A Local's Guide To Exploring Austin, Texas
We fell in love with Austin, Texas and all of its weirdness. The state’s capital has adopted the slogan “Keep Austin Weird” and intends to maintain the city’s fun and unique identity. Austin is unlike any other city in the South. It’s a little bit hipster and a lot of that unmistakable southern charm.
Music lovers can rejoice as Austin is also known for its world-class live music, playing host to famous music festivals including South x Southwest and Austin City Limits. People flock to Austin to be a part of something different, something special. The consistent warmth of the people matches the year-round warm weather and the city’s energy is always at an all-time high. Siren wants to help you navigate this one-of-a-kind city that has gorgeous sunshine, delicious food, amazing music and Matthew McConaughey.
So get ready, y’all – we’re going to Austin.
The Oasis –Family-oriented
Situated on the stunning Lake Travis hills and known as the “sunset capital of Texas”, this restaurant is the definition of “dinner with a view.” The hilltop scenery is unbelievable – it feels like being in a villa overlooking Lake Como. This favourite Austin locale serves up some delicious Mexican fare along with incredible live music Thursday through Sunday. We know you’ll go for the food and music. We bet you stay for the sunset.
Torchy’s Tacos (the original truck)- Road less travelled
Torchy’s queso tastes heavenly so no wonder it has been voted the best in Texas several years running. The secret? Guacamole mixed into the middle of the creamy cheese dip. Any local you ask where to get the best tacos will rave about Torchy’s. They are also likely to tell you the story of the legendary taco joint, which started out as a food truck and has now expanded to cities all over Texas. A true Austin must-try. You can even buy a bottle of Torchy’s hot sauce to take home with you but good luck trying to savour it until your next trip to Texas.
Green Pastures Restaurant – Stylish/cultured
Nestled on the lush pastures of a 19th-century estate is a restaurant that transports its patrons back in time – a feeling that can only be described as nostalgia for the era of true southern belles and debutante balls. This is the best place to enjoy a mouth-watering Sunday brunch or gourmet dinner while watching the resident colourful peacocks stroll by. Must-tries at this famous brunch are the sweet and salty confection: chocolate-covered bacon and the Southern milk punch: a concoction of bourbon, rum, brandy and ice cream.
Omni Barton Creek Resort and Spa – Family-oriented
Omni Barton Creek Resort and Spa offers a wide range of activities that caters to all family needs. This cozy family resort offers golf and mini golf, children’s day camp and activities and a relaxing spa for day-end wind-down. Truly something for everyone.
The Fairview B&B – Road less travelled
Stay in this opulent, white plantation home and get a real taste of southern hospitality. This B&B is pretty, tranquil and a little off the beaten path. It also happens to be dog-friendly so if you want to bring your pup to Austin, this is the place to do it! Staying here also offers a unique juxtaposition of modern-day Austin because it allows for a look into the city’s past. The grandeur of the southern plantation homes with their tall columns and expansive porches offer a small glimpse of what once was. Mint julep and a rocking chair, anyone?
The Driskill Hotel – Stylish/cultured
Our jaws dropped when entering the marble grand lobby of this historic hotel. Located in the heart of the city on bustling 6th Street, The Driskill is Texan comfort at its finest. We love this hotel for its rich history and classy atmosphere. Luxury is dripping in every detail of the decor, from the crystal chandeliers to the immaculate, plush leather sofas in the cigar lounge. The rich oak panels and stained-glass ceiling make this a must-stay for those looking for lavish accommodations in Austin.
The Broken Spoke – Family-oriented
We couldn’t come to the south and not learn how to cut-a-rug, so we headed over to The Broken Spoke to watch some classic country artists and learn how to two-step with the best of them at the “last true Texas dance hall.” A tip from one novice two-stepper to another: the faster the song, the smaller the steps. Enjoying live music with your loved ones and learning how to dance is one of the best ways to make the most of your trip in this music-centric city.
Burnside’s Tavern – Road less travelled
We couldn’t write about Austin without suggesting a bar on infamous 6th Street. Located on downtown Austin’s liveliest street sits Burnside’s Tavern. We can’t get enough of the “Civil War chic” decor with glamorous crystal chandeliers hanging in a row above the bar and oil paintings of historical figures hung on the exposed brick walls. The bar is frequented by locals, rarely visited by tourists. The drinks are cheap, the music is good and we love the young, energetic atmosphere.
CU29 Cocktail Bar – Stylish/cultured
A little removed from the youthful, party crowd on 6th Street, it’s all about the specialty drinks at this upscale cocktail lounge. Each drink takes five to 10 minutes to make but is totally worth the wait. For those with a sweet tooth, the Samoa Girl Scout Cookie martini is a must-try. It’s basically dessert in a martini glass. The atmosphere is welcoming and the decor is incredible – exposed brick and floor-to-ceiling shelves full of the best local and imported liqueurs. This is by far the best place to mingle with the Austin-elite and sip on the most unique, hand-crafted drinks.
Toy Joy– Family-oriented
With the slogan “Keeping Austin Fun since 1987″ families cannot resist a stop into Toy Joy, located in the heart of downtown Austin, right across from City Hall. This local toy shop’s shelves are lined with thousands of toys to entertain all families. Not to mention every board game imaginable lives here.
Shops on South Congress Street – Road less travelled
This street is lined on both sides with funky shops where the locals spend their hard earned money. We found everything here, from hand-crafted jewellery to homemade toffee at Susie’s South Forty Confections. South Congress has it all, and quite unexpectedly too.
The Domain – Stylish/cultured
One word: Nordstrom. This upscale shopping mall offers high-end shopping in a contemporary setting. Nothing says luxury shopping trip like ending the day with a nice gourmet meal, so we suggest Flemming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, located right on The Domain property.
The Lantern Fest– Family-oriented
The Lantern Fest is something that you must see to believe. Thousands of lanterns being lit and let out into the night sky on a warm evening in October is pure magic. But the lanterns are only one small part of the spectacular festival, which includes a day full of live music (of course), dancing and some of the most delicious smores we’ve ever tasted. This is the perfect event to make family memories to last a lifetime.
South x SouthWest Music Festival (SXSW)– Road less travelled
If you find yourself in Austin in March, you’re in luck. We highly recommend attending SXSW festival. Over 50 performers come to town to share their music and their art. SXSW, although attended by people from all over the world, is a local tradition and thousands of Austinites gather each year to enjoy the beautiful sounds of the city.
Austin Museums & Arts Scene– Stylish/cultured
Austin is brimming with creativity. The city is home to world-class museums such as the Blanton Museum of Art and Harry Ransom Center which houses rare books and historical literature collections. There are plenty of art galleries to roam and theatres to duck into. Check out the Austin Ballet and its prima ballerinas. The most amazing thing about Austin, perhaps, is that even when you’re not in a building dedicated to art, you are surrounded by art even when walking the city’s streets.
Everyone visiting Austin must head down to South Congress Street and have their picture taken by the “I love you so much” wall. Located on the right side of Jo’s Coffee Shop, this iconic mint-green wall, spray-painted with those five meaningful words in red swirling letters has served as the backdrop for hundreds of thousands of photos. Stand with your significant other, mother, father, brother, sister…whomever, and take what is sure to be your next profile picture. Caption it: I love you so much!
While Austin does have the Capital Metro public transportation with several bus routes and schedules, it is important to note that the best way to get around the city is by car, taxi or Uber. The roads are not overly congested with traffic so getting around by car is the easiest and most time effective mode of transportation.