Austin, Texas Insider Tips
By Miranda Anderson, Blogger & Austin Local
When we moved to Austin three years ago, I could never have imagined how hard and fast I would fall for this city. Not only is the weather beautiful most of the year, enabling an active outdoor culture, but it also has much to offer in amazing food, cool activities, great local shopping, and an overall super hip vibe. This list could be never-ending, but I’ve tried to collect some of my very favorite spots to stay, eat and play for you to enjoy on your next visit!
Hotel Saint Cecilia is the queen bee of cool hotels in Austin, located in the heart of South Congress. The iconic hotel is complete with private grounds and the Instagram-famous SOUL pool. The rooms are a bit pricey, so this is a great one for a splurge.
Kimber Modern offers clean lines, thoughtfully designed modern decor, and great location along South Congress. It is one of Austin’s premier boutique hotels and would be a fun place to call home on your stay.
Hotel San Jose is a lush, bungalow-style hotel also along the bustling South Congress Avenue. In addition to the mid-century industrial Texan decor, the hotel offers a full calendar of events, so you’re always sure to be in the happening spot.
South Congress Café has my favorite brunch in town. This little place fills up quickly so go early to get a seat. I always order the migas, but have been tempted by the carrot cake French toast as well. The cafe’s location right along South Congress Avenue shopping district makes it a perfect place to start the day.
Elizabeth St. Café has the best ramen and banh mi around, not to mention their amazing French pastries. (Tuck a couple into your bag for a late-night snack!)
Contigo on the patio is a great way to spend dinner. You’ll get your fill of fresh air, fried green beans and the best farmhouse burger in town. All charcuterie is made in house, and the vibe can’t be beat.
Hillside Farmacy is a picturesque, little cafe on the East side, serving up delicious food all day. It is the original site of one of the first pharmacies in the area, and it has an on-theme drink menu of cocktails and house-made sodas to match.
Torchy’s Tacos started as a single food truck and has expanded to brick-and-mortar locations in 14 cities. The original truck down on South First Street is still my favorite. I love the green chile pork, but everything is good. And the queso can’t be missed.
Stiles Switch is the best place to get great barbeque without a long line, and I’ll happily take my girlfriends there anytime. Plus, the mac and cheese is great, and I am very much a mac and cheese gal.
Josephine House is great anytime, but for brunch, it’s especially delightful. I choose the lemon ricotta pancakes, and we can share the fresh fruit and honey with burrata.
Walton’s Fancy and Staple was one of my first favorite spots downtown, and it remains high on the list. This Sandra-Bullock-owned cafe and floral shop serves up great salads and sandwiches for lunch, and grab a golden egg for dessert. It’s delightful.
Bananarchy food truck is one of the best when you’re craving a cold treat. You’ll get a frozen dipped banana rolled in all of your favorite toppings. I always go for chocolate with toffee and coconut. And, fair warning, you’ll crave them when you’ve returned back home.
Patrizi’s food truck serves house-made pasta to order every day of the week. The bruschetta appetizer is a great way to enjoy the short wait for your delicious, fresh food, and if you’re lucky, there will be live music playing on the patio while you eat.
Voodoo Doughnut is a new late-night fixture in Austin, serving up fresh doughnuts 24 hours a day. Skip the fancy-topped styles and try the Mango Tango or Ain’t That A Peach Fritter, which are both fresh, fruity and delicious.
Barton Springs Pool is a natural swimming hole and an Austin staple. It is the most refreshing way to beat the heat in the summer, though the pool is open for swimming all year round!
Stand-Up Paddleboard out on Town Lake, cruising down to see the beautiful skyline from the water, is one of my favorite ways to enjoy the city.
BCycle easy bike rental has stops all around town. You can grab a bike and return it to any stop within 30 minutes, switching up and sightseeing all day long. One great place to ride is along Lady Bird Lake trail. It goes on for miles, with lots of fun people and duck-watching along the way.
UMLAUF Sculpture Gardens is a hidden gem in the city. I love wandering in the shaded grounds, chatting with friends as we check out the gorgeous sculptures. And as a bonus, the museum is free all summer long.
Historic walking tours are a fun way to get some Austin culture, wandering through some of the city’s oldest beautiful buildings. If you’d rather ride, the Segway tour is one of the most fun and hilarious things I’ve done in downtown.
The Hideout Theatre is a great place to catch an improv act. They’re on twice nightly on the weekends, and you can go early and enjoy some old-school tea and checkers in the cafe while you wait for the show.
Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar, where the highest tipper gets to choose the next song. Even if you sit back and listen to others’ requests, you’re sure to hear some old favorites, and the energy is contagious.
Miranda Anderson is a maker, designer, blogger, foodie, and adventurer. In addition to sharing regular inspiration for living a simple, creative life on her blog One Little Minute, she also hosts regular craft and sewing workshops in Austin, TX, where she loves living with her husband, three wild children, and the family dog. She’s always working on three different projects, planning the next family vacation, and is on the hunt for the next best food truck.