After an amazing month in New Orleans, I was ready to continue my exploration of the US. Of course, I couldn’t skip Austin. Everyone I met kept telling me how awesome this city is. And they were right!
I pretty much immediately fell in love with Austin. It is simply such a fun and vibrant place.
Austin is weird, it’s hip, it’s young and it’s one of a kind. To me, Austin is the perfect combination between laid back nature and bustling city. I was never once bored in the five days I spent there. Here are a few of the best things to do in Austin:
Dive into Austin history
One of my favorite things when I travel is to learn about the history of the places I go. To be honest, my knowledge of US history was pretty limited before my trip. It mostly concerned contemporary politics and not much else. So, when I found out that the Texas State Capitol in Austin offers free tours, I was pretty stoked. Aside from the regular tours, they also offer specialty tours focused on different parts of Texas history. I joined the “Heroes of the Texas Revolution” tour and it was pretty interesting! The building itself is beautiful and the attention to detail is really impressive. You’ll notice the lone star everywhere.
If you want to know even more about Texas history, the Bullock Texas State History Museum lies right behind the capitol building.
Head out on the water
Although Austin is a pretty big city, you’ll immediately notice how green it is. There are trees and parks everywhere that provide shade in the Texas heat. The Colorado river runs straight through the city in all its glistening blue glory. As soon as the weather is nice enough you’ll see people kayaking, SUPing and boating on the water. Note that you are not allowed to swim in the river! Luckily, you can still take a refreshing dive at Barton Creek. There is a man made pool at Barton Springs that’s lovely. But there’s an entrance fee and you’re not allowed to bring food or alcohol. If you don’t mind a little hike, there are even better spots along the river. Walk up the trail to find some more secluded spots where you can swim and relax all day for free.
Go thrift shopping
Austin is a dream for anyone that loves little boutiques, thrift shops and novelty stores. I could wander around South Austin forever just drifting in and out of all the cute stores. Austin Pets Alive! has some amazing stuff and the proceeds go to animals in need. Music lovers must visit Waterloo Records, the original Austin record store.
Party all night
Austin is famous for a lot of things, most of all music. This is the live music capital of the world! Unfortunately, a lot of that great music comes with a price tag. Finding a bar with a good band that doesn’t have a cover charge was damn near impossible. If you want to know who’s playing where, your best bet is to check the Austin Chronicle. And if you’re not too fussed about live music, Austin is basically filled with cool bars. Check out the converted container bars on Rainy Street, the hip hang outs in South Austin and the local spots on East 6th street. Not to be confused with west 6th street, also known as “Dirty 6th”. It’s basically Austins version of Bourbon Street, but seedier. Although I loved Bourbon Street in New Orleans, I wasn’t a big fan of 6th street. It pretty gritty and loud, and misses the carefree fun of drinking outside. Instead, much preferred to get wild at East 6th spots like Shangri-La and White Horse.
Eat all the food
To be honest, the best thing about Austin might just be the food. The food scene is Austin is killer! Food trucks rule here and you’ll find them all over town. Some have a regular spot as part of a coffee shop or bar. In a town where food trucks are king, two types of food rule the game: BBQ and taco’s. Austinites love taco’s y’all. The most popular taco spot without a doubt is Veracruz. This brand sells their all natural, authentic Mexican taco’s at five different location around town. A less authentic, but not any less yummy, place to eat taco’s is Torchy’s. You can find this taco chain and their delicious food all over the Southern US.
Now, being the capital of Texas, Austin obviously also sells some amazing BBQ. The most famous place to eat BBQ is Franklin. This place is so popular that people are willing to stand in line for 3 hours or more! I definitely wasn’t, being more of a “hidden gem” girl. Instead, I had my little meat-cheat meal at Brown’s BBQ. And boy, am I glad I did! Brown’s has their BBQ truck stationed at the Corner Café and their food is authentic, no-nonsense and affordable. Not to mention scrumptious. I’m still dreaming about that BBQ brisket wrap… (be sure to try the mac and cheese and banana pudding as well!)
What are your favorite things to do in Austin? Let me know in the comments! And feel free to share this post with everyone you know on social media.