Anyone who lives in Austin has an endless bucket list of things to do. The city is vibrant, full of energy, and embraces an alternative lifestyle. There is always somewhere to go, something to do, and something to taste—and there are so many nature experiences to have, just outside the city. There is a reason it recently became one of the most popular destinations for millennials to move to. Here is my ultimate travel guide to Austin, Texas!
What to Expect in Austin
Language: English! Austin is pretty cosmopolitan and has recently become a melting pot of people, so you won’t find as many heavy southern accents as you might expect.
Currency: Just like anywhere in America, the form of currency you will use in Austin is the US Dollar (USD). Almost everywhere will accept cash or credit card. You can find a range of places to eat, stay and things to do here from low budget to high luxury.
Climate: Austin tends to follow the seasons, but it never gets too cold. Summers are extremely hot with temperatures in August and September reaching above the hundreds. Fall sets in around October and the air gets a little milder; think mid-seventies.
By winter, it’s still sunny but with cooler mornings and nights. It does occasionally rain, and when it rains it pours; but it won’t last more than a couple of days. Spring is very comfortable with warm temps and constant sunshine.
Type of Travel: Austin is a great city for a bachelorette party or girlfriend getaway. Since there is so much to do during the day and such a variety of nightlife, there is always an exciting adventure around the corner.
Getting Around Austin
Downtown Austin is very walkable, but there are a lot of fun places to visit on the outskirts of the city that require alternative transportation. Although there was a period when they didn’t, Uber and Lyft operate in Austin as well as other ride-share companies, such as Fasten. These are typically the fastest and most convenient ways to get around.
Public Transportation: The Capital Metro system operates all around the city. You can get to and from the airport by route 100 or 350, which runs every 30 minutes between 6 A.M.-11 P.M.
You can get a single MetroBus ticket for $1.25 or a day pass for $2.50. If you would rathe nr hop on a bike, check out Austin B-Cycle to pick up and drop off bikes all around the city.
If you don’t want to spend the money to rent a car during your whole stay, Zipcar is a great option! They have lots of available cars around the city that you can pick up and drop off in different spots.
Where to Stay in Austin
Austin offers many boutique, modern, and uniquely historic hotels! The most popular areas to stay in Austin are the downtown area and South Congress (or “SoCo”) for their walkability to restaurants, shops, and other highlights. East Austin has also come up as an up-and-coming “hipster” neighborhood—you’ll find lots of cool hangouts, bars, restaurants, and live music venues.
The Driskill Hotel is one of the oldest hotels in Austin, and it is known for its elegance and class. It’s on the far end of Sixth Street and right in the heart of downtown.
When you are ready to hang your hat in Austin, there are some awesome VRBO rentals properties out there. And if you’re looking for a unique stay or a long-term stay, I’ve rounded up some of the Coolest Vacation Rentals in Austin!
South Congress Hotel is a trendy, modern accommodation that is very popular among visitors. It’s located on the famous South Congress Street where there are endless shops and restaurants to wander into.
You will find Hotel San Jose tucked away behind South Congress street. This bungalow-style hotel is not only a great boutique hotel but with its lush courtyards and gardens, it’s a great gathering place for friends and groups.
Where to Eat in Austin
Austin, like most cities, offers a ton of amazing food and restaurants! The city has every type of food ranging from barbecue to Tex-Mex, Asian fusion, and new American cuisine. Don’t forget the epic brunches and sweets! You can count on Austin for some of the best culinary experiences of your life—here are my favorite places to eat in Austin!
Blue Dahlia BistroBreakfast, Brunch
Located in the trendy East Austin neighborhood, this is a favorite for brunch. Start with a delicious cup of coffee or artisan tea, and be sure to try one of the tartines!
Hillside FarmacyBreakfast, Brunch
Known for its breakfast and brunch, this café is reminiscent of a little French patisserie (with an Austin twist, of course). Be aware, you’ll want to be prepared for a long wait time on the weekends!
Josephine HouseNew American
As a local favorite with very little seating, this place fills up fast! But it is one you don’t want to miss on your trip to Austin. Munch on some amazing fresh-made pastries, fruit, and avocado toast. Be sure to make a reservation ahead of time to guarantee a spot, ask to sit in one of the outside coves!
South Congress CafeBreakfast, Brunch
This retro joint is right in the heart of famous South Congress Street. It has a huge range of dishes from carrot cake French toast to the classic Texas migas. Don’t miss the classic cowboy playing his guitar out front!
Café No SéCafe
Part of the South Congress Hotel, Café No Sé serves up one of the best brunches in Austin. Start your day right here with a mimosa and breakfast burger (a stacked burger topped with a fried egg).
You can’t leave Austin without trying a smoothie from Juiceland. It combines every possible variation of fruits, veggies, nut butters, and superfoods into the thickest, most amazing smoothie you will find!
Swifts AtticAmerican, Fine Dining
Tucked away upstairs in a corner of downtown, Swifts Attic offers a delicious upscale American dinner.
For the best Asian fusion in the South, head to Sway to discover all its unique dishes.
Uchi or UchikoJapanese
Lucky Robot is the first sustainable sushi restaurant in Texas! Visit this place for some off-the-wall sushi rolls and other unique Asian dishes.
About a twenty-five-minute drive outside the city, this is the famous sit-down barbecue restaurant in Austin. It has all the classics from ribs to chicken to beans to Texas toast. A must-have Texas experience!
In a perfect setting on a little river, the real “country” of Austin shines at the County Line. It serves all the typical BBQ favorites.
Going to Franklin Barbecue (known for having the number one barbecue in all of Texas—some may even argue the world) is an event. People start lining up outside the door at 5 AM and may end up waiting two or three hours for food, but it is all well worth it! The restaurant stops serving when it runs out of food (usually around 12 PM).
If you’re not up for the two-hour wait for Franklin, try the number two barbecue from the food truck La Barbeque. You may still wait around forty-five minutes, but in the end, you will enjoy some of the best ribs and brisket in the South.
A popular food truck that serves frozen bananas with your choice of dip and toppings.
Amy's Ice CreamDessert
Amy’s has a few locations throughout Austin, and they are known for their variety of flavors and choices of crush-ins that they mix into your ice cream!
Cow Tipping CreameryDessert
Talk about insane ice cream combinations! This food truck will definitely satisfy your sweet tooth with all its special soft-serve goodness.
You have never had doughnuts like Gourdough’s. I would consider it more of a meal than a doughnut as they are stacked with endless flavors and topping combinations. I would suggest going with friends and getting one or two to split!
What to Do in Austin
Austin is great because you get the best of city life, but you’re also so close to wide-open spaces, and the opportunity to get outdoors. You can go hiking, have an amazing foodie experience, hit the lake or springs, and then enjoy Austin’s nightlife all on the same day. Here are some of the best activities and things to do in Austin!
South Congress Street is famous for its shops, restaurants, lively crowd, and hipster style. You’ll find tons of cute boutiques and fun shops to explore. Be sure to go into Allen’s Boots to see the endless rows of cowboy boots (this is where many celebs go to get their boots)!
Take a day trip to swim in Barton Springs. This is more of a spring or summer activity, but the natural Barton Springs pool is a great place for a relaxing day of sun tanning and swimming.
Lady Bird Lake is a great place for all sorts of water-sports. The most popular are stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking. There are tons of rental shops around the perimeter of the lake where you can get all the equipment you need.
Austin is a hub for the arts, and the yearly festivals prove it. In the fall, Austin City Limits hosts hundreds of artists over two weekends on multiple stages. In the spring, the famous South By Southwest festival comes to Austin for two weeks of innovation, presentations, and collaborations in all the tech and creative fields.
You can’t leave Austin without a night out on the famous Sixth Street. There are more than eighty bars that line the street (it gets closed off to cars at night, so it’s very easy to walk around).
Each bar has a different personality so it’s the perfect place for a little pub crawl! Go for a round at Buckshot, Sip on a giant margarita at Chupacabra Cantina, and listen to some old country at San Jac Saloon.
Helpful Tip: At the end of the night, stop by Roppolos for the perfect late-night pizza slice!
Most people don’t know that Austin is actually a very green city. It has a lot of great places to hike and witness beautiful views. Check out Walnut Creek Trail or St. Edwards Park!
For a great view of all of Austin, head to the 360 Bridge, and don’t forget your camera!
Spend a Sunday bar hopping on the adorable Rainey Street. A little calmer than Sixth Street, the Rainey Street bars all look like old homes, and they each have their own personality.
A local favorite is Bangers, where you can order a pitcher of drinks and sit with friends, or meet some locals at the big community tables. Check their schedule for live music!
Austin’s multilevel Graffiti Park is a true haven for artists. It’s a great place for a photo shoot or to just take in the creativity. You can even bring your own can of spray paint and add to the creations!
Every evening at sunset from March to October, more than 1.5 million bats emerge from underneath the South Congress Bridge. Look up what time sunset is, and arrive there thirty to forty minutes early for a prime spot.
This is a spectacular show (compliments of mother nature) and a must-see when you visit Austin!
Zilker is one of the largest parks in Austin, and it’s always full of people lounging, playing with their pups, tossing a Frisbee, or soaking up the sun. Grab some food and drinks from Whole Foods (the flagship store is located in Austin, and it is AMAZING), and head to Zilker for a picnic.
Football is a religion in Texas, and the University of Texas football games completely live up to the hype. Throw on some burnt orange clothes and head over to DKR stadium for a tailgate and to cheer on the team with more than 100,000 fans.
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