years. The organization raises the funds from donations by individuals and local businesses to produce and ensure the long-term sustainability of Austin’s largest community celebration.

4. Paddle for Puppies

One of Austin’s favorite nonprofits, Austin Pets Alive! is largely supported by Austin Subaru’s Paddle for Puppies event. Residents gather on kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and canoes to support this cause, which benefits APA!’s parvo program that provides an alternative to euthanasia for puppies that have contracted parvovirus. The annual five-mile charity paddle on Lady Bird Lake raised $20,000 in 2015, thanks to the efforts of generous, puppy-loving residents.

5. White Party

One of Austin’s most popular parties isn’t just about having drinks and enjoying good company. The White Party gathers the city’s philanthropic leaders for a night of fun with a purpose, collecting proceeds that go toward LifeWorks’ mission of empowering youth and families seeking their path to self-sufficiency.

6. East Austin Studio Tours 

As the Live Music Capital of the World, it’s obvious we value artists (of all kinds). Planned and produced by Big Medium, East Austin Studio Tour (EAST) supports this vital group of creative doers, dreamers and makers. EAST invites locals to participate in four different categories: Artist Studios, Exhibitions, Happenings, and Select Events. The annual fundraiser, Due EAST, supports EAST, and exposes attendees to new, talented artists in the community.

7. Johnson’s Backyard Garden

Johnson’s Backyard Garden (JBG) works tirelessly to bring high-quality organic produce to more members of the Austin community. What started as a single family’s urban backyard garden has grown tremendously thanks in part to Austinites’ passion for healthy living. The volunteer program invites people to work on the farm for a half day in exchange for a share of vegetables. Residents can also join the JBG Sponsored Share program that provides freshly harvested vegetables to the Settlement Home and SafePlace every week.

8. Clean Lady Bird Lake

In partnership with the City of Austin Watershed Protection Program, Keep Austin Beautiful organizes large-scale cleanups every other month, volunteer trainings, and a Rapid Rain Responder initiative to tackle trash from 24 locations along the shoreline and from watercrafts on and along Lady Bird Lake.

9. Dam That Cancer

Tyler's Dam That Cancer is the premier fundraising event for The Flatwater Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides access to mental health services for those in need affected by cancer. Every summer, about 100 paddlers gather to brave a 21-mile stand-up paddle dam-to-dam on Lake Austin. The arduous trek concludes with a party that welcomes friends, families and loved ones. For those who don’t participate, there’s the alternative option to sponsor a paddler at the event.

10.  ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot

The Turkey Trot may not be exclusive to Austin, but the local ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot is the largest five-mile run in Texas, and one of the largest Turkey Trots in the nation, with more than 20,000 participants. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning. The cherished holiday event donates 100 percent of the proceeds to Caritas, which provides education and support services to low-income people needing assistance to become self-sufficient.



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