When I first chose to write this post, I chuckled a little because unlike some other cities, it’s not hard to enjoy winter in Austin thanks to our mild weather. We’re lucky that we can do a lot of our favorite things all year round. But there are some activities that feel especially appropriate when a wintery spell comes, bringing us some chilly, gray days.
So if you want to cozy up and embrace the winter season in Austin, here are the best ways to do it.
Play a Game
Winter is a great time to hole up inside with your favorite board game (and maybe a cocktail). These bars have everything from the classic to the obscure, as well as arcade games.
Vigilante Gaming Bar
7010 Easy Wind Dr #150 (Crestview)
More than 150 board games you can play, plus a full bar and gastropub menu.
Punch Bowl Social
11310 Domain Dr. (Domain)
522 Congress Ave. (Downtown)
Restaurant with arcade, bowling, karaoke, mini-golf, life-size Scrabble, all under one roof.
Kung Fu Saloon
716 W 6th St. (Downtown)
Vintage arcade games plus shuffleboard, foosball, ping pong, skee ball, and board games. Full bar (including their infamous pickle shots) and pub style menu.
1120 S Lamar Blvd. (South Central)
The cocktail bar inside the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar hosts a weekly game night with interactive games you can play with your phone (and maybe win some Alamo prizes). They also have traditional board games and Cards Against Humanity decks.
Parlor & Yard
601 W 6th St. (Downtown)
This chill sports bar has a games room inside with arcade games, shuffleboard, and foosball. The astroturf lawn outside has ping pong table and yard games, with heaters when it’s cold.
Break a sweat indoors, try a new sport, and have fun with friends at these cool spots.
213 W 5th St. (Downtown)
Ping pong bar with 14 tables, energetic atmosphere, fun music, and great food. On Friday nights you can try to beat the pros.
2027 S Lamar Blvd. (South Central)
This new casual restaurant, opening soon, has two pickleball courts and other lawn games. (Pickleball combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong.)
Indoor rock climbing and bouldering for novices to advanced climbers. There’s also a great kids climbing area for kids as young as 2.
Austin Bouldering Project
979 Springdale Rd #150 (East)
Bouldering fun and classes for youth and adults, plus yoga and fitness classes.
2525 W Anderson Ln. (Crestview)
A true winter activity! Austin’s premier ice rink has public skating times daily.
Playland Skate Center
8822 McCann Dr. (North)
Go old-school and lace up your roller skates at Playland. Adult night is on Tuesdays.
Visit a Brewery (with a Firepit)
Austin is full of awesome breweries you can visit in any season (see our comprehensive guide here), but here are a few favorite spots that all have fire pits to warm you up on cold nights.
13187 Fitzhugh Rd. (near Cedar Valley)
Unique beers (they specialize in sour beers), great pizza, and a sandpit with toys near the firepit.
12521 Twin Creeks Rd. (Manchaca)
Hand-crafted ciders, food menu with kid-friendly options, cornhole and toys for kids. Beautiful outdoor area and indoor taproom.
South Austin Beer Garden
10700 Manchaca Rd. (South)
Food trucks, lawn games (including two huge seesaws and tetherball), and draft beers.
Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden
121 Pickle Rd. (South Central)
Food trucks; beer, cocktails, and coffee; fish pond and chicken coop and plenty of room for kids to run around.
Infamous Brewing Company
4602 Weletka Dr. (Lake Travis)
Low-key, kid- and dog-friendly spot with a nice outdoor area that has picnic tables, a seasonal firepit, and live music.
Cozy Up with a Cocktail
When it gets dark so early in the winter, it can be nice to embrace it and head to a dark, cozy—and even secret—cocktail bar.
The Driskill Bar
604 Brazos St. (Downtown)
Classy, iconic Austin bar with plush leather couches and a cozy fireplace.
The Roosevelt Room
307 W 5th St. (Downtown)
Swanky, 20’s-inspired cocktail bar with table service, featuring original craft cocktails along with classic ones.
313 E 6th St. (Downtown)
Speakeasy hidden on Sixth Street serving premium, inventive cocktails and classics you’ve probably never heard of. Reservations required.
605 Brazos St. (Downtown)
Another cozy speakeasy that has the added charm of a hidden entrance in a bookshelf. Leather seats, live music, and high-quality cocktails will transport you back to the Prohibition era.
Floppy Disk Repair Co.
119 E 5th St. (Downtown)
You’ll need to do a little research to figure out how to get the access code for the intimate bar hiding behind this storefront. It’s worth it, though, to experience the quirky/creepy vibe (there are swings as bar seats!) with even quirkier cocktails (one is served with Trix cereal).
Garage Cocktail Bar
503 Colorado St. (Downtown)
Secluded spot tucked away in a parking garage with a hip vibe and skilled bartenders serving up delicious craft cocktails.
Living Room Lounge at the W Hotel
200 Lavaca St. (Downtown)
Cozy sitting area with comfy couches and a fireplace perfect for winter nights spent sipping on cocktails and munching on bar snacks.
Have a Spot of Tea
Once it starts to heat up, hot tea becomes less appealing, but winter is the perfect time to indulge in high tea.
Goodall’s at Hotel Ella
1900 Rio Grande St. (Central near UT)
The restaurant at Hotel Ella, a boutique hotel with lots of historic charm, has a weekend tea service featuring Austin-based Zhi teas and traditional tea sandwiches, pastries, and sweets.
2000 Southern Oaks Dr. (South)
High tea (including a children’s tea) served daily; advance reservations required. Includes sandwiches, sweets, scones, and a pot of tea.
4800 Burnet Rd. #450 (Rosedale)
Cute and classy cafe offering “Light” and “Full” afternoon tea services with scones, pastries, cheese, and charcuterie options. Choose from 14 teas or opt for a glass of bubbly! Reservations highly recommended.
The Steeping Room
4400 N Lamar Blvd. (Rosedale)
Offers several different tea services, including a Children’s Tea, Zen Tea Service, Kasbah Express Tea Service, and the more traditional Century Oaks Tea Service with sandwiches, scones, and sweets.
604 Brazos St. (Downtown)
Afternoon tea is a tradition at The Driskill and a fun way to feel fancy for an afternoon. Their signature tea service (children welcome) and a premium champagne service are offered on weekends and feature three courses of sandwiches, pastries, and tea/wine. Reservations required.
Casual neighborhood spot serves a traditional English High Tea in a quaint and cozy environment. Thursday-Sunday by reservation only.
Spend a few hours inside on a winter day unleashing your creativity and making some cool projects.
Austin Craft Lounge
12919 Nutty Brown Rd. (Southwest)
Peaceful setting on a large property with a great creative space offering a variety of projects and step-by-step guidance. You can bring your own snacks and drinks.
234 W 2nd St. (Downtown)
Cool downtown spot with a yummy cocktails and an extensive craft menu, from jewelry to art to home decor projects.
Board and Brush
Multiple locations (North, South, Cedar Park, Round Rock, Dripping Springs)
Create an adorable rustic wood sign for your home while sipping wine with friends.
4620 East Cesar Chavez St. (East)
Walk-in craft studio stocked with extensive supplies for you to make any craft your heart desires. Or attend a workshop on topics like ceramics, sewing, watercolors, soapmaking, and more.
Hosted at various library branches, the whole family can do paper crafts, easy sewing projects, and more. All supplies provided.
Breathe Some Fresh Air
Take advantage of our mild winter days (the ones that make the hot summer worth suffering through) by getting outside in nature.
Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center
4801 La Crosse Ave. (Southwest)
There’s so much to see at do at the Wildflower Center. The Family Garden is great for kids, and the Fortlandia exhibit runs through Jan. 26.
Hike and Bike Trails
Check out our guide to family-friendly hike and bike trails.
Zilker Botanical Garden
2220 Barton Springs Rd. (Zilker Park)
Spend a morning visiting the koi fish, walking through the various themed gardens, and enjoying the waterfall in the Prehistoric Garden. In February, they are hosting Winter Faerie Tea Parties for kids; you must buy tickets online in advance. There’s also a cute exhibit on “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” that runs through March 22.
Free Forest School
Give your kids an opportunity for unstructured nature play at Free Forest School, which hosts meetups all over Austin.
Enjoy this classic treat on a brisk winter night and pretend you’re sitting around a real campfire.
3509 Creek Rd. (Dripping Springs)
This restaurant’s grand dining room was once a town hall in Vietnam that was shipped back to Texas. The upscale and unique menu matches the grandeur of the decor and is well worth the scenic drive out to the property. For the perfect end to your meal, you can roast a marshmallow in the firepit outside and make a s’more or two.
408 Josephine St. (South Central)
Cuddle up on one of the couches at this homey bar, order a glass from their long wine menu, and roast s’mores right at your table.
218 West 4th St. (Downtown)
1905 Aldrich Street, #110 (Mueller)
This relaxed coffee bar is known for their make-your-own-s’mores dessert, along with great coffee, cocktails, sandwiches, and salads.