Things to do in Austin
Over my years living in Austin I get asked ALL the time “Hey, what should I do in Austin”?It’s a great question and one that I ask myself as well. This is a fun list of the where’s where for my sake and for a kinda quick reference to the places you should check out. Enjoy my opinionated list!
Note: I have no affiliation with any of these places. I’m just trying to share the love.
- Iron Cactus– Typical (Pretty good by Austin standards) Tex-Mex on the heart of dirty six. Grab a Mexican martini and count the number of bachelorette parties that come in (it will be a lot)
- Hop Doddy– Best burgers I’ve ever had, will be a little wait around peak times (like 20-30 minutes)
- La BBQ– Word is kinda out on this, but right up there with Franklins, which is what many believe to be the best BBQ in the country. Lots of really good standbys though. Styles Switch, and Rudy’s also good.
- Torchys tacos are legit. Get the Democrat and the Republican. Both good and you are making a statement for working together to get shit eaten.
- Baby Acapulco on Barton Springs. Decent Tex Mex, but the purple Margerittas will get you shit-canned in a hurry (like for real, they are dangerous). They have a limit of two.
- Peter Pan putt-putt– BYOB
- Butler Park pitch and putt– BYOB really small par 3 course. Bring some jams and brews.
- Top Golf– Massive super fancy golf range. Combo of driving range, bowling, and darts. Gets packed so recommend early bird bay for $20 and hour instead of $40
Bars (in order of tame to you’ll-want-to-sit-down-for-this)
- Firehouse– slid a bookcase back and there it is.
- Garage bar — An oddly easy place to miss, built in the middle of a parking garage
Fun/not as crazy
- Hanger bar
- Ginger man– Huge beer selection on tap
(Used to be a little cooler, now it gets as packed as the other hot spots)
- Container bar– Jake you might love it, made out of old shipping containers. Cool before 10 pm, after that, it is crazy packed, with a line to get in.
- Lucille’s- Cool outback area
- Craft pride– Another just cool vibe place. If you go you must get a slice of pizza from the via 313 food truck out back. Carnivore all day.
West 6th- Crazier/ mid-20s lower 30 crowds
- The ranch– Go to spot
- Rio– I hate this place, but pointing it out because of its about as much a club as I’ve seen in Austin. Douches for days.
- Rattle in- large open spaces
aka College kids getting hammered. Not a place I go but its THE place people who are visiting talk about. Cheap drinks and packed streets
- Blind pig
- Library bar
- Maggie Mae’s
- 20+other bars that are all variations of the others.
- Tour Deep Eddys (bus comes and picks you up)
- Bike tour drinking ridey thingy (what we did for Andrew/Coops Bach party. Fun once but a little over-rated)
- Zilker, in general, is a great park. I might suggest Butler park instead. Very similar/close but not as many people
—–And for the rest of the awesomeness———–
Great Article on how “Austin Became a Foodie Town”
Top 10 Austin BBQ
38 Essential Austin Restaurants – 2012
What a List!
- BBQ — La BBQ (on Cesar Chavez) — most attainable and 2nd in quality vs Franklin’s. Kerlin BBQ, Styles Switch, are quite nice… or make a day trip to Lockhart to hit the 3 up. Iron Works or Stubb’s BBQ are popular, but some consider overrated.
- Best breakfast tacos: Juan in A Million (order the Don Juan taco), Taco Delo, Torchy’s Tacos, Julio’s Cafe
- great Thai trailers — East Side King Thai Kun & Dee Dee Thai
- French Brasserie — Justine’s
- Ramen — Tatsuya (ranked, 2 locations), Daruma (chicken broth)
- Sandwiches to die for — Noble Sandwiches (formerly Noble Pig) — get the Creole Catfish; Republic of Sandwich
- Upscale restaurants — Launderette, Juniper, Uchiko
- Pizza deep dish — Via 313 (2 locations, Rainey and E Austin)
- Pizza Italian style — Bufalina (E Austin) or Pieous (to die for, southwest Austin). Via 313
- Italian — Patrizi’s (trailer, amazing); Pasta Artigianale (trailer, fresh!), Italic (fancy, downtown)
- Vietnamese — Sunflower (north Austin), Tan My (order the #40 vermicelli dish + Vietnamese iced coffee), Pho Dan (best pho in Austin), Baguette House (best Vietnamese sandwiches/”banh mi” in Austin)
- 24 hour — 24 diner (get meatloaf), Kerbey Lane (Stick with breakfast food, and get some Kerbey Queso for goodness sake)
- Tex-Mex — Julio’s Cafe (get chicken soup or anything with chicken).
- Dim Sum — New Fortune (but pales in comparison to real Asian cities)
- Szechuan — A+A or Asia Cafe
- Sunset/drinks overlooking lake — Oasis (go for drinks, not food.Largest restaurant in the country; overlooks Lake Travis from the side of a hill) Again food is crap and overpriced
- Perla’s – great outdoor patio dining. Not super cheap but good food. Consider the lobster roll and margaritas.
- Best Happy Hours: Parkside, Salty Sow, Uchiko
- Rudy’s BBQ (everything is good and it has a cool, very country style atmosphere…you eat on a piece of wax paper!)
- Salt Lick BBQ (a little far, but the country ambiance and great food is definitely worth the drive)
- Hyde Park Bar & Grill (Traditional American fare, great fries)
- Shady Grove (Burgers, sandwiches, live music on Thursday nights)
- Hula Hut (Tex-Mex out on the lake) / Chuy’s for Tex-Mex without Hawaiian flair
- Maudies / Matt’s El Rancho (Tex-Mex)
- South Congress Cafe (followed by drinks at Hotel San Jose)
- Galaxy Cafe (wraps, burgers, salads- good variety of food- everything is tasty)
- Trudy’s (food is aight, it’s loud, but it’s fun: try the campus location or the North location for brunch)
- Be sure to eat Breakfast tacos one morning at either Taco Deli, Taco Shack, El Arroyo, Julio’s Cafe, and Juan in a Million.
- 2nd street and Lavaca is a cool new area. Pretty small but has a few good places to eat
- For a great sandwich go to San Fran Bakery which is located on Mopac and Anderson Lane (next to Alamo Drafthouse)
- Any of the food carts (Austin has a lot of food trailers around town, especially in South Austin: South Congress, South 1st). You can get anything from a crazy doughnut to gourmet food to burgers to tacos etc.
Eats and Movies
- Only one place like it — Alamo Drafthouse! Eat drink and watch a movie. Traditional movies and also special events. Check out alamodrafthouse.com
- Cactus Cafe is one of the best venues in Austin for Singer/songwriters
- Antones: Good local venue that hosts a range of musicians
- Broken Spoke: Country Western dancing
- Stubbs: outdoor venue hosting midsize bands
- Momos: Good west 6th venue
- Look in the Austin Chronicle to find out who’s playing around town
- Cocktails — Whisler’s (E 6th), Small Victory or Midnight Cowboy (dirty 6th), Peche (W 6th), Roosevelt Room
- Craft Beer — Gingerman (W 6th), Draught House Pub (Medical Arts), Craft Pride
- Tons of breweries — Jester King (SW), Blue Owl Brewing (sours), ABGB, Zilker Brewing, Hops & Grain
- Cheap, good bars — Yellow Jacket, Liberty, Violet Crown
- Districts — East 6th St is where the action is these days, or Rainey St (more upscale). Note: Rainey really has turned into a slight tourist trap, but still some cool spots
- 4th Street has more chill bars and lounges
- 6th street is a younger crowd but you have many more options
- Speakeasy (cool lounge area up top)
- Maggie Mae´s (great rooftop deck)
- Hotel San Jose on South Congress
- West 6th Street- in between 4th St & Dirty 6th- some bars: Little Woodrow’s, Key Bar, The Ranch, J. Black’s, Dirty Bills, Union Park
- Any “good” Mexican restaurant is a great place to drink margarita’s or “Mexican Martinis” which are essentially strong margaritas on the rocks. Some places that are fun to drink include Trudy’s, El Arroyo, Chuy’s, and Hula Hut
- Union Park on W. 6th St (near Katz’s and Momo’s) – Great bar, easier to find parking (relatively speaking), nice rooftop. I recommend the Moquito.
- Bike around Austin’s new Boardwalk/hike and bike trails
- Rent a kayak/canoe/or paddle boat on the lake
- Swim and relax at Barton Springs
- Explore the Greenbelt (Violet Crown Trail, Twin Falls, Sculpture Falls); Great access point near Taco Deli on Barton Skyway
- Run up a few steps at Mt Bonnell and see Lake Austin, the 360 Bridge, and downtown
- Check out the vast and magnificent downtown Whole Foods. Grab a gelato, fresh food from the hot bar, pizza, tacos, and more — and enjoy it from the rooftop.
- First Thursday of each month, go down to South Congress for a lively street festival from 4 to dark!
- Bat watching on Congress Bridge (Summertime in the evening only)
- Hamilton Pool (take a dip)
- Zilker Botanical Gardens near Barton Springs
- Umlauf Gardens (near Zilker on Robert E Lee)
- Walk down South Congress and then eat at Guerros
- Outlet malls in San Marcos (bigger) / Round Rock (closer)
- There are a ton of concerts that go on daily; random festivals are also a good excuse to see a lot of stuff at once
Local Resources for Activities, Events, Reviews, Etc
- Vintage Heart Coffee (E. 7th St.) – Order the iced vanilla latte or the iced lavender latte. (They make their own syrups in-house.)
- Summermoon (S. First or Burnet location by the Domain) – Known for the secret 7-ingredient “moon milk.” Order the Summermoon or the Wintermoon (iced Summermoon).
- Jo’s Coffee (S. Congress) – Nice outdoor venue right on S. Congress, some covered seating. Order the Belgian Bomber if you like iced drinks that are slightly sweet.
- Patika – Order the Vanilla Lattes (iced or hot)