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Texas Travel

25 of My Favorite Places for the Perfect Getaway in Austin Texas


Ahh, Austin. A beautiful gem of a city in the middle of Texas that is the perfect place to go for a weekend (or week plus) escape. There is something for everyone – amazing nightlife, live music, good food, one of a kind boutique shops. I have been many times and each time I go, I always go in with a plan to live my best life while I am there.

The below is my list of places I make sure I don’t miss when I make my way to Austin. There are lots of other things to do and lots of other things I myself have done. This is my personal go to list of things I will do again and again.

That being said, if you have some suggestions for my next visit, definitely let me know in the comments!

Go To Places for Food

1. Favorite for Brunch: South Congress Cafe

Photo credit southcongresscafe.com

South Congress Cafe is one of the best way to start your day. The menu is on point with so many great options that it is honestly hard to choose just one thing. You could easily make this a place you frequent multiple times on one trip. My go to’s are the migas or one of the four options for eggs benedict. They have daily drink specials and a gorgeous, tree shaded patio to enjoy them on. The Congress Sipper is my personal favorite, which is Vodka, Grapefruit and soda water. I love that so many of their cocktails feature local distilleries like Tito’s and Deep Eddy. And the final huge bonus is the location. It is right on South Congress, which is central to everything in Austin and walking distance to all the shops in the sought after SoCo neighborhood.

2. Favorite for Lunch: Home Slice Pizza

Lunch with my homies at Home Slice

You can’t go wrong with the Queen of Pies! Home Slice Pizza is a whole vibe. Here you can get legit New York style pizza by the slice or by the pie with an ice cold beer in what I would describe as a punk rock pizza parlor meets the friendliness of Texas. They have awesome mural artwork, tattoo clad servers, pizza dough flying through the air and vinyl booth seats or dinette sets where you can sit and enjoy. It all just feels so Austin. Not to mention murals on the outside of the building at the South Congress locations if you want to make a photo op happen.

3. Favorite Place for Lunch with a View: The Oasis

Taking in the view while at lunch at The Oasis

According to Texan folklore, the famous Garth Brooks song “Friends in Low Places” is referring to this restaurant in the lyrics. I have since learned this isn’t true, he is referring to a bar in his hometown in Kansas. And while I have admittedly not been to the Oasis in Kansas, this Oasis is worth the reference for the view of Lake Travis alone. It is amazing. The food here is okay, the margaritas and palomas are better. But seriously, the view is what you come for. If it’s a beautiful day out while you are in Austin, it is worth it to come out and grab a table and just enjoy being lakeside.

4. Favorite for Fried Chicken: Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken

Photo credit gusfriedchicken.com

Y’all. If there was a guide for what fried chicken is supposed to be, the reference in the appendix would say “see Gus’s Fried Chicken.” I stumbled across this place during SXSW one year. It has clearly been there forever. It is not fancy, no frills, just down home, southern deliciousness. The chicken is super moist, fried to perfection and is so flavorful. The sides were all very good. Great place for a quick lunch, but like every good place in Austin, there is usually a line out the door (but it will move pretty quick).

5. Favorite for Southern Food: Moonshine

Photo credit moonshinegrill.com

This is another place I happened upon during a convention that has yummy food, awesome cocktails and a really great atmosphere and patio. The thing that hooked me is the green chile macaroni. That stuff is heaven on a plate – good lord. I have also heard their brunch is amazing, but you have to get in line for that as well and I have never really planned my day around that to make it happen.

Side note – no shade to Moonshine, but South Congress Cafe will let you make a reservation in advance, hence the reason why they are my brunch boo <3

6. Favorite for Mexican + Tex Mex: Fonda San Miguel

Lantern decor at La Fonda San Miguel

This is probably the least “Austin” place on my list as far as the vibe, but it does speak very “Central Texan Hacienda.” The sky lights and lanterns are beautiful, the food and drinks are so good and the setting is well suited for groups to come and enjoy a meal together. The menu is what they have branded “Cocina de Origen” which I love – basically they have pulled inspiration from all the regions of Mexico plus taken nods from Tex Mex and blended it all to created a beautiful menu of food. My favorite is their Huachinango Vercruzano which is a broiled fish in a veracruz (tomato) sauce with spanish olives and capers. Pair that up with a Pepino Pica Margarita, which has cucumber and serrano, and I am set por la noche.

7. Favorite for Tacos and Drinks: Javelina

Photo credit javelinabar.com

My husband and I happened upon this place as we were walking along Lady Bird Lake to check out Rainey Street when we came to Austin for 4th of July weekend one year. It’s a cozy little spot to hang out and have a drink, like a lot of places on Rainey Street. The thing I was not expecting was to get some legit Guisado Verde when I ordered the Green Chili Pork Tacos. And they came with the heat too! I am also a fan of the drink menu. The Hill Country Lemonade is a fav of mine with vodka, blackberry and lavender. My husband likes their version of an Old Fashion with mezcal instead of whiskey. Very impressive, Javelina. Your gangster is strong and will have us always coming back for more.

8. Favorite Place to Get My Foodie Fix: Rosewood

Photo credit rosewoodatx.com

East Austin is one of my favorite neighborhoods to visit when I am in town and Rosewood is stand out in the neighborhood. The home and the property are gorgeous. You really get the sense that it was once a farm house even though everything around it has since become very urban. And Rosewood as a restaurant sources ingredients from the Hill Country, South Texas and the Gulf, rotating the menu on a regular basis, meaning you get substantially sourced, amazing food all from an acclaimed chef. You really can’t go wrong. On top of that, the craft cocktails are super unique and pair nicely with the menu, they have a great wine list, and they have outdoor happy hour and a chef counter experience option. It’s literally foodie heaven. Just make sure you get your reservation in advance if you are going to be in town. You won’t be disappointed.

9. Favorite for Italian Food: Olive and June

Photo Credit oliveandjune-austin.com

If you are looking for an impressive and picturesque place to please a group or a date, Olive and June is a great place to go. With a traditional Italian menu of antipasti, pasta primi, secondi, verdure and dolci course options, it is easy to order for sharing or yourself as you best see fit. And the multi level, indoor/outdoor, mid century modern vibe is very unique and beautiful. You really can’t get a bad table. It’s a gorgeous restaurant with great food and an amazing atmosphere.

10. Favorite Place for a Sweet Fix: Amy’s Ice Cream

Photo credit amysicreams.com

I am actually not big on sweets. But if we are talking good quality ice cream, done well with thoughtful flavor combinations, I can become a dessert person really quick. Amy’s Ice Cream has flavors you will not find anywhere else, high quality ingredients including vanillas, cinnamons and chocolates sourced from Mexico, and super playful names served by a staff that you can’t help but have fun and smile with. This place is a good time. If you see one while you are out and about, just stop in and get some ice cream. You’ll leave feeling happier than you did when you came in.

Go To Places During the Day

11. Favorite Place to Get Pampered: milk and honey spa

Photo credit milkandhoneyspa.com

Austin has a lot of very walkable neighborhoods to enjoy, awesome live music venues, day drinking, night drinking, shopping and so much good food. But all of that will do a number on you lower back and your skin, so why not make time for a spa day to undo some of that damage during your stay. Milk and Honey has their own skin care product line that is safe for even the most sensitive skin (speaking from experience). Every time I have been, I have had an amazing experience for facial and massage. I usually get the signature facial, but on a recent trip, decided to go all in and have a “treat yo self” moment and did the HydraFacial MD. Let me tell you – it was worth the extra money and made my skin so glowy and amazing. And again, as someone with sensitive skin who can’t do all those super harsh treatments, this was just what my skin needed and could handle.

12. Favorite Brewery to Visit: Jester King Brewery

Entry to Jester King from the parking lot

Not only will visiting this brewery get you cool points with your beer nerd friends, but the property is a beautiful place to sit down with a beer, take in the view and relax for a bit. They started as a local home brewer, became the first farmhouse style brewery in Texas, turned land conservationists and are now a James Beard Nominated brewery with 165 acres including the brewhouse, vineyard, Farmhouse pizza and event center.

My husband’s favorite return visit checklist item is to grab a t-shirt. They are known for their unique artwork on their limited edition brews and will have limited edition t-shirts to match onsite. They also will have super hard to find beers from other breweries onsite for purchase. For example (but not making a claim or promise) on our last visit, they had Pliny the Elder from Russian River Brewing, the apparent holy grail of IPAs, available for purchase. I thought one of the guys with us was going to pass out when he saw it in the fridge.

13. Favorite Whiskey Distillery to Visit: Treaty Oak Distillery

Sipping whiskey with friends at Treat Oak

I learned a lot of cool things about whiskey and about Texas during our visit to Treaty Oak. Most notable are that the barrels they use come from Kentucky and that they age the whiskey outside to take full advantage of the Texas heat to basically extract as much barrel flavor as possible, giving there whiskey a very unique taste. The 28 acre property is also surprising family friendly and much more than just a distillery. There is a restaurant onsite and the Rickhouse, which is an open air bar serving mixed drinks of all kinds. If you are looking for a nice place to come hang out and relax, Treaty Oak is all those things.

Favorite Place to Go Shopping: South Congress

This neighborhood just south of Lady Bird Lake along Congress Street is blend of restaurants, boutique shops, vintage stores, galleries, coffee shops and music venues. It is very easy to park and walk the full neighborhood and shop the stores throughout the day. Parking is rarely free and the restaurants are usually packed, so it is a good idea to plan your day and have a reservation or plan to hit up Home Slice for a quick lunch midday. The shops here offer one of a kind finds, so if you are looking to support local businesses and artists, this is the neighborhood to come to for your shopping.

14. South Congress – Favorite Established Designer: Kendra Scott Flagship Store

Disclaimer – this is the old Kendra Scott flagship store – but I just love this pic of us with our gift with purchase umbrellas under the matching yellow sign!

Current day fashion mogul Kendra Scott made her start as one of the boutique shop owners on South Congress. Her studio is still in Austin and the flagship store is still on South Congress. If you are a fan of her jewelry line, the flagship store is super cute, has a beautiful patio, free valet and a Sips and Sweets Cafe so you can enjoy some wine and a cupcake while you shop and create.

15. South Congress – Favorite Up and Coming Designer: Limbo Jewelry

Throwback pic of me from 2009 with my first piece I purchased from Limbo around my neck that I purchased back when they were a street side pop up shop.

I actually discovered Limbo Jewelry when they were a street side pop up on South Congress and was super excited to see that they had opened a store front on a more recent visit. I wore one of their signature lotus style necklaces for the better part of 2008 to 2010. I love the delicate style of their pieces and how they are designed to move with you. They are minimal, refined and handmade, so you can really make them your own and even choose what length you prefer for necklaces, which is amazing. This lotus lariat necklace is the closest design I can find to the style I have in the picture above that they currently sell.

16. South Congress – Favorite Place to Shop Local: Parts and Labour

Parts and Labour is a super cool, curated collection of goods from local artists who produce really awesome art prints, screen printed shirts, apparel, jewelry, all sorts of things for your house, your dog, your kids, your brother…everything. They sell hand crafted, locally produced, awesome everything for everyone. This is a good place to find gifts for hard to shop for loved ones or to nab some Texas memorabilia to wear or display in your home. They also have really great one of a kind baby items that will wow any mom to be.

17. South Congress – Favorite Place to Shop for Things from Around the World: Tesoro’s Trading Company

I am pretty sure I have bought something from Tesoro’s every single time I have gone in. There is so much cool stuff from all over the world to choose from and the items are super reasonably priced and of a good quality from my experience as well. Even if I didn’t end up buying anything, it’s honestly fun just walking around and looking at all beautiful items on the walls and vivid colors on display throughout the store. It just makes you happy and is practically an art gallery that happens to sell the items that are on display.

18. South Congress – Favorite Place to Find Candy You Didn’t Know Existed: Big Top Candy

The most amazing candy shop the world has ever known! While I don’t frequent many candy shops, Big Top did met the bar for what I imagined the greatest candy shop should be from watching the original Willy Wonka movie. They have a soda fountain, chocolates, fudge, and every kind of candy you could ever imagine. My favorite thing about going to Big Top are the “Oh my gosh, did you see this?!” moments when you go with a group of friends. And there will be multiple. There is a lot to take in and see. You will definitely leave feeling like a kid again.

Go To Places in the Evening

19. Favorite Music Venue: Stubb’s BBQ

Photo credit stubbsaustin.com

On just about any quintessential Austin stuff at its finest list, Stubb’s tends to make a showing. But why is that? So, I am from Texas, which means by default I am a barbecue snob. The barbecue at Stubb’s is decent, but honestly gets more street cred points for being one of the OG’s of Texas barbecue than anything. From my point of view, you come to Stubb’s for food when it’s an especially glorious day out and you want to sit outside, eat your food with an ice cold beer and get some good people watching in.

But aside from the food, the big draw is the live music amphitheater. The bands that play here are consistently guaranteed to please from my experience. That said, shows also tend to sell out in advance, so if you are planning to be in town, I would get your tickets before you go if you are planning on that being a part of your trip.

20. Favorite Weird Thing You Can Only Do in Austin: The Congress Street Bat Bridge (between March and November)

Photo credit austinbattours.com

At sunset every night between the months of March and November, thousands of bats that live inside the Congress Street bridge leave for their nightly feeding, flying along Lady Bird Lake while people watch from land, boat and kayak. This is one of the largest colonies of urban bats in the world and is honestly a sight to be seen. If you are in Austin within this time frame, the boat tour is the best view you can get, and even if your not that into bats, it’s a beautiful sunset cruise at minimum with a awesome view of the city skyline as well. But really, what better way is there to embrace the Keep Austin Weird vibe then to watch the bats that live in the bridge eat bugs at sunset.

21. Favorite Neighborhood with Lots of Good Options: East Austin

East Austin is a very walkable area with lots of restaurants and bars. It is an “area in transition” so there are consistently new things popping up and also hints of the pre gentrification of the neighborhood very much still in existence along side the newer additions. I enjoy these kinds of neighborhoods personally, where diversity is thriving and up and coming talent are investing in the area to make magic happen.

22. Favorite Bar to Hang Out and Get Drinks: Nickel City Bar

This is a very unassuming dive bar at the surface with a staff that is super serious about the quality level of their drinks that they serve. The spirits and the mixers and the combinations of flavors were on point. This was so refreshing for someone coming from the Dallas area – where the level of fancy coming out of this place is usually reserved for the kind of places where you have to look like a somebody to even have a chance of passing the guy at the door while you slip him a $20. Nickel City, in stark contrast, is the kind of place that you can come as you are, get some super legit drinks, enjoy yourself, be yourself and have a good time. Isn’t that all anyone really wants for a night out? They also have some classic bar food favs once you have had a few, like chili cheese tots and sliders.

23. Favorite Place to See a Movie: Alamo Drafthouse

If you have never heard of Alamo Drafthouse, this is a movie theater for serious movie goers. They serve drinks and food to you during the movie so you don’t have to get up and miss one bit of the movie, they have made sound and picture quality a priority and they are famous for their strict code of conduct – they have a zero tolerance policy about talking or cell phones during movies, they have designated showtimes for when kids or babies should come, and they don’t show a bunch of ads before the movie. Because of this, they have built a huge fan following and sense of community, so it is especially fun to go for movie events like their brunch, just about any musical or when they show classic movies vs. new releases.

24. Favorite Place to Get a Drink Before the Movie: The Highball

Getting drinks at The Highball

At the South Lamar Alamo Drafthouse location, directly attached to the movie theater is The Highball, which is a bar with live music, karaoke rooms and a fun retro vibe. The drink menu is very classic yet robust, so there is something for everyone and it’s a good way to get you in the right mood for a throwback movie at Alamo Drafthouse. The live music is usually very high energy, fun and goes with the theme of the bar as well, so think motown, rockabilly type vibe.

25. Favorite Late Night Stop: Voodoo Donuts

Photo credit voodoodonut.com

So, it’s after midnight and the options of things that are open is starting to dwindle, but you aren’t ready to shut it down for the night just yet. What can you do? Look no further than Voodoo Donuts on 6th Street. They are open till 3 am Thursday to Sunday and because of the location, will also have phenomenal people watching while you get your gourmet donut fix before you bring it in for the night. My favorite donut to eat is the Portland Cream, which is bavarian cream filled and chocolate glazed. The most fun on the menu to order is the Voodoo doll, which looks like Voodoo doll and is chocolate glazed with raspberry filling and a pretzel “stake” in the middle, you know, to make the red filling ooze out.

Where’s a good place to stay?

Getting a hotel downtown along Lake Lady Bird is ideal from my experience if you can make it work with your budget. It is very easy to walk to many of the favorites noted on my list above from this location and it’s very centrally located in general, making it easy to drive to just about anywhere or catch an Uber or Lyft from this area without it getting expensive going back and forth.

My favorite is the JW Marriott Austin for its location and the beautiful rooftop pool with rentable cabanas overlooking Lady Bird Lake. Again, I go to Austin to live my best life. The pool is heated and they have food and beverage service poolside even if you don’t rent a daybed or cabana. It’s really hard to beat that kind of luxury.
Photo credit expedia.com

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