City Guide – What To Do in Austin, Texas

lauren nicolle city guide austin, tx

If y’all have been following along for a while now, you know that I have moved quite a lot, 3 cities (to be exact), since I started my blog! With that being said, I decided to start a city guide series for my readers! Follow along below whether you’re planning a visit to the area or live in the city, but still looking for fresh ideas or recommendations 😊. These city guides will include must see spots, activities/things to do, best places to stay, best restaurants and bars, reputable beauty spas & salons, fitness studios, and of course a lot of these places will be some of the most ‘instagrammable’ and insta-worthy places to take photos in the city. I am going to kick this series off with a city that is near and dear to my heart, AUSTIN! ATX was so good to me the 2+ years that I lived there. I feel like it shaped me in a way ❤️- I met some truly amazing people and made so many memories that I will never forget!

Welcome to my City Guide for Austin. Here we go —>

Where to Eat

Before I get into this, if you want to have dinner or brunch at some of these spots while you’re visiting Austin, DEF make a reservation beforehand, if possible. Especially if you’re visiting on the weekend…anyway, let’s do this!

Austin’s casual spots for the foodie

  • Hop Doddy – best truffle fries EVER + queso, burgers, shakes…just EVERYTHING **they also have the impossible burger for vegetarians
  • Salt Lick BBQ – this is something you need to make a day of; apparently it’s an entire experience where you can BYOB + coolers to tailgate while in line to try this famous BBQ
  • Gordoughs –specialty donuts, donut burgers + donut entrées galore **the food truck location only has donuts, but the brick and mortar off of S. Lamar has the full brunch/dinner menu
  • Taco Joint – best breakfast tacos + chips and queso in my opinion!
  • Amy’s ice cream – iconic & lots of unique flavors, even ones with booze
  • VIA 313 pizza – deep dish + you MUST try the Cadillac 😜 **there is a food truck in the court yard out back of Craft Pride on Rainey Street
  • Torchys tacos – The Trailer Park is SO GOOD.. & don’t forget to ‘make it trashy’
  • Tatsu-ya – Ramen
  • Chuy’s – TexMex
  • Franklins BBQ – another reputable BBQ spot in ATX
  • Moonshine – great chicken and waffles + southern style comfort foods
  • Home Slice Pizza – NY style large slices
  • Jo’s coffee – the iconic ILY So Much wall is at the Jo’s on South Congress, where they mainly have coffee — but the location on 2nd street has a sit down + food (great breakfast tacos as well)

Austin’s fancier dinner spots (but keep in mind, nothing is THAT fancy in Austin)

  • RA – sushi
  • Swift’s Attic
  • Second Bar and Kitchen
  • La Condesa – twist on Mexican, great atmosphere for dinner
  • Eberly
  • Searsucker
  • Uchi Sushi – $$$$

Austin brunch

  • Trace – at the W Hotel
  • Bangers – beer garden style, outdoor band
  • Snooze
  • The Revelry – newer, friends have raved about it
  • Gordoughs –  mentioned earlier ^^

24-hour + late night spots

  • Kirby Lane
  • 24 diner

Where to Go Out in Austin

SO, the night life in ATX is not lacking. There are a few different areas you can go, depending on the vibe you’re looking for —

1st Option – Rainey Street

Lots of cute older homes in Austin turned into bars with courtyards out back – always great for something more low-key than the other areas listed, BUT, IMO best during the day on Sunday! Different bars on Rainey are more ‘poppin’ during the day vs evening

  • Icenhaurs – on certain sundays when the live band is performing, things get wild
  • Bangers – great brunch atmosphere, Haufbrau House style + MANmosas
  • Container Bar – really cool concept made out of shipping containers
  • Lustre Pearl, Bungalow, Lucille’s – other chill + popular bars
  • Unbarleavable – newer, popular edition to Rainey St. with a circus theme

2nd Option – DIRTY 6th (aka EAST 6th street)

Pretty much a smaller version of Bourbon Street in NOLA in Austin – they close down the roads on the weekend, evenings so no cars can drive down it and all of the drunkest people in town stumble from bar to bar. Sloppy AF & a wide variety of drunk people + tourists. Definitely something to see while you’re in town – be prepared for entertainment lol

Some favorites:

  • Blind Pig
  • Aquarium
  • Trophy Room – mechanical bull riding
  • Shakespeare’s
  • The Library
  • Maggie Mae’s – big rooftop dance floor
  • Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar
  • Cheer’s Shot Bar – every shot you could think of
  • Roof Top

3rd Option – West 6th (classier/more locals, but still not classy)

  • Greenlight- adult capri suns, good music, rooftop
  • Dogwood – more casual, people love this place though
  • The Ranch – 3 stories, “frat boys,” fun + massive rooftop dance floor
  • Concrete Cowboy – club-like, bottle service, interesting crowd but can be fun near the end of the night.. lol
  • Kung Fu – lots of arcade games and good atmosphere – new location right below Greenlight

other bar recs – somewhere between/around all of the areas listed above

  • Handle Bar – all male staff , most rock handle bar mustaches + also have a cool rooftop with see-saws etc
  • Summit – if you’re looking for a club situation, it’s a large rooftop club with DJ + Bottle service
  • Firehouse Lounge – a speakeasy, worth it if you can find seats
  • Mean-Eyed Cat Bar – a johnny cash tribute bar, super cool “upscale dive bar” vibe but I know they had to cut out a lot of their live music because of neighborhood complaints :/ Might have changed since the last time I was there!

4th Option – The Domain

For those looking to venture a little further and make an evening out of it:

  • best shopping area in Austin
  • Sprinkles Cupcakes – just yes #noms
  • Culinary Drop Out – really good comfort food & drinks + cool atmosphere and games
  • Rose Room – I have only heard about this from friends, but apparently you take a trippy escalator ride inside to get up to the club area *def a “club, club” vibe
  • + many more bars and restaurants, some even the same as in DT Austin

What To Do/Activities in Austin

  • Hamilton Pool – a bit of a drive but deff. worth it, last I checked they will now only let you in if you make a res. online in advance. And reservations are limited per day so plan wayyy ahead!
  • Mount Bonnell – take a quick hike up the stairs for a pretty lake view at sunset
  • Zilker Park – BYOB, pups, games
  • The Domain – shopping, food, etc
  • SOCO – walk up and down South Congress Street during the day (unique shops, ILY So Much wall, farmers markets on weekends, food etc)
  • ACL live @ The Moody Theater – get tix to attend a more intimate concert, comedy show + more
  • Tittie Bingo Tues (Inside The HighBall bar/Alamo Draft House Movie Theater) – don’t ask, just DO IT
  • Alamo Drafthouse Cinema – movie lovers, this is a must – dine-in cinema. They have your normal selection of movies + special films and fun movie party events. The best part about Alamo is that you get full service to your seat while you watch the movie. Waiters, huge menu of good food, and alcohol + pretty much anything you could ask for!
  • The Highball – also mentioned up there ^^ has themed, private Karaoke rooms as well
  • Lake Austin or Lake Travis – rent a boat out on the lake for the day; its no Gulf of Mexico lol, but it’s a good time
  • Hula Hut – eat & grab drinks on Lake Austin while you’re there
  • Pedal Pub – fun group activity for bachelorette/bachelor parties, team building, or just for fun; basically you’re pedaling a “moving bar” through the streets of Austin **BYOB + wine
  • Boardwalk – walk along side Lady Bird Lake aka Town Lake, all the way from DT to Riverside/ East Austin ——> or kayak + paddle board
  • Hope Outdoor Gallery/Graffitti Park
  • The Green Belt – Hike or Mountain bike + take a swim
  • Barton Springs pool – a natural spring water pool
  • The Capitol
  • Longhorn Football tailgate + game
  • Yearly happenings like – Austin City Limits Festival and Annual Austin Film Festival (October), SXSW (South By Southwest happens in March), Carnaval (February), and many more!

Where to Stay

Where To Go – BEAUTY Services

  • Facials, Microneedling, Skincare & more – Semia Paris; I cannot recommend Semia ENOUGH! She knows her stuff and not to mention has unbeatable prices
  • Injections etc. – Bodytonic Medspa; Iris is great!
  • Massages – the W Hotel AWAY Spa; Sarah B. is THE best, esp. for deep tissue
  • Lash extensions – Lash Genie; they are all great but Lizzy is the owner/kween B
  • Nails – Lacquer Nails; in downtown for a cute modern salon vibe

Where To Workout

  • Barre3
  • Orange Theory
  • The Lagree Studio – I am obsessed with Megaformer workouts/Pilates & this studio seems legit, but I did not get into Pilates until after living in Austin, so I have yet to try this specific studio.
  • CorePower Yoga

I hope this helped to prepare y’all for your next visit to Austin, Texas or just provide some fresh ideas! Please let me know if you have any questions about ATX or anything mentioned above 😊. Enjoy!

-xx Lauren

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14 Comments

    • May 14, 2019 / 11:49 am

      Thanks Gary! It’s a great city, I hope you get to go visit soon :).

  1. May 16, 2019 / 9:17 am

    This is great! So anytime I am planning a trip, I actually head to Pinterest to find posts just like this! I kinda prefer a spur of the moment day, but sometimes when visiting a huge city, you have to have some ideas! I’m headed to New York next week and I may have to do a follow up post like this!

    • May 16, 2019 / 1:12 pm

      Thanks girl! Totally, always nice to know options of what you can do in the city you’re visiting but also nice to go with the flow and explore :). Have so much fun in NYC! Cant wait to see your follow up if you do!

  2. May 16, 2019 / 10:06 am

    Love this city guide. I’ve been living in Austin for almost 2 years now – GREAT suggestions. I love Lacquer! That’s the only nail salon I’ll go to in Austin.
    – Tessa
    The Girl, The Dogs & The Wardrobe
    http://www.thegdw.com

    • May 16, 2019 / 1:14 pm

      Thanks Tessa! So much to do in Austin, was wondering if I left anything out ;). That’s so funny though about Lacquer, I swear I tried so many places and Lacquer was the only one I loved! I’ll definitely have to let you know the next time I’m back out there!

  3. May 16, 2019 / 12:31 pm

    This is such a fantastic city guide! Austin is such a fun city and you seriously have all the places covered. We stayed at the new Fairmont last time and it was perfect! Also love the Whole Foods there, it’s seriously NEXT LEVEL! x Shannon • http://www.essellesse.com

    • May 16, 2019 / 1:15 pm

      Thanks Shannon :)! I definitely need to check out the Fairmont next time I’m there, I’ve heard from friends it’s great! OMG YES! The Wholefood headquarters, nothing like it! I used to live right across the street from it so I definitely spend a lot of time there haha!

  4. May 20, 2019 / 10:03 pm

    These are all amazing recommendations for spots in Austin! I went for work last year and have been wanting to get back there soon!

    • May 21, 2019 / 10:06 am

      Austin is such a cool city! You’ll have to go back soon and let me know if you try out any of these spots 🙂

  5. May 21, 2019 / 5:10 am

    Your pictures are amazing and you seriously NAILED this guide! Austin is such a fun city and seriously Torchys is the best!!

    • May 21, 2019 / 10:07 am

      Thanks so much :). YES Torchy’s is life 😉

  6. May 23, 2019 / 11:15 am

    Oh my goodness, this is an Awesome post!! My husband and I have been wanting to visit Austin and I’m saving this in my phone for our trip.
    Thank you for all the amazing recommendations! xo Jana | http://www.janastyleblog.com | IG: @jana_meister

    • May 29, 2019 / 9:55 am

      Thanks so much Jana! Of course, glad you enjoyed- definitely let me know which places you check out :). I’m sure yall will have so much fun if you visit!

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