Austin is one of my favorite cities in the U.S., hands down. It has its own unique culture, it’s very, very weird, and it always feels like home every single time I visit. Not to mention: it’s a haven for foodies. If my entire family didn’t live on the East Coast, I’d seriously consider moving to Austin.
If you’re headed to ATX soon, here are some of my absolute favorite spots in town that need to be on your radar!
Austin Travel Guide — Getting There & Getting Around
Austin’s airport is a little on the smaller side, so flights tend to be more expensive than normal (the cheapest I’ve ever been able to snag a flight to Austin from the East Coast has been $300). I would set up an alert on Google Flights to monitor flights and snag the best deal. November is one of my favorite months to visit Austin because the weather has cooled down a bit and it’s comfortable to walk around and explore everything that ATX has to offer this time of year.
As far as getting around goes: Austin is a little more spread out, however, I’d still advise against a car rental. We used Uber, Lyft, and car2go while we were in Austin, and were able to get around the city with ease.
Travel Guide — Things to Do in Austin TX
- Shop & Go Mural Hopping on South Congress. South Congress is definitely one of the more touristy spots in town, but it’s worth the visit. There are quite a few murals up and down this bustling street — including the “I Love You So Much” mural you see above. Walk up and down South Congress, snap some photos for the ‘gram at one of these picture-perfect murals, and hit up some of my favorite boutiques on South Congress (Favor the Kind and Uncommon Objects are incredible!)
- Get Portraits at Lumiere Tintype Photography. One of the coolest things to do in Austin TX is getting a timeless, tintype portrait taken at Lumiere. It’s a hidden gem, and an exceptional find in the era of digital photography. Tintype portraits were most widely used in the 1860s and 1870s, and you can expect a high-quality portrait from this session that will last for generations to come. This studio is only open Thursday-Sunday, and I’d recommend grabbing a drink and a bite to eat at Justine’s Brasserie while you wait for your portrait to process.
- Head to a UT – Austin Game. When I visited back in 2016, I had never been to a college football game, and I asked my friend if we could get tickets for the Texas game. I’m not a huge sports fan, but it ended up being incredible. Texas takes its football very seriously, my friends: the tailgating alone is one of the most magical, unique things I’ve ever experienced. Nothing compares to the energy you feel at Texas Memorial Stadium either.
- Visit the Blanton Museum of Art. If you need to get your art fix, the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas is a must-see. They have over 18,000 pieces of art in their extensive collection, and you can view art from across the ages: from Ancient Greek pieces to abstract expressionism to the incredible Ellsworth Kelly Austin installation, there’s something for everyone at Blanton.
- Catch some live music. Austin is the live music capital of the world. As soon as we got off of our flight, there was live music at the airport. We heard musicians on the street, in boutiques, at bars — you name it, it was pretty much everywhere. Some of the iconic spots to catch live music in Austin include Paramount Theatre, Continental Club, Cactus Cafe, and more.
Austin Travel Guide — Where to Eat
There is no shortage of good places to eat in Austin. I’m sure I’m going to add to this list in the future, but in the meantime, here are some must-visit spots.
Breakfast & Brunch
- Caffe Medici: A fantastic coffee shop located in Downtown Austin that partners with Tacodeli to serve breakfast tacos.
- Gordough’s Public House: If you’re a donut lover, this is the spot for you. This is one of my favorite brunches in Austin — get the Fried Chicken Donut, it tastes exactly like chicken and waffles!
- Le Politique: This French spot is not only one of the most Instagrammable restaurants in town, but it also serves a solid brunch. The burger is incredible, their hash of the day is divine, and the pastries are next level.
- Paperboy: I was introduced to Paperboy at an event in D.C., and I’ve been hooked ever since. They have two locations in town and focus on quality breakfast food and coffee. I highly recommend the Texas Hash — it has the perfect amount of kick to it.
- June’s All Day: Any meal here is solid, but we enjoyed brunch at this South Congress cafe. Sit on their patio, people watch and enjoy the food and the vibe.
Lunch & Dinner
- Salt Lick BBQ: If you’re in Texas, BBQ is a must. We skipped the long lines at Franklin and headed to Driftwood to try out this iconic barbecue joint: and it did not disappoint. I might have shed a tear while eating the burnt ends!
- El Alma Cafe y Cantina: My friends, this is a Mexican food experience. There’s a wide variety of tacos to choose from, their specialty margaritas are incredible (try the avocado marg), and they have some of the best guac I’ve ever had. Not to mention, they have an incredible rooftop and a great ambiance.
- Lucy’s Fried Chicken: If you’re looking to indulge and ruin your diet, Lucy’s is the perfect spot for you. Bring all of your friends: you have the option to get a southern, family-style meal here and it will not disappoint.
- Veracruz All Natural: This might have been my favorite taco in Austin. They’ve been featured on Food Network and have won a lot of accolades, and Veracruz lives up to the hype. Their Migas taco was named one of the top 5 tacos in the U.S., and I’d recommend it.
Austin Travel Guide — Breweries & Nightlife
I’m going to publish a separate article detailing out the breweries we went to, but in the meantime, here are some brewery
- Whisler’s: I met a sorority sister here, and I fell in love with this East Austin cocktail bar: it has an incredible patio, great cocktails, and a great calendar of events.
- Handlebar: Handlebar is a super fun spot in Downtown Austin with funky decor, an adult playground, and a great rooftop deck.
- Floppy Disk Repair Co.: Don’t let the name fool you: this is a super fun speakeasy that serves up some of the best drinks in the city. You do need a code to gain entry, and the code does change every couple of weeks — you can get the password by asking around town.