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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Austin advice?

We're going to Austin!!! Our friends just moved there, so we're heading down for a weekend trip at the end of the month. (We figured we sneak in the trip before Toby turns two and we have to buy him plane seat.)

Everyone I know raves about Austin, and we can't wait to see it. Most of all, I'm excited to swim in Barton Springs, the 1,000-foot-long spring-fed natural pool. It looks incredible! (This monthly full-moon party would be a trip:)

Have you been to Austin? Do you live there? We'd be psyched for any recommendations! xoxo

P.S. Ten tips for traveling with a baby, and our guide to NYC.

(Photos by Budget Travel, MagazineUSA and Jack Archer)


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christin said...

i am dying to swim in that natural pool. it is seriously on my bucket list.

Cirilia said...

UNCOMMON GOODS!! Torchy's. Drafthouse...Whole Foods...everything. I love Austin so much.

Clara said...

Amazing! I'm dying to go to Austin, too! Can't wait to hear all about your trip and get all the inside tips :).

Jennifer King said...

Get ready to eat! So many great options. You can also check out the great shops and food trailers on South Congress! A very popular spot for visitors, and locals too.

Ashley Faye - said...

Wow!! never knew about that pool.. Austin just earned tons of street cred in my opinion. Have fun

Ana Magdalena said...

I have never been but I am dying to go, specially after finding out they have this beautiful natural swimming pool.

HiLLjO said...

Never been to Texas! Have so much fun; that pool looks AHMAZING!!!

Candice Lynn said...

I would love to see all these recommendations....we are headed there in June of rmy Bachelorette Party! :)

Holly said...

I lived there for a few months and it is SO much fun! TONS of great food, especially Tex Mex (I recommend Torchy's Tacos):)And yes, the lake is beautiful.

Austinite said...

I hope it clears up but as of right now, the Springs are closed due to the ridiculous rain storm we just had. There are still other places to swim (Deep Eddy is a good spot to scope out).

Otherwise, we're happy to have ya! Enjoy.

Veuve said...

I lived in Austin for 7 years (when my kids were Toby's age). Definitely see Zilker Park, and if Barton Springs is super-crowded, find Deep Eddy Pool instead. You'll also want to check out South Congress Avenue. Enjoy!

Ashley said...

Austin is super fun. Take water shoes to Barton Springs if feeling grass under your feet freaks you out.
Also, there is a bar in Austin that is full of old arcade games including skeeball-my personal fave.

Iris Rankin said...

I haven't been to Austin since I was a kid, but I'm glad to see the pool. I remember going there and it was awesome, so make sure you do.

Britt @ The Magnolia Pair said...

How neat is that pool ! That'd be a fun place to visit for sure!

My advice, wear sunscreen ;)

Alex said...

Barton Springs is definitely a must, but get ready for how COLD it is! For quirky shopping, you can't miss South Congress street [and the multitude of food trucks on it]. For the best ice cream ever, go to Amy's Ice Cream and order the Mexican Vanilla with strawberries or oreos. You'll find several locations in town. An Austin staple is Chuy's...delicious Tex-Mex that you can't beat! Iron Cactus, Guero's, and Trudy's are also excellent. And don't forget all the live music! I grew up an hour from Austin and have many friends who live there, so I know you'll have an amazing time :)

Michelle Stiles said...

Take an evening and go out and listen to some music. Sit on a rooftop bar and people watch the people walking the street. Last trip to Austin I ended up ridding a mechanical bull. I love that city, ya'll are going to have so much fun. Franklin BBQ is worth getting to early, the line is long and sells out daily. You can drink cold beer in line if it is a warm day. We spend most of our time when we go at Barton Springs.

Jenn said...

Homeslice Pizza on Congress is REALLY good! Also, if you are into music you gotta check out Waterloo Records and you can eat right next door at 24/Diner. There is soooo much to do there, hope you have a blast and can't wait to hear about your trip!

ash said...

I love Austin, the city has such a laid back vibe. South Congress is where I'd head first. So many great places to shop and eat. I also love the Nutty Brown Cafe, plus they usually have some great live music. There are also tons of museums downtown, like the Mexic-Arte. And the Botanical Gardens are gorgeous! Have a great trip!

natalie said...

Water shoes are a must at Barton Springs, also be prepared to gasp from how cold the water is initially. Don't worry though, it warms up and it's divine! Have fun!!

Katie M said...

Barton Springs is nice and relaxing, especially with the very summer-like weather we're having these days. I live 3 hours southeast in Houston, but I get over to Austin a few times a year.

There are some great breweries!
Austin Beerworks won some GABF honors this past year. Independence Brewery makes some fine ales. Circle Brewing as well!

Go see the bats fly out at sunset.
Stroll South Congress.

Jessica Sliman said...

Zilker Park is awesome for kids and adults alike. They have a cute little train. And we think the (free!) botanical garden across the street is a great place to wander.

Anonymous said...

I passed through on a road trip and loved these places:

This taco place is so good!

and this is also a beautiful place for a swim if it's not too cold.

have fun :)

Emily said...

I've just returned from SXSW and one of the highlights of the trip was a meal at Salt Lick. It's about 25 minutes southwest of the city, but it is absolutely worth the short drive. The tastiest BBQ I've ever had on a huge, beautiful compound where you can play bocce while you wait! It's BYOB, too!

Jenny said...

My friend and his wife live in Austin and she has a food blog

She JUST did a best of Austin. Check it out, it's a great blog! (She didn't pay me to say that!!)

Hannah said...

I live about an hour away from Austin, so I know my stuff. Z Tejas is delicious for Mexican food, Gordoughs is a MUST. An airstream that sells gourmet donuts with everything you can think of (Try their Son of a Peach)! Toy Joy (on Guadalupe) is the best toy store I've ever been to. Can I recommend Gordough's again?

Elizabeth Benfield said...

that looks like sooo much fun!

Amy Powell said...

since you're probably not going to party on 6th street, I'd suggest looking into any event at the Alamo Draft House (there's a few around town)... every Sat night there's a Rocky Horror showing at midnight that's super fun.

And of course walk the capital grounds. It's beautiful!

Welcome to Texas, we're happy to have you!

SamanthaJanay said...

i have lived in austin for 7 years's what i say!

take a photo in the bluebonnets because they are blooming LIKE CRAZY right now! as a new yorker, this is probably a once in a lifetime opportunity for you! you can see them at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the gardens in Zilker park, and on the sides of random highways. they are BEAUTIFUL, and the state flower!

eat at any and all of the following places:
Franklin BBQ
Matt's El Rancho
Kerbey Lane
Juan in a Million
El Chilito

get a drink at:
tiniest bar in texas
kung foo saloon (they have arcade games!)
hopdoddy (caramel & sea salt milkshake)
crown & anchor
trace at the W hotel

take a tour of the state capitol building for free!

see stevie ray vaughn's statue at auditorium shores on town lake.

take Toby to Butler park (just south of auditorium shores) where they have a splash pad!

visit the Whole Foods flagship store at 6th and Lamar and pick up a copy of L Style G Style magazine while you're there.

take a free tour of the Live Oak brewery on Saturday. try the Live Oak Hef at countless local joints. also, try a Dublin Dr. Pepper on tap anywhere you see it before it's gone forever. and any Maine Root beverage. get candy at Big Top on south congress.

hang out with some ghosts at the Driskill Hotel downtown.

i hope you, hubby, and Toby have a blast in my city. i'd love to meet you while you're visiting!

Rachel said...

Avoid: Matt's El Rancho, Guero's, Uncle Julio's. Their sub-par Tex Mex is an insult! For awesome Mexican food, try Torchy's Tacos, El Chile, or Takoba. Or if you're feeling super fancy, Fonda San Miguel.

South Congress has fabulous shops and some great restaurant like Hey Cupcake, Homeslice Pizza, and Woodland. Parts & Labour is a fun shop with tons of Austin stuff that's not cheesy, so it's a good place to get a souvenir!

Contigo has delicious food and a great atmosphere--a huge outdoor area that's kid friendly.

Bring a float to Barton Springs! That way you can enjoy it without touching the vegetation on the bottom of the pool or having to tread water forever. Uncle Billy's Brew-n-Cue is a great post-swim BBQ place. Shady Grove is also great. (Avoid Chuy's--again, sub-par Tex Mex!)

I have so many more recommendations!
ultrarach at gmail

Robyn said...

I have friends in Austin and I would love to visit-it looks great. Bit far..being in Nairobi- but I am sure you will have a great time!

Courtney Carlton said...

You're going to love it! My husband and I live in Dallas (we went to school at Baylor in Waco, an hour north of Austin) and love making the trip down whenever we're able to.

Our FAVORITE restaurant is The Oasis ( - delicious Tex-Mex food in an open-air restaurant directly on Lake Travis that will leave both your taste buds and eyes satisfied. It's incredible food with an incredible experience!

Have a blast - am really looking forward to hearing about your Texas trip!


Sharon said...

Hey Joanna! So excited for you to visit--I absolutely love living here!

Definitely check out shops like Uncommon Goods on South Congress, eat at Hopdoddy's burgers or Parkside restaurant, and take a walk on Town Lake trail around Cesar Chavez and South Lamar/Congress. Food trucks like Chilantro BBQ (get the pork burger) have great korean-mexican fusion tacos, and trailers like La Boite or Hey Cupcake will satisfy your cupcake and macaroon cravings :)

I'd recommend taking Toby to Austin Children's Museum. He would love it! And be prepared for Barton Springs--it's ice-cold year round! Maybe I'll see you in town!

Shelia Day said...

I just replied to you on Twitter, but there wasn't enough room! I (very reluctantly) moved from the Austin area. Here is my list....

- tacos at Torchys (a given)
- movie and dinner at Drafthouse (usually babies aren't allowed though)
- the bats on Congress St. bridge (might be a bit early in spring, but still a cool view of city)
- stroll down South Congress
- Home Slice Pizza
- Saltlick BBQ in Driftwood (the drive is beautiful)
- food trailers on the east side
- a show at Auditorium Shores
- Mt. Bonnell
- lay in the grass at Zilker (it's so green right now in Central Texas!)
- Umlauf Sculpture Gardens
- margaritas at Vivo

I could list a 100 things, but this is more than a weekend full. Have fun!!

AcanthusNichole said...

I've never been but we are considering Austin as a place to move in a couple years so I'm just excited to see what you think and all the things everyone will comment about it!

Perfect timing for purely selfish reasons. Thank you for this!

erin said...

Mt. Bonnell (you can take a meal or snack up there and enjoy the view of lake austin and the colorado river), shopping on south congress, maudie's or matt's el rancho (both mexican food), and if you're into BBQ either Lamberts (upscale bbq) or Green Mesquite (which is quite the experience). Growing up, Toy Joy (really bizarre/cool toy store) and watching the congress bridge bats we two of my favorite things to do. Finally, if you really want an authentic Texas experience- check out the broken spoke for live music and dancing. Enjoy!

xoxo, dania said...

emily from cupcakes and cashmere just went to austin! i just read her blog post about it :)

Another Austinite said...

Also check out nearby Hamilton Springs pool:

It's about an hour away and a perfect afternoon would be to go swimming there, then have Salt Lick BBQ on your way back into town.

Wendy said...

Joanna, I love your blog and I am so glad you are going to Austin! I lived there for 4 years and now live in NYC, but I miss it very much! I know your friends will probably take you around, but here are my not to miss things:

-Torchy's Tacos (amazing tacos!!!)
-Clive or Opal Divine (two cute bars both on the same street, also populated with awesome food carts)
-Odd Duck / Barley Swine (amazing food, the first a truck and the second a restauraunt
-Hopdoddy (great place for fancy but affordable burgers if you are wandering around SoCo
-Rent bikes and ride across the congress bridge.

Also, My friends and I have a whole Pinboard on Pinterest of awesome stuff to do in Austin:

I could go on, but you'll only be there for a weekend. Please say hi to the city for me!

Anonymous said...

If you are staying at a hotel, the Hotel St Cecilia is a must!! It's not cheap, but fabulous....and not in a Ritz Carlton sort of way. If you google it, I am sure you will find the many local blog postings about the hotel.

Ladies Holiday said...

The Bats Under the Bridge at the dusk...pretty spectacular I hear.

K said...

Gourdoughs and Hamilton pool (another spring)

Barchbo said...

I live in Austin and have an 18 month old. Here are HIS fave places:

Whole Foods: Huge, busy, free banana.

Zilker Park: We pick up some trailer food (our son likes Hill Country Pierogies best these days), spread a blanket, bring a frisbee and follow it up with a walk around the lake.

South Congress Avenue: He loves eating at Guero's or Homeslice, splitting a sno-cone and people watching. The outdoor vendors are always friendly.

He also suggests checking out Elizabeth St. Cafe and El Alma for adult food + accommodate kids!

Have fun! I think you are due for some great weather.

rachelb said...

My husband dreams of going to Austin just for the Alamo drafthouse... it sounds pretty awesome so if y'all are into movies even kind of, you should go!

Gretchen Alice said...

Oh man, you're going to have so much fun. I moved to Austin about a year ago and I've loved it so much. You've picked the perfect time of year to visit, too. All of our wildflowers are in bloom.

To Eat: Our food trucks are incredible--check out Torchy's Tacos, Gordough's and The Jalopy. If you want something nicer, I hear the sushi at Uchi is fantastic. For good tex-mex, you can't beat Chuy's and--bonus--it's right by Barton Springs.

To Do: In addition to the springs, you could also try kayaking further down the river. It's way fun and very relaxing. Toby might like the Zilker Zephyr--it's a train ride around Zilker Park, which is where they host ACL.

To Shop: You must check out Book People, Waterloo Records, the flagship Whole Foods, and Amy's Ice Cream. Best of all, these are all within a block of each other!

There's so much more to do here, but that should keep you busy for a few days. Can't wait to hear about it!


YAY for a trip to AUSTIN! It seriously does live up to all the hype - I just moved here a few months ago and love it. Ditto all the above comments! If your looking for a vintage guide - someone referenced me to www.vintage and it's been a little gem of mine!

Anonymous said...

You MUST see the BATS!!

Congress street bridge is home to tons of bats which will come out at night. Go there at sunset (the darker end of sunset) totally worth the wait.

Enjoy the trip!!

k. said...

I used to live there before moving to NYC and absolutely loved it. Here are my quick weekend tips:

MUST see a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse Theater (preferably on South Lamar or downtown). Eat, drink and watch a movie!

Best Lunch: IronWorks BBQ on Red River - cheap, delicious, and they play old soul & funk music in the restaurant.

Best Shopping: BookPeople on Lamar Blvd, or any of the boutiques on South Congress.

Best Coffee: Dominican Joe's on Riverside Ave. Profits go to support orphanages and the people/coffee are great!

So much to do, so little time. Enjoy!

sarah e. said...

Welcome, welcome! The weather has been kind of crazy lately per our usual so I'll cross my fingers we don't have anymore storms when you're here. Barton Springs is great but prepare yourself to see it all (not sure how you feel about topless women + Toby.) They're not as convenient and maybe not suited for a weekend trip but Hamilton Pool and Krause Springs are some of my favorite swimming spots aside from the Greenbelt. You'll also be right by Zilker Park (home of ACL Festival), the Botanical Gardens and the Umlauf Sculpture Garden. We have lots of great art museums as well including one for children and Arthouse which is worth visiting just to see the building.

We have been inundated with food trailers lately and most of them are really good! There are several 'trailer park's around town - some of my favorite spots are Torchy's, Odd Duck, Gordough's and Chilantro. I also think you would love S. Congress (SoCo0. It's a perfect spot for all kinds of shopping and people watching and of course more food! You can also rent kayaks or paddle boats on Ladybird Lake which offers a great view of downtown. You'll also be here during Austin Restaurant Week where all of the restaurants involved offer a special prix fixe menu. I'm not sure if Easy Tiger is participating but it recently opened as is owned by one of the Top Chef contestants. Speaking of Top Chef, Uchi/Uchiko is a must.

And no trip to Texas is complete without BBQ. If you can make the trip Salt Lick is the best of the best (also lots of wineries out that way), but right near Barton Springs is Green Mesquite (my personal fav). Stubb's is decent but their sauce is better than any of their actual BBQ.

Fair warning, if you have any allergies at all they will be BAD this time of year. I know people who have never had serious allergy issues before that come to Austin and it practically floors them.

Hope you enjoy your time here! Oh! and definitely take Toby to Toy Joy!

Maggie said...

I have lived here for about 5 years now, and Justine's for dinner is the best kept secret. Also Papi Tino's is terribly romantic on warm evenings.
Let me know if you need a sitter while you're here, I have references. :)

Michelle said...

I did my undergrad at UT which is really the heart of Austin. If you want to see the university and walk around "the Drag", try the best breakfast place ever at Kerbey Lane. Make sure that someone orders the pancake of the day!

Jenn said...

Yay! Oh, how exciting. You're going to love Austin! Everyone is so friendly and laid back. Plus, the weather has been sunny and beautiful (I went last weekend for SXSW).

To start, here's a hilarious "Shit Austinites Say" video:

It's true, people in Austin LOVE their tacos. Do yourself a favor and relish in the heaven known as Torchy's Tacos or Taco Deli. You will see the light! :)

If you're feeling fancy, check out Uchi for an unforgettable sushi dinner.

There's also (clothing optional) Hippie Hollow Park for a quick dip in Lake Travis.

Finally, if you're feeling daring (and you have a baby sitter) - Check out Baby Acapulco's for their "Purple Margaritas". They're so strong, they have a limit of 2 on these!

Hope you have an amazing time! Safe travels! said...

I second Uncle Billy's. My friends brews the beer and it is UH-AMAZING!

I also second Odd Duck Food Truck - the chef was just nominated for a James Beard award.

I would add El Gallo on S. Congress for Mexican - a legitimate legend.

The State Capitol is as beautiful as anything else, and easily accessible to many other things.

And as a TexasEx, you must walk around UT's campus - especially The Tower.

Have fun!

Liz said...

Austin Kula Yoga, my cousin Meg owns it. They also have kiddo classes.

Franklin BBQ, get in line early.

Uncommon Objects...the best!

PNew said...

Immaculate Infatuation just posted an eating out guide to Austin written by Paul Qui, the latest winner of Top Chef (including his own noteworthy restaurant) Check it out!

Would love a report back on your trip!

Surleen said...

Brunch at the Driskill Hotel is divine and the hotel itself is so lovely.

The entire city has such a great energy, you should see lots of gorgeous street style. And everyone was wonderful when I went.

Enjoy your trip and make sure to pack the sunscreen. Texas sun is no joke :)

Mary said...

You are going to have the most amazing time here in Austin! I live here and would suggest Alamo Drafthouse, Izzoz's Tacos, South Congress Cafe, a day walking around town lake and even renting a canoe or kayak. Hope you have an amazing visit, but remember Austin is super casual!

ps - a great way to see the city is on bike, and i know you like bike riding!

suzanne said...

Hi, Joanna,

I live in Austin (as I'm sure many of your readers do!). Fun/easy children's stuff to do: walk around Town Lake or rent canoes (we've taken our toddler without too much stress!); yummy restaurants: the Texas Top Chef winner's restaurant Uchiko; Chez Nous downtown for lovely French food; coffee at Jo's on South Congress (and people watching!) or at Cafe Medici (near Congress and 2nd near the W Hotel); shopping on SoCo or 2nd street district; drinks at the Four Seasons bar (or breakfast); the back of the Four Seasons near Town Lake is the most beautiful spot in town and open to the public, not just hotel guests; a little further north there is a grocery store (Central Market) that is great for families: dine on the patio, let the kids play on the playground, and often there are bands and music to enjoy. Have fun! Hope to see you around town! Love your blog!! -- Suzanne

Kate said...

You should probably buy Toby a pair of baby cowboy boots at Allens Boots on S. Congress. You've never seen so many shoes in your life. There was a pair that had real rattlesnake heads on the toe point, like hood ornaments!

Go walk around the Driskill, a hotel that was built in the 1880's. You feel like you've just stepped back to the days of cattle drives and gunfights. My boyfriend and I walked around the whole place and nobody stopped us. It is SO cool, and some of the balconys have neat views of downtown Austin.

Also - maybe look this up - there are a few buildings in Austin that, when looked at from a certain angle, definitely turn into owl faces. I know one of them is the Frost Bank Tower, but I think there might be one more. Neat little architectural trick.

iris said...

Oh man. I'm betting Barton Springs charges, like, $20 admission. At least that's what Glenwood springs in Colorado does. might be able to find an unpublicized spring somewhere nearby...

lori said...

I'm an 8th generation Texan (and soon to be grandmother of a 10th generation Texan) and I'm from Austin (live in NYC right now). Everything everyone has said is right on, but the truth is it's all so good. You can't turn around without running into live music and good food. It's a family town, and the people are so friendly you won't believe it. Have fun!!

Marie said...

Everyone has had great suggestions so far. I second checking out the capital building (not a boring tour at all, and it's free), taking a ride on the zilker zephyr, seeing the bats, exploring South Congress, and seeing a movie at Alamo Drafthouse.

Don't forget to check out some of Austin's amazing food trailers - my favorite trailer park is the East Side Drive In. I highly recommend the East Side Show Room or country dancing at The Broken Spoke (the only place in Austin that will remind you that you're in Texas) for an fun night out. A nice little trip might be to take the metro rail to crestview station, and grab a bite to eat at Black Star Coop and Brewery.

I've lived in NYC, San Francisco, Maui and currently reside in Austin. I can't imagine ever moving again - I love it here so much. Have fun!

Anonymous said...

Def take Toby to the Austin Children's Museum on 2nd (great shopping there too & the W Hotel). As with everyone else, can't recommend Torchy's Tacos enough, I'm obsessed with the fried avocado taco. Walton's Fancy & Staple is a cute little deli/pastry shop that looks like an old dry good store (I think Sandra Bullock owns). Frank's Hot Dogs. Kung Fu IS super fun (vintage arcade, free ski ball and giant jenga). Hopdoddy Burger Bar is great!

megan said...

This could not be more timely! We're going to be there in April for a wedding! I've never been and am so psyched!

Anonymous said...

I live in Austin! Definitely check out South Congress and the food trucks: Fry Baby is one of my favorites. Gourdoughs is also INCREDIBLE huge donuts piled with whatever toppings you want and is seriously addicting... It's located near 1st I believe? As for Barton Springs, it's definitely gorgeous but sooo cold. I couldn't bring myself to get in the water. If you want a gorgeous swimming experience I highly recommend Hamilton Pools. Indescribably beauty and nice and warm water ;)

p.s The County BBQ and it is delcious!! Rudy's is another Texas BBQ place that never fails.

Ashley S. said...

Austin is such a great city. My brother has lived there for over 10 years - so I've gone to visit him many times. Definitely do Barton Springs (early morning is a good time to go). Shopping on South Congress (Jo's for coffee - people watching). Also love Once Over too for coffee/warm beverage. And check out Alamo Drafthouse! love it there - they have the best fried pickles and milkshakes (which I enjoyed thoroughly when pregnant and visiting).

Kate said...

Joanna, definitely head down to the Congress Street bridge for the nightly gathering to watch the bats fly out -- a bit kitchy but I'm sure Toby will love it. The original Whole Foods is wild! The March issue (or maybe it was February) of Martha Stewart Living had a fabulous East Austin guide that I want to check out next time we go.

deb said...

I live here too. It's a fantastic time to visit! I would add to your list: Enoteca or Vespaio for kick-ass Italian food. They are my favorite restaurants of all time.

Uchi is supposed to be amazing for sushi. I've not yet been there (expensive) but the chef is kinda famous.

If you want barbeque, I would def try to take a drive out to Luling or Lockhart. The bluebonnets will be stellar and you will get authentic barbeque in a real Texas setting. Think: Big red soda and ribs on a slab of newsprint. Luling is amazing. Just google Luling the town and you will find barbeque.
Barton springs does NOT charge 20 bucks. It's about a 4 dollar entry fee. Totally worth it. But it is COLD. The train in Zilker is also a must see. So cute. Toby will love it.

Uncommon Objects should not be missed. South Congress is amazing.

And if Alejandro Escovedo is playing at the Continental club, you should check it out.

Also, Hotel San Jose is a beautiful spot to have a glass of wine. You don't have to stay there to drink a glass of red in their garden.

And finally, if you want to stop by my little garden for a drink, shoot me an email! The poppies are about to go nuts!!

have fun. Austin is a lovely lovely place, and so are you. Good match.


Anonymous said...

Mozarts for coffee- right on the water.
Book People-great selection of independent books near Whole Foods (could also walk to Childrens Museum)
Alamo has baby day on Tues. -can time it for nap time if decide to go during week
Country Line-for BBQ
AMOA- has a fun outdoor putting golf exhibit until May 20. Toby can walk around and on the way there is a park that has peacocks.
Check online to see what music is playing when you go, so many time we have done things on the spur of the moment and have had so much fun. Places are pretty kid friendly.
So many great places to eat! Taco Deli is better IMO then Torchys. But you have to try Torchys at least once. Also on top of Whole Foods Downtown there is a playground for Toby

Abbie Feller said...

Definitely check out Uncommon Goods on South Congress! Make sure to check out all the stores and food trailers on South Congress. Be sure to roam down 6th street (just watch what time of day it is.)

Michele said...

How funny! My bestfriend who lives in Austin and I who live in Paris are coming to NYC this weekend for a mummy's weekend away. I was just checking for the number to the Dry Bar you recommended ages ago. (It sounds perfect for our all about us weekend.) Sometimes reading your posts I have to remind myself, wait you're a stranger and not an old friend... I'm sure it's what keeps me reading your blog! :)

Barton Springs is amazing but be prepared the water is FREEZING! It's great for hot Austin summers but you may just be dipping your toes in the water in April. We took our girls on the little train that goes around the park and they loved it. My daughter sang, cho-cho le petit train! cho-cho le petit train! the whole time.

Bugsy said...

I live in Austin, even if you are staying with friends I'd check out the Hotel San Jose on South Congress and the Hotel Saint Cecilia they have the same owner and are beautiful hotels. They also have a place out in Marfa. I think everyone has mentioned South Congress haha, the food trailers are awesome and snack bar is nice for sitting outside and having a drink. You should see a local band while you're here too! Maryann & The Revival Band is a lot of fun! Enjoy your trip!

M said...

Toby would LOVE Amy's Ice Cream!

Yay for Mama Jo coming to the big TX!!! It's warm down here, be prepared :)

deb said...

Oh! I almost forgot! Go to Heritage Boots on South Congress! Tell Jerry Deb and Charles said howdy. They have hand-tooled boots that are ten times better than anything else you will find. Avoid Justin's and that other junk. Go to Heritage for boots.

also right next door is Blackmail, owned by Gail Chavin who is an amazing clothing designer/person. Her boutique is pretty special.

RawketStarling said...

I LOVE LOVE living her in Austin! I'm sure many have already posted these, but I'm going to add my two cents anyway :)
--Alamo Drafthouse. The Ritz (downtown one) is super cool, but there's a new location on Slaughter that is AHMAYZING.
--Waterloo records--if you're a music lover. An incredible vinyl selection!
--Shopping on South Congress, south of the lake
--Jo's coffee, on second. It's fantastic!

Just a few of my favorites!

Sonia said...

National Geographic's blog, Intelligent Travel has a series called I Heart My City and this week's post focuses on Austin!!! It is written by a native of Austin with their recommendations on what you should not miss in their city. Check it out.

Enjoy your time there. It's an awesome city!

Heather said...

I am so excited you're coming to Austin - maybe its because I might be moving away this year, but I find myself more and more in love with this city. This is not a remotely comprehensive list, but it will get you started - I tried to keep the focus in the immediate realm of downtown since I wasn't sure where you'd be staying. My husband I live a couple blocks from Whole Foods and find plenty of things to keep us busy in the area. I definitely recommend using Yelp as it is still my main source for whether or not a place is worth a trip and also just google mapping all of the places you're considering so you can get a good idea of where things are in the city. A lot of the good areas in town are - East Sixth, East 11th, South 1st, South Congress, West Sixth/Lamar, South Lamar, 2nd Street District

Here we go:

Shops: Take Heart (A great collection of pottery/textiles and other home goods), Schatzelein (Beautiful Jewelry), JM Dry Goods (originally in Marfa - they source handmade textiles from Mexico), Book People (the greatest independent book store), Waterloo Records, Spartan, Uncommon Objects

Activities: Lady Bird Lake (Kayaking on it/walking along the trail), Movie at Alamo Drafthouse (if you can sneak away without Toby as they typically don't allow kids), Barton Springs, Picnic on the Capitol Lawn (its the best grass in town), Mount. Bonnell just to see the hills/views of Austin

Treats: La Boite (coffee/french pastries/macarons in an old storage container), Mozart's (Coffee/Dessert on Lake Austin - but right off of downtown), Gourdoughs (Donuts!), Sugar Mama's Bakeshop (cupcakes - try the Odd Couple), Patika Coffee

Food: Izzoz Trailer (the masses may flock to Torchy's for Tacos, but theirs are much much better and just one block down - try the garlic fries), Justine's (great French food and atmosphere - try the Pork Chop), Enoteca (Italian food - get the suppli which are fried risotto balls - you won't regret it), Blue Dahlia (French again - I really like it for brunch or happy hour), House Pizzeria (potatoes on your pizza!) or East Side Pies or Salvation (we have a lot of great pizza here), Odd Duck is unfortunately closed right now, but you can try their restaurant Barley Swine, Hillside Farmacy (eatery/grocery on East Side), Whole Foods, Hopdoddy's, Dock and Roll Diner Trailer (Lobster Rolls and Jalepeno Mac and Cheese Poppers!)

Farmer's Markets - Saturday: 4th and Guadalupe - try the breakfast at Dai Due, Friday/Sunday - Hope Market on the East Side (Both great for people watching)

Anonymous said...

DON'T GO TO THE ZOO! Last time I was there it was a very pathetic sight to behold

Emily said...

I just moved to Austin (going to UT!) and am having so much FUN discovering the city.

Go to Mount Bonnell at night or sunset for a beautiful view of the city and surrounding hill country. Also Foodheads on 34th street is by far my favorite lunchtime restaurant. They have the most delicious sandwiches, salads, and ice tea!
Also, go see a film and get delicious drinks/meals delivered to your seat at the tiny movie theaters. I recommend the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz or the Violet Crown Cinema on 2nd street

Stephanie McPeak said...

Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill - go for BRUNCH!!! Best Southern food in TX!

communikate. said...

I loved visiting Austin!

My favorite was Shaddy Grove. It's a quirky restaurant with great outdoor seating.

Try a Kalache (Czech pastery) and check out South Congress. Hey Cupcake has darling cupcakes from a aerostream trailer.

Sally said...

I was just in Austin for SXSW and had a great time!

I recommend Frank's - their tagline is purveyors of fine artisan sausage, but they had a veg/vegan/gluten-free menu too so tons of options. They also have some of the best coffee in Austin, from Handsome Coffee in LA.

Peche is a fun cocktail bar - beautiful interiors and unique drinks.

Chil'antro food truck on 2nd and Congress is awesome - tofu kimchi fries.

Bethany Poller said...

My restaurant votes are for Trudy's, Kerbey Lane and Alamo Drafthouse. And you HAVE to visit South Congress: food trucks, antique shops, and craft vendors, all with a very hipster vibe. I'll be there on the weekend of the 31st, so if I see you, I'm totally running up to you to say hi. Just a warning.

Heather said...

I couldn't help myself and have to add three more places:

Perla's for seafood/sides and outdoor people watching on South Congress, Fabi+Rosi if you get to have a dinner alone, and Food Heads (my husband's favorite food is sandwiches and they have the absolute best)

ChristaLouWho said...

Hi Jo - I've been in Austin for 8 years, and I'm still finding new things to explore! Feel free to ping me if you have any questions.

I second the South Congress adventure, there's so much to do/see/eat/buy in just a few blocks, and totally kid-friendly. I highly recommend Hopdoddy for burgers, and Big Top Candy Shop for old-fashioned ice cream sodas and any kind of candy you could imagine.

The Drafthouse is a must, but they don't allow kiddos under 3 except on Baby Days (every Tuesday!).

Austin Children's Museum, The Wildflower Center, Book People, House Wine, 24 Diner, Sugar Mama's (best cupcakes in town!), Gourdoughs, Broken Spoke (if you want to experience Texas two-step) and Zilker Park - of which Barton Springs is a part. Warning though: despite our lovely (albeit unpredictable) temperatures right now, the springs are C-C-C-COLD.

Kelly Rae said...

I was born and raised in Austin. Lots of people mentioned some great spots but it really depends on where you are staying. I'm just going to mention my favorites:

South Congress has been mentioned and it's a lot of fun-just to look at all the pretty people. cute shops like Monkey See Monkey do, Big Top Candy shop (snow cones, candy and old style fountain drinks), jo's coffee shop (for people watching)

Amy's ice cream-most of them have photo booths! the one on south congress doesn't have one. Sometimes they are sadly out of order.

Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse off South first -vegetarian restaurant and my favorite eatery in Austin.

Whole foods flagship can be chaotic so beware.

I would recommend Taco Deli for lunch time tacos. Torchy's isn't my favorite taco place in Austin but there is tons of hype surrounding it.

TexMex-Polvos off south first but it gets insanely crowded. They have pitcher margaritas so the place gets full and no one ever leaves.

Quack's 43rd bakery in hyde park (they have cookies with seasonal shapes) there espresso is quite good

Daily Juice in hyde park or barton springs road

Elisabet Ney museum in Hyde Park (it's like a little castle)
Arthouse (Contemporary art)
Texas Memorial Museum (natural science)
Austin Museum of Art
Umlauf Sculpture garden

Zilker Botanical Gardens (it connects to the dinosaur/animal rescue too).

Ruthann said...

Awesome! I have always wanted to go to Austin! Coincidentally, I just came across this great travel article on Austin:

Have a wonderful trip!

Sara said...

Love Austin! You will have a fabulous time! Can't go wrong with anything!

The LD said...

I live and love in Austin.

BBQ: Mueller, Franklin
Music: Beerland, Mohawk, Emos, Stubbs (no Toby)
Shopping: Uncommon Objects, Blue Hanger (Goodwill outlet at $1.39/pound)
Tex Mex: Polvo's, Tamale House (Definitely skip Guero's and Chuy's)
People Watching: South Congress, 6th Street, Manor, UT Drag
Happy Hour: Contigo, Hillside Farmacy, The Tigress
Coffee: Medici, Thunderbird
Outdoors: Greenbelt, Barton Springs, Zilker Botanical Gardens and Wildlife Center (free!)

Anne said...

I'm so glad you're visiting my city! I've only been hear for a little over a year, but it is fabulous.

Here are my quick must-do's:
- South Congress Cafe
- Alamo Drafthouse (the South Lamar location or the Ritz)
- Hike the Greenbelt or paddle on Ladybird Lake
- Eat at lots of food trucks (Izzoz & Flip Happy Crepes are my picks)
- Eat or drink al fresco downtown and do lots of people watching!

the obsessive imagist said...

That's crazy; I am headed to Austin (from my home in NYC) the last weekend in March too. I can't wait! I will have to compare notes once we all return.

C.R.A.F.T. said...

I went to school at the University of Texas and lived there until 2 months ago... I miss that city. a lot. If you like burgers check out Hopdoddy's and having a drink on south congress in the back of the San Jose hotel is always nice... have a picnic at Mt. Bonell for a pretty view :) Here are 10 other fun things:

jenny said...

I used to live in Austin! Rudy's is my favorite for BBQ, Trudy's for TexMex (and a Mexmart with Patron!), Torchy's for awesome tacos, Hey Cupcake for awesome cupcakes (24 Carrot is my favorite). Mount Bonnell is a great place we used to take friends who came to visit because you can see lots of the pretty scenery. Alamo Drafthouse Ritz is a great place to watch a movie (and eat dinner at the same time).

There are lots of great places to visit and I'm sure it's all going to be covered in the comments. :)

[emt] said...

I had my first visit to Austin last week. I was sans toddler, but I'd recommend...

Easy Tiger
part bakery, party beer garden,all good
the house-made pretzels were great and I'd recommend building a snack plate with mustard, salted butter and a couple of cheeses.

Annie's Cafe & Bar
brunch or lunch
the personal bellini was delightful
[there was a boutique next door called The Dress Shop, worth strolling through]

Patika Coffee
good coffee from a trailer

The Driskill Hotel
cool building. good cocktails.

Sarah O'Brien said...

I've always wanted to go to Austin, looking at these pictures of this sweet pool makes me want to go oh so bad.

Elizabeth said...

Hi Joanna,

Austin is such a great city! I am a little late in responding so I apologize if there is some repetition.
Some Austin Favorites:

South Congress Street:
-South Congress Cafe for Brunch is a must. Amazing tex mexy brunch food.
-Home Slice for pizza
-Hopdoddy for Burgers
-Feathers for vintage shopping

2nd Street District:
We took our nephew to the Austin Children's museum and he loved it.
Joes for coffee
La Condessa for a nicer Mexican cuisine

East Side:
Blue Dahlia for lunch, french cuisine I think you will love it there.

Gourdoughs Doughnuts
Amazing. We also took our nephew there and he was in heaven.

Spartan Home is a great home shop.

Hope this helps and enjoy the trip. Love reading your blog.


Yossy | apt2bbakingco said...

Have a drink at Hotel San Jose or better yet, stay there!
Then check out The Broken Spoke for some two-steppin'. They have free dance lessons on Thursdays (I think)!

Julie and Luke said...

Okay, I'm from Austin and everybody has had great comments. Here are some extras (you may have already heard these).

1. Amy's Ice Cream -- this is a must, ESPECIALLY with a toddler. Very funky and fun, and they mix in toppings as you watch. Hippies at their best:)

2. Toy Joy -- Down the street from one of the Amy's Ice Cream locations is Toy Joy - a funky little place on 29th and Guadalupe. Also very fun with a toddler! Tons of fun little toys and people watching is fantastic.

3. Barton Springs -- duh! This is an Austin original.

4. South Congress -- Walk through all the fun shops and try out the treats at the silver food trucks. (this is close to Barton Springs)

5. Lake Austin / Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail -- Really pretty walking / biking trail around Lake Austin. "Sup" (surf paddle) if you want or kayak! ** If you do this and park near the MoPac entrance, try and sneak in a "Daily Juice" Smoothie - unbelievable - best I've ever had anywhere and it's right next to the trail. Another option for hiking is the Greenbelt - a little more "extreme" but fun and interesting characters all throughout ;)

6. Breakfast / Brunch -- Second Bar and Kitchen is SO good, Swedish Hill is good, Mozarts on Lake Austin is a good time.

7. Lunch options -- Taco Deli, Torchy's Taco, Perla's on South Congress, so many really...

8. Dinner -- Lambert's Uptown Barbecue is great, you really can't go wrong anywhere :)

9. Dessert -- I have heard there is a dessert at the W Hotel downtown that is unbelievable.

10. Have fun! You can't go wrong in Austin! So jealous you'll be there, and make sure you get a tie-dye "Keep Austin Weird" shirt for Toby. Let us know how it goes!

aleta said...

It's a *cold* for 100* weather, imho, but if you're from colder climes, it may not be so bad. :)

Best food in Austin, espcially for the money, is Foreign & Domestic, just outside Hyde Park. You will not regret it.

If you like bicycling, and want to do the really local thing, check out Social Cycling Austin. They do a bike ride every day of the week. Like 'em on facebook and they'll send you invites for all the rides:

If you're there for a weekend, I highly recommend the Saturday Morning Caffeine Cruise for a vigorous workout, or Sunday evening's Bike Curious ride, which is slow paced with frequent stops for photos. It's intended for newer Austinites, but out of towners are always welcome! They generally will explore parts of the city with a theme, such as graffiti art or landmarks.

If you're there on Thursday night, well, the Thursday Night Social Ride (tnsr) is the best-attended ride with several hundred riders every week. Expect stops for beer and ending at a bar for dancing and hanging. Everyone is super friendly. It's like a flash mob for bicyclists!

You can rent a bike for $25 a day with delivery from one of these guys. They're pretty cool:

Whatever you do, try some queso, a margarita and a breakfast taco, and enjoy!! xoxo

Laura said...

So many great recommendations!

Torchy's Tacos is one I'd recommend for sure.

For a weekend brunch, try Taverna (although, just know, the servers always seem WAY laid back and slow). Jo's Coffee on 2nd is also excellent.

South Congress is something you should definitely do, and I like Uncommon Objects, but I'd also really recommend shopping at Mercury Design Studio.

Carolyn said...

Jo! I'm a student at University of Texas and let me tell you, Austin lives up to the raves. It's an AMAZING city with beautiful weather, friendly people, and great food. Some recommendations:

Eat great Mexican food, queso and margaritas included (Matt's El Rancho, Julio's, Vevo, Chuy's)

Visit a food trailer on South Congress, afterwards walk around and check out the quirky thrift stores

Have a picnic on Mount Bonnell (a bit of a hike up but well worth the view of the lake)

See the bats under the South Congress Bridge

Eat a sno cone at Sno Beach

Go kayaking or stand up paddleboarding on Town Lake

Eat at Central Market on Lamar - You can enjoy dinner and a bottle of wine on their beautiful outdoor patio with live music and occasional events for children. You could also visit the original Whole Foods, which has a great patio upstairs

For Toby - the Austin Children's Museum is great, and I believe you'll be coming during the Garden Festival at Zilker Park, where he can build a birdhouse and make a dinosaur mask!

There's SO many things to do, I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time :)

Hilary said...

Hi Joanna! You & your family will love Austin! I've lived here for a dozen years & I love it more everyday. Enjoy your visit!

All of the recommendations thus far have been fantastic. You really can't go wrong.

Bottom line...grab a taco & some BBQ; enjoy some live music; hit up one of the many food trucks; try some of the local brews; visit the beautiful parks & pools; and enjoy everything that makes Austin so unique! Have fun :)

Aissa said...

I was just in Austin about a month ago, and I fall in love with it every time! Here are a few posts on our trip last Labor Day weekend ( and
We did go to Barton Springs but it was way crowded and cold! Good luck! Try Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood. This past trip down there, I went to South Congress for the first time and loved it. Awesome vintage finds, and food trucks! Hope you and your cute family have a blast! Can't wait to see your post when you get back!

Amy Plummer said...

Joanna! Welcome to our fabulous city! I absolutely LOVE living here. We moved here from San Francisco 5 years ago & are still discovering so many great things to do. Definitely go to Barton Springs. Toby will love the playground adjacent to the springs (there's a cool fire truck to climb on.) Stroll South Congress for fun shopping (Allen's Boots, Uncommon Objects, Kendra Scott...Eat tacos (I love Torchy's & Maria's, but there are taco joints everywhere.)You've got to get out to some live music. It's a must in this music loving town. If you give me your dates, I would be happy to make some recommendations. Laguna Gloria is an unconventional art museum on the shores of Lake Austin. The grounds are beautiful & the current exhibit is a miniature golf installation. Toby will love it here too. Nearly everything is very family friendly. However, I recommend getting a babysitter for one night for music & grown up fun. I'm sure your friends have babysitter recs, but if not, I would be happy to provide some. I'm a local mom with some good ones! Enjoy! You're going to love it. I can't wait to see the pics!

Anonymous said...

Two words. Food Trucks! Seriously, you don't even really need to bother with restaurants. The best, freshest, most creative food is happening in the trucks. Use @austinfoodtruck to keep track of their locations. And there is even an iphone app to help you find them

I recommend Koreanos!

sip-n-wear said...

We're going to austin nect week! 3hr road trip with a one yr old... I can't tell if I'm excited... :P

Tragic Sandwich said...

I haven't lived in Austin for 13 years, so most of my advice is sadly out of date. With that in mind, Austin is a great food town. There are lots of excellent restaurant options. Eat BBQ. Eat Mexican food. But stay away from Chuy's.

Andie said...

I'll go ahead and second Foreign and Domestic. It's amazing.

Alamo Drafthouse movie theater is one of my favorite parts of the city, but I think they're 18+ so not that kid friendly. They play regular movies as well as old ones, host movie singalongs, girly night with cute animal youtube videos and chick flicks, themed food (Harry Potter butterbeer? yes!) and sometimes have off location events like Jaws on a projector screen while you float on a lake. The food and beer are great.

Have fun!

Tragic Sandwich said...

And go for a drive in the Hill Country. The bluebonnets (and possibly other wildflowers, depending on how early the season started this year) should be gorgeous while you're there.

Ashley said...

Ooh, I love Austin. Barton Springs is beautiful. Make sure you check out the Japanese Gardens nearby there! We heard the Salt Lick was incredible bbq, though we never got to go. Also, watching the bats under So. Congress bridge is a real treat!

Ashley said...

Oh, and P.S. The Highball bowling alley is BEAUTIFUL. Very vintage inspired, and great food!

Laura said...

Ok, one more recommendation, and then I'll stop:

For classic American Men's style, check out Stag. It's seriously amazing and I know you and your husband will love it!

Mrs. Coach said...

Barton springs is great, but COLD. So be prepared.

The Austin children's museum is amazing. Growing up I think we went hundreds of times, it's one of the best kids museums I've ever been in.

You must go to Kerby Lane and get the Kerby Queso (and drink a Shiner if you fancy). It's an Austin establishment. If they have the tomato pie, order it!!!! They sell out some times.

Also Magnolia Cafe is worth every second of the wait! Also a locals place.

Go to Mozarts for coffee and the best deserts of your life, you can sit right on the water. Tons of room for Toby to run around and see the lake. Usually also live music.

Toby would love The Arboretum up in north Austin. There is a park area with a trail to see ducks, but the best are these LIFE SIZED stone cows. Get some Amy's ice cream next door, and go eat it sitting on the cows. Also a locals thing...

Zilker park is cool, huge, and neat to see. But I am a bigger fan of the cows. I spent too many years of my adolescence climbing those things with I've cream in hand. Austin is one of the coolest cities I've lived in, enjoy it!!! But those are the things I do when we go home, the things locals love and return to time after time.

AltaAnn said...

I've lived in Austin for almost 5 years and its awesome.
Torchy's Tacos is a MUST.
The Mighty Cone Trailer is also divine.
The hike (its like 80 stairs) up Mount Bonnell gives some amazing views of the city and Lady Bird Lake.
For a nicer dinner I would suggest Uchiko (the head chef just won Top Chef and we are very very proud)
South Congress is fun, but the shops might be a bit tough with a big stroller.
I also love just wondering the UT campus, its big and full of wonderful trees and there is something very Texan about it but still very Austin.
OH and make sure you have breakfast tacos at least one morning you're here, you will not regret it!
Have so much fun, can't wait to read about your trip!

Anonymous said...

love my home!

places to see:
barton springs
mt. bonnell
360 bridge

places to shop:
the domain (its an outdoor mall. not that special, but still!)
south congress
just everywhere!!!!

places to eat:
sushi - UCHI. paul qui just won top chef: texas!!
torchy's tacos
chuy's/hula hut
county line bbq
360 uno's pizza

those are the pretty big main ones.
if you want local special places you can literally ask anyone who looks like they live there.
we are ALL nice and ALL love to help. esp. love to help others love our home

HAVE FUN and say hi to toby please!

also, ily.

Shelby @ Lady Gouda said...

Wow, you are in for a great time. So many people have given you great tips here, but I will definitely second Torchy's Tacos (we really loved the truck in the lot off South 1st Street, so charming and has a great tree-covered picnic area), but I will also recommend exploring wine country in the Texas Hills south of Austin. We fell in love!

Here is a link to my run-down of a recent trip with a group of friends. It was our first time, and we LOVED it.


Heather said...

Three words: Amy's Ice Cream ... take Toby and order the Mexican Vanilla. A-maaaazing!


Monica said...

I live in Austin and it's awesome.

I tell people coming to visit to do the following:

1. the springs

2. at least one of these food trucks: ChiLantro - Korean BBQ- or East Side King (Asian Fusion)

3. watching the bats at sunset on Congress Bridge (aka the "bat bridge")

4. the pedestrian bridge

5. walk around S. Congress (lots of cute shops and places to eat)

6. visit the Whole Foods headquarters

7. 6th street on a thurs, fri or sat night past midnight (this is for the spectacle)

Jill said...

Just did a trip in February - and posted about it yesterday - too funny.

The Salt Lick was great for BBQ, and for real cowboy boots at trip to Allen's on South Congress is a must!

tiffany said...

we *love* austin.. so many good things to do & see, most that you're sure to come across.. one you might not, Top Notch, it's been around forever, off the beaten path, it's a classic drive up and order from your car (or eat inside) good burgers, fries, o-rings, all the not so good for you but super good tasting food.. it was in the movie dazed & confused (if you've seen the movie you'll remember it) anyway, it's a fun nostalgic stop...

tiffany said...

p.s. one more place (that you'd probably see but just in case..) if you like to vintage shop at all, try Cream Vintage on So. Congress...

Ginger McCool said...

I lived in Austin while in high school and then travelled back & forth while I was at college on the east coast. Although I haven't been back for almost two years now, I still get cravings for Snow Beach on the regular. Its a little ice cone truck at Barton Springs Blvd & Lamar (or so it was when I was there last.) The "mud" queso dip at Magnolia cafe is AMAZING. Also, prepare to get addicted to breakfast tacos. My family used to get them from a gas station/BBQ chain called Rudy's. But every place has them.

Danie at Pasadya said...

How fun!!

I live in San Antonio, so I haven't had the chance yet to really be in Austin and look around for a long enough time.

Don't know if anyone said this already, but if you love paninis, you HAVE to go to this italian wood grilled panini place where they make the sandwiches fresh and serve it to you out of a small trailer. I forgot the name of it, but it's about a block down from West Elm on 5th st (West Elm is on 5th and Lamar).

They have a great place where you can eat outside...reminds me of the tropics. :)

They charge around $8ish for a panini, but it's the BEST sandwich I've ever had!

Stephanie Sabbe said...

Austin is so on my short list. I'm dying to go the Austin City Limits. Report back!!

sumslay said...

I agree with everything Alex said near the top - south congress, waterloo records, zilker park for the Tobster, and trudy's for Mexican martini (not for the Tobster) are MUSTS. Also, 6th Street is a little young, but it might be worth a stroll - Always good drink specials. OH! And there's a place called Halcyon off of 6th where you can order smores that you make yourself at the table. LOVE. LOOOOOOVE!

Mich said...

For food - the taco trucks downtown are a must and Salt Lick- amazing!

At dusk, everyone gathers under the Congress Bridge to watch thousands of bats leave for the night. It's incredible! Looks like a scene out of Batman.

If you have a date night, I recommend heading to the Broken Spoke. It's a honky tonk bar with live music and line dancing. The older country cowboys taught us a few steps. So fun!

Brittany said...

I have lived in Austin for 7 years and I read about half of the comments. PLEASE avoid the following recommendations, the food is mediocre at best and most are tourist traps:

Iron Cactus--I will be mad if you go there. Z Tejas and Matt's El Ranch are also depressingly mediocre in my book.

Here are my suggestions:
-South Congress (best for food and photo opps!): South Congress Cafe, Home Slice (Guero's only if you're craving tex mex-it's far from the best tex mex in town and is not the best food on SoCo), Hopdoddy burgers are indeed worth the long line. The famous Austin mural is a couple of blocks off SoCo on the 600 block of West Annie

--Deep Eddy is a good alternative to Barton Springs Pool and has a great wading end for small kids, so I second and third this suggestion if you want to lounge around with the family

--Zilker Park (home of Barton Springs pool) has the Zilker Zephyr train people have mentioned before... also, one of my all time favorite things to do in Austin is to cross Barton Springs (the road) to the other side of the park as the pool to the area known as "the great lawn," and have a picnic--the grass is plush and green (thanks, ACL!) and you have a stunning view of the city as the sunsets behind you. SO lovely and so low key and perfect.

--Uchi if you're feeling fancy (it's across the street from the South Lamar Alamo Drafthouse, although really you should just eat dinner at the movies for $100 less! So good!)

--La Condesa and Fonda San Miguel have the best foodie Mexican and you pay for it, but yuummmm! (more interior Mexican) Fonda just named a top restaurant in the country in the last week or two

--Third and fourth Juan in a Million for breakfast, but also suggest Kerbey Cafe (baked potato omlette! french toast!) or Moonshine's brunch as other local breakfast institutions.

--If you consider yourself any kind of foodie at all, you must wait in line starting about 10 am for what was named the best bbq in the country: Franklin's. Take a lawn chair if you have one and BYOB for the wait, though someone comes by selling soda and beer and giving out free samples while you wait. If this doesn't jive with your schedule, Salt Lick is my next bbq suggestion but is a 40 minute drive out. Also BYOB and you could wine taste beforehand down the road at Duchman Family Winery and Driftwood Estates Winery (Salt Lick has a tasting room but meh)

--For the local brewery scene, which I think is a must because it's becoming such a part of Austin's cool culture and because I am biased since it's my go-to Saturday activity, I suggest Hops and Grain, located in a warehouse where E. 6th street ends. It has some of the best local beer (4 nice size samples for free or 4 pints for $10) and, perfect for you, is open every Friday and Saturday afternoons with no RSVP. If you had more time to plan I'd suggest Thirsty Planet, which competes in my book for best beer, but they require reservations a couple (or more) of weeks in advance and are pretty far outside town. Independence Brewery is only open to the public the first Saturday of each month (and has honestly become way too crowded and the beer is not in top tier of Austin beer), and Austin Beerworks is also not open to the public every weekend.

Really I could keep going but I have to get back to work! Have fun in Austin!

13bees said...

we are loving this post for obvious reasons! can't wait for you to have your first austintini on the deck of the hula hut and your first tacodeli breakfast tacos!! xox

Sandra and Chris said...

I just did a Short and Sweet Guide to Austin post this morning!

There's a picture of one of the last remaining moon towers in Austin in the post as well. You should seriously check one out if you have time. They are definitely a unique part of Austin history that you can't see anywhere else. (And an integral part of the plot of Dazed and Confused!) There's an active one on the corner of East Eleventh and Lydia Street on the east side of the city.

Have fun on your trip!

Amy said...

I live in Austin and here are my favorite places. I prefer the east side (east of 35). Hope you check some places out over there:
Lick Ice Cream (just mentioned in NYTimes FrugalTraveler blog)

Food Trailers on East Sixth (try the vegan BLT at Vegan Yacht. Yumm!)

East Side Showroom (steampunk bar with craft cocktails and locally sourced food)

Hillside Farmacy on east 11th (eatery and grocery)

East Side King food trailer behind Liberty Bar (I like this trailer better than the one behind Grackle)

Uchi or Uchiko (chef Paul Qui just won Top Chef Texas)


Paige said...

Even if you stay elsewhere, go to Hotel San Jose for a drink on their patio. It is lovely and cozy. The food trucks on S. Congress are fun and have great reps for delicious food. Lots of quirky shopping on S. Congress(SOCO). Mexican breakfast at Juan in a Million will not dissapoint. Barton Springs is COLD so beware. Amy's Ice Cream is an institution - they also have a photobooth! My college friend Claire has a Facebook blog for her organization called TX M.I.L.K. (Mom's I'd Like to Know) and her site might have some suggestions on things to do with little kids.

Have fun and Keep Austin Weird! xo

Anonymous said...

I live in Austin!! you will loveee it here :)

Go to Polvo's on South First for the best mexican and a lively atmosphere - great frozen margs and great fajitas!

Ashley G. said...

You are going to fall in love with Austin! One thing I always say about Austin is that the locals are SO friendly!

There's so much to see: Barton Springs, Zilker park, lady bird lake, strolling down SoCo (South Congress), etc. Places to eat: La Perla's for seafood, SoCo cafe for brunch, Hopdoddy for a fun burger joint, Justine's for a romantic dinner, and Curra's for authentic tex mex! Also, there is a new joint called Lucy's Fried Chicken that is super delish. The restaurant is very cute and they have awesome sweet tea!

Have fun! Can't wait to see pics ;)

TasteChaser said...

Oh em gee, I want Home Slice and Hopdoddy's right now! I'm from Austin and make it back each year to visit family and get a good Tex-Mex fix. Devour some Torchy's queso and definitely visit South Congress for Home Slice or Hopdoddy and a cool shopping experience.

Paige said...

Also - does anyone know if Sno Beach is open yet? If so, go get a sno-ball! Get the creamsicle! :)!/snobeachatx

Melissa E said...

Barton Springs is incredible! My favorite part of Austin is the food--Chuys for Mexican, Amys for icecream, and the Salt Lick for the most amazing bbq in the world!

Jennifer said...

Let's cut to the chase

Maudie's Tex Mex (so cheap, so good)
South Congress Cafe
Juan in a Million
Alamo Drafthouse (it's where they got the idea for Nitehawk in Williamsburg. But of course Alamo Drafthouse is SO MUCH BETTER)
Google cliff jumping on the greenbelt (if there is water- there are a few different entry areas but if you go with a local, they'll know)
Salt Lick (a little bit of a drive from Austin but worth it)
And I have a very special place in my heart for Taco Cabana! (fast food TexMex)

I hope you have a good time! I have a tattoo of TX with a star on austin on my body... that's how much I love it!

Karaugh said...

Definitely swim in the springs (or the lake!). I was down there for a wedding and the couple rented a party barge on Lake Travis for everyone to enjoy the day after the wedding festivities. It was fantastic and someone from the company commands the boat, so it's completely stress free. Plus it was BYOB!

To mirror everyone else, see the bats. I would recommend being ABOVE them rather than below... We watched from on top of the bridge, and I noticed lots of people on boats directly below. I preferred the bridge so I didn't feel like I was being dusted with guano! haha

Carrie Stephens said...

I live in Austin. I moved here from LA in 2000, and I love it! Definitely come hungry and eat tex mex. I like Santa Rita's and Chuy's. Also, The Salt Lick is unparalleled for BBQ. Go check out the view from Mt Bonnell. It is really fun to climb the steps and see the river from way up there! If you want somewhere to hang out and let your son play while you have a coffee or a snack,I recommend hitting Central Market- its Whole Foodsish. The best boutiques are downtown. Barton Springs will be VERY COLD! Your son probably won't want to touch it, but the experience may be blog worthy! ;) Drive along and enjoy the roadside bluebonnets. Make like a Texan and sit in them for a picture. It's what we do here in the spring!

chopsuey said...

Barton Springs, South everyone says those should be on the top of your list. I also love the Umlaf Sculpture garden (across from Barton Springs), Luster Pearl (if you can go childless for a drink) on the East Side and there's also an amazing ice cream shop on South Lamar - Lick - with incredible flavors, locally sourced ingredients, etc.

Carrie Stephens said...

The bats aren't out much this time of year, unfortunately. We usually go much later. They migrate through Austin and have their babies here. Once the babies are born there are thousands of them. But if you google bat forecast in Austin, you should be able to find out if it's worth it to go.

Valerie said...

You MUST eat at Uchi or Uchiko while you're in Austin and go kayaking (or stand-up paddle boating!) at Town Lake :)

Barbecue is also a must--Rudy's is a great standby or, if you're willing to drive out, The Salt Lick is very popular.

South Congress for people-watching and thrift shopping!

Mount Bonnell is an easy climb and very beautiful. You can buy some breakfast tacos and beer and sit on top of it :)

Dooba said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A said...

Hi, I went to school at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook Em')! You are going to have so much FUN in Austin... I hated that I had to move away! You should check out the campus, the UT Tower and Guadalupe Street (a.k.a. The Drag)!
Definitely get a Mexican Martini @ Trudy's. Someone mentioned the Crown and Anchor - that was one of my favorite places to grab a pint! The County Line has great bar-b-q and a great view! And of course the Salt Lick can't be beat! El Arroyo is a legend. And a drive to the Texas Hill Country is beautiful! Enjoy your trip!

Dooba said...

Hagia Sophia was just turn 1, when we move from Indonesia to Austin, and she love:
1. Swimming at the Hamilton pool (google it! The trail and the natural pool is definitely toddler friendly)
2. Ride the zylker zephyr
3. Feed the ducks and the swan at Zylker park (bring leftover chips, old breads or old tortillas)
4. Play at the splash pad on Pease park N.Lamar.
5. Sunset picnic at mt.Bonnel
6. Swimming at the sculpture falls (don't forget to bring swim ring)
7. and share migas tacos with Mommy at Maria Tacho Express on S Lamar

oo..and not to forget playing at the Dino Pit on Austin nature and science center near Zylker park.

sarah said...

i LOVE austin! here's my recs for eating (plus pictures)
have so much fun!

vmowris said...

I can honestly say you will be instantly inspired to pack up and make the move down south after visiting Austin. My favorites:

Feathers Boutique, and just about all of South Congress. Uncommon Objects is a great spot to wander and admire all the treasues, and Guero's Tacos is a must stop for lunch.

The Salt Lick for bbq. A bit of a drive, but you get to see some amazing ranches/landscape and smell the goodness when you get within a few miles! The entire atmosphere of the place is SO southern.

Mother's restaurant. Just so delicious. The best vegan food you'll ever have if you're feeling a bit heavy from all the tex mex and bbq, but also non vegan dishes as well. They also have an indoor garden and live music on some nights.

And right across the street from Mother's : Quack's Bakery. The best and biggest coconut macaroon, plus tons of other goodies and delicious coffee.

Check out any Whole Foods as well! It's their headquarters and almost every location is Texas HUGE.

You also have to check out the bats on the Congress Bridge (Toby may or may not appreciate them).

I can't wait to see what you pick to do and I hope my tips are helpful! My family has been going to Austin for years and any chance I get to go to take a break from LA is much appreciated. Have a blast!

lauracthornton said...

I went to undergrad just North of Austin (and thus spent plenty of time there with my friends who did live there).

A trip to Barton Springs is not complete without P.Terry's (incredible burgers and my favorite veggie burger, there are multiple locations) or SnoBeach on Guadalupe for great snocones.

La condesa will meet all of your fancy tex-mex needs with wonderful margaritas. Juan in a million or torchy's for breakfast tacos!

If you go down to Driftwood, visit the Duchman Family Winery!

I'll also concur with those that mentioned South Congress, Justine's out on the East side for amazing French food in a homey atmosphere.

If you all get to go North a little, take a stop in Georgetown, there are caves (right off the highway) and one of the best small town diners around (Monument Cafe, which has its own garden out back and locally sources most of it's ingredients including the yard eggs!)

I could go on for ages, there are too many wonderful things for you and your family to do in Austin. Best of luck!

Isabellakatrina said...

I grew up there. Many people don't know about this gem.

Barton springs is icy icy cold year round
I like hamilton pool a bit better but there is definitely better people watching at Barton. Just watch out for leather thong man. But I suppose you're from new york and used to it.

missj. said...

-Trudy's (Mexican Martinis & Fried Avocados & flan)
-Ken's Donuts (Samosas)
-Chez Zee's brunch
-Santa Rita (Suiza sauce & Prickly Pear Margaritas)
-Blue Dahlia brunch
-Sno Beach snowcones with creamy cream
-Teo Gelato
-Mozarts Coffee
-Hula Hut (Tres Leches & mango salsa)

just to name a few of my favorite eats! have fun! <3 there's even more to do but when i head up, i focus on the grub.

Chelsea said... - Moonshine favorite Austin Restaurant!

Best Mexican Martini Ever - Trudy's

Oasis - best view, cheesy tourist spot but can't beat the amazing view!

Y'all will love Austin!!

Angela said...

I love Austin. Just back from there. On food: rent a car and drive out to Driftwood, TX, for lunch or dinner at the Salt Lick BBQ. And catch the food trucks on South Congress for great tacos..and cupcakes.

The Teacher said...

I use to spend my summers in Austin and always visit at least once a year , so I only know it as a vacation spot, but it's definitely one I know dearly.
Everyone has told you pretty much the best places- definitely South Congress, Kerby Lane and just park at WaterLoo Records to enjoy the whole area (Shopping, Reading and Eating- probably with live music).

A few places I haven't seen mentioned though would be:
Toy Joy on Guadalupe ( I always spend hours in this place
Sam's Bar-b-q on 12th street ( I lived on this bar-b-q one summer)
Austin Java is a great brunch places that is definitely kid friendly.

I hope you enjoy your visit, it's such a laid back welcoming place and I'm sure your friends have wonderful stuff in store!

Mallory said...

Austin is AMAZING! My recommendations:

-Happy Hour at Guero's on South Congress (try the chorizo!)
-Amy's Ice Cream
-Be sure to peek inside Waterloo Records!
-Go to Polvo's for the BEST Mexican food EVER (and they have the best margaritas ever!)
-Lunch at the Shady Grove (great outside seating)
-Breakfast tacos at Taco Xpress (Don't let the name fool you, it's amazing and has a great vibe!)

Have fun!!!

Shannon said...

I live just outside of Austin in a resort town called Horseshoe Bay. If you have time I would definitely head out here as we have the only constant level lake in Texas (lake LBJ). We have a Marriott here, 3 amazing exclusive golf courses, spa, huge pool and with hot tub that has bubbles coming up from the bottom and a mini beach that kids love as it is shallow water. The resort also has boat/jetski/ water toy rentals. The water seems to be pretty warm as It was in the 80's last weekend and there were people on a tube being pulled behind a boat. A great place to eat in Austin is Max's Wine Dive. They have a huge selection of wine (and I mean HUGE) and incredible food. I had the Kobe burger with caramelized onions and it was superb. Have fun!!

Maggie Shirley said...

Walk down South Congress, eat at Chuy's, go to Magnolia's late one night because that's when it's the best and walk along the pedestrian bridge after.

You will adore Austin. It's a wonderful place.

Corinna Wells said...

I am thrilled that you posted about Austin! My husband and I went there for our honeymoon in Decemeber and had a wonderful time. According to most of the locals, we had come in the off season, so not a lot was going on at the time. We still absolutely fell in love with the entire city!
I have to agree with a majority of the comments on South Congress... it's such a neat little place! We probably spent five hours just weaving in and out of different stores. Tons of antiques and quirky little shops along the way!
If you get the chance, definitely catch a Ray Wylie Hubbard or Hayes Carll show. Even if you're not into their style of music, they've both got some great stories to tell. Awesome musicians!
Hope you enjoy Austin! Can't wait to hear about your travels!

KatieMaye said...

Austin is so amazing, i love it more and more every time. Here are some highlights from my last trip, a link to pics and info about hamilton pools (so pretty) and a link to all of the fun places we ate. enjoy!!

Jennie said...

The fried avocado tacos at Torchy's! I also love drinks in the courtyard of the San Jose Hotel but go early for a more kid-friendly vibe.

Captain - Special Duty Cryptology said...

Go to BARLEY SWINE !!!!!!!!!!! for dinner.

Eloquent English said...

Found your blog through Pinterest! The pictures look refreshing... xoxo A-

Anonymous said...

austin is one of those magical cities (move over portland?) that you can totally wing it and stumble upon mutiple gems. it's worth it for the food trucks alone.

i'm leslie said...

I live here and love it! For food, try Foreign & Domestic, Uchi, Uchiko, Lamberts, Enoteca, the original Salt Lick (for the BYOB fun of it), and definitely don't miss the great TexMex. See a show at Stubb's. Check out the goods on South Congress. Hike the greenbelt. Take a bike ride around Lady Bird Lake, followed by delicious crepes at the Flip Happy trailer. Have a great time!

Anonymous said...

The Spider House Cafe in Hyde Park is an awesome place to sit outside and drink some coffee or a beer! It looks like a yard sale threw up in the courtyard (in a good way! funny signs, neat statues, and funky furniture abounds) Go in the evening, when the neon lights are shining!

Meagan Murtagh said...

find chicken in a cone.
end of story.

Kelly McTavish said...

Welcome to our city!

If you are coming to Barton Springs, I would suggest taking the trail south at the springs source and enjoy the beautiful Greenbelt for some easy hiking and beautiful scenery.

Garaj Ma'Hal for indian food.

Blue Dahlia for french food.

Takoba for some delicious gourmet tex mex and great frozen margaritas and white sangria.

and don't forget to see the bats at sunset from the Congress street bridge!

Can't wait to see your highlights! Its so fun to how visitors travel in your home city. :)

Rachel said...

I'm heading home to Austin that weekend too! I hope I run into you at the airport!

Food, for me, is my favorite:

- Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood if you want a drive; County Line on Lake Austin - Toby can feed the catfish & turtles, it's so creepy and awesome!; or Stubbs if you want music/downtown scene

- Chuy's Mexican food, literally across the street from Barton Springs, perfect place for after marg swim - get the creamy Jalepeno dip with the chips!!!

If you have time, walk around the University of Texas campus. I'm biased since I went there, but it's so pretty and neat!

There are tons of family friendly/laid back activities - you guys will have a great time!

Unknown said...

I love Austin and lived there for a short while. Definitely check out Hotel San Jose! It is lovely, small, not overpriced and within walking distance to several restaurants, interesting trinket stores, vintage shops and antiques. There are also lots of great parks nearby.

*** KITSCH *** said...

Wow! i don´t know anything about Austin but pictures are amazing!
Enjoy it!

Love the pictures of bikes for wellcomen Spring ; )

Shannon Hughes said...

Ahh, I love that you guys are going there! I literally just got back a week ago. It's so much fun. You guys should take a little walk by the Greenbelt (Alex can pet some dogs!) and chill at Barton Springs.

Uncommon Goods (as mentioned before), is really great. And I liked going to Cafe Medici for good coffee. I should be putting pictures and stories from my trip on my blog pretty soon. Check it out when you get a chance.

Amy Atwood said...

When people say Uncommon Goods, I think they mean Uncommon Objects on South Congress. Awesomely funky store that could entertain you (and Toby) for a while. All of South Congress (shops, restaurants, food trucks, etc.) seems right up your alley. If you have time I recommend checking out the Hotel San Jose (funky minimalist hotel on SoCo) and the AMAZING Hotel Saint Cecilia (same area). Walking at Town Lake is great if the weather is nice. Lots of pup watching to entertain sweet Toby. The Mexican food rules (Maudie's, Guero's, Matt's El Rancho are some staples), and you have to check out Sno Beach on South Lamar for snow cones if it's warm enough (wedding cake is my fave). I went to college in Austin and love, love, love it. Y'all will have a blast! Warning: Barton Springs is freeeeezing but so worth it!

Emma Rose to the occasion said...

If you're into hot dogs, Frank is to die for (this is coming from an Austinite.)

Have the best time! We are so proud of our city!

Emily Lauren said...

you're coming to my city!!!

okay, a couple of my favorite restaurants:

-- moonshine patio bar & grill
-- hyde park bar & grill
-- texas french bread (byob)

and for breakfast (or dessert), i highly recommend gourdough's donut trailer on lamar.

Katherine said...

Have so much fun! SO MUCH fabulous food! If you want a couple beers on a patio, you can't beat Hole in the Wall. Besides being close to the UT campus, it's exactly how it sounds. Great outdoor seating and sense of community! Of course, you have to order Shiner - a Texas beer! ;)

Cat said...

I live in Austin and can't wait to read about your adventure here! Sushi at Uchi is a must. Definitely check out the quirky shops and Homeslice Pizza on SoCo.

Mishy said...

Get ready to wish you were a Native Texan. I lived there in the 1970s and early 1980s when it was still a small town. You have to watch the bats fly out from under the S. Congress bridge it is truly a sight to see. Visit the 'drag' the street that runs around UT there are all kinds of good eats and great shopping. Austin is a very kid friendly town. The music scene is amazing, if you like the blues check and see where W.C. Clark is playing. Have a great time and "Keep it Weird"!

Well Hello! said...

Definitely go check out Barton Springs, but I would not recommend doing the midnight swim. It is VERY cold water and basking in the hot sun after you jump out is one of best parts. Walk along South Congress for some fun shops. If you are looking for a place to stay I highly recommend the Austin Motel (on South Congress). Its got a very Austin flavor, and each room is different. Eat as much as you can. Kayak on Lady Bird lake. Check out Toy Joy for yourselves and Toby. If you are going to be around Sunday morning I would go check out the live Gospel choir and buffet at Stubbs. I really hope you have a fun time in Austin. I love it!

robyn said...

These have probably already been mentioned - but make sure you ride the train in Zilker Park (next to Barton Springs Pool. Toby will LOVE it. Also, SoCo is a great area for shopping, eating and just wandering. Hopdoddy makes a delicious burger and shake :)

You're going at a great time - weather should be gorgeous. We lived in Austin for 10 years before moving to the West coast. We miss it sooo much!

Brittany Schray said...

Check out Hey Cupcake on South Congress (go early-mid day, they run out of the best flavors by the evening). I'd say skip Torchy's Tacos and def check out Chuys. There are a lot of great museums in the area - LBJ, State Museum, Blanton. Also, Magnolia's Cafe. Book People on Lamar is the best bookstore, def check it out. It's near Whole Foods. Waterloo Records too!

Christy said...

Mozart's Cafe!! It's right on Lake Austin and is so peaceful. They roast their own coffee right there. Also, I kayaked on the Austin River and it was AWESOME!Have fun!

Megan said...

y'all are going to love austin! vacations almost completely revolve around food and drinks for me and my husband (ha!), so my suggestions follow suit:

like everyone has said, no trip to austin is complete without some delicious tex mex and bbq. on that front, i recommend trudy's for tex mex (you have to get the "mexican martini) and salt lick or rudy's (kind of more the kitschy route) for bbq.

if you like indian food, i think y'all would really dig g'raj mahal—super cool outdoor dining experience. love it.

i also think you and alex would really love both the hotel san jose (a drink in their courtyard would be awesome or a coffee from the stand they own next door) and their other property, hotel saint cecilia.

also, if barton springs doesn't work out, i highly recommend hamilton pool—gorgeous natural swimming hole surrounded by rocky cliffs (but a bit of a drive):

can't wait to hear all about it! xo

Julie said...

You will love it! We took our boys to Austin for mid-winter recess last year. Here is the guide I posted after our trip:

E Aquino said...

I stayed at the Hotel Jose with my boyfriend and it's a quaint, rustic hotel right across from all the food trucks. Highly recommend!

Love love your blog!


amr said...

I just got back from Austin for SXSW and let me tell you - prepare for delicious food overload! Highly recommend, if you can get of the city, to go to Salt Lick BBQ - SO much fun and the food is amazing. Also seek out Chilantro BBQ and order the Kimchi Fries (if you like spicy) - I swear they are life changing. Whole Foods' flagship store is a must. I didn't do this myself, but one of my friends also took her son to the rodeo for pig races! Bet Toby would love it. There's also a children's museum downtown that they loved as well. Have so much fun - can't wait to hear about it!

E Aquino said...

I stayed at the Hotel Jose with my boyfriend and it's a quaint, rustic hotel right across from all the food trucks. Highly recommend!

Love love your blog!


Anonymous said...

If you want some great Texas bbq then go check out Salt Lick, I highly recommend it.So good.

Amanda said...

I'm from Austin and am about to move back for law school. Thank you so much for posting and getting me excited about my city again!!

I'd suggest kayaking on Lady Bird Lake- it's calm and beautiful and you get AWESOME views of the city and cute joggers.

Ashley said...

I live in Austin! Barton Springs is great, but freeeezing! Make sure you stop by Rudy's BBQ, Juan in a Million and walk around South Congress. Austin is the best. We moved here from San Diego in 2010!

Kristin Mc said...

I've lived in Austin for several years and Texas all of my life. Here are some of my food suggestions (i LOVE food):

-Uchi or Uchiko - best sushi and japanese food. - the chef just won on Top Chef. go here!

if you get sick of mexican food, Texas French Bread ( serves farm to table dinners that are amazing. my favorite for a good, hearty meal. they bring the freshest french bread and delicious olive oil to munch on while you're waiting for your food. For dessert, the butterscotch budino pudding is to die for.

While shopping south congress, take a lunch or snack break at the trailers.

Everyone's suggestions seem covered for the To do's: Zilker Park (walking distance to Barton Springs pool), Hamilton Pool, walking around Town Lake, shopping south congress (with a view of the Capitol),

caitlinketuri said...

I live in Austin and I love it. I moved here not even a year ago. Barton Springs is HIGHLY recommended! Bring/buy goggles, because the water is crystal clear and you can see turtles, fish, and really pretty grasses.
Uncommon Objects, which I saw at least one person mention already, is wonderful. I recommend going early-ish in the day, during the week, as it can get crowded on the weekends.
Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse is all vegetarian and my favorite place (I'm vegan and they have wonderful options). Sugar Mama's Bakery is right across the street and they have awesome vegan and non-vegan goodies. One of my favorite trailer parks is the East Side Drive-In, which is on East 6th st, just east of I-35. There's tons of variety there. And the east side rules. I hope to move there once my lease is up this summer :)
Hyde Park is a beautiful neighborhood, even if you just drive around and look at all the adorable houses. Go for a hike on the Greenbelt! It's beautiful now that there's finally water.

Care said...

Zilker Park for little man and HIPPY BRUNCH at Maria's for brunch on Sunday.

Alexandra said...

Elizabeth Street Cafe. Best Vietnamese French cuisine ever. Good Austin vibe.

Tiff said...

I live in Austin, it is an amazing city! South congress is the best place... Lots of shopping and the food trailers are amazing! Don't leave town without a cupcake from Hey Cupcake food trailer on south congress! The children's museum is super fun for kids and you have to spend an afternoon having a picnic at Zilker park! I can't wait to hear about your trip... You will love it here!

Mallory said...

South Congress! (it's a street with great shopping). West 6th and 7th st for some nice bars. Sno Beach for the best sno-cone you will ever have. The Salt Lick for BBQ (the best BBQ you will ever have...we take all of our out of town guests here). Uchiko/Uchi has the best sushi you will ever have. So many amazing things!!

For Toby: The train at Zilker Park and the Austin Children's Museum!

Hope this helps! You will LOVE it here :)

PS I love you blog!!

K said...

Go see a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse.

sees things pretty said...

Try Justine's to eat if you like YUMMY french food.

Quacks Bakery for breakfast. Or desert.

And our friends have converted an old house into vacation rentals in the Hyde Park neighborhood...a short walk from Quacks Bakery!

fresh_idea84 said...

I love living in Austin. It's been 3 years and I still find new things I didn't know about! If the weathers beautiful, head to Mt. Bonnell or the 360 'cliff' for great views of the city.
Get onto the Austin food truck website and find some great food truck (take a tour). From ice cream to yakitori.
Of course bats on S. Congress bridge. I like Salt Lick, but check out Franklin for something in town (E. 11th St.).
Kayak/Canoe rentals.
The list can go forever! Have a blast in town. It'll be cool to see the recap blog :)

misplaced texan said...

As a 3rd-generation Austinite, I can tell you, there isn't really much to complain about this spectacular city. Here are my recs:

Brunch: Blue Dahlia (French-ish) on East 11th, Mulberry downtown on 2nd (New American), South Congress Cafe (New American) on S. Congress

Mexican: Joe's Bakery on East 7th, Trudy's on West 30th, Maudie's on Lake Austin Blvd., Polvo's on S. 1st

Lunch: Tacodeli on N. Lamar or the original on Spyglass, Hopdoddy on S. Congress, Lucky's Puccias (food trailer) on 5th and Bowie, Casa Columbia on East 7th, Hopfields (French street food) on Guadalupe, Home Slice (pizza) on S. Congress

Fancy-ish dinner: Uchi (Sushi) on S. Lamar, Uchiko (Japanese Fusion) on N. Lamar, Austin Land and Cattle (Steaks!) on N. Lamar

Coffee shops: Medici in Clarksville (West Lynn and 12th),
Rio Rita on East 6th (they also have the best bloody Mary in Austin)

For Beer: Hopfields on Guadalupe, Draughthouse on Medical Parkway, Gingerman on Lavaca, Easy Tiger on 6th

For Cocktails: Pêché on 4th Street, Eastside Showroom on East 6th.

Definitely hit up Zilker Park, do some kayaking on the lake, and take a stroll at the Capitol. North Loop and South Congress are both stellar places for vintage and souvenir shopping and I'd stick around 6th and Lamar to hit up Waterloo Records, Book People, Anthropologie, By George, etc.

Hope you enjoy you stay!

Elaine said...

It's bad for you but oh so good: queso. I spent a summer in Austin and couldn't get enough of the stuff... and paid for it in extra lbs ;).

mistymader said...

You are going to love Austin! It’s one of my absolute favorite cities. My husband and I live in Dallas and we try to take a weekend trip any chance we get! Here’s what I would consider my Austin staples…

1) Oasis on Lake Travis… In my opinion, you don’t go for the food… you go for the view. You’ll understand as soon as you see it!
2) Mozart’s Coffee Shop- Coffee is amazing. But drinking coffee at your picnic table right on Lake Austin makes it even more amazing. Conveniently located near downtown!
3) Mt. Bonnell- Preferably at sunrise or sunset.
4) The bats on South Congress Ave. bridge
5) South Congress Café- A must for brunch!
6) Magnolia Café- A must for breakfast!
7) Salt Like BBQ- Worth the drive. Not just because of the BBQ… but also the cole slaw… and that potato salad…
8) Second Kitchen Bar and Grill- Good wine list… great cocktails… wonderful patios (that’s right, the word “patios” is plural… they have a rooftop patio as well)… and awesome food… all you need for a great dinner with friends.

Can’t wait to read all about your trip! Have a wonderful time!

Mary said...

From Dallas and LOVE a good trip to Austin (ATX). Much of what I love has been mentioned...

I can't get enough tex-mex and Austin has some great spots with delicious margaritas! Chuy's, Z Tejas, Gueros, Iron Cactus, Trudy's...the list goes on and on.

I love Hula Hut! (Great atmosphere!!!)

It's been mentioned here before, but I will say it again...Hey Cupcake! is awesome...Delicious cupcakes!!! Better than Magnolia in NYC.

As far as bar-b-que...Stubs has a fun gospel brunch downtown, but I also LOVE County Line.

There's great live music so check that out.

And finally, the gem I will leave you with is The Broken Spoke. It's an old honky tonk and it is fantastic!!! If you can sneak's some of the best local flavor you'll get.
Also, the cedar door and mean-eyed cat are good local bars.

Have fun and can't wait to hear all about it!

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