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Downtown Austin, Texas

An iconic mural in Austin, Texas

Downtown Austin, Texas is the perfect destination to have a good time in the United States!

Not only am I trying to globe trot to different countries around the world, I also have a curiosity to see all that my home country has to offer!

A woman wandering through Zilker Botanical Gardens

Over the past few years, mid-size American cities such as Nashville, New Orleans, Charleston, Savannah, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Portland, Charlotte, Minneapolis and Austin have become major hotspots for people who live in the U.S. and around the world!

Instead of taking a girls’ or guys’ trip to Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami, Los Angeles, D.C., Boston, Philadelphia, Houston and New York, where everything is a bit overwhelming and expensive, men and women are now heading to the mid-size cities I mention above to experience a culture that is more close-knit and easy to savor.

A cute mural in Austin, Texas

During September 2018, I traveled to Austin, Texas, for the first annual TravelCon event for travel bloggers like myself.

Before the three-day conference began, I flew to Texas’ capital a day early so that I could explore all that the city has to offer! I am so excited to go over everything I did and all the best things to do in downtown Austin.

A woman enjoying street art in Austin, Texas

**Please note that this blog post uses affiliate links meaning that if you make a purchase via my affiliate link, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only promote and talk about products and services that I have used and like.


Pin the Below Image to Keep Handy

An Austin Texas City Guide

Top Things to do in Downtown Austin:

A woman in front of an iconic mural in Austin, Texas

Getting Around Austin:

To get around in Austin, there is a train, but the easiest way is to either rent a car (if you aren’t staying in the heart of the city) or take an Uber or Lyft like I did.

If you are staying downtown, most places are in walking distance and they are easy to get to.

Stay in an Airbnb:

A cute Airbnb in Austin, Texas

Even though it is convenient to get a hotel room in downtown Austin when you visit, I highly encourage you to get outside the heart of the city and stay where the locals are downtown.

There are so many different neighborhoods to Austin that are unique and authentic and being able to stay in these areas are definitely the best way to experience the city.

During my time in Austin, I stayed in the cutest Airbnb in the Dawson area. It was a little casita located in the backyard of the owner’s main house. I loved the little courtyard with stringed lights! The casita was perfect for me as it was a studio that featured a quaint nook area, loft, little kitchen and a backyard. Click here to book this Airbnb Plus!

The area that I stayed in had some cute restaurants that have been in the city for quite some time. They were decorated with local street art, string lights and so much more. You could also find a lot of food trucks in the downtown area. It is adorable!

A food truck park at night in Austin

If you are looking to save money and enjoy the authenticity that Austin offers, I highly recommend staying in an Airbnb or a Vrbo.

Another great place to find adorable and authentic rentals is through AllTheRooms. Click here to check out their selection of cabins and rentals in Austin.

Looking for an RV for your next trip, reserve here!

Savor all the FOOD (and Drinks):

Austin is known for some great cuisines, so if you are a foodie like myself, I highly recommend creating a bucket list and making your rounds throughout the city.

Here is a list of food places you must go to during your time in downtown Austin, according to my experience:

Texas Barbeque:

House Park Bar-B-Que in downtown Austin
  • House Park Bar-B-Que: If you are looking for an authentic BBQ restaurant with a warm and welcoming ambiance, then I highly recommend going to House Park Bar-B-Que. I found this great place on my way to Graffiti Park and I will admit that when you first walk in, it is a bit of a dive, but my pulled BBQ chicken sandwich was absolutely amazing! Also the staff was super friendly to me. I told them I would definitely be back in the future!
A delicious barbeque chicken sandwich
  • Salt Lick: Known as one of Austin’s most popular BBQ restaurants, you could find this great place in the Driftwood section of the city, in the suburb of Round Rock and also in Austin’s airport. In fact, I savored some great breakfast tacos at Salt Lick’s airport location. They were a good fuel before I flew back home.
Lambert's Downtown Barbecue in Austin, Texas
  • Lambert’s Downtown Barbecue: If you are looking for a great Texas BBQ brunch spot, then Lambert’s in downtown Austin is a great place to go to on a Saturday or Sunday. Lambert’s is also one of the fancier BBQ restaurants I visited during my time in Austin. Not only could you get some great BBQ, you could also savor other delicious southern comfort meals.

Overall, Texas is the best place to try BBQ in the United States. No matter where you go, there are so many amazing spots to grab barbecue in Austin and Central Texas.

Tacos/TexMex:

Torchy's Tacos in Austin, Texas
  • Torchy’s Tacos: Also known as taco heaven, you could find Torchy’s Tacos all throughout the state of Texas. If you are looking to savor some amazing TexMex tacos, then you HAVE to go to a Torchy’s. They have so many different types of tacos for you to choose from and they even serve breakfast. During my time in downtown Austin, there was a Torchy’s Tacos truck located near the conference, so we all were able to enjoy them.
Torchy's Tacos' delicious chicken tacos

Donuts:

Voodoo Doughnut Fruit Loops donut
  • Voodoo Doughnut: I could finally say that I tried VooDoo Doughnut! Prior to going to Austin, I only thought that you could get these famous donuts in Portland, OR, but apparently they have a few locations throughout the country. Besides, Portland and Austin, you could also find a VooDoo Doughnut in Eugene, Denver, Hollywood and Orlando. This fun donut shop offers several “crazy donuts” with some fun toppings! I had a vanilla-frosted donut with Fruit Loops! (I honestly can’t tell you the last time I had Fruit Loops.) In addition to VooDoo Doughnut being a donut and coffee shop, you could also see a live band play there. In Austin, it is located in the city’s lively 6th Street, snuggled between some fun live music bars. It was my first stop in Austin.
VooDoo Doughnut shop in downtown Austin
  • Gourdough’s: Known as an Austin staple, it is a sin to travel to this city without making your way to Gourdough’s Donuts’ airstream or Gourdough’s Public House. Located in the South Lamar area, you could sit down at Gourdough’s Public House and savor some amazing donut sandwiches. There is seriously nothing better and to top it off, they even have a weekend brunch!
Gourdough's delicious donuts in Austin, Texas

Asian Fusion:

Singapore noodles from Wu Chow in Austin
  • Chi’Lantro: If you are looking for a foodie heaven that features Korean BBQ mixed with Mexican ingredients, then you definitely have to make your way to Chi’Lantro. There are quite a few locations and food trucks that you could go to within Austin, but the one I went to was in the South Lamar area as it was the closest to my Airbnb. It was the place where I met up with my friend Lydia who had just moved to Austin during that time. We enjoyed kimchi fries as well as a Korean BBQ bowl. It was so good!
A delicious meal from Chi'Lantro in Austin, Texas
  • Wu Chow: After a great day of learning at the conference, nothing was more fulfilling than having dinner at one of the best farm-to-table dim sum places in Austin. Wu Chow is located on 5th street in a posh area of downtown. Here, you could savor some delicious Asian food and also enjoy a well-needed cocktail. At Wu Chow, I had chicken and spinach dumplings with some vegetarian Singapore noodles. It was amazing!
Delicious dumplings from Wu Chow in Downtown Austin

Coffee:

Jo's Coffee in Downtown Austin
  • Jo’s Coffee: Besides VooDoo Doughnut, you could also enjoy breakfast and coffee with some live music at Jo’s Coffee that is located downtown. In addition to the downtown location, which is cute and colorful, you could also find a Jo’s Coffee truck and they are also on the University of Texas’ campus. Besides breakfast, you could also get lunch, dinner and grab-and-go items.
  • Houndstooth Coffee: Another great coffee shop in downtown Austin is Houndstooth Coffee. What is great about this wonderful coffee shop is that it focuses on sustainability. Local and national suppliers from around the country source sustainable products from the best farms and provinces.

Wine:

A rosé from CRU Wine Bar in Austin
  • CRÚ Wine Bar: If you are looking for a quaint, elegant, artsy and delicious place, all in one, to wind down and relax after a long day, then CRÚ Wine Bar is the perfect place! Here, you could sip a refreshing glass of wine (or a bottle) and savor some great small plates. When the conference was over, I enjoyed a lovely glass of rosé with some amazing lobster and shrimp dumplings. It definitely hit the spot!

A Mix of Everything:

Delicious lobster and shrimp dumplings from CRU Wine Bar
  • Fareground at One Eleven: Known as Austin’s first food hall, Fareground at One Eleven is an inside/outside, eat/drink, work/play as well as an early morning and late night food and drink hub in downtown Austin. After the second day of the conference, we all went to Fareground where we were able to enjoy a plethora of different foodie options as well as a wine, beer or cocktails. There is a cheese shop, American food stand, taqueria, bakery, vegetarian stand as well as a sushi and ramen shop. At night, the lawn in front is lit up with lights. It is a great place!

Get Weird in Austin:

Hope Outdoor Gallery in Austin, Texas

As you wander throughout downtown Austin, you will continue to see signs that say “Keep Austin Weird”. This slogan was adopted by the Austin Independent Business Alliance to promote small businesses within the city.

Here are some fun ways to experience Austin’s “weirdness”:

  • Museum of the Weird: Located on Austin’s 6th Street is Museum of the Weird. When you first walk into this place, you will see a gift shop. In the back, you will find a museum that features some unusual items and works of art. In addition, the museum also explores paranormal subject matters like Austin’s haunted scene as well as the Texas Bigfoot. It is one of the last true dime museums in the United States and definitely deserves a visit.
Talented street art from Hope Outdoor Gallery
  • Graffiti Park: One place I definitely had to see during my time in Austin was the city’s famous Graffiti Park, which is officially known as Hope Outdoor Gallery. Concrete walls and slabs from a failed housing development, that was supposed to be built in the 1980s, were decorated by locals. What is cool about Graffiti Park is that you could bring your own art supplies and implement your creativity. **(Please note that the Hope Outdoor Gallery has been moved from the downtown area to across from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.)**
Colorful murals from Hope Outdoor Gallery in Austin

Enjoy Central Texas Nature:

A woman enjoying a beautiful day at Zilker Park in Austin

One of the best ways to experience nature in Austin is by heading over to Zilker Park, located in South Austin.

One side of the park is where you could see the Colorado River and the other side features Barton Creek. There is so much to do within this 350-acre park.

A woman sitting in a park in downtown Austin

Besides Barton Springs Pool, which I talk about below, Zilker Park features a science center, theater, several ball parks and playgrounds, a mini train for kids, campgrounds and a sculpture museum.

One of the highlights during my time spent at Zilker Park was roaming through the botanical gardens.

A bamboo forest in Zilker Botanical Garden

Zilker Botanical Garden is one of the best botanical gardens I’ve been to.

Here, you could wander aimlessly for hours through wonderful succulent and cacti gardens, Japanese gardens and paths as well as rose gardens.

Beautiful nature in downtown Austin, Texas

After a fulfilling trip to Japan a month prior to traveling to Austin, I was so excited to see the Japanese gardens and found them to be absolutely magical! There were hidden trails, Koi-filled ponds, a bamboo path and so much more. This place cannot be missed if you come to Austin.

The bats at Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas

Another great place to experience the nature in Austin is by heading to the Congress Avenue Bridge around sunset. Above and below the bridge, you could see bats flying through the air. It is so cool!

Visit the State Capitol in Downtown Austin:

The Texas State Capitol in downtown Austin

As you stroll up the famous Congress Street in downtown Austin, you can spot a beautiful view of the Texas State Capitol.

The dome in the Texas State Capitol

Throughout the day, you could book a tour and get a U.S. history lesson about the “Lone Star State”. One thing you cannot miss if you head inside the Capitol is the beautifully-detailed dome.

Hang out on the Water:

A beautiful summer day at Barton Springs Pool

Known as one of the crown jewels of Austin is Barton Springs Pool. This wonderful area is a great place for locals to swim year-round, specifically during Austin’s hottest days.

Barton Springs is fed from underground springs with an average temperature of 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit. It is a great place to hangout with family and friends and there is also a lawn area to sunbathe, read a book, take a nap and enjoy some snacks. (Throughout the area are some great food and ice cream trucks!)

In addition, it is also cool to walk around the springs’ trails and hangout on the mini cliffs. I definitely enjoyed being at Barton Springs because it was over 90 degrees during my time in Austin.

Barton Springs Pool in downtown Austin, Texas

Other ways to have fun on the water is by scheduling a tubing tour along the Colorado River. With some of these tours, you could BYOB and waterproof speakers and have a great time!

Nearby is also Lake Travis, where you could party on a boat or yacht. It is perfect for the 20 or 30-something crowd and makes for great bachelor and bachelorette parties! You could also rent canoes and kayaks by clicking here!

Dance to Live Music:

A woman enjoying her time in Austin, Texas

Another great staple Austin is known for is its live music scene! Throughout the city, you could find numerous bars and restaurants with some awesome live country, folk, blues, jazz, bluegrass, indie and classic rock music.

As you walk through the lively 6th Street or Rainey Street, you will find a plethora of different live music bars. It is why Austin makes for one of the best weekend getaways in Texas!

Here is a list of wonderful bars I went to during my time in Austin and discover why it is great for a weekend escape:

Downtown Austin, Texas at night
A craft beer from Austin, Texas

A lot of these bars offer a great rooftop that overlooks the city and I highly recommend trying a Texas cider or delicious craft beer while you are there!

Explore Downtown Austin with Lime:

A state located in Austin

Throughout Austin, you will find lime green bikes and scooters. As I have mentioned previously in my Seattle blog post, Lime are bikes and scooters you could “rent” to get around a city.

A frog mural from Austin, Texas

All you need to do is download the app, find a bike or scooter and start riding! These are especially helpful when it is super hot (or cold) outside and you need to get somewhere far.

Inspirational street art in downtown Austin

Some great things to see in Austin on your scooter or bike are the murals! There are so many great murals around the city and throughout the different districts that just get you.

Attend Austin City Limits:

Austin City Limits Festival

Austin City Limits (ACL) is a big music festival that is held annually in Zilker Park. In fact, ACL is held two weekends in October.

This annual music festival is inspired by the KLRU/PBS music series and is produced by Austin-based company C3 Presents, which also produces another major music festival called Lollapalooza that takes place in Chicago every year.

Meet a New Friend:

A group of friends having fun in Austin, Texas

One of the best aspects of Austin, Texas are the locals. The people here are some of the friendliest I’ve ever met and they are always willing to help you out!

From my Uber drivers to my Airbnb host and the people on the street to waiters and waitresses at restaurants and bars, “Austinites” are some of the best! It is so easy to meet a friend in this city.

Click here to discover more to do and see in Austin.


Memorable things to do in Downtown Austin:

A woman wandering through Zilker Park in Austin

I hope you all enjoyed reading about my time in Austin, Texas and discovering everything you could see and do in this lively city.

If you have any questions about my trip, please feel free to email me at [email protected].

Make sure to pin this post if you find it useful!

Top things to do in Downtown Austin

Basic Facts of the United States:

Currency: United States Dollar, Capital: Washington D.C., TX State Capital: Austin, Time Zone: Central Standard Time

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*Anything could happen during your travels. Always make sure you are insured in case there are unforeseen circumstances such as lost luggage/theft, natural disasters, personal liabilities and more. Click here to get insured for your next trip.

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22 Comments

  1. Danielle on September 24, 2018 at 11:14 pm

    Great post, Taylor! I lived in Austin for a couple months, and you really covered what makes Austin awesome. I’m glad you had such a good experience.
    And now I’m over here drooling just thinking about the BBQ…

    • Taylor Deer on September 25, 2018 at 10:37 am

      Thank you so much Danielle! Austin is such a great city and it is amazing that you live there. Definitely head over to House Park BBQ, they are great people! 🙂

  2. Penny Bernal on September 25, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    Hi Taylor,
    Great post! I met you at TravelCon at the Bat Bridge. While I did many of the things you’ve listed, I now feel that I need to go back to visit the Botanical Gardens and Graffiti Park (before it’s demolished). Very thorough!

    • Taylor Deer on September 25, 2018 at 11:10 pm

      Hi Penny!

      Thank you for stopping by! TravelCon was such an amazing event. I am missing it!

      Yes, I highly recommend the Botanical Gardens next time you go. It was a last minute decision for me to go there and I am glad that I did. There are so many hidden gems to it. The Graffiti Park was really cool too! Thank you for the feedback! 🙂

  3. Jackie on October 8, 2018 at 7:39 am

    Great post, Taylor! I’ll be visiting Austin this December with my husband. We’ll be meeting up with my dad and you’ve given me some great ideas of things to see and eat while we’re there. The gardens look beautiful, I’ll have to visit again when it’s not winter, haha.

    • Taylor Deer on October 8, 2018 at 2:48 pm

      Thank you so much Jackie! You’re going to love Austin, there is such a cool vibe there. Also, apparently the weather is nice all year round, so you probably will be able to see the gardens. They are absolutely amazing! 🙂

  4. Cristina on March 31, 2020 at 8:29 am

    Great post! I have never been to Austin but it looks such an amazing place 🙂

    • Taylor Deer on March 31, 2020 at 9:59 am

      Thank you Cristina! It’s such a fun city to visit. 🙂

  5. Rebecca Noelle on March 31, 2020 at 11:53 am

    Such a good piece to have for planning out a trip! This helps planning out food and all must see spots.

    • Taylor Deer on March 31, 2020 at 2:04 pm

      Thank you Rebecca! It’s such a fun city with so much to offer. 🙂

  6. Maria on March 31, 2020 at 9:18 pm

    The Airbnb you stayed at really looks lovely! And I’m definitely a foodie like you – I’d love to try out the Voodoo Doughnut!

    • Taylor Deer on April 1, 2020 at 9:21 am

      Yes, it was so cute!!! Also, Austin has so many great spots for foodies. The VooDoo Doughnut was definitely a bucket list moment as an American lol

  7. Bettina on May 2, 2020 at 8:54 pm

    This looks so fun and makes me want to go back! I also need to try the Voodoo Doughnut when I go back!

    • Taylor Deer on May 2, 2020 at 10:35 pm

      Yes, I hope to go back at some point too! I went for TravelCon in September 2018.

  8. Francesca on May 3, 2020 at 6:56 am

    Austin looks like such a cool place! I know I would love to go straight to Voodo Doughnut, I would also love to go to TravelCon but it’s a bit tricky being from the UK. One day though!

    • Taylor Deer on May 3, 2020 at 12:56 pm

      It really is an awesome city! Also yes, I totally get that. There were a few international people there though. I hope you get to go one day. 🙂

  9. Julie on May 3, 2020 at 9:02 pm

    My husband and I were just talking about how much we want to visit Austin! Definitely saving this as we hope to get there in the next year!!

    • Taylor Deer on May 3, 2020 at 11:03 pm

      Yes! It is such a fun city. You guys would totally love it. 🙂

  10. Shannon on May 4, 2020 at 2:37 pm

    I love all of the murals! Reminds me on Nashville. I will be saving this post for future reference because Austin is on my bucket list. You make it look oh so fun!!

    • Taylor Deer on May 4, 2020 at 2:52 pm

      Yes, it’s so much fun and so cute there. You would love Austin! 🙂

  11. Yukti Agrawal on May 6, 2020 at 11:43 am

    The mural street art of Austin has won me over for this place. I loved so many beautiful things to do here.

    • Taylor Deer on May 7, 2020 at 1:05 pm

      Yes! The murals really are so fun! I want to go back and see more. 🙂

Leave a Comment





DSC_0111

Downtown Austin, Texas

An iconic mural in Austin, Texas

Downtown Austin, Texas is the perfect destination to have a good time in the United States!

Not only am I trying to globe trot to different countries around the world, I also have a curiosity to see all that my home country has to offer!

A woman wandering through Zilker Botanical Gardens

Over the past few years, mid-size American cities such as Nashville, New Orleans, Charleston, Savannah, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Portland, Charlotte, Minneapolis and Austin have become major hotspots for people who live in the U.S. and around the world!

Instead of taking a girls’ or guys’ trip to Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami, Los Angeles, D.C., Boston, Philadelphia, Houston and New York, where everything is a bit overwhelming and expensive, men and women are now heading to the mid-size cities I mention above to experience a culture that is more close-knit and easy to savor.

A cute mural in Austin, Texas

During September 2018, I traveled to Austin, Texas, for the first annual TravelCon event for travel bloggers like myself.

Before the three-day conference began, I flew to Texas’ capital a day early so that I could explore all that the city has to offer! I am so excited to go over everything I did and all the best things to do in downtown Austin.

A woman enjoying street art in Austin, Texas

**Please note that this blog post uses affiliate links meaning that if you make a purchase via my affiliate link, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only promote and talk about products and services that I have used and like.


Pin the Below Image to Keep Handy

An Austin Texas City Guide

Top Things to do in Downtown Austin:

A woman in front of an iconic mural in Austin, Texas

Getting Around Austin:

To get around in Austin, there is a train, but the easiest way is to either rent a car (if you aren’t staying in the heart of the city) or take an Uber or Lyft like I did.

If you are staying downtown, most places are in walking distance and they are easy to get to.

Stay in an Airbnb:

A cute Airbnb in Austin, Texas

Even though it is convenient to get a hotel room in downtown Austin when you visit, I highly encourage you to get outside the heart of the city and stay where the locals are downtown.

There are so many different neighborhoods to Austin that are unique and authentic and being able to stay in these areas are definitely the best way to experience the city.

During my time in Austin, I stayed in the cutest Airbnb in the Dawson area. It was a little casita located in the backyard of the owner’s main house. I loved the little courtyard with stringed lights! The casita was perfect for me as it was a studio that featured a quaint nook area, loft, little kitchen and a backyard. Click here to book this Airbnb Plus!

The area that I stayed in had some cute restaurants that have been in the city for quite some time. They were decorated with local street art, string lights and so much more. You could also find a lot of food trucks in the downtown area. It is adorable!

A food truck park at night in Austin

If you are looking to save money and enjoy the authenticity that Austin offers, I highly recommend staying in an Airbnb or a Vrbo.

Another great place to find adorable and authentic rentals is through AllTheRooms. Click here to check out their selection of cabins and rentals in Austin.

Looking for an RV for your next trip, reserve here!

Savor all the FOOD (and Drinks):

Austin is known for some great cuisines, so if you are a foodie like myself, I highly recommend creating a bucket list and making your rounds throughout the city.

Here is a list of food places you must go to during your time in downtown Austin, according to my experience:

Texas Barbeque:

House Park Bar-B-Que in downtown Austin
  • House Park Bar-B-Que: If you are looking for an authentic BBQ restaurant with a warm and welcoming ambiance, then I highly recommend going to House Park Bar-B-Que. I found this great place on my way to Graffiti Park and I will admit that when you first walk in, it is a bit of a dive, but my pulled BBQ chicken sandwich was absolutely amazing! Also the staff was super friendly to me. I told them I would definitely be back in the future!
A delicious barbeque chicken sandwich
  • Salt Lick: Known as one of Austin’s most popular BBQ restaurants, you could find this great place in the Driftwood section of the city, in the suburb of Round Rock and also in Austin’s airport. In fact, I savored some great breakfast tacos at Salt Lick’s airport location. They were a good fuel before I flew back home.
Lambert's Downtown Barbecue in Austin, Texas
  • Lambert’s Downtown Barbecue: If you are looking for a great Texas BBQ brunch spot, then Lambert’s in downtown Austin is a great place to go to on a Saturday or Sunday. Lambert’s is also one of the fancier BBQ restaurants I visited during my time in Austin. Not only could you get some great BBQ, you could also savor other delicious southern comfort meals.

Overall, Texas is the best place to try BBQ in the United States. No matter where you go, there are so many amazing spots to grab barbecue in Austin and Central Texas.

Tacos/TexMex:

Torchy's Tacos in Austin, Texas
  • Torchy’s Tacos: Also known as taco heaven, you could find Torchy’s Tacos all throughout the state of Texas. If you are looking to savor some amazing TexMex tacos, then you HAVE to go to a Torchy’s. They have so many different types of tacos for you to choose from and they even serve breakfast. During my time in downtown Austin, there was a Torchy’s Tacos truck located near the conference, so we all were able to enjoy them.
Torchy's Tacos' delicious chicken tacos

Donuts:

Voodoo Doughnut Fruit Loops donut
  • Voodoo Doughnut: I could finally say that I tried VooDoo Doughnut! Prior to going to Austin, I only thought that you could get these famous donuts in Portland, OR, but apparently they have a few locations throughout the country. Besides, Portland and Austin, you could also find a VooDoo Doughnut in Eugene, Denver, Hollywood and Orlando. This fun donut shop offers several “crazy donuts” with some fun toppings! I had a vanilla-frosted donut with Fruit Loops! (I honestly can’t tell you the last time I had Fruit Loops.) In addition to VooDoo Doughnut being a donut and coffee shop, you could also see a live band play there. In Austin, it is located in the city’s lively 6th Street, snuggled between some fun live music bars. It was my first stop in Austin.
VooDoo Doughnut shop in downtown Austin
  • Gourdough’s: Known as an Austin staple, it is a sin to travel to this city without making your way to Gourdough’s Donuts’ airstream or Gourdough’s Public House. Located in the South Lamar area, you could sit down at Gourdough’s Public House and savor some amazing donut sandwiches. There is seriously nothing better and to top it off, they even have a weekend brunch!
Gourdough's delicious donuts in Austin, Texas

Asian Fusion:

Singapore noodles from Wu Chow in Austin
  • Chi’Lantro: If you are looking for a foodie heaven that features Korean BBQ mixed with Mexican ingredients, then you definitely have to make your way to Chi’Lantro. There are quite a few locations and food trucks that you could go to within Austin, but the one I went to was in the South Lamar area as it was the closest to my Airbnb. It was the place where I met up with my friend Lydia who had just moved to Austin during that time. We enjoyed kimchi fries as well as a Korean BBQ bowl. It was so good!
A delicious meal from Chi'Lantro in Austin, Texas
  • Wu Chow: After a great day of learning at the conference, nothing was more fulfilling than having dinner at one of the best farm-to-table dim sum places in Austin. Wu Chow is located on 5th street in a posh area of downtown. Here, you could savor some delicious Asian food and also enjoy a well-needed cocktail. At Wu Chow, I had chicken and spinach dumplings with some vegetarian Singapore noodles. It was amazing!
Delicious dumplings from Wu Chow in Downtown Austin

Coffee:

Jo's Coffee in Downtown Austin
  • Jo’s Coffee: Besides VooDoo Doughnut, you could also enjoy breakfast and coffee with some live music at Jo’s Coffee that is located downtown. In addition to the downtown location, which is cute and colorful, you could also find a Jo’s Coffee truck and they are also on the University of Texas’ campus. Besides breakfast, you could also get lunch, dinner and grab-and-go items.
  • Houndstooth Coffee: Another great coffee shop in downtown Austin is Houndstooth Coffee. What is great about this wonderful coffee shop is that it focuses on sustainability. Local and national suppliers from around the country source sustainable products from the best farms and provinces.

Wine:

A rosé from CRU Wine Bar in Austin
  • CRÚ Wine Bar: If you are looking for a quaint, elegant, artsy and delicious place, all in one, to wind down and relax after a long day, then CRÚ Wine Bar is the perfect place! Here, you could sip a refreshing glass of wine (or a bottle) and savor some great small plates. When the conference was over, I enjoyed a lovely glass of rosé with some amazing lobster and shrimp dumplings. It definitely hit the spot!

A Mix of Everything:

Delicious lobster and shrimp dumplings from CRU Wine Bar
  • Fareground at One Eleven: Known as Austin’s first food hall, Fareground at One Eleven is an inside/outside, eat/drink, work/play as well as an early morning and late night food and drink hub in downtown Austin. After the second day of the conference, we all went to Fareground where we were able to enjoy a plethora of different foodie options as well as a wine, beer or cocktails. There is a cheese shop, American food stand, taqueria, bakery, vegetarian stand as well as a sushi and ramen shop. At night, the lawn in front is lit up with lights. It is a great place!

Get Weird in Austin:

Hope Outdoor Gallery in Austin, Texas

As you wander throughout downtown Austin, you will continue to see signs that say “Keep Austin Weird”. This slogan was adopted by the Austin Independent Business Alliance to promote small businesses within the city.

Here are some fun ways to experience Austin’s “weirdness”:

  • Museum of the Weird: Located on Austin’s 6th Street is Museum of the Weird. When you first walk into this place, you will see a gift shop. In the back, you will find a museum that features some unusual items and works of art. In addition, the museum also explores paranormal subject matters like Austin’s haunted scene as well as the Texas Bigfoot. It is one of the last true dime museums in the United States and definitely deserves a visit.
Talented street art from Hope Outdoor Gallery
  • Graffiti Park: One place I definitely had to see during my time in Austin was the city’s famous Graffiti Park, which is officially known as Hope Outdoor Gallery. Concrete walls and slabs from a failed housing development, that was supposed to be built in the 1980s, were decorated by locals. What is cool about Graffiti Park is that you could bring your own art supplies and implement your creativity. **(Please note that the Hope Outdoor Gallery has been moved from the downtown area to across from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.)**
Colorful murals from Hope Outdoor Gallery in Austin

Enjoy Central Texas Nature:

A woman enjoying a beautiful day at Zilker Park in Austin

One of the best ways to experience nature in Austin is by heading over to Zilker Park, located in South Austin.

One side of the park is where you could see the Colorado River and the other side features Barton Creek. There is so much to do within this 350-acre park.

A woman sitting in a park in downtown Austin

Besides Barton Springs Pool, which I talk about below, Zilker Park features a science center, theater, several ball parks and playgrounds, a mini train for kids, campgrounds and a sculpture museum.

One of the highlights during my time spent at Zilker Park was roaming through the botanical gardens.

A bamboo forest in Zilker Botanical Garden

Zilker Botanical Garden is one of the best botanical gardens I’ve been to.

Here, you could wander aimlessly for hours through wonderful succulent and cacti gardens, Japanese gardens and paths as well as rose gardens.

Beautiful nature in downtown Austin, Texas

After a fulfilling trip to Japan a month prior to traveling to Austin, I was so excited to see the Japanese gardens and found them to be absolutely magical! There were hidden trails, Koi-filled ponds, a bamboo path and so much more. This place cannot be missed if you come to Austin.

The bats at Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas

Another great place to experience the nature in Austin is by heading to the Congress Avenue Bridge around sunset. Above and below the bridge, you could see bats flying through the air. It is so cool!

Visit the State Capitol in Downtown Austin:

The Texas State Capitol in downtown Austin

As you stroll up the famous Congress Street in downtown Austin, you can spot a beautiful view of the Texas State Capitol.

The dome in the Texas State Capitol

Throughout the day, you could book a tour and get a U.S. history lesson about the “Lone Star State”. One thing you cannot miss if you head inside the Capitol is the beautifully-detailed dome.

Hang out on the Water:

A beautiful summer day at Barton Springs Pool

Known as one of the crown jewels of Austin is Barton Springs Pool. This wonderful area is a great place for locals to swim year-round, specifically during Austin’s hottest days.

Barton Springs is fed from underground springs with an average temperature of 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit. It is a great place to hangout with family and friends and there is also a lawn area to sunbathe, read a book, take a nap and enjoy some snacks. (Throughout the area are some great food and ice cream trucks!)

In addition, it is also cool to walk around the springs’ trails and hangout on the mini cliffs. I definitely enjoyed being at Barton Springs because it was over 90 degrees during my time in Austin.

Barton Springs Pool in downtown Austin, Texas

Other ways to have fun on the water is by scheduling a tubing tour along the Colorado River. With some of these tours, you could BYOB and waterproof speakers and have a great time!

Nearby is also Lake Travis, where you could party on a boat or yacht. It is perfect for the 20 or 30-something crowd and makes for great bachelor and bachelorette parties! You could also rent canoes and kayaks by clicking here!

Dance to Live Music:

A woman enjoying her time in Austin, Texas

Another great staple Austin is known for is its live music scene! Throughout the city, you could find numerous bars and restaurants with some awesome live country, folk, blues, jazz, bluegrass, indie and classic rock music.

As you walk through the lively 6th Street or Rainey Street, you will find a plethora of different live music bars. It is why Austin makes for one of the best weekend getaways in Texas!

Here is a list of wonderful bars I went to during my time in Austin and discover why it is great for a weekend escape:

Downtown Austin, Texas at night
A craft beer from Austin, Texas

A lot of these bars offer a great rooftop that overlooks the city and I highly recommend trying a Texas cider or delicious craft beer while you are there!

Explore Downtown Austin with Lime:

A state located in Austin

Throughout Austin, you will find lime green bikes and scooters. As I have mentioned previously in my Seattle blog post, Lime are bikes and scooters you could “rent” to get around a city.

A frog mural from Austin, Texas

All you need to do is download the app, find a bike or scooter and start riding! These are especially helpful when it is super hot (or cold) outside and you need to get somewhere far.

Inspirational street art in downtown Austin

Some great things to see in Austin on your scooter or bike are the murals! There are so many great murals around the city and throughout the different districts that just get you.

Attend Austin City Limits:

Austin City Limits Festival

Austin City Limits (ACL) is a big music festival that is held annually in Zilker Park. In fact, ACL is held two weekends in October.

This annual music festival is inspired by the KLRU/PBS music series and is produced by Austin-based company C3 Presents, which also produces another major music festival called Lollapalooza that takes place in Chicago every year.

Meet a New Friend:

A group of friends having fun in Austin, Texas

One of the best aspects of Austin, Texas are the locals. The people here are some of the friendliest I’ve ever met and they are always willing to help you out!

From my Uber drivers to my Airbnb host and the people on the street to waiters and waitresses at restaurants and bars, “Austinites” are some of the best! It is so easy to meet a friend in this city.

Click here to discover more to do and see in Austin.


Memorable things to do in Downtown Austin:

A woman wandering through Zilker Park in Austin

I hope you all enjoyed reading about my time in Austin, Texas and discovering everything you could see and do in this lively city.

If you have any questions about my trip, please feel free to email me at [email protected].

Make sure to pin this post if you find it useful!

Top things to do in Downtown Austin

Basic Facts of the United States:

Currency: United States Dollar, Capital: Washington D.C., TX State Capital: Austin, Time Zone: Central Standard Time

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*Anything could happen during your travels. Always make sure you are insured in case there are unforeseen circumstances such as lost luggage/theft, natural disasters, personal liabilities and more. Click here to get insured for your next trip.

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22 Comments

  1. Danielle on September 24, 2018 at 11:14 pm

    Great post, Taylor! I lived in Austin for a couple months, and you really covered what makes Austin awesome. I’m glad you had such a good experience.
    And now I’m over here drooling just thinking about the BBQ…

    • Taylor Deer on September 25, 2018 at 10:37 am

      Thank you so much Danielle! Austin is such a great city and it is amazing that you live there. Definitely head over to House Park BBQ, they are great people! 🙂

  2. Penny Bernal on September 25, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    Hi Taylor,
    Great post! I met you at TravelCon at the Bat Bridge. While I did many of the things you’ve listed, I now feel that I need to go back to visit the Botanical Gardens and Graffiti Park (before it’s demolished). Very thorough!

    • Taylor Deer on September 25, 2018 at 11:10 pm

      Hi Penny!

      Thank you for stopping by! TravelCon was such an amazing event. I am missing it!

      Yes, I highly recommend the Botanical Gardens next time you go. It was a last minute decision for me to go there and I am glad that I did. There are so many hidden gems to it. The Graffiti Park was really cool too! Thank you for the feedback! 🙂

  3. Jackie on October 8, 2018 at 7:39 am

    Great post, Taylor! I’ll be visiting Austin this December with my husband. We’ll be meeting up with my dad and you’ve given me some great ideas of things to see and eat while we’re there. The gardens look beautiful, I’ll have to visit again when it’s not winter, haha.

    • Taylor Deer on October 8, 2018 at 2:48 pm

      Thank you so much Jackie! You’re going to love Austin, there is such a cool vibe there. Also, apparently the weather is nice all year round, so you probably will be able to see the gardens. They are absolutely amazing! 🙂

  4. Cristina on March 31, 2020 at 8:29 am

    Great post! I have never been to Austin but it looks such an amazing place 🙂

    • Taylor Deer on March 31, 2020 at 9:59 am

      Thank you Cristina! It’s such a fun city to visit. 🙂

  5. Rebecca Noelle on March 31, 2020 at 11:53 am

    Such a good piece to have for planning out a trip! This helps planning out food and all must see spots.

    • Taylor Deer on March 31, 2020 at 2:04 pm

      Thank you Rebecca! It’s such a fun city with so much to offer. 🙂

  6. Maria on March 31, 2020 at 9:18 pm

    The Airbnb you stayed at really looks lovely! And I’m definitely a foodie like you – I’d love to try out the Voodoo Doughnut!

    • Taylor Deer on April 1, 2020 at 9:21 am

      Yes, it was so cute!!! Also, Austin has so many great spots for foodies. The VooDoo Doughnut was definitely a bucket list moment as an American lol

  7. Bettina on May 2, 2020 at 8:54 pm

    This looks so fun and makes me want to go back! I also need to try the Voodoo Doughnut when I go back!

    • Taylor Deer on May 2, 2020 at 10:35 pm

      Yes, I hope to go back at some point too! I went for TravelCon in September 2018.

  8. Francesca on May 3, 2020 at 6:56 am

    Austin looks like such a cool place! I know I would love to go straight to Voodo Doughnut, I would also love to go to TravelCon but it’s a bit tricky being from the UK. One day though!

    • Taylor Deer on May 3, 2020 at 12:56 pm

      It really is an awesome city! Also yes, I totally get that. There were a few international people there though. I hope you get to go one day. 🙂

  9. Julie on May 3, 2020 at 9:02 pm

    My husband and I were just talking about how much we want to visit Austin! Definitely saving this as we hope to get there in the next year!!

    • Taylor Deer on May 3, 2020 at 11:03 pm

      Yes! It is such a fun city. You guys would totally love it. 🙂

  10. Shannon on May 4, 2020 at 2:37 pm

    I love all of the murals! Reminds me on Nashville. I will be saving this post for future reference because Austin is on my bucket list. You make it look oh so fun!!

    • Taylor Deer on May 4, 2020 at 2:52 pm

      Yes, it’s so much fun and so cute there. You would love Austin! 🙂

  11. Yukti Agrawal on May 6, 2020 at 11:43 am

    The mural street art of Austin has won me over for this place. I loved so many beautiful things to do here.

    • Taylor Deer on May 7, 2020 at 1:05 pm

      Yes! The murals really are so fun! I want to go back and see more. 🙂

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