Austin, Texas is a Great City
My mom and I recently took a trip to Austin, Texas and there is so much to do, see and eat! I am so glad we were able to squeeze it in before everything shut down (hello, coronavirus!).
It was so nice to head south to warmer weather, and Austin was amazing. Such a funky, artsy place with an incredible food scene, cute shops and kind people.
1. Stay at Stay Alfred in Downtown Austin
We stayed at Stay Alfred, a travel apartment, on W Riverside Drive. It was our first time staying at a travel apartment and we would definitely do it again. It’s cheaper than a hotel, and nicer than a typical Airbnb. They rent rooms inside upscale apartment buildings, so there are nice amenities like a pool, rooftop patio, and washer/dryer in unit. But you don’t get the comforts of a hotel, like additional shampoo each day, or someone to tidy up the place while you’re out. It was in a great location, clean and spacious and we would stay there again.
We started off our first day with the Walking Tours of Austin to get our bearings and learn more about the history and culture. The founder, Jim, was our tour guide and he was extremely informative. Previously a history professor, he knew so much about Austin’s past and was a great story teller.
3. Enjoy the Public Library’s Rooftop Garden
There is so much to do and see in Austin on foot. Be sure to visit the newly remodeled public library which has a gorgeous rooftop garden overlooking the Colorado river.
The Texas Capitol is located in Austin and offers a generous amount of free tours. We hopped on to the African American Trailblazing Texans tour and it was really great. It focused on all the incredible contributions African Americans made to Texas’ history and culture.
Everyone kept telling us to check out the University of Texas campus, so we took the trek there. It’s a long walk from downtown Austin, and we probably should have rented bikes or grabbed an Uber/Lyft. It was insane though! Nearly 52,000 students attend classes there each year. The main campus covers 431 acres and the architecture is gorgeous. There are museums, coffee shops, and 17 libraries! It was an entire city within itself.
6. Listen to Live Music on Rainey Street
Be sure to spend a good chunk of time meandering along Rainey Street. This adorable neighborhood has a bunch of houses that have been converted into bars and restaurants. We grabbed beer at Bangers and sat outside while listening to a live band.
Okay, let’s talk BBQ. The BBQ scene in Texas is insane, it was so hard to narrow it down. We landed on a few great places. Lambert’s is an upscale restaurant. It’s a little expensive, but high quality food. We decided to order a little bit of everything and share it with our friend, Ash, who lives in Austin and joined us for dinner. We ordered brisket, pulled pork, mac ‘n cheese, brussel sprouts, and grilled flatbread. I ordered a glass of Malbec to go with my meal and the flavor combo was out of this world.
Another night we waited in line at Cooper’s. The wait was a little under an hour and you do have to stand the whole time. But once you get up to the counter, it’s easy to understand what the wait is all about. We ordered brisket, mac ‘n cheese, coleslaw, beans and corn on the cob.
We were also told to have tacos in Austin, so we went to Torchy’s one day for lunch. It’s a chain, and they have many locations around Austin. You walk up to the counter to order and you can mix and match which tacos you want. They were really delicious and filling.
You have to check out Voodoo Doughnut on 6th street too! The line was literally out the door, but it was hands down the best doughnuts I’ve had in my life. High quality ingredients. We shared the Vicious Hibiscus, Voodoo Doll and the Portland Cream. This place is a must see!
8. Treat Yo Self to a Massage
And when you’re exhausted from eating, drinking and walking, treat yourself to Viva Day Spa. My mom and I each got a 60 minute massage, and I think it was one of the best massages I’ve ever had. The woman who provided my massage said she had been giving massages for nearly 20 years!
When you need a change of scenery, take a day trip. One day we rented a car and drove to San Antonio. We did hit rush hour traffic so it took us nearly two hours, but had we better planned that, it would be a little over one hour. San Antonio has so much history. We toured the Alamo, took a river boat tour, which was about 60 minutes, and ate lunch on the River Walk.
Visit Gruene on Your Way to San Antonio
We also stopped at Gruene (pronounced “green” like the color) on the drive to San Antonio. Gruene is an adorable tiny town along the Guadalupe River. There are a lot of cute shops and coffee spots. There’s also Gruene Hall, built in 1878, which is the oldest continually run dance hall in Texas. It is know for having a great night scene that unfortunately we couldn’t stay to see for ourselves. We spent about an hour walking around the town shopping and grabbing coffee and muffins. It was a great detour.
10. Rich in Culture, History and Food
There are so many things to do in Austin, Texas! It is rich in culture, history and incredible food! It’s easy to understand why it has become such a popular destination. Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my posts on Waseca, Stillwater, and Pine City!