Travel Guides

Austin City Guide

Even though my trip to Austin didn’t go 100% according to plan, I still had a great time. But now with that said, I think it might have been even better if I had even made a plan – ha! Oh well, I live adventurously and sometimes take last minute flights to places and just figure it out when I get there. And it makes for a pretty great story and if I’m lucky, leaves a smile on my face.

But if you’re interested in visiting with a plan, I made a little Austin City Guide based on the things I either loved, or wish I could’ve done while in town. Next time I go I’m definitely making sure to put these things on my to-do list.

observant nomad | austin city guide

Blue (Stay)  1. East Austin AirBnB 2. Hotel San Jose 3. Hotel Saint Ceilica  Green (D0)  4. Texas Capitol building 5. Lady Bird Lake 6. Congress Ave Bat Bridge 7. Alamo Drafthouse Theater 8. Stubb’s Live Music 9. Barton Springs Pool 10. Uncommon Objects  Black (Eat & Drink)  11. Franklin’s BBQ 12. Blue Dahlia Bistro 13. Quickie Pickie 14. Easy Tiger 15. Franks 16. El Tacorrido 17. Jo’s Coffee 18. Yellow Jacket Social Club 19. La Condesa 20. Arro 21. Josephine’s House 22. Rainey St 23. Tourchy’s Tacos (and other food trucks)

observant nomad | austin city guide

Where to Stay

I had the pleasure of staying in an awesome shared Airbnb in East Austin. I absolutely loved my host and the house was cute and full of character. The neighborhood still has some developing to do before it becomes full on touristy. So if you’re interested in ‘off the beaten path’, it might be a good option to consider. East Austin is a bit rough around the edges though and a little far from the city center – so you’ll definitely need a car if you’re staying here.

But if that’s not your thing I recommend trying one of the several awesome boutique hotels around South Congress, like Hotel San Jose (greenery everywhere) or Hotel Saint Ceilica (boutique cute luxury). South Congress is a little more trendy and has plenty of things to do within walking distance. Or just a short bike/cab ride into downtown.

Getting Around

Austin is a city that you might want to heavily consider renting a car for. Everyone travels via the two main highways that flank the city – so it’s not really pedestrian friendly outside downtown. If you’re staying in South Congress, you might be able to get by using a bike. I’ve heard that Austin is a pretty bike friendly city, but I was kind surprised at the lack of bike lanes and general bike riders on the larger roads. Maybe I missed them?

Another great option is car sharing. I saw plenty of Car2Go stations throughout the city area. Make sure you apply a few weeks before so you can start driving once you get there. If not, you can visit their office location in Austin, and they can get you access the day of.

Taxis (using the HailACab app) are in wide supply here, so don’t worry if you need to hitch a ride. Austin has even recently adopted Uber and Lyft car ride services – which I used plenty of since they were hooked into my PayPal account. You can read more about using those on my Seattle City Guide.

observant nomad | austin city guide

What to Do

Live Music: Austin is called the live music capitol of the world. So it’s important you take advantage of it while you’re there. Before visiting make sure to check out the several music-halls for a range of bands that perform any given weekend. I wish I had taken the time to look up some because I definitely would have gone to see Conor Oberst at Stubb’s – yup the BBQ sauce company.

Outdoors: Another great option is to waste a warm day at Barton Springs Pool splashing around in the natural spring. Or if long walks and bike rides are your thing, try and take the trail around Lady Bird Lake. If you’re a historian you can take a tour of the Texas Capitol Building, or post up in the early evening and watch the Austin bats take flight from the S Congress Bridge.

Shopping: Even if you don’t stay in South Congress, it’s a great place to spend a day. There are so many cute vintage clothing shops and trinket stores. You can find cowboy boots, mustache wax, or a stuffed pheasant if that’s your desire, I loved Uncommon Objects so make time for that. Then don’t be afraid to hop on over to 1st St. and visit the little hipster stores and find the food truck lot with Tourchy’s Tacos, Gourdoughs, and more.

observant nomad | austin city guide

Let’s Eat

Morning: Start your day off at Jo’s Coffee on South Congress for a instagram pic and a good cup of Stumptown brew, or stop on the East Side at Blue Dahlia Bistro for brunch. If breakfast tacos are your thing (and they should be) then basically go anywhere – ha! Or visit the Quickie Pickie, a trendy cute convenience store/food bar, for some tasty breakfast tacos and grab any essentials you might need for your day, like sunscreen, water, or snacks. If you’re determined to try Franklin’s BBQ – better get there now! People camp out all morning and bring coolers of beer to pass the time until they can get their hands on the stuff.

Noon: For lunch – there are plenty of options. Easy Tiger is great for a good sausage sandwich or pretzel, especially if you’re in the mood to waste away an afternoon just enjoying company and the river out back. Another good beer / lunch option is on the East Side at Yellow Jacket Social Club. I had the Grilled Beet Sandwich and I want another one right now. It’s the only time I’ve ever loved beets! I wish I had an opportunity to check out Franks Hot Dogs in Downtown since it looked amazing. But when in doubt, select tacos for round two and go with Tourchy’s Tacos or El Tacorrido.

Night: For something tasty and joy-inducing try Arro or Josephine’s House. Both are lovely and modern restaurants that will make you smile. Plus Josephine’s feels like a tiny little outdoor dinner party, too cute. Or if you’re not full of delicious Mexican food, try La Condesa. Then end your night by avoiding 6th st and instead do a little bar hop down Rainey St, which is an adorable neighborhood of old southern houses converted into cute outdoor / homey bars.

Ok, who wants to go with me next time?

What do you think?

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Austin is such a rad city! I went there for the first time in September and I’m already craving to go back. The city has such a unique vibe. I’ve made note of your recommendations so that I can explore some new places when I go back!