48 Hours in Austin
If Portland, San Francisco and Dallas had a baby, Austin would be it. A unique mixture of hipsters, hippies, students and true texans definitely warrant the phrase "Keep Austin Weird". It's one of the strangest places I have visited, but also has proved to be one of my favorites. I could see myself living there full time, and I wouldn't be opposed to moving tomorrow if my boyfriend would let me. We packed a ton into our 48 hours in Austin and I'm excited to share the places we loved. It wasn't hard to find amazing spots for food, drink, music and nature in and around Austin!
So, a very important thing to know when going to Austin is that they take their breakfast tacos very seriously. If you're a local you are definitely bound to be judged by your favorite breakfast taco spot. Below are a few we tried:
1. Juan in A Million: A sit down spot, with an epic taco called the Don Juan which is a must order. I'm always a sucker for a witty name, so needless to say I'm a fan of this spot. The owner's father has been there every day to greet guests with a handshake, and now his son is taking over. You'll be sure to be greeted by a big smile and a welcoming family atmosphere.
2. El Primo: a food truck in the South Congress area, very down to earth and authentic. There is a great coffee shop called Once Over that sits behind the truck in a small strip mall which pairs perfectly with your chorizo tacos to help kick start your day. (**My personal favorite!)
3. Torchy's Tacos: a chain around Texas with retro signage and a bunch of options for different kinds of tacos
The bar scene in Austin is definitely one of my favorites in any city I have visited in the US. It's low key, spread out, and full of fun and games. Rainey street is lined with quaint homes converted into bars, with outdoor patios, live bands and twinkly lights strung above, some have fire pits and drinking games. Congress street is the main drag cutting through downtown and across the river, turning into South Congress. There are a bunch of bars on Congress between 11th street and 7th street that is popular with University of Texas kids. Below 7th on Congress, there is a really fun area full of low key bars that attract a more mellow crowd. We went to a few along there and played life size beer pong, bocce ball and corn hole, my favorite was Rustic Tap. A more historical destination for a drink is The Driskill hotel located along Congress. It's worth stopping by to grab a drink, even better if you can stay there as it was recently renovated and has a southern charm most other spots don't have. It's the oldest operating hotel in the city and originally built in 1886, and continues to be one of the most popular hotels in Texas.
South Congress (Also called SoCo) was probably my favorite area in Austin. The wide street is full of shops on both sides and some great places to stay including The Austin Motel and Hotel San Jose which are both run by the hip Bunkhouse group. You can pick up a pair of cowboy boots at Allen's Boots, search for vintage trinkets at Uncommon Objects, or be inspired by the selection of boho meets texan goodies at The Gypsy Wagon. You can step back in time when you walk into Big Top Candy Shop, fully designed to resemble a vintage store, with custom candy bars and all. Guero was a Mexican restaurant with such a good happy hour, it was packed with locals at 5:30 when we decided to get a cold brew after walking across the bridge in the dry summer heat.
My favorite part about Austin was the abundance of food trucks. On every other corner there were empty lots with trucks outlining the exterior and picnic tables in the middle enclosure. All around the food was great, whether from a food truck or restaurant. Some of our favorite sit down spots included Contigo, a bit outside of downtown Austin, completely al fresco with families and their pups enjoying great ranch inspired dished under twinkly lights. Definitely try the appetizer sampler, but you'll want to come hungry! We also enjoyed a unique vietnamese spot called Elizabeth's near South Congress. They serve Bahn Mi, baked goods and noodle dishes along with other traditional Vietnamese fare. It's an adorable space with white and black tiled floor and turquoise accents throughout. We also had a mid afternoon drink at Spiderhouse near the University of Texas campus. There were students studying, drinking pitchers, there was a stage for live music, and they also had great coffee, pretty much everything you could want under one roof.
Including great food and an epic bar scene, Austin also has a lot of outdoor activities to offer. We explored Barton Springs, which is a haven for locals in the desert heat. There are also a bunch of waterfalls and hikes in the surrounding Austin area. It was hard to choose which one to visit but ended up deciding to check Mckinney Falls off our list. (Make sure to check out other swimming spots if you're visiting!) We did a small two mile hike and then swam in the upper falls to cool down afterwards. It was a pretty setting for nature buffs and a close getaway from the busy city. Another tip if you're an active traveller or a yogi looking for a great class to either meditate or get your flow on, Wanderlust Austin has a great variety of classes. Make sure to stop by Blenders and Bowls on your way out. The cafe attached to the studio offers delicious acai bowls for after practice nourishment!