As you know, we recently just got back from Austin! Neal travels there for work every so often, and because he’s racked up so many airline points, we have the Southwest companion pass (I can fly with him anywhere on Southwest for free!)–so sometimes I jump on board with his work trips and work from coffee shops on the road 😉
I absolutely LOVE Austin and think it’s easily one of the coolest cities in the US–so many of you gave us the best recommendations for places to go, what to eat, and where to grab cocktails, I had to share them all! (Along with some sub-par photos I snapped on my iPhone, haha, hope you don’t mind!)
If you’re planning a trip soon, put these fun things to do in Austin on your list!
Where to stay:
We stayed at the Hotel Kimpton Van Zandt–which was absolutely BEAUTIFUL! It also happened to be very affordable (under $200 a night!) Of course, pricing changes often based on what’s going on, but definitely check this hotel out. They have a pool and a great bar/restaurant, as well as a charming coffee shop that serves breakfast tacos! The location is also great–super close to all the bars/restaurants on Rainey street!
Next time, we want to stay at the Austin Motel–a funky chic renovated motel right on South Congress. If anyone else has stayed there, let me know what you thought!
Fun things to do in Austin:
Shop + eat along South Congress:
One of the famous streets in Austin! It’s full of amazing restaurants, stores and coffee shops. Many of the restaurant reccos you guys gave me were along South Congress (I’ll get into those in a second!) Make sure to find the “I Love You So Much” wall on the side of Jo’s coffee–it’s a walk-up outdoor coffee shop that is probably one of the cutest coffee shops I’ve ever been to!
Rent a boat:
Obviously we didn’t do this on this trip, but when I went for a bachelorette party, this was one of the highlights. We rented a boat on Lake Austin and had SO much fun! I don’t remember which boating company we used but a google search will bring up a ton of them.
This is one of the coolest things ever and I’m DYING to go–it’s a giant 3 acre natural spring pool (it’s about 65-70 degrees year round) in a beautiful park.
If you’ve ever wondered where all those beautiful photos overlooking Austin and the water are taken–it’s here! A great way to get outside and see some beautiful views of the city!
See the bats: This sounds insane, but every night from May through October, 1.5 million bats fly out from under the Congress bridge at dusk. Neal and I happened to be walking along the bridge and there were TONS of people lined up on it–we couldn’t figure out what it was for, but then my Uber driver the next day told me it was to see the bats! There are also grassy areas on each side of the river under the bridge where you can set up a blanket or chairs. Definitely want to see this next time!
What to eat:
Healthy breakfast + lunch options:
Since I was there during the week (and I knew I had an upcoming bachelorette party full of unhealthy decisions) I tried my best to find healthy breakfast and lunch spots!
Flower Child: I ended up eating here twice and getting the same salad both times, haha! It’s the one you see above–the chopped veggie salad–it has this heavenly miso dressing on it that is SO good. It’s also a great place to get some work done and they have free wifi!
Modern Market Cafe: Another place I went back to twice, haha! Another great option for healthy lunches. Another easy spot to post up and get some work done!
Blenders & Bowls: I stopped here and grabbed a smoothie for breakfast–it’s also attached to a yoga studio!
Picnik: Was SO sad we never made it to this healthy spot, it came highly recommended by Lauren and many of you echoed her rave reviews!
More great restaurants:
Elizabeth Street Cafe: Above! An absolutely adorable Vietnamese restaurant–from what I gather, it’s also a french bakery. The pho was the most recommended but we actually loved the Bun a lot more–it’s basically like a super fresh salad with vermacelli and this amazing dressing. It reminded us of our favorite Vietnamese restaurant experience in Paris and definitely gave it a run for its money! (Speaking of healthy, this is actually a fairly healthy option as well even though it’s not marketed as such!)
Torchy’s Tacos: We went to Torchy’s for dinner one night on the recommendation of so many of you guys–but we then realized that maybe it was a better suited choice for breakfast (everyone recommended the breakfast tacos but nobody said anything about their regular tacos). The queso was REALLY good–definitely a must get! But the tacos were more fun American style fusion tacos (not authentic Mexican-style tacos) and they were really good but pretty heavy–the Jamaican Jerk chicken tacos were amazing though and would definitely get those again!
Licha’s Cantina: Where we ended up on our last night, this was a super cute place in an old house. They had great chips and salsa and the tacos were delicious (the portions were huge–you can definitely split if you go with girlfriends!)
Jo’s Coffee: Arguably the most famous coffee shop in Austin–it’s all outdoor space and is perfect for people watching on South Congress.
Other popular reader recommended spots:
Matt’s El Rancho: The most popular recomendation for authentic Tex Mex! We wanted to make it here so bad but it wasn’t super close to us and convenience won out in the end–next time for sure!
Cafe No Se: This was a very popular suggestion–we passed it walking on South Congress but it was totally empty at dinnertime, I’m thinking this is more of a lunch spot! Reader Eliza describes it as “a beautiful space with great coffee and healthy lunch!”
Vespaio: Reader Liz mentioned this spot–saying when she used to travel to Austin frequently for work, she made a point to go every trip!
Voodoo Donuts: I’m wondering if this is the same Voodoo Donuts as in Portland?! Regardless, a lot of GG readers think this is too good to pass up!
Radio Coffee +Beer: A cute spot to post up and get some work done–many recommended the Veracruz taco truck outside!