ATX: Your 3-Day Sampler
In Austin for the weekend? Here is our recommendation for what to go see and do to get a truly Austin experience during your visit.
You will find the mentioned locations connected to this article below. Use the bookmark feature in the bottom nav bar to compile these into a shorter itinerary to fit your needs.
1. Start your morning right with a breakfast taco! We recommend Taco Deli or Juan in a Million for a solid meal and some great service. If you're feeling adventurous or are looking for a quick bite, check out Taco Mi Trailita off of Manor Rd. or Veracruz All Natural on the East Side. You could call them "hidden gems" - except for the fact that they have 5-Star ratings on Yelp.
2. Shop along South Congress and maybe even grab a bite to eat. You'll also find many local artists set up tents on the weekends. Every “First Thursday” of the month, stores remain open until 10 p.m. and parking lots are filled with local artists and vendors. Sales and free drinks abound!
3. Explore the Texas State Capitol. They say everything is bigger in Texas, and the Texas State Capitol certainly proves that. It is one of only several state capitols that are taller than the United States Capitol in Washington D.C. It is also one of the oldest state office structures, completed in 1888. There are free daily tours to learn all about the building and some Texas history. You can also walk across the street to catch a glimpse of the Governor’s Mansion.
4. Zilker Park, Barton Springs & Lady Bird Lake are the best ways to spend beautiful spring and summer days! Go for a swim in Austin's natural springs or rent a paddle board for some fun on Lady Bird Lake. After all, they say there is no better way to see Austin than from the water! If you're not about water, take a walk around the lake and admire it from afar! 10 miles of trails including the new Boardwalk on Lady Bird Lake serve as a social hub for runners, walkers and cyclists. Dogs are welcome!
5. Bats Love Austin. Congress Avenue Bridge is home to the largest urban bat colony in North America. Around dusk, about 1.5 million bats fly out from under the bridge in search for a meal. Austin is their home from the months of March to October.
6. The Bullock Texas State History Museum is a history buff's dream! 500+ years of history are housed in this large granite building across from the University of Texas campus. The museum is also home to Austin's only IMAX theater. On your way out, make sure to drop by the UT tower in the heart of campus. This building is probably the most recognized in Austin. Self-guided walking tours are available on Saturday and Sunday afternoons during the fall and spring semesters. Some nights, the tower burns bright orange to celebrate the accomplishments of UT faculty and staff. It is truly a sight to behold.
7. BBQ call us biased, but Texas is home to some of the best barbecue in the world! We recommend taking a short trip to Driftwood, TX for the Salt Lick experience. The Roberts family has been serving up "mouthwatering Bar-B-Que with an extra side of Texas Hill Country hospitality" since they opened in 1967. Franklin's Barbeque is also well known, but be prepared to stand in line. The restaurant opens at 11 am, but people will start lining up sometimes as early as 5 am. The place will serve until sell-out, but with a long line every day that happens in under an hour.
8. Spend a night out on 6th Street. No visit to Austin is complete without a visit to “Dirty Sixth”. This street is truly at the heart of the entertainment and historic district of Downtown Austin. You'll find most of the action takes place from Brazos Street to Interstate 35 as people wander the streets looking to enjoy a good drink or two. Many of the bars will also offer some great live music or a DJ on the weekends. This place isn't all about the bars though. There are many great restaurants like Daruma Ramen, Parkside and Easy Tiger to choose from as well.
9. Explore UT's Campus. If you haven't heard someone say "Hook 'em" or seen a flash of burnt orange, then are you really in Austin? The University of Texas campus sits in the northern part of Downtown. Walk around campus and relive your college days. The campus also has a lot of cool places to visit like the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and the Blanton Museum of Art. You can also check out Bass Concert Hall for an ever-changing calendar of musical, comedy and theatrical performances including the Broadway in Austin™ series. The Frank Erwin Center also hosts concerts from some big names from time to time.
10. Check out some entertainment options. They don't call Austin the Live Music Capital of the World for nothing. Austin is a huge hub for budding musicians. Almost every local bar features artists on certain nights of the week. However, some places we have to highlight are the Continental Club, Emo’s and Stubb’s Amphitheater. Austin City Limits is one of the longest running music series on television and is filmed at Moody Theatre. Some other options to note would be the famed Alamo Drafthouse and Ester's Follies. Alamo Drafthouse started here in Austin becoming the original dine and drink movie theatre. The Alamo is truly an experience though with strict rules and unique events. Be sure to check out a quote-a-long, newly-released feature or maybe an older film special screening during your stay. Meanwhile, Ester's Follies is a magic and comedy show that takes place on 6th Street. It has been entertaining Austinites and visitors for over 25 years with a unique show that will have you laughing for days.
11. Iconic Graffiti can be found in many places around the city. If you want to see something truly unique, go visit Hope Outdoor Gallery. What was once planned to be a condo project has now become an always-changing art project for graffiti artists. If you climb to the top, you'll have a gorgeous view of Downtown. Jo's Coffee on South Congress also is home to the "I love you so much" graffiti piece that gains a line every weekend for pictures. Walk across the South 1st Street pedestrian bridge to check out some cool graffiti on the railroad bridge. “The Drag” near UT is home to the "Hi, how are you?" frog also known as Jeremiah the Innocent. Painted by songwriter Daniel Johnston, Jeremiah the Innocent is famous for appearing on a t-shirt that was worn by Kurt Cobain. It is located at the corner of 21st and Guadalupe. Bring your camera to take a picture!
12. Hike up Mount Bonnell to see some beautiful views. This is the highest point in Austin at 775 feet with where you can see the 360 Bridge, Downtown Austin skyline, Lake Austin and more. You can reach it by hiking a trail or climbing some stairs. We recommend taking the trip just before sunset. It will take your breath away.
13. Buy an iconic "Keep Austin Weird" t-shirt. Take a little bit of Austin's culture home with you to remember your visit. You may run into "Keep Austin Weird" shirts at a number of gift shops and stores around Austin, but for the best selection of colors and styles, visit Tyler's on the Drag.