Austin is a city that will always have a special place in my heart. I lived there for a year and a half while attending the University of Texas for my grad school program in accounting. Before my school year started, I spent the summer in Austin with two of my best friends exploring the city. We spent all summer working (but hardly working) at a shoe store in The Domain that hired all 3 of us.
Still to this day, it is one of my most fond periods of life because it is where I fell in love with the love of my life. I met (my now husband) Gil in Key West, Florida on spring break a few months before I moved to Austin. After moving to Texas, he responded to my snapchat story where I was showing the fraternity house we lived beside and told me he lived right next door to me. We ended up being next door neighbors and the rest is history!
Austin, Texas Travel Guide
Austin, Texas is a city that is rapidly growing in popularity and size. It is the capital of Texas and is known for its lively atmosphere, diverse culture, and unique attractions. With its stunning natural beauty, vibrant music scene, and delicious food, Austin has become a top destination for travelers from all over the world.
What makes Austin unique is its combination of big city amenities and small-town charm. The city is home to a thriving tech industry, world-class universities, and a bustling downtown area, but it also has a laid-back vibe that is quintessentially Texan. Whether you're looking for outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or just a great place to relax and unwind, Austin has something for everyone.
As the self-proclaimed "Live Music Capital of the World," Austin is famous for its music scene, which includes everything from country and blues to rock and hip hop. The city is also known for its food truck scene, which offers a wide variety of delicious and affordable cuisine. South Congress, or SoCo as it's known to locals, is a popular destination for shopping, dining, and people-watching. With so much to see and do, it's no wonder that Austin has become one of the most popular travel destinations in the United States.
Restaurants in Austin, Texas
When it comes to dining in Austin, you're in for a treat. The city has a diverse food scene with plenty of options to satisfy any craving. Here are some top restaurants to check out during your visit:
Matt's El Rancho
If you're looking for Tex-Mex cuisine, Matt's El Rancho is a must-visit. The restaurant has been a local favorite since 1952 and is known for its famous Bob Armstrong Dip, a cheesy queso dip with taco meat and guacamole. Other popular dishes include the fajitas and enchiladas.
Loro is a fusion restaurant that combines Texas barbecue with Asian flavors. The restaurant is co-owned by James Beard Award-winning chef Tyson Cole and Aaron Franklin, the owner of Franklin Barbecue. The menu includes dishes like smoked brisket with papaya salad and green curry sausage.
For seafood lovers, Perla's is a great choice. The restaurant serves fresh seafood dishes like oysters, ceviche, and grilled octopus. The menu also includes non-seafood options like steak and roasted chicken.
Ranch 616 is a Southwestern-style restaurant with a fun and lively atmosphere. The menu has a mix of Tex-Mex and Southern cuisine, with dishes like chicken-fried steak and shrimp and grits. The restaurant also has a great selection of cocktails.
June's All Day
June's All Day is a cozy cafe that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The menu includes classic dishes like avocado toast and burgers, as well as more unique options like Korean fried chicken and lamb tartare. The restaurant also has a great wine selection.
Clark's Oyster Bar
Clark's Oyster Bar is a seafood restaurant that specializes in oysters. The menu includes a variety of oyster options from different regions, as well as other seafood dishes like lobster rolls and clam chowder. The restaurant also has a great happy hour with discounted oysters and drinks.
Uchi is a high-end sushi restaurant that has won multiple awards. The menu includes traditional sushi rolls as well as more creative options like the machi cure, a smoked yellowtail dish. The restaurant also has a great selection of sake and other Japanese drinks.
Terry Black's BBQ
You can't visit Texas without trying some barbecue, and Terry Black's is a great place to do so. The restaurant serves classic Texas barbecue dishes like brisket, ribs, and sausage. The meat is slow-cooked over oak wood for a smoky flavor.
Aba is a Mediterranean-style restaurant that serves dishes like hummus, kebabs, and lamb chops. The restaurant also has a great rooftop patio with views of downtown Austin.
Pool Burger is a fun and casual restaurant that serves burgers and tiki drinks. The menu includes classic burger options as well as more unique options like a banh mi burger and a vegan burger.
Cisco's is a classic Tex-Mex restaurant that has been around since 1950. The menu includes dishes like breakfast tacos, chile con carne, and migas. The restaurant also has a great patio for outdoor dining.
Related: Fort Worth, Texas Travel Guide
Bars in Austin, Texas
Austin is known for its vibrant nightlife, and the city is home to countless bars and pubs that cater to all tastes. Whether you're in the mood for a craft beer or a classic cocktail, you're sure to find a spot that suits your style.
Buford's is a favorite among locals, and for good reason. This no-frills bar serves up a wide selection of beers and spirits, and the atmosphere is always lively. Whether you're looking to catch a game on TV or just hang out with friends, Buford's is a great spot to do it.
Deep Eddy Cabaret
If you're looking for a classic dive bar experience, look no further than Deep Eddy Cabaret. This iconic Austin bar has been around since the 1950s, and it's still going strong today. With cheap drinks, a jukebox, and a laid-back atmosphere, Deep Eddy Cabaret is the perfect place to unwind after a long day.
P6 Rooftop Bar
For a more upscale experience, head to the P6 Rooftop Bar at the Line Hotel. This sleek and stylish bar offers stunning views of the city skyline, as well as a menu of creative cocktails and small plates. It's the perfect spot for a romantic date or a night out with friends.
If you're in the mood for something truly unique, check out Midnight Cowboy. This speakeasy-style bar is hidden behind an unmarked door, and you'll need a reservation to get in. Once you're inside, you'll be transported back in time to the Prohibition era, with classic cocktails and a cozy, intimate atmosphere.
For a more sophisticated cocktail experience, head to the Roosevelt Room. This elegant bar offers an extensive menu of classic and modern cocktails, as well as a knowledgeable staff who can help you navigate the options. The atmosphere is upscale but welcoming, making it a great spot for a special occasion.
Any Bar on Rainey Street
Finally, no visit to Austin would be complete without a trip to Rainey Street. This historic neighborhood is home to a wide variety of bars and restaurants, each with its own unique vibe. Whether you're in the mood for a craft beer at Banger's or a frozen cocktail at the Container Bar, you're sure to find something that suits your taste on Rainy Street.
Overall, Austin's bar scene is diverse and exciting, with something for everyone. Whether you're a local or a visitor, you're sure to find a spot that feels like home in this vibrant city.
Coffee Shops in Austin, Texas
Austin is known for its vibrant coffee culture and unique coffee shops. Whether you're looking for a cozy spot to work or a place to catch up with friends, there are plenty of coffee shops to choose from in Austin.
Mozart's is a popular coffee shop located on the shores of Lake Austin. This coffee shop offers a beautiful view of the lake and a relaxing atmosphere. Mozart's is known for its delicious coffee and pastries, and it's a great spot to spend a lazy afternoon.
I used to love spending the afternoon studying at Mozart's on a pretty day!
Better Half is a trendy coffee shop that offers a variety of coffee drinks and food options. This coffee shop is known for its delicious breakfast sandwiches and its outdoor seating area. Better Half is a great spot to grab a quick bite to eat or to catch up with friends.
Jo's Coffee is a popular coffee shop located in the heart of Austin. This coffee shop is known for its delicious coffee and its iconic "I love you so much" mural. Jo's Coffee is a great spot to people watch and to soak up the vibrant energy of Austin.
Mañana is a stylish coffee shop located in South Austin. This coffee shop offers a variety of coffee drinks and food options, and it's a great spot to work or to catch up with friends. Mañana is known for its minimalist decor and its friendly staff.
Fleet Coffee is a specialty coffee shop located in East Austin. This coffee shop offers a variety of unique coffee drinks and a rotating selection of pastries. Fleet Coffee is a great spot to try something new and to experience the creativity of Austin's coffee culture.
Overall, Austin has a diverse and vibrant coffee scene, and there's a coffee shop for every taste and preference. Whether you're a coffee connoisseur or a casual coffee drinker, you're sure to find a coffee shop that you love in Austin.
Shopping in Austin, Texas
If you're looking for a unique shopping experience, Austin, Texas has plenty of options. From trendy boutiques to local shops, you're sure to find something that catches your eye.
C Jane Boutique
C Jane Boutique is a must-visit for fashion-forward shoppers. Located in the heart of downtown Austin, this boutique offers a wide selection of stylish clothing, shoes, and accessories. Whether you're looking for a statement piece or a wardrobe staple, you'll find it here.
For another boutique shopping experience, head to Beehive Boutique. This trendy shop, located in the Bee Cave neighborhood, offers a mix of trendy accessories and affordable clothing. You'll find everything from bohemian dresses to funky jewelry.
If you're in the mood for some serious shopping, check out The Domain. This upscale outdoor mall features a variety of high-end retailers, including Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton, and Tiffany & Co. You'll also find plenty of dining and entertainment options, making it a great place to spend an entire day.
Local Shops on South Congress
If you're looking for a more laid-back shopping experience, head to South Congress. This eclectic neighborhood is home to a variety of local shops, including antique stores, vintage clothing boutiques, and quirky gift shops. You'll find plenty of unique souvenirs to take home with you.
Whether you're a fashionista or just looking for a fun way to spend an afternoon, Austin's shopping scene has something for everyone.
Unique Things to Do in Austin, Texas
When you visit Austin, Texas, there are plenty of unique things to do that you won't find anywhere else. Here are some of the top activities to add to your itinerary:
Experience the Live Music Capital
Austin is known as the Live Music Capital of the World, and for good reason. You can find live music venues all over the city, from small bars to large outdoor amphitheaters. Be sure to check out Austin City Limits, a famous music festival that takes place every year in Zilker Park.
Explore the Art Scene
The Blanton Museum of Art is a must-visit for art lovers. It features a wide range of artwork, from contemporary to classic pieces. Another unique art experience is the HOPE Outdoor Gallery, an open-air graffiti park where artists can showcase their work.
Witness the Bat Migration
Every night from March to November, the Congress Avenue Bridge becomes home to over a million bats. You can watch the bats take flight at sunset from the bridge or take a guided boat tour to get an up-close view.
Relax by the Water
Lady Bird Lake is a beautiful spot to relax and enjoy the outdoors. You can rent a kayak or paddleboard to explore the lake, or take a walk or bike ride on the trail that surrounds it. For a refreshing swim, head to Barton Springs Pool, a natural spring-fed pool that stays a cool 68 degrees year-round.
Learn About Texas History
The LBJ Presidential Library and the Bullock Texas State History Museum both offer fascinating exhibits that showcase the history of Texas and its leaders. You can also take a guided tour of the Texas Capitol Building to learn about the state's government and architecture.
Enjoy Downtown Austin
Downtown Austin is a vibrant area with plenty of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. Take a stroll down Sixth Street to experience the nightlife scene, or check out the food trucks and street performers on South Congress Avenue.
Where to Stay in Austin Texas Without a Car
If you're planning a trip to Austin, Texas but you won't be driving a car, don't worry. There are plenty of options for accommodations that are conveniently located near public transportation or within walking distance to Austin's top attractions.
Downtown Austin is the heart of the city, and it's a great place to stay if you want to be in the middle of all the action. There are plenty of hotels and Airbnb rentals to choose from, and many of them are within walking distance to popular attractions like the Texas State Capitol, the Austin Convention Center, and the nightlife on Sixth Street. Plus, the downtown area is serviced by several bus routes and the MetroRail, so it's easy to get around without a car.
South Congress is a trendy neighborhood located just south of downtown. It's known for its eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, and bars, as well as its vibrant street art scene. There are plenty of accommodations in the area, including boutique hotels and vacation rentals. Plus, South Congress is serviced by several bus routes, so it's easy to get around without a car.
East Austin is a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood that's known for its vibrant arts scene and diverse food options. There are plenty of unique accommodations in the area, including boutique hotels, hostels, and vacation rentals. Plus, East Austin is serviced by several bus routes, so it's easy to get around without a car.
Overall, there are plenty of options for accommodations in Austin that don't require a car. Whether you choose to stay downtown, in South Congress, or in East Austin, you'll be able to easily explore all that the city has to offer.
Where to Stay in Austin Texas For Nightlife
If you're looking for a place to stay in Austin that will keep you close to the city's vibrant nightlife scene, you have a few different options to choose from. Here are some of the best neighborhoods and hotels to consider:
Where to Stay in Downtown Austin
Downtown Austin is the heart of the city's nightlife scene, with a wide variety of bars, clubs, and live music venues all within walking distance of each other. If you want to be in the middle of the action, consider staying at one of these hotels:
- Hotel Ella: This artistic boutique hotel is located within walking distance to the University of Texas and downtown. The adorable aesthetic of the hotel and on-site terrace, garden, and bar make it the perfect hotel for a girls weekend!
- The Driskill: This historic hotel has been a fixture of downtown Austin since 1886, and its elegant rooms and lively bar make it a great choice for anyone who wants to experience the city's nightlife in style.
- The Westin Austin Downtown: This modern hotel is located just a few blocks from the famous Sixth Street entertainment district, and its rooftop pool and bar offer stunning views of the city skyline.
- The Line Austin: This trendy hotel is located on the banks of Lady Bird Lake, just a short walk from the bars and restaurants of Rainey Street. Its stylish rooms and on-site restaurant make it a popular choice for young professionals and hipsters.
Where to Stay Around South Congress
If you're looking for a more laid-back atmosphere, the South Congress neighborhood might be a better fit. This area is known for its quirky shops, vintage boutiques, and eclectic restaurants, and it's also home to some of Austin's best live music venues. Here are a few hotels to consider:
- Hotel San Jose: This boutique hotel is located in the heart of the South Congress neighborhood, and its lush courtyard and stylish rooms make it a popular choice for couples and solo travelers.
- South Congress Hotel: This modern hotel features a rooftop pool and bar, as well as several on-site restaurants and shops. It's a great choice for anyone who wants to be close to the action but still have a quiet place to retreat to at night.
- Kimber Modern: This sleek, minimalist hotel is located just a few blocks from South Congress Avenue, and its spacious rooms and private patios make it a great choice for anyone who wants a little extra privacy and relaxation.
No matter where you choose to stay in Austin, you're sure to find plenty of great nightlife options nearby. Just be sure to book your hotel early, as rooms in popular areas can fill up quickly!