We took a family trip to the Live Music Capital of the World – and oh, it was something else with all of the unique art, music and food! There’s a TON of things to do, so you’ll never have to worry about being bored.
We stayed at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Austin Downtown, which had a massive complimentary breakfast each morning and happy hour between 5:30-7:30 that included free cocktails and snacks in the lounge area.
Of course, we booked this trip through a ridiculously good sale with Southwest airlines. (Shameless plug to find more of our hacks on getting deals on flights and hotels here.) Highly recommend Southwest, especially when you’re traveling with large groups of people. We were able to get an early boarding slot and all sit next to each other.
We landed pretty early and were starving when we checked into the hotel. First stop was Torchy’s Tacos, which came highly recommended on Yelp. We devoured the green chile queso as soon as it got to the table – it was just the right amount of spicy. I also highly recommend the fried avocado taco and baja shrimp taco.
It was time to get our legs moving so we walked around South Congress Ave and went exploring in the shops.
- Tried a very *interesting* pickle soda at Big Top Candy Shop
- Checked out all the trendy vintage items at Feather’s Boutique
- Spent way too much time laughing at all the funny little gifts at Triple Z Threadz
- Looked at all the expensive cowboy boots and tried on cowboy hats at Allen’s Boots
- Admired all the crazy costumes at Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds
Next on our list was to check out the “I love you so much” mural outside Jo’s Coffee. After taking some pictures, we went back to the room and rest up before dinner at Easy Tiger Beer Garden. Dinner was really good – we all had different types of sausages and got to try the local beers while playing different board games that you could play inside or take it to the outside area.
We then walked around a bit more exploring some bars. Our favorite of the night was Unbarlievable, which is a circus themed bar that has a slide inside. It was really cool and we actually wound up going back there another night.
We had a light breakfast at the hotel in the morning because we knew we wanted to have a big BBQ lunch. Our original plan was to head to Franklin BBQ, but of course there was a massive line. The hotel shuttle driver suggested we go to La Barbeque instead. You can actually order drinks while you wait which was pretty nice. There’s a cute little grocery store inside too. We ordered turkey, brisket, beef ribs, pork ribs, pickles, beans, coleslaw – and one special item that isn’t usually on the menu… mac and cheese! It was all really yummy and spicy, so make sure you get enough water.
We then went to HOPE Outdoor Gallery Murals which was a community paint park that provides muralists and street artists with a place to display their artwork. We climbed to the top and got some really nice pictures of the city.
Upstairs at Caroline’s was the next stop of the day. We enjoyed yummy watermelon margaritas while playing shuffleboard, Connect 5 and all types of games! It was a little windy on the outdoor area, so we spent most of the time inside. After playing enough games, we headed to the Firehouse speakeasy where you had to move a bookshelf in order to be let into this underground cocktail bar.
You may have heard about the bats in Austin. 1.5 million bats emerge nightly from underneath the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge (right by our hotel). They all start coming out around 20 minutes before sundown, so you need to make sure you time it perfectly. It was quite the sight to see!
Highly recommend Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar as a night activity because it was so much fun. We made reservations in advance to secure our spot because we heard it was going to be packed. We actually wound up staying for hours and hours because it was that great of a time. You could bring your own food into the place since they don’t serve anything besides drinks, so of course we got a large pizza from next door.
After that, we wandered on 6th a bit and went into whatever bar’s live music sounded best. We popped from place to place depending on the vibe.
We woke up bright and early to get breakfast at the hotel and then to Houndstooth Coffee which had such a friendly staff.
On Saturdays from 11am-5pm, South Congress Ave has a SoCo Farmers and Makers Market with all different local vendors and live music. There were so many great handcrafted jewelry, essential oils, clothes, gifts, basically everything! When we were done buying all our goodies, we headed to the Greetings from Austin mural for another photo opp.
Lunch was at Loro, an Asian smokehouse and bar. It was a really rustic spot with a great outdoor area with patio heaters – pet friendly too! The food was so delicious. We all shared the wonton chips and candied kettle corn, and I had the grilled Malaysian chicken rice bowl.
Dessert was Gourdoughs Donuts – so many different crazy flavors with cheesecake filling, blackberry filling, vanilla pudding, chipotle infused brown batter, etc. you can’t go wrong with whichever one you choose!
We drove to Zilker’s Brewing Company which was packed! There were so many people inside and out, but luckily we got a table inside. They let you bring food inside, so we had our donuts and beer! We got different flights and they were all really good.
At night we went out on Rainey Street to Icenhauer’s, Container Bar (which was made out of actual shipyard containers), Clive Bar, Lucille, and more! Each place had such different music and crowds, but all were an awesome time. Whether you’re looking for live music, an outdoor bar, a dance scene or relaxing cocktails, Rainey Street will have something for you.
Highly recommend Sunday brunch at Banger’s but make sure you get there early! We had a long wait, so we went to Unbarlievable instead which was right across the street. Both places have really good Bloody Mary’s!
Everyone wanted to ride scooters after our delicious brunch, but obviously I am not coordinated and was unsuccessful. My mom and I got a ride while everyone else scootered to the Museum of the Weird. It was a tiny little museum, but the live “freak show” was pretty interesting. I won’t give any spoilers, but there are different people who do shows different days. If you don’t want to pay for the museum, the gift shop had some cool gifts.
We went to Crux Climbing Center rock gym so Mark could get some climbing in for a few hours. It was actually a really pretty and massive gym – it even had a piano!
How did we go the entire trip without ice cream? I’m super shocked. On the way back from the gym we stopped at Amy’s Ice Cream for tasty dinner. I recommend trying the strawberry and coconut together!
We had an early flight home the next morning, so that was the end of our journey. There’s so much to do and see in Austin. Everywhere you go has different music and food. You can spend a whole week there doing different things!
Break Down (in no particular order):
- Banger’s (we went for brunch, but can also do lunch/dinner/nightlife)
- Tamale House (didn’t go, but hear they have great tamales)
- Eberly Austin (on the list for next time!)
- Franklin BBQ (expect a massive wait)
- La Barbecue
- Torchy’s Tacos
- June’s All Day
- Ranch 616 (heard they have good Ranch Water drink)
- Matt’s El Rancho (didn’t get to go, but hear it’s really tasty)
- Zilker Brewing Company
- Lazarus Brewing
- Blue Owl Brewing
- Crystal Creek Distillery
- Upstairs at Caroline’s
- Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar
- Easy Tiger Beer Garden (also lunch/dinner)
- Jo’s Coffee
- Seventh Flag Coffee
- Gourdoughs Donuts
- Amy’s Ice Cream
- I love you so much mural
- Greetings from Austin mural
- HOPE Outdoor Gallery
- I hate you so much mural (didn’t get to go, but sounds funny)
- You’re my butter half mural (didn’t get to go, but looks cute)
- South Congress Ave
- Congress Ave Bridge bats
- Museum of the Weird
- Deep Eddy Distillery (didn’t get to go because of renovations, but definitely next time!)
- Zilker Botanical Garden (didn’t get to go, but looks really pretty)
- Inner Space Cavern (didn’t have enough time to go, but would love to next time)
- Bad Wolf Ghost Tour Pub Crawl
- Allen’s Boots
- Big Top Candy Shop
- SoCo Farmers and Makers Market
- Feathers Boutique
- Triple Z Threadz
- Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds
Comment and let us know what your favorite activity in Austin is.