A city of live music, street tacos, and public (natural spring) swimming pools that welcomes everyone! Although Austin is landlocked in the middle of big ol’ Texas, it has a coastal, easy living vibe. It seems like everyday is a casual Saturday, as people are walking around and enjoying a coffee, hanging out in parks, kayaking on Lady Bird Lake, or strolling on South Congress. Austin is one of the few places I could easily call home. The people here are diverse, friendly and encourage everyone to be who they want to be. Without question it is one of my favorites cities in the United States and I’m excited for it to be one of yours, as well! I’ve divided this city guide up by restaurants, bars, and activities. Enjoy!
Austin is sprawling with restaurants and it seems like new ones pop up monthly. Here are a few of my current favorites…
For date night or nice dinner with friends, I suggest Josephine House
, or the retro Launderette.
If you are like me and enjoy variety then Austin has you covered. Check out Uchi
for great sushi, Sway
for unique, upscale Thai, and Odd Duck
for new American bites in a tapa style meal. All three have visual appeal, are dimly lit and are a perfect way to start a night out.
There are several awesome food spots on South Congress. Check out Cafe No Se
for a healthy meal or choose from American staples(French fries, hamburger, avocado toast). The atmosphere has an upscale café feel, is bright and rustic cool. If you prefer something a little darker and sexier then head down the street to Central Standard Austin
. For more low key and delicious eats on South Congress go to Hopdoddy
for burgers or Home Slice Pizza
for pizza, obviously. Assuming you are like 99% of the world and enjoy brunch my favorites are South Congress Café
(get the bloody mary, crab cake benedicts and carrot-cake french toast!) or if it’s Sunday then head to the unbelievable buffet at Moonshine
Bars and Nightlife
Let’s go by “district” to make it easy. East 6th Street is your college/rage crowd. It is also known as “Dirty 6”. If you are looking for cheaper drinks and a younger crowd that’s ready to turn up then hop around this area. I like the Library bar, East Side Showroom and Blind Pig Pub. You will see a lot of people on their 21st birthday and bachelorette parties. Just a 1/2-1 mile down the road the bars get a little more clean and fancy. This is West 6th Street. The age range is closer to 25-35 years old. I’m a fan of Dogwood and Parlor and Yard.
For a totally different scene check out Rainey Street. Rainey Street is a growing group of residential houses (some historical) that have been revamped into bars and food trucks with awesome outdoor setups. Day drinking is great here or if you are looking for a more relaxed night out with games, life music and a backyard feel. Definitely grab food at Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden! Eastside/East Cesar Chavez pulls a local crowd and if you prefer off the beaten path then check out this area. Volstead lounge, Kitty Cohen’s and Whisler’s are good options. To make it a late night…my favorite clubs are Ethics Music Lounge, Summit, and Plush. Check out Barbarella if you like a gritty, quirky vibe with lots of dancing and little talking.
Austin is full of activities, but easy access to water activities makes it unique. Take a swim at Barton Springs
in Zilker Park — a 1,000-feet long spring-fed swimming pool with a year-round of temperature of 68°. Tons of people picnic and hang here on warm days. A more family friendly option with kiddos is the shallow Deep Eddy
in Eilers Park. If you are up for venturing outside Austin, visit the nearby Krause Springs
in Spicewood, which has a manmade pool and natural pool fed by springs; and the stunning Hamilton Pool.
It is worth the short drive! I highly suggest getting out on Lake Austin or Lake Travis. Lake Austin is just 3-4 miles from downtown and has a party cove, as well as a few fun lake Bars (Hula Hut and Abel’s). Lake Travis is 30-40 minutes away with gorgeous blue water with lots of water sports. There are several boat rental companies to choose from.
For shopping, I enjoy the walkable stretch of South Congress.
It has a solid lineup of unique shops including Stag
(for men), Sunroom
(for women), Feathers & Prototype
(vintage clothing) and South Congress Books
, where you can find an unusual collection of vintage books focusing on art, photography and music.
I hope you enjoy Austin as much as I do!
Thanks for adventuring. On to the next..