Things To Do in Austin, Texas
A selfie paradise, Austin will make your social media shine with plenty of eye-catching and quirky photo opportunities. Start at the Greetings From Austin Mural, or one of the many other murals or public art installations around town. The Texas State Capitol is second in size only to the US Capitol and definitely Insta-rific, while the 307-foot University of Texas Tower provides a massively impressive background. The Texas Selfie Museum has 35 installation spaces across two floors, and the best Austin BBQ, Franklin Barbeque, is also one of the best places to flex your inner photographer. At 11 stories high, the Beauty and Liberty of Equality mural honors the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote, and if you don’t take a picture at the I Love You So Much Mural, were you even in Austin?
A Shopping Mecca
Whether your style is retro vintage, upscale designer, or all things wacky and wonderful, retail therapy in Austin will not disappoint. Like its lifestyle, the retail scene in Austin focuses heavily on local artists. For Texas warmth with an Austin cool vibe visit the 2nd Street District, or shop outside the box for unique & quirky Austin inspired gifts in SoCo (South Congress). You’ll find a full-on Yuppie shopping experience among the exclusive brands, hip boutiques, and fashionable cafes at The Domain in North Austin, or enjoy people-watching as you stroll Austin’s West 6th Street Shopping District for art, antiques, sparkly modern, and cleverly crafted décor and accessories.
Austin is a local-business forward kind of city, and its hop culture is thriving. For a wide assortment of country-inspired ales, hazy IPAs, and tart sours check out Oddwood Brewing, or try a glass of “What a Weather,” a light IPA with a touch of citrus at Hold Out Brewing. If relaxing in a German-influenced beer garden calls out to you after a busy day of learning and networking, head to at The Brewtorium. For a superior collection of artisanal cocktails check out Midnight Cowboy, Austin’s original speakeasy and craft cocktail lounge, or Nickel City, where bartenders like to go after their shifts. The cocktail program at Small Victory is among the best in Austin, plus they have the best martinis in town. Japanese cocktail bar Watertrade boasts dark wood, leather couches, and Japanese-inspired cocktails, and The Roosevelt Room is an industrial chic space with classic cocktails. The hottest Tiki ticket in town is Tiki Tatsu-ya, where they pay homage to cocktails of the ‘30s and ‘40s in a tropical surrounding that you’ll talk about for years.
The wine bar scene in Austin covers a lot of ground, from swanky downtown spots to charming bistros with candlelight. Devil May Care is a shiny throwback to Gatsby glam, where you can sip fine wine in the rhythmic excitement of live jazz, while June’s All Day offers top-notch wines with a retro jukebox. If coffee is your fundamental fuel of choice, Houndstooth Coffee is heaven for bean aficionados, while the chocolate-orange blossom latte, iced coffees, matcha, and chai at Barrett’s Coffee are served with plenty of outdoor seating and people watching. Austin also has an abundance of rejuvenating juice bars. Nekter Juice Bar offers grab-and-go and fresh juices, and People’s Pharmacy serves up cold-pressed juices and shakes with fruits, produce, and cashew milk. One of Austin’s original juice bars, Daily Juice, offers never processed fresh juice and smoothies made from real foods to guide your path to wellness.
When it comes to good eats, Austin is a foodie adventurer’s paradise. For prime cuts or fresh-catch seafood to absolutely spoil your palate visit Bartlett’s. If Texas-sized prime steaks, chops, and seafood served in a lively atmosphere with fine wines and a wall of classic Texas cattle brands representing the proud history of Texas cattle culture is on your Bucket List, check out award winning Bob’s Steak & Chop House. For a remarkable steak with a generous helping of Austin attitude, ALC Steaks fits the bill. If no trip is complete without a tase of local barbeque, you’re in luck, because barbeque is a way of life in Texas! Everyone knows about the long lines at Franklin Barbecue, but many say it’s worth the wait. Interstellar BBQ was named the second-best barbecue joint in the state, and Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew hosts a nostalgic atmosphere that showcases exceptional Texas BBQ and cold craft brews. If sushi is how you roll (har har), Tomodachi Sushi serves traditional and fusion sushi and remarkable daily specials, while Fukumoto specializes in classic Japanese comfort food. Austin also has excellent eateries where plants are the star attractions. If you’re craving a plate of spaghetti and beetballs after a busy day, head to Counter Culture, or Cali-cool spot The Well where dishes center around top-tier nutrition made with gluten-free, soy-free, and refined sugar-free sustainable ingredients. Even non-vegans will fall in love with the plant-based goodness at Nissi VegMex Cuisine, where they make 100% vegan Mexican food with locally made tortillas, while the buffalo cauliflower wings and huge selection of tap beers at The Beer Plant are a mouthwatering experience!
With trails in the heart of downtown, gorgeous parks, gardens all over, and near year-round sunshine Austin is an outdoorsy city. Barton Springs Pool measures three acres and is filled with water from nearby natural springs, which keep it at a year-round temperature of 70(ish) degrees. With one of the highest vantage points in Austin, Mount Bonnell boasts some of the best views of the city. You can even team this trip with a guided boat tour of Lake Austin and charming Austin waterfront views. Whether you’re a novice or experienced runner, Austin running trails are waiting for you. If hiking is your passion, Mayfield Nature Preserve offers 24 acres to explore, including a path that takes you to a dock overlooking Lake Austin and lily ponds filled with turtles. Want to switch up your exercise routine? Skip leg day and head to River Place Nature Trail, one of the most challenging hikes in Austin. Each of the three trails that make up the system has something to offer. For a fun experience and unique perspective of Austin while staying fit, opt for a bike tour of the city, or relax and let someone else do the driving on a trolley tour.
Times Gone By
Austin is home to some breathtaking landmarks. The crowning jewel of downtown Austin is The Texas State Capitol, an architectural achievement that you don’t have to be a history buff to fully enjoy. With over 22 acres of land (everything is bigger here in Texas) it is also home to an array of monuments and statues. Visitors can explore the dynamic and continuously unfolding history of Texas at the Bullock Museum, while the LBJ Presidential Library houses 45 million pages of historical documents, 650,000 photos, and 5,000 hours of recordings from President Johnson’s political career. Constructed in 1886 by a wealthy cattle baron, the Driskill Hotel has seen its fair share of history and was one of the grandest places you could visit south of St. Louis. And every Texan is familiar with the grand Treaty Oak in Treaty Oak Square, which is estimated to be over 500 years old!