Austin might just be our new favourite city! Here are 10 reasons why:
1. Lady Bird Lake
Austin’s got everything we could wish for from a city break, whilst being simultaneously immersed in nature. The sound of bird song fills the city centre, which sits just a stones through away from lady bird loop, a 10-mile lake loop to bike, hike, run around or kayak, paddle board or boat across.
2. Healthy and Hearty
Austin is a really walkable city which makes exercise a part of everyday daily life. (Perhaps this is one of the reasons why it makes the list for top-10 fittest cities in America). This is in complete contrast to Houston where a car required to cross the street. Another Austin surprise is that it’s pretty health conscious- in an unpretentious way- offering a lot of vegan and vegetarian dishes and even some lighter options. Perhaps this is why it’s described as the most ‘un-Texas’ city in Texas.
3. Rainey Street
Instead of wasting your time with 6th street, where you’ll find debauchery, students and a worrying amount of homeless people, head straight to Rainey Street. If Disneyland created a bar crawl this would be it, as each bar is themed differently. There’s Container Bar which is quite literally made out of old storage containers, a western bar, and an array of live music along the way. We lined our stomachs with a delicious selection of small plates from Anthem, which describes itself as a ‘Tex-Asian Pub’ (go between 5-7 for some cheaper eats and cocktail specials!) Then we walked to the other end of the street and made our way back to the start… one cocktail at a time.
4. Texas Tubes
This is perhaps one of the coolest days out we had during our trip to Austin. The Comal River is situated about 50 minutes from the city and is a real-life lazy river (like the kind you get in waterparks but made by nature and beer-friendly). We hired from Texas Tubes in New Braunfels for $20 a tube and ended buying a beer cooler as no disposable containers are allowed on the river. As soon as we got going we realised just how rookie our river cruise was compared to some seasoned professionals. Most people had an extra tube, the sole purpose of which, was to carry a cooler of beer, speakers and even snacks. Such a fun day out- definitely don’t miss this on a sunny day (although don’t forget the sunscreen!)
I somehow forgot how close Texas is to Mexico. And my gosh the Mexican Texan fusion food is fantastic. One of our favourite meals was breakfast at Veracruz, a food truck famed for its guacamole, breakfast tacos and simple homemade Mexican food. We had to wait in line for a little while (something we don’t usually do) but it was so worth it. I would say it’s Austin’s best kept secret, but this family run taco truck has definitely made its way onto the map. Get some Guac and chips while you wait...
6. Live Music
We had a such a fun night at the Continental Club on South Congress Street enjoying some brilliant blues music. We’d highly recommend this cute and intimate venue, particularly for a date night. Although as the live music capital of the world, you really are spoilt for choice in Austin. There are more than 250 live music venues which range from clubs, coffeehouses, bars, taquerias, auditoriums and concert halls..
7. Cowboy Boots
Also on South Congress Street is Allens Boots. With over 4,000 cowboy boots on display, it’s definitely worth a visit- if only just to try on some of the craziest pairs and take some pics.
8. Bat Bridge
From March to October, 1.5 million bats emerge nightly from narrow crevices in the underside of the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge. Otherwise known as the Bat Bridge, it’s home to the largest urban bat colony in North America. Unfortunately on the night we waited to see them, they were late (how inconsiderate of them) and so by the time they came out it was pitch black. The nightly ‘show’ can take place anywhere from 7:30 to 9:45 p.m and it can take as long as 45 minutes for all of the bats to exit the bridge for the night. So don’t plan to go directly before a dinner reservations- you might be a ‘bat’ delayed. Sorry. Terrible joke.
Texas is of course famous for barbecue food. Unfortunately for my husband Dan, I don’t eat meat, and so that struck some of the more serious smokehouses off the list (as some of them don’t even serve fish). So we compromised by going to Moonshine, a relaxed restaurant serving homespun comfort food. According to Dan, the meat was finger licking good- all washed down with a delicious Moscow Mule. And he even had leftovers to enjoy for lunch the following day.
10. Hamilton Pool
Hamilton Pool Preserve is a gorgeous swimming hole located about 45 minutes from Austin in Dripping Springs. The scenery is absolute stunning and swimming under the waterfall was wonderfully refreshing- we would highly recommend visiting if you can, it was one of the highlights of our trip! However, the pool does require advance reservation. Definitely check the website several weeks (if not months) before you go as it books up fast. It costs $11 per person with time slots from 9-1 or 1-5 (and don’t forget to bring $15 cash for parking).
Other notable highlights:
-Go to Corner Bar for happy hour drink specials and corn bread…it’s to die for (see picture below) ! Located right in the centre of Austin below JW Marriott, with great outdoor seating. Perfect for people watching.
-Head to Caroline Coffee House for coffee and cakes. Enough said.
-Wine outside on the patio at Perlas (which is also on South Congress Street). This was the only place I had wine as Austin really is big on cocktails and beer.
-Dinner at Loro – an Asian smokehouse
-Jo’s for coffee and brunch. There’s several across the city. Coffee and food was yum!
-Tiniest Bar in Texas- is exactly what it says on the can. A tiny bar.
Where we stayed:
-The Guild- Airbnb style accommodations located in some of the best apartment building in the city. Would highly recommend. Our apartment was huge, and included a balcony, access to a swimming pool, parking and a voucher for a free coffee at Jo’s as a goodbye gift. Got to love the thoughtful touches!