With its forward-thinking chefs, tough-as-nails roller derby queens, up-and-coming musicians, and eccentric philosophers, Austin is a creative hub in the middle of traditional Hill Country. If you’re planning a visit to this bewitching capital city, then check out this guide to the perfect weekend in Austin.
As one of the country’s hippest cities, it’s no surprise that Austin has its share of trendy hotels, and with its electric-blue pool, live music, and vintage vibe, the Lone Star Court hits the sweet spot between urban chic and Hill Country cool. The hotel’s also situated near some of the city’s most vibrant restaurants and shops, making it the perfect starting point for your weekend getaway.
After starting the clock on your 72 hours in Austin, take a short stroll to The Domain, an all-in-one hub with shopping, dining, and entertainment, or take advantage of the hotel’s free shuttle by heading downtown. Austin is world-famous for its live music scene, and you can catch a show at the legendary Continental Club on South Congress, or polish up your cowboy boots and hit the White Horse, a lively honky-tonk with nightly music.
The White Horse’s tacos are renowned, but if you’re looking for something more polished, grab some locavore fare at the convivial Barley Swine.
Everything in Texas is bigger, including the breakfasts, so punch a hole in your belt and head to Paperboy, a popular breakfast spot in a modest trailer on the East Side. Slide up to a plate of Texas hash with pork shoulder and pecan mole, and get ready to tackle the day.
There’s no better place to get to grips with the area than the Texas State Capitol, which offers free 30-minute tours of the largest capitol building in the United States, so head to the historic red-granite statehouse to soak up some Texas lore, and make sure to explore the vast grounds in the heart of downtown.
From there, it’s a short stroll north to the Bullock State History Museum. The museum carries visitors through 16,000 years of Texas history, and offers interactive exhibits, a 6-story IMAX screen, and a revolving calendar of events.
Round off your Saturday morning with lunch at Lamberts, a lively BBQ joint in a converted general store.
Once you’ve polished off a plate of wild boar ribs, continue your Austin adventure with a trip to Lady Bird Lake, a 416-acre reservoir in downtown. The lake is a popular recreation spot, so join the locals on the hiking and biking trail, rent a kayak, or cast a line to catch some largemouth bass.
Then head off to explore the funky East Side. East Austin is bursting with hip restaurants, vintage shops, and cool galleries, and you can even book a booze-filled bike tour through the district. Stop into the George Washington Carver Museum to explore Austin’s African American heritage, and then grab dinner at Laundrette, a chic café in a former laundromat.
Sunday morning means you only have 24 hours in Austin left, so shake off the early-morning blues with a breakfast bánh mì and a cold brew at the Elizabeth Street Café, a French-Vietnamese restaurant with a shaded patio.
Then head out for a walk and a bit of people-watching on buzzing South Congress Avenue, a colorful thoroughfare jam-packed with shops, galleries, restaurants, and bars. The area offers a great look at old-school Austin culture, and you can pick up some original paintings at Yard Dog Art Gallery, snap some pics of the movie monsters at Sfanthor House of Wax, and peruse the famous street murals.
For lunch, grab a thick slab of NYC-style pizza at local favorite Home Slice, or cozy up to a Waylon & Willie grilled-cheese sandwich at Burro Cheese Kitchen, a cheesy labor of love situated in a shipping container.
Start your Sunday night with an amble down Sixth Street, a famous strip known colloquially as Dirty Sixth. Sixth Street is what launched Austin’s reputation as the live music capital of the world, and although you’ll find an assortment of sawdust-floored dives, Wild West-themed bars, and speakeasy-inspired venues in former brothels, you’ll also find the elegant Chez Nous, the haunted Driskill Hotel, and the legendary Casino El Camino Bar & Grill.
Sixth is a great spot to bar hop, as every venue is like stepping into a different genre of film, but if you want to catch an actual movie, pop by the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz, a boisterous theater with sing-a-longs and regular events. If comedy’s more your thing, get your chuckles at The Velveeta Room, a long-standing venue hosting famous comedians and open mic nights.
Wrap up your weekend in Austin with dinner at Licha’s Cantina, where you can say goodbye to this most magical city over a plate of hibiscus quesadillas in a down-to-earth bungalow.
With so many funky bars, eclectic galleries, and authentic restaurants, it’s easy to see why Austin’s become a must-visit city. Book your weekend in Austin today!