We just returned from an amazing trip to Austin, seriously such a great freaking city. They have so much to do, the best weather and it's the perfect size to be able to really explore it all without feeling overwhelmed. Plus, the surrounding areas are filled with fabulous day trips, the outdoors, fitness, delish food and lots of lakes, rivers and adventure.
On this trip we stayed at the Hotel VanZandt, a new boutique property just on the edge of Rainey St. and the East Austin neighborhood (an up and coming spot in the city). The hotel was stunning, and what I like to call self sustaining, meaning that everything you need is right there in the hotel, so if there comes a time during your trip where you don't know what to do, where to eat or where to grab a drink the hotel is your spot! The Van Zandt has it all including; rooftop pool with a happening scene, delicious restaurant serving dinner and a jazz brunch on the weekends (make resos for both the place gets packed), a large fitness center, some of the best coffee I have ever had in their Cafe, free bikes for guests to explore the city with, a nightly margarita hour with complimentary cocktails in their uber chic lobby and the perfect location to easily access all that Austin has to offer. Kimpton hit it out of the park with this property, and having stayed at their locations all across the country I can easily say this one is in the top 5 for me. Plus, their staff there is spot on - all of them are ridiculously good looking & hip as well as being genuinely helpful and friendly. A rare combination!
Since the weather was so kind to us, sunny and upper 60's lower 70's the entire stay, we spent most of our time outside and exploring. Only venturing indoors for dinner and live music in the evenings when it got a little chilly.
Here are some of our Austin favorites:
Where to Stay (dog friendly of course)
Hotel Van Zandt - high end boutique hotel with all the amenities you could possibly need.
Hotel San Jose - great minimalist boutique hotel right in the heart of all that South Congress has to offer.
2nd Street District - a great mix of home goods stores, fashion, beauty and cafes. I especially loved Luxe Apothetique, their prices were great, they carry clothing and beauty products and their staff is awesome.
SoCo (South Congress St.) - filled with eclectic shops, antiuques, street vendors, music, food trucks and some awesome restaurants & cafes. A few favorite shops for me are Sugar & Paris, Maya Star and Uncommon Objects.
Bike Riding - seriously the best bike trails I have ever seen, and man are they packed! I swear no one works during the day in Austin, because even on a Thursday and Friday the trails are filled with people running, walking on bikes etc.
SUP & Kayak - There are a ton of options to get rentals in Austin, so just pick a spot near you and head out for a day on the river.
Core Power Yoga - Great studio, awesome & challenging classes in a heated studio with some great tunes.
Barton Springs Pool - Great place to spend an afternoon, but I will warn you that water is chilly! In the summer this place is an absolute zoo so get there early, or enjoy it in the off season. A must see/do while you are in Austin.
Zilker Park - There is something here for everyone; bike paths, beach volleyball, running trails, SUP, boat rentals, kayaking, bike rentals, picnic spots, pools, playgrounds, botanical garden and more! Bring a picnic lunch and some beverages and make it a day!
Cenote - Flavorful, simple, fresh & local. This place checks all the boxes for me! Plus they have the best coffee drinks I have ever had, their iced latte was a game changer for me, and no iced latte will ever taste the same.
Jo's Coffee - They have a couple of locations
South Congress Cafe - Great little retro style diner serving the classics with an Austin Tex-Mex twist.
Geraldines - Fabulous dinner menu with some seriously creative & explosive (in a good way) flavors, impeccable service, views of the city & river, live music most nights and a delish jazz brunch on the weekends.
La Barbacue - Go early...they run out of everything!
Perlas - Patio dining at it's best, this place is always the perfect amount of busy, has a really unique menu, great food (for lunch & brunch in particular) and is definitely a place to be "seen."
Hop Daddy - If you like a good burger (like me) or if you are hungover...or even better, BOTH, then you MUST go to this place. They give Shake Shack a run for their money in the race for my favorite burger ever. Try to grab a seat at the bar if you can, you will get better service and can space out your burger/fries and the milkshake you will want to order. I forewarn you though, you will easily gain 3-5 pounds after eating here so be prepared for a food baby!
Second Bar & Kitchen - Great for weekday lunch, dinner or happy hour if you are downtown. It's a little quiet on the weekends to forewarn you. They also have a great patio to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the city.
Rainey St. Bars & Food Trucks - you can't go wrong with this street, just pick a spot and head in, there's something for everyone from higher end to backyard patio feel, live music everywhere and some pretty darn awesome food trucks.
Little Lucy's Donuts - These mini donuts are like bits of pure heaven, so addictingly delicious. I have not enough words to describe how good they are.
I could go on, and on about Austin, but really you just need to experience it for yourself. It's a great destination for couples, families, singles and groups - there is something for everyone in this city and with year round great weather there isn't a bad time to visit! If you make it there, I most certainly hope you enjoy and that these suggestions are helpful.
xo - margaret