I’ve been so excited to write this post and also a little intimidated by the prospect of how to convey and cover all of the amazing places and spaces Austin has to offer. I always had a feeling that I would really like Austin – it’s musical roots, outdoor focused activities and down home cooking are right up my alley – but I didn’t realize how much I would love it. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s a college town, or that it’s become a major outpost for tech, or that its music soul lends a lively vibrance that makes you want to be a part of the scene. Whatever it is, I’m hooked and can’t wait to get back there!
I spent the weekend with nine awesome gals celebrating one of my oldest friend’s bachelorette weekends and it was so much fun! I was a little apprehensive about how I’d survive as the lone pregnant lady but everything we did was totally preggo friendly and it didn’t hold me back at all – I even had half a glass of wine on our last night there (I’m wild I tell ya!).
We stayed at the JW Marriott, it was centrally located and served as a great home base. The pool there was closed for construction so we used the rooftop pool at the Westin which boasted comfy cabanas and Austin-themed decor throughout. I’ve also heard great things about the W. For my next visit I’d love to stay in one of the independent boutique hotels like the Hotel Saint Cecilia, The Driskill Hotel, The Kimber Modern, The Hotel San Jose, The Heywood Hotel, The Lone Star Court, or The Hotel Ella. It seems like a new, design-focused hotel opens every week in Austin and I’d love to explore them all!
The dining options in Austin are endless and are joyfully pretty casual and laid back for the most part, which was a warm, welcome departure from our collective east coast eating experiences. I can’t imagine eating in Texas without some Mexican influence and lucky for us, options abound! We had an amazing meal at La Condesa where elevated Mexican cuisine and tequila concoctions are plentiful. I knew I liked this place when the bartender offered me an aloe pineapple agua fresca when she saw my bump! With the floor to ceiling windows that open onto the Texan night, this al fresco dining experience was perfect for a group with lots of delectable sharing options. Other notable Mexican spots include Iron Cactus (amazing patio), locavore heaven El Naranjo, and chic El Alma.
Another Texas must-eat? BBQ! If you don’t mind a drive head out to Salt Lick for a little bit of country and a whole lot of BBQ. Local spots include Franklin Barbecue (be ready to wait in line, it’s all part of the experience), Freedmen’s, Lambert’s, La Barbecue, Terry Black’s Barbecue, and Iron Works BBQ. My recommendations from personal experience include not wearing white and arriving ready to eat a large quantity!
We had an amazing brunch at Perlas Austin which boasts a huge patio right on South Congress and a bountiful seafood selection. Grab some Jo’s Coffee on your way there. Other notable brunch spots include South Congress Cafe (hello carrot cake french toast), Moonshine Grill, Eastside Cafe, Jacoby’s (they grow their own produce!), Hillside Farmacy (brings a new meaning to the word adorable), Searsucker, and Launderette (brunch in a converted laundromat/gas station – hello retro-refined).
In between eating and poolside lounging, there’s a TON to do in Austin which makes 48 hours much too short for this particular destination. Get outside and row, kayak or paddleboard on Lady Bird Lake or explore the ten miles of trails surrounding the picturesque lake. Take a dip in Barton Springs Pool, a three-acre watering hole that stays a pleasant 68 degrees thanks to natural springs.
The shopping in Austin is out of control wonderful. I could have spent all day on South Congress alone. Check out Parts & Labor for home and gifts, Off the Wall for vintage and antiques, The Gypsy Wagon (literally my heaven on earth – stocked with wall hangings, cute gifts, clothes from Spell Byron Bay and Show Me Your Mumu, and boho vibes), Co-Star and Feather’s Boutique (amazing vintage).
Head over to Rainey Street for tons of outdoor drinking options, a food truck gathering place and live music. Sixth Street is more of a college going out scene but live music and dueling piano bars make for an entertaining evening.
I wish I was heading to Austin for South by Southwest – definitely a 2018 goal of mine. If you have any Austin recommendations, please leave them in the comments below! xx