Austin is the capitol of Texas and a progressive city that’s attracting new residents with its music, food and outdoor lifestyle. Since 1836, German and Dutch settlers were drawn to Austin, and today tech giants and startups thrive here and meet up at annual events like SXSW, South by Southwest, a meld of film, music and media.
The city is known as the food truck capitol of the USA with 2,200 food trucks where pitmasters smoke up the best BBQ. Music legends like BB King, Stevie Ray Vaughn Muddy Waters got their start here and there are live music venues in practically every neighborhood. Outdoor experiences abound with 11.5 miles of trails for walking, running, cycling in the “City of the Violet Crown”, coined by the purple glow in the western hills at sunset.
With its vibrant culture and arts scene coupled with friendly locals, you’ll find yourself skipping to your own soundtrack before you leave.
Sharing our favorite places to stay, dine and what to do in Austin!
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The LINE is centrally located where the lake meets downtown, close to trails, South Congress and walking distance to the Capitol. Once home to a jazz club that broadcast live on local radio in the late 1960s, the hotel is part of downtown Austin history.
Reserve a suite with a view of Lady Bird Lake and the Congress Avenue Bridge. Dine at P6 and grab a latte at Alfredo’s in the lobby. Don’t Miss! The tacos at Veracruz Natural also in the lobby.
Kimpton Van Zandt Located in the Rainey Street District, this hotel’s essence is about the music scene. This boutique hotel is distinguished, laid back at the same time. The lobby fireplace is a central gathering place for complimentary Happy Hour. Be sure to bring your swimsuit so you can hear music when underwater swimming in the hotel pool.
Don’t Miss! Weekend brunch at Geraldine’s
Hope to stay here next time!
Commodore Perry Estate, Auberge Property Reimagined by internationally renowned designer Ken Fulk, this private retreat brings a new level of contemporary glamour and whimsical soul to Austin.
- Geraldines for music and great food – Weekend jazz brunch with live music.
- Aaron Franklin’s https://franklinbbq.com/about – get in line at 6 am for this famous BBQ pitmaster’s brisket.
- Veracruz Natural for tacos
- Juan in a Million for Tex Mex
- Via 313 Food Truck for pizza
- Uchi & Uchiko for sushi
- Suerte – great Mexican cuisine
- Lichas Cantina for pupusas
- Salt Lick – another great BBQ
- Tatsia – Japanese cusine
- Loro’s where you can find Aaron Franklin’s brisket on the menu, and smoked salmon, crispy corn fritters
Bars and Music Venues: Honky Tonk at White Horse for Tues and Thurs two-step classes, line dancing or step into the intimate legendary Continental Club for some of the best live music – rock, country, swing, blues and rockabilly acts every night. Or head to Stubbs for some outdoor music.
Cafes: Jo’s Coffee
Austin Detours Sign up for a city tour with Austin Detours! I met my guide, Chris Gonzalez, a local and taco aficionado who shared his insights and stories on our tour of Austin. We started the tour in the Rainey Street District, known for its funky bars and outdoor patios with live music, and continued to Sixth Street where there are three sections – Dirty Sixth is lined with live music and dive bars, then East Sixth where the locals hang out, and the West Sixth for the pricey dining spots can be found. Our tour continued to the Capitol and then to South Congress. After 2 hours, Austin Detours can give a helpful overview and you get a pulse on Austin. They also offer custom tours – foodie, art, history, architecture, street art and murals…just about anything you’re interested in. They even offer day trip tours to San Antonio and Waco! Heard the “Something Cool” Tour is unique and hope to take this tour on our next trip.
Here are the main neighborhoods for Austin with some highlights of things to do.
- Downtown: Austin’s downtown is pedestrian-friendly and its easy to walk from the vibrant Seaholm Neighborhood to the lively warehouse district, to the boutique-filled 2nd Street District. Get on a scooter and zip to the Market District where you’ll find the headquarters of Whole Foods and the ATX Sign. Then zoom to the Capitol Building and tour the interior to gaze up at the circular dome ceiling. Visit the Public Library and go to the rooftop for city views and see the open air to learn about the butterfly monarch migration. Find the largest urban bat colony in the world with 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats that roost under the Congress Avenue Bridge. Take a boat tour or row down Lady Bird Lake. Finish your day at one of Rainey Street’s funky bars and listen to live music at Container Bar and Icenhauer’s.
- South: This 78704 zip code loves to keep “Austin Weird” where you’ll discover on South Congress some of the popular clubs, bars, cafes and shops. Also, there is a unique blend of historic homes and modern architecture thoughout the Barton Hills, Travis Heights neighborhoods. Cycle along the Barton Green Belt – 75 sq. miles of cycling. Dip into Barton Springs at Zilker Park where you can also walk, run, cycle its 350 acres.
- East: this area is progressive and creative with residents who grow their own food, ride bikes to the “it” bars or frequent farmers’ markets.
- North: University and hip businesses are sprouting in this diverse neighborhood.
- West: Known for its five-star restaurants, antique stores and art museums.
Austin Tourism Great resource to find out where to go and more activities like Texas Trail Rides and other State Parks – McKinney Falls, Mount Bonnell Covert Park and Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve.
- LBJ Presidential Library: Learn about Lyndon B. Johnson’s life and take a look at the chapters and defining moments of his life.
- Bullock Texas State History Museum tells the “the Story of Texas”, and does so across 3 floors of interactive exhibits.
- The Contemporary Austin – Jones Center
- The Contemporary Austin – Laguna Gloria
- Blanton Museum of Art
- South Congress Street Market: Thursday to Sunday, visit the vendor stalls that line South Congress.
- West 2nd Street for boutiques
- South Congress Avenue – check out Monkey See Monkey Do for vintage toys, and Lucy in Disguise for costumes and dresses – Lady Gaga shopped here for some wardrobe items, and Boutiques like Cove and By George
ATX Yoga Girl Sound Baths Healing sound baths by Cynthia Bernard – lie down on amts and she will use instruments like crystal quartz singing bowls, koshi chimes, and shells to “bathe” you in comforting vibrations. This sonic activity is proven to calm the parasympathetic nervous systems and relax the mind from an overactive state. Sign up for a sound bath at Hotel Van Zandt or the FP Movement Studio.
Miraval Austin: Perched among the hills overlooking Lake Travis, Miraval’s natural sanctuary welcomes you to elevate your wellbeing with a daily schedule of wellness activities from aerial yoga in the yoga barn to hikes in the Lake Travis Hills, equestrian experience and even classes on hatchet throwing, chicken catching. Pamper yourself with self-care, enjoy healthy meals and an afternoon at the pool and spa.
Next trip to Austin, hope to stay at this wellness resort…
Acknowledgements: Global Adventuress thanks Kimpton Van Zandt, The Line Austin & Austin Detours for hosting us during our stay.