Complete Austin City Guide

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Austin holds a special place in my heart. Not only is it where I spent a lot of my childhood (I have family in the area) but it is also where I got married. When the hubs and I were engaged we looked all over the country on where to get married. Everywhere from Virginia to Maine and Wyoming to Idaho. I couldn’t find that perfect place until I was sitting in my husbands sunroom in Geneva browsing a wedding website. I was scrolling around and happened upon the most perfect spot I had seen yet. I remember thinking it was in California so ruled it out. I even said, “Wow, if this place was in Texas that would be a dream.” Come to find out, it was. And even better, it was in Austin. Brice looked at me and said, “why had we not thought of Austin before? We love Austin.” It has a lively scene, loads to do, incredible food, culture, and an International airport. If you haven’t been to Austin lately (or at all), I recommend you put it at the top of your list. With so much to do and so much Texas culture wrapped up in one city you are sure to have an unforgettable time! The only thing you will regret, is that you did not go sooner!

 

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WHERE TO STAY:

  • Hotel Saint Cecilia – The famous Austin hotel home to the famous “soul” neon sign. This trendy and picturesque boutique hotel is perfectly located in the South Congress District. It offers the ideal Austin bohemian vibe! Don’t forget to enjoy a cocktail on their outdoor patio, reserved for hotel guest only
  • Hotel San Jose – Sister hotel to Hotel Saint Cecilia, this 1930s’ motor lodge throwback is a hip hotel in the heart of SoCo. Perfect for a fun weekend with its buzzy bars and music venues close by.
  • Kimber Modern Boutique Hotel – A block away from SoCo’s hip bars, this boutique hotel offers a striking and sleek design – Rooms and suites are white, with pops of color and original artwork! It is also on a residential street, perfect for anyone wanting a quieter night
  • Airbnb – A great way to live like a local. Amazing properties offered all over the city at great prices! Perfect for large groups who want to stay together
  • The Driskill – An Austin landmark! Dating from 1886, this opulent Downtown hotel is full of history (some say it is haunted). The hotel is perfectly located in the heart of downtown and within a 12-minute walk from the Texas State Capitol
  • Hotel Ella – This boutique hotel is set within a refurbished manor house dating back to 1898
  • Casulo Hotel – Mixing urban chic with a zen ambiance, this minimalist boutique hotel is the perfect place to come to relax. Japanese-inspired rooms and suites have bathrooms with rainfall showers and separate 6-foot-long tubs. * A 14-minute drive from Bergstrom airport
  • Four Seasons – For the more elegant, upscale traveler! Rooms overlook Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin. It is also a 0.9 miles from the Texas Capitol building
  • Heywood Hotel – This small 7 room hotel features individually styled suites for a unique Austin stay

 

AUSTIN TX-2

WHERE TO EAT:

COFFEE SHOPS

  • Figure8 – Owned by a couple who have over 20 years of experience running coffee shops and pulling shots. The owners say that they want Figure 8 to feel approachable and that no one should feel intimidated going inside their shop
  • Jo’s Coffee – There are many locations throughout Austin but their SoCo location is an Austin staple! Great coffee, great location (grab a coffee then go shopping), and great people watching! Be sure to snap a photo with the “I love you so much” wall art on the side of their building
  • Cenote – A really cute setting to enjoy their famous iced coffee on tap
  • La Patisserie – A french inspired bakery and coffee shop which offers traditional French sweets, savory croissants & sandwiches
  • Flitch Coffee – An inviting and relaxed coffee shop which offers local pastry served from a quaint, retro camper with patio seats

BREAKFAST/LUNCH

  • Gardner – A truly beautiful Scandinavian design restaurant with incredibly delicious food. Enjoy a five course meal all hand prepared with the freshest of ingredients
  • Hillside Farmacy – Decadent brunch or sandwhiches in an old world setting
  • Elizabeth St. Cafe – A can’t miss if you are visiting Austin. Such a cute setting for great French inspired breakfast bites & creative Vietnamese plates for lunch & dinner! Also, don’t forget to try their Funafuti or Strawberry macaroons! Delicious!
  • Sawyer & Co. – 60’s style breakfast diner re-envisioned. Enjoy your food coma by taking a power nap in their lawn chairs!
  • Takoba – Incredible modern Mexican food and amazing mimosas
  • La Barbecue – Arrive by 11 a.m. or be prepared to wait a while. Don’t worry, the barbecue will be worth it!
  • Cenote – A little coffeehouse full of people scribbling away but go in quick and grab one of their amazing tacos to go!
  • Counter Cafe – Just down home good classic diner food
  • Quickie Pickie – Best sandwiches and tacos, beer bar and a great patio for people watching!
  • Mi Madre’s – The real deal breakfast tacos!
  • East Side Cafe – Classic Austin. Farm to table before it was trendy! Serves all the breakfast classics!
  • Tacos Deliciosos – A food truck with some serious tacos! Don’t plan on staying long – it is mainly to-go only.

DINNER

  • Lamberts – I had my Sunday wedding brunch here. Absolutely delicious food! Fancy Barbecue and Southern food with a great bar and music upstairs!
  • Elizabeth St. Cafe – Enjoy their delicious, hand-made Vietnamese dishes!
  • Justine’s – French yumminess with decadent cocktails! Definitely arrive before your dinner to enjoy a cocktail on their beautiful outdoor patio
  • Launderette – Gourmet southern food in a converted Laundromat
  • La Traviata – Truly authentic and good Italian food
  • Buenos Aires Cafe – Rich, modern Argentinian food in one hell of a cozy setting
  • Jacoby Mercantile – Southern classics elevated by farm-fresh ingredients in a rustic space with a lush garden & a shop
  • Sagra – Relaxed setting.  Italian pastas & mains, plus a wood-burning stove for house-made pizzas.
  • La Condesa – Contemporary Mexican dishes and a vast tequila selection! Try the Pisco Sour!
  • Perla’s – Best and freshest seafood in Austin. Beautiful patio under hanging tree lights
  • Uchiko – Japanese Farmhouse & sushi (great choice if you want sushi)
  • Swift’s Attic – American/gastropub. A great place for fancy hamburgers and steaks

LATE NIGHT

  • East Side Show Room A fixture on the “Best of Austin” list since opening in 2009. One feels transported to Paris in the 1920s with its artistic interior design, French bistro menu, vivacious live music and long list of pre-Prohibition cocktails
  • Weather Up – east austin – Don’t bother looking for a sign, there isn’t one — but there are expertly crafted drinks (the comprehensive menu’s broken down by spirit and preparation) and an atmosphere that lends itself to casual groups outside or an intimate date inside
  • Péché – vintage ambiance and a creative pre-prohibition style drink menu. Try it out for their plethora of absinthe choices and then stay for the seriously delicious French food
  • Bar Congress – The soaring ceilings and sophisticated design make this intimate bar feel anything but small. Posh cocktail lounge with a sidewalk patio serving inventive small plates & many wines by the glass
  • Drink.Well. – Cozy gastropub presenting eclectic plates & innovative cocktails in a stylish setting
  • Midnight Cowboy – This unassuming den is a tricky one to spot. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll most likely walk right by it. Make a reservation, ring the buzzer marked “Harry Craddock” to enter, and ease into the dark, narrow bar lined with booths on both sides
  • Whisler’s – Located in an old 1917 building on East Sixth Street this bar is one to see. With its two-story stone walls bedecked with religious iconography and some of the world’s best spirits you will be in awe as you sip that off-the-menu cocktail
  • Wonderland – Owned by the same team which owns the decidedly more upscale Bar Congress, Wonderland aims to serve the same quality cocktails in a dive bar setting. Quirky beers, bar food, live music and a comfy outdoor patio keep a down tempo vibe rolling late into the evening

 

austin tx hope outdoor gallery

WHAT TO DO:

HISTORY BUFF

TRULEY AUSTIN

  • Barton Springs Pool – A natural spring, 68 degrees year round
  • South Congress Shopping District – Tons of unique shops and restaurants. Not to be missed! (don’t forget to try – Georges II, Amy’s Ice Cream, Jo’s Coffee, and Uncommon Objects)
  • Bats on the Congress Bridge – Sounds eery and it is definitely not for everyone but where else can you see 1.5 million bats in flight (March – November only – 6-9pm)
  • Alamo Drafthouse (cinima) – An original Austin establishment. Watch a movie while eating dinner
  • Zilker Park – Take in some fresh air and enjoy the sunny weather! Have kids? Ride the Zilker Zephyr Miniature Train
  • Hope Outdoor Gallery – A three-story outdoor art project and one of the largest outdoor galleries in the USA. Definitely a place to see and take lots of photos!
  • ACL Live at the Moody Theater – Home of the long-running Austin City Limits PBS series, the Moody Theater is also the site of big-name concerts. Even though there are 2,750 seats, each one is within 75 feet of the stage. With 12 bars, you rarely have to wait in line for a drink
  • Rainey Street – What started as a few old houses turned into bars has grown into a full-blown entertainment district on the southeastern edge of downtown. The oddest venue goes to The Container Bar which is made out of recycled shipping containers stacked on top of each other
  • Downtown Farmers Market – On Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Republic Square Park at 498 West 4th Street is transformed into a lively farmers market. Whether you’re in the market for fresh fruit, artisanal cheese, kimchi or other locally made specialty foods, you’ll find just about anything you can imagine at the farmers market, plus live music and a festive vibe
  • Paramount Theatre – This historic theater hosts red-carpet movie premieres, plays, live music, ballets and stand-up comedy. Opened in 1915, the 3,000-seat venue still has many of the original Art Nouveau stylistic touches, including an elaborately ornate ceiling.

SWIMMING HOLES

  • Barton Springs No list of swimming holes would be complete without Barton Springs, the refreshing sanctuary in the middle of the city
  • Deep Eddy Just around the corner from Barton Springs is Deep Eddy, another spring-fed escape. Perfect for kids
  • “Secret” Beach – Right along the Colorado River you’ll find beach that’s perfect for lounging around/hanging out all day. Looking to float down the river? This spot is perfect! It is also dog and kid friendly
  • Hippie Hollow – The infamous Austin spot where clothing is optional. Beat the heat by taking your clothes off for a refreshing swim. And when I say clothes off, I mean all of them! *must be 18 to enter
  • Jacob’s Well – One of the more famous and beautiful swimming holes around Austin. Due to new regulations to protect the area there are now admission fees and restricted swimming hours. ** Plan ahead, because you must reserve a two-hour slot for swimming the Hays County website
  • Hamilton Pool Preserve This picturesque lagoon is fed by a small, sprinkling waterfall. There’s a 10-15 minute walk down to the pool, so bring appropriate shoes. Arrive early: A limited number of folks are allowed in

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3 thoughts on “Complete Austin City Guide

  1. Love your guide, everyone’s Austin fav list is different that’s what makes just the best. Love your blog, thanks for all your efforts!

  2. I just adore Austin…it reminds me of Nashville, minus the mountains. I almost got an unfortunate tatt on my 21st bday there…but fortunately, I was so drunk they wouldn’t do it!!! 😉 This is a great guide…reminds me it’s been too long since I’ve been, and need to fix that!

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