All About Austin, Texas
While Texas may not be on your list of places to visit, Austin better be! With an amazing food, art, and music scene, the city is perfect for a long weekend getaway or a stop on a cross-country road trip. We've each now been to Austin twice and seriously can't get enough. We recently went back in June, separately unfortunately, and we've combined the highlights of each of our trips to bring you the ultimate TBP guide of hotspots to help plan your own Austin getaway. Grab your passport and slip on your cowboy boots, we’re going to Texas, y'all!
When I think of Texas, I think of cowboys, rodeos and a barren desert. I think of driving through Texas on my move out west in 2010 and feeling at risk of living a real-life Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Texas wasn’t always on the top of my bucket list and it might not be on the top of yours, but when I first visited the oasis of Austin, TX, that all changed.
I’ve now been to Austin twice! The first time was for the Austin City Limits (ACL) music festival in 2015, and I got a sneak peak of the city during morning brunch before the shows and the nightlife after the last performer at ACL. This taste of Austin peaked my interest and this summer I decided to plan a long weekend to really explore this oasis city in Texas.
I've been lucky enough to accompany Dan to Austin, twice now, on business trips. The first time we extended the trip and met friends while this past trip, my parents met us for a few days! I love the chill vibe of the city and amazing diversity of foodie options. Austin has quickly become one of my favorite places in the States. Austin is great if you want a low key weekend or a party scene. I'm sure you'll see plenty of bachelor and bachelorette parties if you head out on East 6th St. one night ;) Either way, if you're looking for a quick city escape, Austin is definitely your place.
TBP's Best of Austin
Go Mural Hunting
Austin has some of the best street art and murals around. While there are some classics that you shouldn't miss, keep your eyes open as you explore Austin because you never know what you'll find. Here are a few that we visited and you can find more linked on our map of Austin.
1. I love you so much
The “I love you so much” mural is located at 1300 South Congress Avenue, on the side of Jo’s Coffee. We’ve heard the coffee is great, but must admit that we just went there for the photo opportunity. After you snap a shot, stick around South Congress and check off a few other items on our list.
2. Greetings from Austin
After exploring South Congress, cross over to South 1st and find the "Greetings from Austin" mural (located at 1720 S 1st St. on the side of Roadhouse Relics). Stay around S 1st for amazing dining options.
3. I hate you so much
The mural is located around back at the Bungalow Bar on Rainey Street. Grab a beer while you’re there!
4. HOPE Outdoor Gallery
The HOPE Outdoor Gallery is an outdoor graffiti park located in downtown Austin. The location was originally the start of a new condominium building, but the construction was cancelled and all that remained was the foundation and blank cement walls. Artists from all over the city and beyond started to use the walls as canvas and the HOPE Gallery was born. The pieces change as new artists paint over past work, and you can spend hours here climbing around and snapping pictures. Tip: Wear sneakers!
5. Howdy Austin
Located downtown (601 W 6th St.), catch the Howdy Austin mural while you're exploring the Capitol area or after having breakfast at the Counter Café.
Visit the Texas state capitol
The main drag, Congress Ave., divides downtown between east and west. Walk up the historic avenue to the impressive Texas State Capitol. You can walk around and give yourself a self-guided tour as you admire the incredible dome.
Eat all the BBq
You can't go to Austin and not get BBQ (unless you're Morgan and don't eat red meat ;). The "best" BBQ is heavily debated, but here are a few you should try.
Franklin BBQ - Most would agree that Franklin is THE best, but with wait times sometimes over 3 hours, you may not want to waste your precious time in Austin. Pro tip: if you're in a large enough group, you can preorder and simply pick up!
Cooper's BBQ - Can’t wait in line at Franklin for 3 hours? Try the delicious BBQ at Cooper’s. It’s cafeteria style with a delicious sauce and the line shouldn’t take you more than a half hour, max.
La Barbecue - La Barbecue is a BBQ food truck parked in East Austin. It’s closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and does usually have a line, but grab a beer for a more enjoyable wait.
Eat tacos and queso at torchy's tacos
Torchy’s Tacos is so incredibly delicious. Like BBQ, you can't go to Austin without visiting a Torchy's. All of their tacos are great, but you have to get the Fried Avocado and Chicken Fajita. And don’t skip the queso! Torchy’s has multiple locations in Austin.
Eat at the food trucks
Can you sense the theme of Austin? Yup, good and creative food. While you're there, embrace the food truck culture. Maybe stop by Gourdough's for donuts the size of your face or Morgan's absolute favorite, Bananarchy, for frozen bananas dipped in chocolate and toppings of your choice.
You can also check out the East Side King Food Trucks around town. They were started by Paul Qui, who won a 2011 season of Top Chef and is known for his Asian fusion cuisine. We recommend Thai-Kun at Whisler's for their spicy delicious thai food and the pork buns at East Side King Liberty.
There’s a food truck park located on Rainey Street smack in the middle of some awesome bars. Have a few drinks, grab a snack, and get right back out on the town.
Sip on Austin's local beers
Along with food, Austin is known for its local brews. Here are a few spots to check out.
Pint House Pizza - Pint House Pizza is a craft brewery that serves up some of the best beer in Austin. The Electric Jellyfish IPA is the best beer Amanda's ever tasted in her life. You can also find some of their drafts at Banger’s on Rainey.
Banger's - Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden has the largest tap wall in Austin. Sip on some brews in the garden and order a sausage if you get hungry.
Lazarus Brewing Co. - Lazarus is on the East side near a few other breweries. Their wheat beers are excellent and the vibe is awesome! Maybe spend a day brewery hopping on the east side of town.
drink frosé at the hotel san josé
Just do it. Head into the cute garden at the Hotel San José on South Congress and order the frosé, a great way to cool off in the heat. You won't regret it. Plus, they have other great drinks if you're not into the whole frosé thing.
get active at lady bird lake
If you need a break from the BBQ and beer in Austin, spend an afternoon at Lady Bird Lake, aka the Colorado River. Whether you want to hike, bike, kayak or paddle board, Lady Bird Lake is the place to go. Stroll along the Ann and Roy Butler Trail or head over to the EPIC rental doc and pay $10-$15 for an hour on the water.
Austin has some great shopping! From vintage to high end, there's something for everyone.
South Congress Shopping - South Congress is full of little boutiques to explore. Stop into any of the stores that pique your interest, but we recommend Gypsy Wagon for their cute clothes and cactus inspired goodies, Allen’s Boots for the real cowboy boots you know you want and Uncommon Objects for the weirdest trinkets and vintage knick-knacks. If you're looking to splurge, head into By George for a gorgeously curated mix. And for our male readers, don't miss STAG Provisions. When you need a drink, check out Hotel San José and when you hit Torchy’s Tacos, you’re pretty much at the end of your shopping adventure.
Outdoor Voices - for the absolute best athletic and recreational wear located just off West 6th St.
Experience Austin's nightlife
The best part about going out in Austin is there's something for everyone. You can get dressed for a night on the town or take it super casually and hang out on Rainey Street. Here's a list of some of our favorites. We also have more linked below on the map.
Rainey Street - Rainey is our favorite place to go out in Austin. It’s a street full of houses turned into bars and you can’t go wrong at any of them. Our absolute favorites are the Drafting Room, Container Bar, Blackheart, Bungalow and Banger’s.
Red River - Red River is another great area to go out. My favorite spot is Cheer Up Charlies, where you can sit outside and sip fresh-squeezed juice cocktails, tecates or kombucha. There’s also live music all over this street!
Visit Zilker Park & Barton Springs
Zilker Park is a 350 acre park in south Austin where the Colorado River meets Barton Creek. You can rent a boat, listen to live music, picnic on the grass or explore the botanical gardens. Take a dip in the Barton Springs, a spring-fed swimming pool located right in Zilker Park. It’s open every day but Thursday from 5am-10pm.
Embrace the foodie scene
Yes, we've now given you lists for BBQ, food trucks, and the hot spots for drinks, but it doesn't stop there. There are some AMAZING restaurants from which to choose. In fact, it's impossible to visit all of them in just a few days. Here are a few of our favorites, but you can find more linked on the map.
Launderette - Do not miss this hot spot on the east side! You can go for any meal really. Brunch was fantastic, but they serve birthday cake ice cream sandwiches for dinner...The Insta-worthy spot is housed in a converted gas station/laundromat.
Uchiko - For the best sushi! Seriously. You wouldn't think Austin would have amazing sushi, but o man. You must get the brussels sprouts. Try to go for happy hour!
Where to Stay
You can't go wrong staying anywhere near our points of interest marked on the map below. We stayed at this great Airbnb right on Rainey Street and it was perfect. Try to stay near South Congress, Downtown, or Bouldin.
TBP Insider Tips
> You need at least 3 days to take in the highlights of Austin, but you could go for up to a week and have plenty to do.
> If you're there for only a few days, you can get away without a car. If you're there longer, maybe rent a car and drive to some of the swimming spots outside of the city. Consider signing up for car2go.
> Uber and Lyft are back in Austin after temporarily shutting down in the city. This is a great way to get around! Another great option is Ride Austin.
> It gets very hot and humid in the summer! Make sure to bring sunscreen, a hat, and water.
> Reservations are recommended at sit-down restaurants.
> For a great easy breakfast, go to the Counter Café on North Lamar. You can stop at the largest Whole Foods on the way back!
TBP's Map of Austin
Don't forget you can save this map to your Google Maps by clicking the star. Just make sure you're signed into your Google account.