3 Days in Austin, Texas
Austin, Texas is a cultural smattering unlike any other. It's young, it's interesting and it still feels southern while also maintaining this ever-changing counterculture. Most people that live here have migrated from elsewhere, only adding to its charm (but also its traffic). Think honky tonks and cowboy boot shops, live music featuring everything from alternative rock to electronic, authentic Tex-Mex and breakfast tacos that will change your world, and a multitude of outdoor eating and drinking to keep you tanned and full. Here's my perfect Austin weekend.
Breakfast at Tamale House
Get the spicy chipotle migas & queso taco plus a Mexican iced coffee. Migas is an unofficial dish in ATX and is basically a free-form omelette with fried tortilla strips. Trust me, it's a must.
Hike the Green Belt + Kayak Town Lake
The Green Belt is a scenic, flat hike around what is locally known as town lake (aka Lady Bird Lake aka the Colorado River). You'll see locals walking their dogs, on a run or catching up with friends. You'll fit right in. Highly recommend grabbing a kayak from one of the local vendors and cruising around the lake. It's stunning and there are turtles. Enough said.
Lunch at La Barbecue
This is the epitome of a BBQ spot. When I went, they were just a little food truck in a parking lot but now, they have a brick-and-mortar spot for you to indulge. You WILL wait but I promise there is a glorious meat-filled light at the end of the tunnel. Order everything (meat is by the pound) and don't sleep on the sides -- those beans & potato salad are serious.
Beers at Lazarus Brewing Company
Lazarus is a new-ish, very fun brewery that acts as a coffee shop and workspace by day and a beer-and-taco-serving establishment by night (or by noon...). Kick it outdoors at the picnic tables and meet some people.
Mezcal at Whisler's
Whisler's is across the street from Lazarus and has this fun, hidden mezcal bar on the second floor. Here, you're getting mezcal... straight. The bartender can recommend the best option for your tastes (the menu is vast), but your choice is ultimately rocks or neat.
Two-step at The White Horse
The White Horse is a good ole fashion, country two-steppin' spot. It's dive-y yet still somehow precious. There's a pool table and huge outdoor bit but you'll want to stay inside and watch the pros work the dance floor. Once you've built up the nerve, hop in and join the dance circle. This is one for the books.
Breakfast at Veracruz
Again, if we're getting breakfast tacos, we're getting migas. This is a food truck and one of the best breakfast taco spots in the country. There's not a ton of seating so I vote you take it to go and get on with your day.
Visit HOPE Outdoor Art Gallery
This outdoor art gallery is actually a community paint park where anyone and everyone can come and paint colorful murals with spray paint. Most days this is left to the pros, but if you're feeling creative, bring a can and make your mark. The art here changes regularly, but you'll always find inspirational messages strewn about.
Walk around South Congress
South Congress is a great stroll for visitors and locals. It has quirky vintage shops, incredible dining, long-standing music venues and more. Take your quintessential tourist pic at the "I love you so much" sign outside of Jo's Coffee and check out the store Uncommon Objects for things that are, well, uncommon.
Lunch at Elizabeth Street Cafe
Lunch is at the sunny Vietnamese cafe and French bakery, Elizabeth Street Cafe. This neighborhood haunt is cherished by locals and the order here is a Banh Mi with a Topo Chico (the beloved sparkling mineral water from Mexico that is available in excess in Austin.... and for good reason, it's divine).
Visit Congress Bridge for Bat Sunset
In the warmer months, you'll want to visit the Congress Bridge at sunset. Why? You'll see the world's largest bat colony emerge from under the bridge. There is absolutely nothing like it -- it's a mesmerizing aerial display and it's hard to even describe what 1.5 million bats look like flying through dusk. There are bat cruises on-offer along the river if you'd like to see it by sea, otherwise you'll do just fine on two feet. FYI, they migrate to Mexico for the winter but are usually around from March through November.
Drinks on Rainey Street
Old houses converted into bars is the name of the game on Rainey Street. You'll feel like you're hopping from house party to house party here, but not in the red solo cup and stale beer kind of way. Top spots are Bungalow bar, which hosts a rowdy Sunday Funday party and also has an occasional (+ free) crawfish boil; Banger's for live music and sausage; and Icenhauers for backyard BBQ vibes with sangria in jars.
Picnic in Zilker Park
Zilker Park has a food truck park called The Picnic, and everything here is incredible. Acai bowl, lobster roll, Tex-Mex, Thai, it's all here. Bring your snacks to the park, lay down a blanket and do your best people watching.
Swim at Barton Springs
A quick walk from the park with bring you to Barton Springs where you'll want to post up for the day. Filled entirely by natural springs, this pool spans three acres and is the ultimate swimming hole for locals trying to beat the heat. You can't bring food but you can bring sealed drinks (non-alcoholic) so stay hydrated, read a book and chill.