Austin, the capital of Texas, is one of the most vibrant cities in the United States. Self described as the live music capital of the world, Austin is famous for its arts and culture scene in the predominantly rural Lone Star state. Home to international festivals including South By Southwest and Austin City Limits, locals here strive to maintain the cities eclectic culture and ‘Keep Austin Weird’.
Start the day off with a fantastic cup of coffee at one of these seven great coffee shops in Austin before going out to explore the city. End the day with a craft cocktail at one of these popular rooftop bars before checking out the six best barbecue places in Austin.
As well as the thriving arts scene, Austin is also home to a bustling food scene serving some of the most delicious Tex-Mex food you’ll find anywhere. From award-winning restaurants to abundant food trucks, Austin has foodies covered. When you're done eating, check out Zilker Park in the heart of South Austin before diving into Barton Springs Pool, Hamilton Pool or Lake Austin, a few of the cities most famous swimming holes.
If you want to get out of town, nearby Lake Travis is a great place to cool off from the summer heat while staying close to town. Historic San Antonio is also an easy drive away, and you can enjoy the Riverwalk and excellent Tex-Mex cuisine. New Braunfels is also a popular getaway destination, with frequent celebrations of the town's German heritage and many opportunities to float down the river that runs through town during the summer months.
For travelers looking to fully immerse themselves into Austin’s thriving live music scene, Downtown is the place to be. Concentrated around 6th Street, Austin plays home to the most live music venues per capita of any city in the U.S. Other popular neighborhoods include the University of Texas, East Downtown, North Loop, South Congress, South Lamar and Old West Austin.
Downtown is the nexus of nightlife in Austin. It’s easily walkable, and the main drag for the young and upwardly mobile is centered around 6th street, which extends most of the way through the city. Bars, music venues, and food shops are jammed door to door. Favorites include Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar, which gets truly fun and raucous on the weekends, San Jac Saloon with their live tunes, and Barbarella (named after the 1968 film of the same name) off of Red River. Jackalope Bar is great for adult revelry, but if you’re truly lucky, you might get a photo atop the large, saddled jackalope statue in front of the bar to indulge the kid in you. Connoisseurs of the strange will love the Museum of the Weird. Carnivores can begin the night with barbeque from Stubb’s, and carnivores and vegans alike can end the night at Voodoo donuts or start their morning with brunch at The Driskill Hotel.
Within walking distance of 6th street are several other downtown establishments, such as jazz bar The Elephant Room, hip standout HandleBar, and the speakeasy Red-Headed Stepchild (also known as “Floppy Disk Repair Co.”), that’s only accessed by a code that changes every month.
Rainey Street is a handful of blocks away, so it might be best to drive, but numerous restaurants that occupy what were formerly private residences. G’raj Mahal, No Va, El Naranjo, and Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden are popular stops for locals.
South Congress, or “SoCo,” is a length of street surrounded by boutiques, restaurants, and other establishments brimming with personality. This is a great stop for tourists as it’s easily walkable and gives a pretty solid impression of the art community. Personal favorites are Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds costume emporium, Jo’s coffee, and found item haven Uncommon Objects. Grab yourselves some shiny leather cowboy boots at Allen’s and grab some grub at Guero’s or Perla’s.
For night time visitors, The Continental Room has live music most nights, which you can check out after taking in the massive flight of bats at dusk from under Congress Bridge, usually occurring March through November.
South Lamar is one of the most young and affordable parts of Austin. Well-known two-stepping country enclave The Broken Spoke has found its home for many years on Lamar, and welcomes anyone who is willing to learn how to dance. Bars like Golden Goose, Black Sheep Lodge, and Corner Bar are mere yards from each other.
Food is the main focus on this street though. Opa! is a Merditerranean restaurant and café that’s great for conversations of people toting commuters and working on a deadine. Korean-inspired cuisine is located at the first brick-and-mortar building for East Side King, or grab true Tex-Mex at Papalote. The swanky ambiance at Gordough’s is the perfect environment for consuming their incredibly decadent donut desserts.
East Austin is one of the fastest-growing communities in the area, known especially for its food options. East Side Pies is a delectable pizza joint with some intriguing toppings, from spinach curry sauce to tomatillo. Not to be outdone, Nasha serves Indian-Mexican fusion food and drink, like curried margaritas and chicken tandoori tacos. Asian-inspired stand out Saigon Le Veneur and has found a home here as well.
If something a bit more soothing for your stomach, Counter Culture has some vegan eats that can’t go wrong. Licha’s Cantina, Cenote, La Cazuela, Shangri-La, and Salty Sow are popular spots. Weekend brunch hot spot old timey Hillside Farmacy is great if you need to get some grocery shopping done after your meal. Lastly, The White Horse is a bar that encourages country and social dancing and is a favorite among nightlife enthusiasts.
Whether you are chasing a single room near 6th street to soak up some music or you’re looking for a whole house for a family getaway, Tripping has your Austin vacation covered. From a quick weekend away to a short-term stay there are vacation rentals to suit every style and budget. Book your Austin vacation rental today!
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