Austin has exploded in popularity in the past decade and it had been on my travel list for awhile. Known for amazing festivals like SXSW and Austin City Limits, for its diverse and delicious food scene, and for having hot or mild weather year-round, Austin is definitely a place to stop in at least once. While the heat was too much for me to want to move there, I did really enjoy my visit to Austin in September of 2022.
Here are some of the best things I ate, saw, and experienced during my time there.
Austin Restaurants & Bars
Open 24-hours to be a haven for local UT students, this was a super cool coffee shop in the North Loop area. They had a ton of seating, both indoors and out, and the iced coffee I had was very satisfying. The one issue I had was that their wifi wasn’t working for me, so I had to cut my workday short. I would have happily stayed much longer since the atmosphere was so cool, but it was difficult to get any work done. Epoch Coffee is definitely worth a stop if you work from home and want to get out and explore workable coffee shops.
Terry Black’s BBQ
I wish I could eat here once a week! While it’s not as famous as Franklin’s BBQ in Austin, I had heard stories of people waiting for hours in lines at some BBQ places, only for items to run out by the time it was their chance to be served. Many BBQ restaurants also close early in Austin, which was another thing that surprised me. Terry Black’s was perfect – fast-moving, cafeteria-style service, incredible food options, and plenty of seating. I wanted to try everything on the menu, but had to settle for a brisket sandwich, side of mac and cheese, side of green beans, creamed corn, and peach cobbler.
Nervous Charlies Bagels
Voted the best bagels in Austin, so I had to try it for a quick lunch! Nervous Charlie’s is located in the North Loop neighborhood and it’s a cute little shop with fast service and an amazing selection of bagels. Come early if you have a specific taste – it seems like they sell out quickly! They also have a lot of dog posters for adoptable dogs in Austin, which was a nice touch.
Tacos Yo Soy
This taco truck was a total gem! It’s a great place to stop in if you need a break from shopping at nearby vintage shops in Austin’s North Loop, stop in for a taco platter, iced coffee, or any other delicious Mexican food. It’s cheap and has plenty of picnic tables to sit at and enjoy your food. They do close somewhat early – so it’s more of a lunch spot or early dinner. Visit Tacos Yo Soy to satisfy any taco cravings.
Flightpath Coffee in Hyde Park
Another gem I came across – here I enjoyed a Vietnamese iced coffee, a great way to start the day! It was another quirky and cute coffee shop, it had an outdoor patio and lovely indoor seating, some pastries and quiches if you are hungry, and a really friendly barista. Flightpath Coffee in Hyde Park is worth a stop when exploring Austin if you need caffeine.
After seeing the iconic “Welcome to Austin” mural that I had to get a photo in front of, I did a bit of vintage shopping and worked up an appetite. Nearby was El Mercado, a Tex-Mex restaurant that had a beautiful mosaic bar and a friendly and attentive bartender. I had a Mexican Martini – a shaken and strained margarita, served up with an olive. It was delicious, as was the massive plate of tacos I enjoyed with it.
Chuy’s Tex Mex
Chuy’s is an Austin staple, it’s a funky Tex-Mex restaurant with multiple locations, and I stopped in the original one for a blackberry margarita. It was cold and refreshing, which was exactly what I needed after a long and hot walk at Zilker Metropolitan Park. The restaurant seems like a super cool place for great Tex-Mex and seems to be a favorite for both locals and tourists alike.
This is a great restaurant for group dinners, it’s known for incredible contemporary Mexican cuisine and a wide selection of tequila. La Condesa a good place to go with a group in Austin since you’ll want to order everything on the menu and share it. It’s a sophisticated setting that offers elegant dining without being pretentious – the servers were super knowledgable but kept it fun with great recommendations for food and drinks.
Rainey Street Bars
There are tons of amazing bars all along Rainey Street in Austin, making it the ideal place to go on a bachelorette trip. If you want a night out of wild fun, hopping between unique establishments with their own vibe and signature drinks. Here are a few places I’d recommend adding to your list.
This busy bar is a whimsical, circus bar. Here we enjoyed frozen boozy drinks, hula hooping, basketball free throw competitions, dancing, and more. This bar is also known for its large slide. It can get very crowded and be packed from wall to wall, but despite this we were still able to easily get drinks and move around the space. Unbarlievable is a great spot for a fun night out in Austin with a bachelorette group.
Decked out for Halloween already mid-September? I am all for it. Augustine was a super fun bar, located in a in a charming house that dates from the late 1800’s, it provides an upscale, vintage vibe that is perfect for getting the night started. There is a great patio as well as indoor areas for enjoying cocktails in.
I think this was my favorite bar we visited on Rainey Street for the bachelorette night out. It is very trendy and cool, with outdoor seating on large porch swings and various lounge areas for groups to sit and relax in. Cantina 512 is known for great Tex-Mex food too, you can find $3 tacos here on Taco Tuesdays.
The Best Things to See & Do in Austin
See Capitol Building
A top focal point of the city of Austin is the Texas Capitol. With rolling green grounds and an impressive architectural style, it’s a must-see when touring around Austin. Since I was on a tight schedule for the weekend, I didn’t tour the inside of the capitol building, but the grounds and exterior are quite a sight to see.
Iconic Statues of Austin – Flying Bat & Willie Nelson
There are tons of cool statues around Austin, but these were two of my favorites. The Willie Nelson statue is located at 310 W 2nd St, right next to a variety of shops and restaurants. The bat is outside the Yeti Flagship store, and was a cool symbol of the city since it’s known for the Congress Street Bridge bats.
Congress Bridge for Bat Tour
This sits at the top of all the lists you read on “Top Things To Do in Austin,” a free attraction where you wait on the Congress Street Bridge at sundown and swarms of bats are meant to fly right over you, a spectacular sight to see. Unfortunately, I have to say it was very underwhelming. I did a little research and it seems like the reason might be because I was visiting in late September
Greetings from Austin Mural
This is a free, quick and easy attraction to tick off your list. Located off South First Street, this mural is a great spot to stop for a fun photo. I wouldn’t say it’s a must-see, but it’s in a cool area that is worth exploring anyway, next to a bunch of vintage shops and upscale boutiques.
Museum of the Weird
If you’ve ever been to a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum, I would definitely skip this place, but I opted to check it out just as a respite from the unrelenting Texas heat. Admission at Museum of the Weird in Austin is $12 for adults and it’s a short, self-guided tour through various exhibits of weird, creepy, and macabre wax figures, old Hollywood movie props, and historical tidbits from side shows and other dark parts of the past. I wouldn’t say this is a must-do, it was fine. If you’re really into wax museums and weird things, go for it. It’s a quick stop and will entertain you while you enjoy some air conditioning.
Zilker Metropolitan Park
A long, winding park along the Colorado River, this nature and recreation area is a must-see if you like going for walks in nature while still being in the city. It has lots of trails and paths and there is a lot of shaded areas, which offer a nice retreat from the sun. If I lived in Austin, this is where I would go for a run.
Sunset Swim at Barton Springs Pool
A sunset swim here after walking around in the 90 degree Austin heat all day was absolutely life-changing. The cool water revived me from overheating, and the park was a beautiful, natural reserve to relax in after walking around the busy city. Barton Springs is a natural water spring of the Barton Creek, and it’s a popular area for people to come for a swim and to relax on the grassy hills of the park that surround the pools. It’s cold water – super refreshing to rinse off in from the humid Texas heat. Before you enter the pool area, you do have to purchase a ticket at a kiosk which is near the parking lot area. On Thursdays, note that the pool is closed during most of the day for cleaning, but it does reopen for sunset.
Bloomers & Frocks
Even if you aren’t a vintage clothing enthusiast, this store is awesome and definitely worth a visit. The clerk working was so knowledgeable about vintage clothing eras and was happy to chat and share her passion. Bloomers and Frocks is close to the Welcome to Austin mural, and it’s full of great treasures.
I didn’t do a ton of shopping while in Austin, but another boutique I would recommend stopping in, especially if you need gifts or fun Austin stuff, visit Luxe Apothetique. It’s close to the Congress Street Bridge and is a whimsical place to stop in.
Boating on Lake Austin
The highlight of the bachelorette weekend for me was a fun day on the water – boating on Lake Austin! We rented a boat with GetMyBoat of course, with amazing Captain Mark who took care of all the little details to ensure we had a fun and safe day on the water. He had a floating mat, provided a cool guided tour of the lake, an iced cooler, and great Bluetooth speakers that we could connect our music to. It was an amazing day!
Alternatively, if you have access to a car and want to get a bit further out of the city, you can also rent a boat on Lake Travis, arguably a more popular boating lake in Austin. It’s known for waterfront restaurants and for having party coves where boats tie up and people party for hours on the water. GetMyBoat has hundreds of boat rentals available on Lake Travis.
Getting Around Austin
While Uber is an easy choice for getting from point a to point b around Austin, I actually had a very good experience taking the public bus system in addition to ride share. It was air conditioned, efficient, with friendly and helpful drivers. You do need exact change if you don’t have a transport card, so bring a few $1 bills and quarters if you plan to ride the bus. I thought it was great for getting from my Airbnb in the North Loop down to the south side of the city.
Overall, I had a great experience in Austin, it was a wonderful place to venture around with a bachelorette group, and it’s certainly a city I’d love to visit again to explore more and try new restaurants and bars. If you have a must-do in Austin that I didn’t cover in this post – please leave it in a comment below so I can add to a future visit list!