Arriving in Austin in the late afternoon on a hot summer day, I was beyond excited to get off the bus from San Antonio and start exploring. However I soon realised that Uber no longer exists here, so I found myself dragging my suitcase along the sidewalk (ugh!) until I was met with a local guy holding and shaking a sign on the corner of the street. After asking him where I might hail a cab I was promptly offered his phone to call one, cementing what everyone had told me about locals in Austin: everyone is super, super, super friendly and welcoming.
Guide to Austin: Checking In
A short 5 minute cab ride later and I found myself at the Four Seasons Austin. With the enviable lakeside position whilst still being positioned Downtown, this hotel was a standout. As with all Four Seasons Hotels I found the check-in process very friendly and welcoming – even snagging a few local recommendations for where to eat and play in the immediate area!
If you’re considering to stay here or anywhere else Downtown, I would highly recommend the area as it is centrally located and leaves everything within walking distance!
Things to See & Do
Austin has more than 250 different music venues and with the city being most known for its’ live music culture, it really is hard to choose just one or two places to visit. No matter what time of year it is you will be able to find a range of genres on offer with national and international acts coming to town. For starters you could check out some of the most popular choices: Continental Club, Stubbs and ACL Live.
If music isn’t enough to float your boat, you’ll find a range of entertainment options on offer at the iconic Paramount Theatre. Throughout the year the theatre hosts a range of plays, performances, comedy acts, and concerts.
While I wouldn’t usually promote going to the movies when you’re travelling, the Alamo Drafthouse is one exception I’m happy to make. The theatre is as old school as it gets on the inside and offers table service throughout the film — yup! If you’re looking for a unique date night whilst in Austin, this would be my first choice.
Another great choice downtown is The State Capitol. Here you can learn the history of Texan politics or just enjoy the serene grounds surrounding it and typical stately architecture seen throughout the United States. Best of all – its free!
If you chance a visit to Austin on the weekend, be sure to rise early and make your way to the Austin Farmers Market from 9 AM on Saturdays. You’ll find some great, fresh local produce and its the perfect excuse to shop around for a picnic to enjoy later at lunch.
Eats & Feasts
Cheap…indulgent…delicious. Yep, you can’t go wrong at Torchy’s. They even have an extensive breakfast taco menu!!!
Casual, delicious and absolutely FULL of flavour… you can’t have a bad time at Taco Deli. There’s a great range of tacos on offer and plenty of choices for vegetarians.
Although more expensive than the first two options, La Condesa is still a really popular choice as it offers great Mexican food within a more upscale (though still pretty low key) atmosphere.
For less than $10 for a main meal you can get a delicious, filling vegetarian/vegan Asian dish at Koriente. This is probably the best value-for-dollar vegetarian restaurant in all of Austin!
Bouldin Creek Cafe
We all know hipster cafes do food as well as they do interiors… so there’s no way you won’t enjoy BCC. The vegetarian food here is delicious and creative, set amidst a really casual atmosphere.
This is my first choice for delicious acai bowls and smoothie blends. The entire menu is centred around acai with a handful of variations, but in my opinion you can’t beat the classic – The O.G.!
For probably the best coffee in town (in my opinion it is!!!), do as the locals do and head to this casual hole-in-the-wall first thing in the morning. There are multiple locations – I visited the downtown shop for breakfast + coffee and it seems to be a pretty popular choice!
If you’re missing that NYC pizza or are dying to try one, Home Slice Pizza will give you just that… for just a few bucks!
As the name suggests – a juice and smoothie specialist.
Probably the swankiest restaurant in town within a low-key environment is Josephine House – my top pick for a perfect (and perfectly unforgettable) date night!
If you’re looking for more of a hipster-cafe kinda vibe then look no further than Hillside Farmacy. Really cool interior and varied menu offerings, open for both lunch and dinners.
For a mix between French and Vietnamese cooking, check out this unique eatery with creative dishes and some of the best service you’ll find in town.
Get Out: Day Trips from Austin
Barton Springs is a manmade pool located on Barton Creek. A series of dams create a unique swimming locale with depths of up to 18 feet. If swimming isn’t your thing, you can still spend your time sunbathing on the grassy areas around the pool area. The pool is an interesting blend of the outdoors and a luxurious swimming pool. Bring a good mix of music, a few snacks, and your best friends for a day of fun and relaxation.
Hamilton Pool was created thousands of years ago and feels like an otherworldly destination. 50-foot waterfalls, limestone walls, and stalactites make you feel like you are leaps away from modern day Austin. The waters there are a jade green hue, and during the summertime swimmers and sunbathers flock to the area. If you’re planning to head over on the weekend, be sure to get there early to beat the crowds.
About a half hour drive out of town is what has been dubbed “the Barbecue Capital of Texas”. Yep, you read correctly. If you’re a meat eater and you’ve come to Texas to eat like a local, this is a great day trip from Austin for an authentic meal out.