I’ve been living in Austin for nearly a decade. I think it’s about time I write about some of my favorite places and things to do in Texas’ capital. First up, food!
You can’t come to Austin and not have a taste of our barbecue. It’s about the best meat you’ll taste in your entire life-but then again I may be biased. But seriously, our bbq is the best. There are three main places you can go for top notch bbq which will never disappoint your taste buds.
Rudy’s Country Store and BBQ is a popular favorite in Austin. Their brisket is great, especially when doused with their famous bbq sauce. Make sure you also try their delicious cream corn.
Salt Lick BBQ is another fine choice to satisfy your meat cravings. Their meat is always soft and flavorful and I love the ambiance of the restaurant with its giant fire grill in sight for all to see. It truly feels like a country meal.
Now I’m not gonna lie, I’ve never eaten at Franklin Barbecue. Mostly because the wait in line is at a minimum two to three hours. However, those who have made it through the long wait absolutely love and praise their food. So if you’ve got time to kill, try Franklin’s before you leave.
Once you’re sick of eating brisket every day, make sure you check out Hopdoddy Burger Bar! Their burgers are out of this world. Each one feels like how a burger should really taste. Also, make sure you order a side of truffle fries! I’m not a huge fan of their shakes but their truffle fries are delicious.
You can not beat a view like the one at The Oasis. This American/Tex-Mex restaurant is overlooking all of Lake Travis, making for a serene meal basking in the beauty of Austin’s nature. Although the food isn’t drop dead amazing, I’d say it’s about a B+, the view makes for a perfect trip and family get together.
Austin is unique in its many different sights to see. One of the places you must visit before you leave is Mt. Bonnell. Although it may seem like a mountain it’s just a short walk up a steep staircase. But the view you get at the top is spectacular! You can see all of the lake, beautiful mansion houses, and Austin’s city skyline. It really is a must-see.
Right after you finish checking out the views at Mt. Bonnell, just down the street is Mayfield Park. It’s a magical little place filled with peacocks walking all around you. It’s surprising how many people don’t know about this Austin gem so don’t forget to put this in your schedule. I took some photos of this place which you can checkout here.
Canoeing/Paddle boarding on one of Austin’s many lakes has become a staple of Austin summers. It’s loads of fun, especially with all the people rowing their little boats around you. There are many different spots to get on the water in Austin. But the way I do it is park across the street from Austin High School, where there is an entrance to the canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards. Make sure you go during the early afternoon and not during evening time. Rentals usually stop around sunset so you don’t want to take the risk of going there and missing out.
You may be surprised to discover that Austin has a lot of nature and great hiking spots. The area on highway 360 (aka capitol of Texas highway) is full of hiking trails. My favorite hiking spot is Riverplace Trail. This place is legit hiking that is quite steep and rigorous. Make sure you wear good hiking shoes and on a day where it hasn’t rained recently because mud is never your friend while hiking.
McKinney Falls is another picturesque piece of Austin. The watering hole is perfect for a summer swim. Now, it’s not really a hiking place. It’s more of a park which you can walk through. But I think the natural waters makes McKinney Falls worth a visit.
Although Hamilton Pool is not technically in Austin (about a 45 minute drive), it is one of the best places to visit and see. This natural pool is the place you’ll truly remember from your trip. You have to hike down to get to the natural pool so try not to pack too much. The drive and the probable long car wait to get in is 100% worth the trouble to take part in this natural beauty.
The best places to shop in Austin are in my opinion the Round Rock Outlets (Round Rock is a suburb off of North Austin) and The Domain (central Austin). Both are outdoors and both carry brand names and the standard places people like to shop. But if you’re looking for a shopping experience more unique to Austin I’d recommend visiting South Congress Avenue.
South Congress is a fun and quirky street in Austin. You’ve got your Amy’s Ice Cream, Home Slice Pizza, Big Top Candy Shop, Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds Costume Shop, and a sprinkling of hipster looking thrift shops, cluttered antique stores, and artsy boutiques to entertain your afternoon. To check out more of South Congress visit my latest snapshots here.
The best place to visit for night life is Sixth Street, more commonly known as dirty sixth. This street is lined with bars and clubs and is every Austinite’s favorite place for a drink in the heart of downtown. Parking may suck so it’s best to take the bus there. Other popular places for nightlife are Red River Street and Rainey Street.
There is so much to see in Austin. These are just a few of my favorite places. If I wrote about every place worth going to this post would be 10 pages long. But I think it’s also a great idea to visit Austin’s many food trucks which are scattered throughout Austin, and get a chance to check out some of our Cafes. And of course ACL Festival and SXSW is some of Austin’s biggest events.
I hope you enjoyed this mini travel guide! Stay weird Austin!