Before you go, brush up on your knowledge below to find out what Austin, Texas is known for. I’ve included my top picks to maximise your experience.
I actually had no idea that Austin was the capital of Texas. What brought me here were vibrant tales of live music, epic food and the cities artistic vibe.
Does Austin live up to the hype? You can bet your sweet ribs it does… I fell head over cowboy boots in LOVE with Austin, Texas. So much so, I now rank it as one of my all time favourite US cities.
Where to Stay
From high end to hostel, Austin, Texas is known to have a scene to suit every budget. I’ve scoured them all with a fine tooth comb, and have delivered you properties that serve up; boutique detail, passion for their brands and an experience that will turn your stay in Austin, into a lifelong memory to cherish.
The hotels I have listed are focused around Downtown & East Cesar Chavez, as well as South Congress & Bouldin Creek which are directly over the lake. Staying in these areas gives you easy access to explore by foot, Lime or Bird scooters, or a low cost Uber or Lyft ride.
$$$ Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt – You’ll find the newly designed hotel in Downtown Austin, near the famed Rainey Street. Built to immerse you in the music scene and give you a truly authentic taste of Austin, laced with creativity and class.
$$$ The Line – This location is second to none, set in Downtown, on the lake and opposite South Congress, you can’t get better. The history, design and emerging art on showcase, is all part of the appeal for this newcomer.
$$$ Hotel Saint Cecilia – If privacy is key, This stylish 14 room converted mansion in South Congress is for you.
$$$ South Congress Hotel – In the heart of South Congress. Minimalist design focuses on elements that showcase Texas, such as; reclaimed wood, leather and denim. The rooftop pool is the perfect spot to take time out in that hot Texan sun too.
$$ Hotel San Jose – A South Congress gem. This bungalow style hotel, hidden behind a curtain of ivy, offers free concerts in their lush courtyard.
If your budget is more beer than champagne, I have your back too;
$ Austin Motel – An iconic Austin Motel on South Congress that has been completely redesigned by Liz Lambert. The decor is bright and the property has a really fun vibe for this budget. I love their play on the phallic sign with, let love in.
$ Outsite Austin – If you are staying longer term and living a digital nomad life, like me. This is a favourite of mine to live, work and collaborate with like minded people. A 6 bedroom house in Bouldin Creek, showered in natural light and surrounded by lush greenery. A short walk or scooter to South Congress, I fell in love with my stay here.
$ Native Hostel – An experiential hostel on the border of downtown and East Cesar Chavez. Their motto is; creating a culture of fuck yes. You can count on the team here to steer you in the right direction and deliver in spades.
$ HK Austin Hostel – Established by renowned travel blogger, Nomadic Matt. He has set up a unique and collaborative space in East Cesar Chavez, for people to meet up and create, in a historically listed landmark. The design is no frills and so is the price.
$$$ Miraval Austin Resort & Spa – An hour out of Austin, nestled in Texas Hill Country. If you are looking to treat yourself and escape the city, Miraval have created a stunning sanctuary to unwind.
If you are an avid Air Bnb guest, Austin offers a wide range of properties to suit too. Save money off your first Air Bnb stay by using my link.
Where to Eat
Austin, Texas will tantalise your tastebuds, That is a known fact. With the city expanding at a rapid rate, so too are the hundreds of new restaurants and food trucks that are opening up every year.
I found Eater Austin, to be on the pulse, as they highlight the hottest newcomers and update their list monthly.
With so many choices, I obviously had to try as many as I could. Austin is world famous for BBQ and Tex Mex. Also home to the flagship store for Wholefoods, I recommend you pay a visit, It is huge!
My waistline in Austin is a true testament to these amazing places that contributed to its success in expanding rapidly.
BBQ – Franklin’s is the most famous (and also has the longest lines… I don’t generally do lines but the brisket was legit worth the wait).
Every local I spoke to had their own view on which BBQ joint was their favourite, this made me start a game of how many barbecues can I try out.
Every restaurant or food truck I visited, was completely different to the last. They all have varying styles and dishes unique to the pit masters, I recommend you try a few. Some others I tried and loved were; Coopers Old Time Pit BBQ, Terry Black’s BBQ & La Barbecue.
Torchy’s Tacos – In multiple locations across the city, Make sure you try at least one. This place is so famous, even Barack Obama treated himself here.
Via 313 serve deep dish Detroit style pizza which you do not want to share, buy one for yourself and if you can’t finish it, take it home and munch on it on the next day. They have multiple locations, I visited the one in the courtyard of Craft Pride (A bar on Rainey Street that serves Texan craft brew) and listened to live music.
Austin is packed with food trailers (over 1000 of them), hence another reason why I am obsessed with this city. There is something about being able to order from a small menu, that specialises in its fare, that makes eating so easy. If you’re usually paralysed by too much choice, food trucks are for you. Again, Austin Eater has the best of the best lists and they update it regularly.
What to Do
ATX (The quickest known way to say Austin, Texas) is the live music capital of the world. With over 250 live music venues, you will find something you love and discover buzzing new acts.
The Austin Music Venue Guide, lets you filter by genre, venue type and district, they also let you enter keywords if you really want to define your search.
With more music venues than you have time to visit, Austin, Texas is known to play host to some of America’s most popular festivals. Think SXSW, Austin City Limits and Urban Music Festival (among many other lesser known gems).
Aside from music and food, Austin will stun you with its natural beauty and outdoor activities aplenty.
Spend time around Ladybird Lake; walk, run, bike, SUP or tube down the river. Another must do in the city is to head to Zilker Park to cool off in the natural Barton Springs.
Spend a day on a treasure hunt for Austin’s famous street art murals; warning, you will need more than a day by the time you track them down and take all the photos.
One of the most famous experiences (and to be honest… I could leave this out but maybe it’s your thing) is to watch the million or so bats fly over South Congress Bridge around sunset ( check exact times when you arrive as they vary on the time of year, and catch them from March through November).
With that Texan heat beating down, my favourite thing to do in the day was take short day trips to check out nearby swimming holes. Check out Jacob’s Well, Blue Hole & Deep Eddy Pool. Make sure you check out the local park sites as some need reservations to swim, and can book out far in advance, especially in the height of summer.
Hiring a car is a must if you want to venture out of the city. Pennybacker Bridge has a beautiful view over the river and is the perfect spot for a sunset picnic – Make sure you get there early to claim your spot.
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