Nov 28, 2021
9 min read
A Guide to Exploring Austin
Austin has been on our radar for a while now. Though big name festivals likeAustin City Limits
andSouth by Southwest
call the city home, they aren’t even close to the only reason we love making the trip. With great music seven days a week, excellent restaurants (and food trucks), and more outdoor activities than we can count, it’s hard not to find something you’ll love here, too.
Given all of the above, not to mention the University of Texas campus in the middle of town, Austin is a real hub for creativity and innovation. The city’s young professional population is on the rise, and in turn, they’ve brought new indie coffee shops, fashion stores, restaurants, and more. Brands likeOutdoor Voices
have moved their headquarters down south, emerging chefs likeZach Hunter
have made Texas their base, and boutique hotel groups such asBunkhouse
have decided to expand here.
Yet, despite the influx of new blood, none of the quirk we love so much about the city has been lost. You’ll find the best of both worlds in Austin. Below are just a few of our favorite spots.
Where to stay in Austin
The LINE Hotel
The LINE’s third property in Austin is much like the DC and LA experience, in that it is shaped by the city it’s built in. Housed in an old jazz club, The LINE pays homage to the creative history of the building and Austin itself. Rooms overlook Lady Bird Lake and come complete with local art. If you can find any time to rest during your trip, definitely spend a few hours by their gorgeous pool.
Hotel Saint Cecilia
This 14-room boutique hotel is located in the South Congress neighborhood of Austin. A bit more secluded than the rest of the hotels on this list, Saint Cecilia sits with lush grounds that give a true sense of privacy. Named after the patron saint of music and poetry, there’s a subtle sense of rock n’ roll. Oh, and that iconic neon “SOUL” sign overlooking a beautiful pool you’ve probably seen photos of? You’ll find that here, too.
Hotel San José
Behind stucco walls on South Congress Avenue, you’ll find Hotel San José. The modern design, with minimalist concrete accents, feels harmonious with the gardens and courtyard. While the pool is surrounded by bright couches and pillows – always photoshoot ready. In fact, it is almost too pretty to leave; luckily the cocktails are great, so it’s no chore to stay.
Heywood Hotel is located in the east Austin area, probably one of the hottest neighborhoods in town. With only seven guest rooms, you can expect impeccably personalized service. Grab a bike to explore the neighborhood (or for a quick ride downtown); or enjoy the digital nomad life as you work through your inbox in the sunny courtyard.
Where to eat in Austin
A former farmers market stand and supper club, Dai Due’s bricks-and-mortar location gives a true taste of Texas. Expect hyper-locally sourced meat and rich recipes that are typical of the state, and deliciously done.
Sour Duck Market
From the owners of upscale restaurant Odd Duck (which you should also go to), this all-day eatery/market/bar in Eastside is a wonderfully laidback alternative. It is the perfect place to grab a beer, wine, or cocktail and a few small plates with friends, gathered around the outdoor picnic tables.
For those visiting from New York, LA, or anywhere else that claims to have the best ramen around – get ready. This place, along with its sister restaurantRamen Tatsu-Ya,
serves some of the best. As well as great noodles, Kemuri is also known for its “Texas Izakaya”, a hybrid of Texas BBQ goodness and Japanese ramen goodness. It’s all very, very good.
Saigon Le Vendeur
Austin has exceptionally good Vietnamese food, and this spot serves our favorite banh mi in town, out of an old shipping container – which only adds to the whole experience.
Veracruz is worth the hype and you should go to any or all of their locations. Our favorite is the one near Radio Coffee & Beer or around Mueller’s Farmers Market. Get the Migas Poblanas and have your life changed forever.
Where to drink
Kitty Cohen’s is a Palm Springs-inspired patio bar, where you can get punches and other tiki drinks and probably be the happiest version of yourself. They have a small pool in the middle of the outdoor area, which you can dip into if you want.
On the rooftop of the LINE hotel, this cocktail bar serves serious booze and even more serious views. The drinks aren’t cheap, but they are delicious, and it would be a challenge to find a better place to watch the sun go down.
This tiny mezcal bar sits at the top of a restaurant in the east Austin neighborhood. There’s an extensive selection of mezcal, a dark wooden bar and a romantic interior, plus an outdoor patio if you’re in a bigger group.
Where to dance
If you’re looking for a club experience that still fits with the Austin culture, come to Barbarella. Each night of the week is themed (60s, 70s, 80s, electronic, etc.), so there is truly something for everyone.
The White Horse
If you’re looking to dance to live music (usually honky-tonk) and want to get your two-step on, there’s nowhere better than this Eastside staple. The live bands change depending on the night, but you are pretty much guaranteed a great time seven days a week.
Cheer Up Charlies
Cheer Up Charlies is a queer-friendly bar made for everyone. Housed in what looks like a lodge, there’s a great patio and even better music. They have dance parties, live bands, art shows, and beyond. Plus, kombucha on tap, if you don’t fancy a beer.
Where to shop in Austin
STAG Provisions for Men
One of our favorite men’s stores on South Congress. They have some vintage, a ton of new, cool brands, and super friendly staff.
We love Esby Apparel for the classic cuts and clean lines – think menswear for women. It’s a sustainable brand that values minimalism and makes those pieces that you can wear on repeat.
Mueller’s Farmers Market
One of our favorite farmers' markets in Austin. Right next to a man-made lake, come here for great produce vendors, packaged goods, games, and food trucks.
One of Austin’s most upscale stores, ByGeorge has high-end designers and high-quality brands you might not have heard of (yet). Their jewelry section is second to none. If you’re looking to drop some cash on some seriously beautiful items, this is your spot.
Austin has really good vintage shopping (Charm School Vintage
,Room Service Vintage
, etc). If you just go to one, make it Feathers, for a more curated selection. There won’t be piles of clothes here – the store reads more like a boutique, but you will find great denim, hats, and amazing one-of-a-kind pieces (we found a floor-length denim jacket and couldn’t be happier).
The selection at Take Heart is perfectly curated and the place to go for a gift, or just to browse every shelf. We love their minimalist pottery, Japanese goods, jewelry, and candles.
What to do in Austin
Barton Springs Pool
This is Austin’s favorite watering hole. Fed entirely by natural springs, it’s a man-made pool in the middle of Zilker Park, and the perfect place to cool off during the warmer months in Austin.
Wild Basin Preserve
With 227 acres of hiking trails, Wild Basin Preserve is a great and totally accessible outdoor excursion. There is a clear map at the entrance that allows you to map your route, so you can decide to make it a challenging hike or an easy meander.
Jester King Brewery
With beautiful views, outdoor games, and great pizza, you could easily spend an entire day here. Their year-round and special-edition beers are fantastic, but what we love more is the property. The farmhouse sits in Texas Hill Country and makes you feel like you could be much further than 30 minutes west of Austin.
Where to work
This place serves our favorite coffee in Austin (a bold claim), but we are putting it on our “Where to work” list because of the big communal tables, large outdoor space, and private high tops. Plus, their baked goods and drinks are worth working your way through. Pro tip: if you buy a bag of beans to take home (which you should), you get a free drink.
The pool at Hotel Saint Cecilia
You’re in Austin, where the weather is pretty warm most of the year. If you aren’t taking advantage of that while you are penning emails, closing deals, or editing copy – then, let this be your prompt. Head to the pool at Saint Cecilia for prime sunshine and privacy.
Austin Public Library
The Austin Public Library is an architectural gem inside and out,
it happens to have a fantastic restaurant. It’s downtown and the perfect place to come to plug in.
Where to get coffee in Austin
This Austin-based chain makes really good smoothies and healthy snacks, alongside the coffee. We love the location near Deep Eddy.
Seventh Flag Coffee
One of our favorite coffee shops in south Austin. It’s spacious and comfy, which makes sense because it was once a home. We love the minimalist design and the coffee is well-brewed.
Figure 8 Coffee Purveyors
calls Figure 8 the best cup of coffee she’s had, hands down. Started by two Austin natives, Figure 8 is a small local coffee shop with reclaimed wood tables and its own roasted beans – delicious. As they say, it’s: “Worth the (ever-increasing) Drive on 35”.
Where to get your hits of culture
Two-Step at Broken Spoke
Broken Spokes is a legendary dance hall and music museum. Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton have both played here. Need we say more? Come here to two-step any day of the week. Dancing isn’t mandatory, but it’s hard to resist once you’re there.
,C-Boy’s Heart & Soul
. We could keep going for the entirety of this article, but you get the picture. Austin is a great place to see music. Whether it’s duringAustin City Limits
or long after the festivals have departed, this town hosts a range of great artists on a nightly basis.
Blanton Museum of Art
On the UT campus, this is far beyond a traditional college art museum. With permanent collections and exhibitions that come through, it’s a must-visit in Austin. We love taking time out in the peaceful courtyard to wind down from the buzz of the city, and there’s also a great cafe.
Where to work out in Austin
We love this no-frills Eastside studio and every teacher we have had has been great. They categorize themselves as “absurdly high-quality donation-based yoga” and we couldn’t agree more.
We know this isn’t necessarily a “hyper-local” suggestion, but CorePower Yoga does the trick and we do love the Austin location. When you just need to sweat it, CorePower has you covered.
Bike or run along Ann & Roy Butler Path
Austin boasts some of the most beautiful city greens we could ask for, so it’s worth taking the workout outside. Ann & Roy Butler Path is the trail that runs along Lady Bird Lake, and it’s the perfect place for a bike ride or a jog. Our suggestion? Jog along the trail toDeep Eddy
, and then take a dip.
Sign up for Safara