Heading to the “Live Music Capital of the World”? Here’s all the fun you can cram into 48 hours in the capital of Texas.
Whether you prefer a hotel or an Airbnb, there are plenty of places to stay in Austin. Aim for a spot near downtown, South Congress, South Lamar, East Austin, or the North Loop to be near the action.
There’s no way around it, you’re going to have to rent a car or rely on Uber. The influx of people has created a terrible traffic situation and the public transportation system hasn’t quite caught up. The city does have many bike and electric scooter rental services scattered around if you’re not going too far.
ATX is covered up during its most popular music fests: South by Southwest (SXSW) in March and Austin City Limits (ACL) in early October. Avoid coming in July and August unless you enjoy temps over 100 degrees.
Photo courtesy of Hotel Van Zandt
The “Live Music Capital of the World” lives up to its name with all kinds of local and national acts performing all over the city. Beyond Googling “Austin events this weekend” (because there's probably a festival), definitely check to see if any of your favorite bands happen to be in town. Stubb’s, Station Inn, The Continental Club, Emo's, and Nutty Brown Amphitheatre are just a handful of great places to catch a show.
From “Dirty Sixth” and East Austin, to the bungalow bars on Rainey Street and the Red River Cultural District, it seems like there’s a bar or club on every corner. Choose your own adventure. Our favorite spots downtown are HandleBar, Cedar Street Courtyard, and Speakeasy. Fourth street has the largest conglomeration of LGBTQ+ bars.
Photo courtesy of HandleBar
Take a short hike on the Greenbelt trail to see beautiful Twin Falls. Wear your swimsuit if you plan on jumping in! Mount Bonnell has gorgeous views of the city skyline and the Lake Austin portion of the Colorado River. The 360 Bridge also offers scenic views and is just a quick hike to the overlook.
There are tons of pools and swimming holes to cool off in during the warmest months, May-October. Barton Springs Pool is a natural spring (complete with diving board!) nestled in Zilker Park that stays a cool 68 degrees all year. It's packed on the weekends, but almost empty during weekdays. Women sun topless here, as Texas has no law specifically forbidding public nudity. Kayak or paddle board in the middle of Downtown on nearby Lady Bird Lake.
There’s also boating on Lake Travis (don’t miss The Oasis!), tubing on the Comal River in nearby New Braunfels, and the picturesque Hamilton Pool Preserve, about an hour away in Dripping Springs. Unfortunately, Hamilton Pool is so popular, you have to call almost a year in advance to make reservations.
South Congress is filled with kitschy boutiques, Austin-original eateries, and Instagram-worthy murals. If you happen to be there on the first Thursday of the month, do not miss First Thursdays on SoCo! Businesses stay open late and go all out with sales and drink specials, while the street comes alive with sidewalk vendors and street musicians. If you’re there during the summer, head to the Congress Avenue Bridge one evening to see the world’s largest urban bat colony.
Photo courtesy of Go, See, Write
The Domain has really grown up over the past five years. The high-density office, retail, and residential center is basically a city within itself at 700,000 square feet. Window shop luxury brands like Tiffany, Barney’s, Neiman Marcus, and Louis Vuitton, then stop at one of the many restaurants to refuel or get drunk enough to drop a couple grand on a handbag.
Photo courtesy of The Domain
Rainey Street is a row of bungalows close to Downtown that have been converted into bars, making it a great place to day drink on Sunday Funday. Barhop between places like Lustre Pearl, Javelina, and Lucille—most of the spots have outdoor seating and games. The Container Bar is worth a visit simply because the multilevel bar is built out of shipping containers.
There’s plenty of upscale eateries and food trucks galore to soak up all the booze. G’raj Mahal started as a food truck on Rainey, but the Indian food was so popular it is now a brick and mortar. The lobster roll at Happy Lobster (weekends only) is delish too. Both are a nice break from all the TexMex you will inevitably consume.
Photo courtesy of raineystreetbars.com