24 Hours In Austin, Texas
Learn what to do, see, eat, drink and more importantly, where to swim in the Live Music Capital of the World.
Trying to see all a city has to offer in just one day can be a daunting task, especially when that city is the Live Music Capital of the World. Austin has been experiencing a population boom in the last five years and it seems like every day a new restaurant, bar or venue opens up. With so many options, it’s hard to figure out an itinerary if you’re only in the Capitol City for 24 hours.
With Austin’s growing popularity one of the first things you’ll want to lock down is where you’re going to stay. Hotel San Jose is at the top of everyone's list and for good reason. Located on South Congress Avenue, this 40 room bungalow-style hotel transports guests into a southern oasis surrounded by lush garden walls. If you have the time, nothing beats relaxing poolside with a cocktail from their renowned bar. Also on South Congress Avenue is a cheaper more no-frills option; the Austin Motel. If you’re up for a more social (and cheaper) experience, Native Hostel recently opened on the east side of town. Not only is it a fun place to rest your head, they also have a great restaurant and bar on the bottom floor. Be cautious though, on Friday and Saturday nights they usually have a band or DJ playing music well into the evening!
Get outside! Stroll around Lady Bird Lake on a well-manicured path and take in the sights and sounds of the city, or rent a kayak and paddle while you enjoy views of the skyline. If you’re into hiking, there are miles and miles of trails in the Austin Greenbelt that will let you explore everything from babbling rivers to massive limestone cliffs. Surrounded by trees, you’ll forget that a bustling city exists just a few miles from where you stand. If you’d like to stay in the city swing by Graffiti Park at Castle Hill where local artists have been given a space to show off their talents. After that, check out the Texas Capitol Building. Built in 1888, the impressive red granite building still serves as the chambers for Texas lawmakers. Tours are relatively brief but you’ll learn a whole lot about the history of the building and state itself, and as a bonus, it’s a great way to escape the heat during the summer months.
When most people think of Texas they picture the dry and arid desert (maybe even a tumbleweed thrown in for good measure), and while that may be true for parts of the state, Austin is definitely the exception. But with temperatures soaring above 100 degrees during the summer months you’ll need a way to beat the heat, luckily we have Barton Springs. It's a three-acre man-made pool that is fed by a natural spring. While the parking lot can get a bit crowded, you can always find a grassy spot to throw your towel down and hop into the water. At a constant temperature of 68 degrees year around, there really is no better way to cool off during your visit. If you feel the need to get some laps in while on vacation check out Deep Eddy Pool, the oldest swimming pool in the state of Texas.
Austin is full of funky and unique shops and who doesn’t like to bring home a little souvenir or two from their travels? Flip through rows and rows of vintage and new vinyl records at End of an Ear; bonus points if you pick something up from Stevie Ray Vaughn or Willie Nelson, both hometown heroes. If you’re looking for something more unique, check out Spartan Shop which offers home goods, jewelry and apothecary items in a light-filled showroom. Or even pick up an old-school pearl snap shirt at a vintage store like Charm School. But if you’re looking for the most Texas souvenir of all head to Allen’s Boots on South Congress where you can try on literally thousands of pairs of genuine leather cowboy boots.
Known mainly for its tacos and barbecue, Austin is quickly becoming so much more; a culinary destination for foodies from all over the world. At Uchi, you can taste Japanese food with a non-traditional twist from a menu made by an award-winning chef. At Olamaie you can munch on southern staples with a modern, high-end touch. Clark’s Oyster Bar offers seafood as fresh as any coastal town and at Odd Duck, you can taste meat and vegetables from local farmers in a small plate format that will have you ordering off the menu all night. But hey it’s still Texas so you have to try some barbecue right? Everyone knows Franklin’s at this point, but if you only have 24 hours in Austin you may want to pass because the line to get in starts to form as early as 8 am. Instead, take a walk down the street and taste the brisket or ribs from Micklethwait’s or the towering chopped beef sandwich from J Leonardi’s.
After a long day exploring everything Austin has to offer chances are you’re going to want to kick back with a drink. Lucky for you the city has everything from world-class cocktail bars to little hole-in-the-wall dives, quite literally there is a dive bar called Hole In The Wall. The Townsend serves up what you would refer to as “fancy cocktails”, while you won’t find any crazy over-the-top drinks here, you can get yourself a very refined and delicious concoction. Kitty Cohen’s is a 1970s-themed bar with all the decor to match, stop here for anything from a classy gin and tonic to a mixed punch that is served in a giant bowl (just make sure to bring friends as they won’t serve this to you unless it’s ordered with two people). And if you’re feeling courageous head over to Ego’s where you can get cheap beers and sing karaoke!
They don’t call Austin the Live Music Capital of the World for nothing! Walk down any of the main streets in the city after 6 pm and you’ll hear music coming out of more bars and venues than you can count. One of the best parts of the city is stumbling upon a musician that you’ve never heard of before playing to a small crowd in an intimate space. The best spots to do this are on 6th Street or Red River Street, located right in the heart of the city. If you’d rather check out a more polished show, look up venues such as the Mohawk or Stubb’s BBQ. And if you really want to dig into what makes Austin so great try to see a live taping of Austin City Limits or learn how to two-step from the locals at The White Horse.
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