“Keep Austin Weird” is a well-known slogan of the Texas capital — one that is fitting given that Austin is truly the oddball of the state’s cities. A haven for live music, counterculture lifestyles, incredible food and congested traffic, Austin is a fun city for solo working professionals and families.
People have certainly received the memo that Austin is a pretty happenin’ place. According to The Austin Business Journal, Austin grew faster than all other large metros in the U.S. (as a percentage) in four of the five years between 2011 and 2016. The suburbs north of Austin are exploding with growth as Austin becomes one of the largest tech hubs outside of Silicon Valley.
Four Recommended Austin “To-Dos”
Located on the edges of the Texas hill country, Austin is a unique city with plenty of activities to suit any lifestyle.
- Kayak on the Lake — Lady Bird Lake extends by the west side of Austin proper, so you can see downtown in all its glory as you paddle by. If you need to relax and be at peace, rent a kayak on the lakeside and row around at your own pace. Early morning and sunset are often the best times to go.
- Visit the State Capitol — If you want to learn a little bit more about the history of Texas, Austin or state government, you can attend one of the many capitol building tours available throughout the week.
- Attend a Music Festival — Austin is the national mecca for music festivals, so we highly encourage you to attend at least one while you’re in town. The major festivals include Austin City Limits and South By Southwest, but there are plenty of others that aren’t quite as massive like Levitation.
- Watch the Bats — If you wander to Congress Bridge around sundown, you’ll be able to witness the collective flight of one of the largest bat colonies in the country. It’s a sight to behold and is absolutely worth doing at least once.
Where to Eat in Austin
- Franklin Barbecue — Plan ahead if you want to eat at one of the best barbecue joints in Texas. For an idea of how sought after these meats are, people often wait in line for more than two hours to get a bite. The wait is well worth it — the brisket is tender and the turkey is savory.
- Moonshine Patio — If you find comfort in comfort food, you must make a trip to Moonshine Patio for brunch or dinner. Enjoy your share of chicken & waffles, shrimp & grits, chicken fried steak and other Southern favorites. You can wash it all down with the establishment’s signature craft Moonshine (with plenty of flavors to choose from).
- Kerbey Lane — With several locations throughout Austin, you’ll have close access to one of the best breakfast and brunch spots in town. The French Toast and pancakes are incredible, but you’ll want to arrive a little earlier than usual to beat the rush.
- Salty Sow — For an almost-upscale dining experience and some off-the-beaten path dishes that will knock your socks off, pay a visit to the Salty Sow. Start your meal off with the smoky Loch Duart salmon rillette or the delicious triple-fried duck fat fries before chowing down on a candied pork belly or chili-rubbed tuna. You won’t be disappointed.
Where to Shop in Austin
- The Drag — Adjacent to the University of Texas campus between MLK and 30th Street, “The Drag” features a series of eateries, odd shops and stores selling collegiate clothes and merch. If you’re looking for knickknacks you won’t find in any generic shopping spot, this is a good place to start.
- Barton Creek Square — North of downtown you’ll find the Barton Creek Square Mall where you’ll find all the staple boutique stores. Oh, and if you’re looking for Apple Products, this is where you have to go. The mall holds one of only two Apple Stores in the city.
- East 6th Street — If craft shops are your thing, then East 6th street is the place to go. Visit Helm if you’re looking for a trendy pair of urbanite boots or The Lion’s Nest to view the art gallery. You’ll also find some hole-in-the-wall bars along your way that are all worth exploring. Definitely recommend Zilker Brewing and Taproom if you get the chance.
Local Coffee Shops
- Cuvee Coffee — If you’re already shopping on East 6th, then stop by Cuvee Coffee for a cupa. You can even buy bags of their coffee and/or their own cold brew to take home with you for continued caffeinated pleasure.
- Houndstooth Coffee — Serving wine and beer in addition to coffee, Houndstooth Coffee makes an exceptional iced coffee. You’ll find locations in both Austin and Dallas, so stop by when you get the chance.
- Radio Coffee & Beer — For residents or visitors of South Austin, Radio Coffee and Beer serves, well, really good coffee and beer! Enjoy the drink of your choice on a quaint patio and listen to some live music while you’re at it.
Top School Districts
- Eanes ISD
- Lake Travis ISD
- Leander ISD
- Georgetown ISD
- Dripping Springs ISD
Austin’s Kid Friendly Activities
- Float the River — While there’s a lake just to the west of Austin, San Marcos is only around an hour south of the city. Here you can rent tubes and enjoy a hot summer day on the San Marcos river. Don’t forget to visit the food trucks on your way there!
- Austin Aquarium — Home to thousands of species, the Austin aquarium is home to more than just fish. Visit the rainforest area to see exotic reptiles and birds (yes, birds)!
- The Thinkery — An engaging science museum designed specifically for children and families, this is the perfect spot to stimulate curiosity and have fun at the same time. Exhibits include a kitchen lab, a light lab, a “spark shop” and an outdoor play area.