Back in April, I went to visit my sister who lives in Austin, TX. Aaron, my parents and I made a long weekend of it.
Even though my sister has lived in Austin, Texas for a few years, I’d still never been to Texas before. So when I saw some cheap flights for this past April, I knew I had to go visit. After catching a 5 a.m. flight, and standing in the Lyft line for what felt like forever, we finally made it to Austin. We stayed in an adorable AirBnb near the South Congress area.
Here’s a recap of what we did and ate.
Dinner at Uncle BIlly’s (Twice!)
Dinner on our first night was at Uncle Billy’s. Hands down one of the best patios I’ve ever sat on. It’s nice and spacious. They also have a lot of covering to keep you out of the hot Texas sun. The bbq is also delicious, I recommend the pulled pork. This place was so enjoyable, we actually ended up here twice. It’s a great option if you’re looking for great patio seating, bbq and beer.
Walk around Ladybird Lake
If you want to get out into nature, a walk around the lake is perfect. You can get a great view of the downtown skyline and there are some unique places to stop and take in the view.
Tour the Texas State Capitol
Waking up on our first full day in Austin, it was pouring rain. We made the best of it by visiting the State Capitol. It’s free to visit and you can wander on your own or take a guided tour. We chose to explore on our own. It was neat to see all the ornate details in every inch of the building. Even the door hinges had etchings in them. There is a ton of history to see and learn about at the capitol. It is worth a visit if you’re looking for an indoor activity.
Buy Local Art at Austin Art Garage
Afterwards, we hit up Austin Art Garage. They have a lot of local art for affordable prices. I enjoyed the variety of art there. Aaron and I both picked out some unique art to bring home.
Eat Churros from a Food Truck
I kept seeing this churro food truck that looked interesting near our Airbnb. There was a little bit of a wait for the churros because it was busy, but it was so worth it! I got one with a rum-pecan sauce, banana slices and waffle cone crumbles. Tip: The Churro truck is only open Thurs. – Sun., so plan accordingly.
Wander Around South Congress
The next day, it was finally sunny out. We spent the morning walking around the South Congress area. There are many unique shops (thrift stores, Austin goods, and more) to browse through. There’s also some superb street art in this area. It was fun to have no plans and wander through the area. I highly recommend stopping at Jo’s Coffee and getting the iced coffee to start your journey.
Eat Lunch at Torchy’s
We sat by a sign on the wall that said “damn good”, they weren’t wrong! We had tried to visit a few other times during our stay, but the line was crazy long. Since we were in the area again, we figured we’d try one last time. Lucky for us, there were only a few people in line. The tacos were delicious. I’d definitely go back. While there were some more “authentic” taco places to visit, Torchy’s is good if you want a big variety of choices.
Watch the Bats
That night, we went to watch the infamous Austin Bats. If you’re unfamiliar with them, up to 100,000 bats live under the Congress Ave bridge, and emerge at dusk and fly high into the sky. People gather every night to watch them come out. At first, I wasn’t super into the idea of watching bats. The more time we spent in Austin, the more I heard people talking about the bats. Everyone said you should see them at least once. So we headed out right before dusk. I’m glad my sister was with us, because she knew where to find good parking. A LOT of people come out to see the bats, so plan for plenty of time to find parking. We ended up having to walk 8-10 blocks.
Some people sit under the bridge in a park area. We opted to stand on top of the bridge. When the bats finally came out, it was difficult to see at first. But then you’d see what looked like a little wispy cloud-like formation floating in the distance; these were the bats. I wasn’t able to get any photos of the bats, but I did get a good sunset photo of downtown Austin. I’m glad we went to see the bats, and I’d definitely go again. It’s a very uniquely Austin activity, if you’re looking for something different.
Explore Uncommon Objects
A very large antique store in the south of Austin. They have a wide variety of unique things, and if you’re into antique stores, you could spend hours here. I found an entire nook that had vintage cameras. They were a bit overpriced, but still fun to look at. I also found some interesting framed advertisements from 1906. Very unique, vintage art.
Grab a Beer at St. Elmo Brewing Company
Since we were in the area, we stopped at St. Elmo’s for a drink. It was the middle of the week and the middle of the afternoon so it was pretty empty. They had a nice patio area, but it was hot and sunny, so we opted to stay inside. I got the kolsch, which was very refreshing on such a hot day.
Hunt for Street Art
If you’re in Austin, you’ll most likely run into some of the street art as you’re doing other activities. My recommendations is to look for the lesser-known art and skip the “welcome to Austin” wall. I ended up finding my favorite mural, by chance as we walked through downtown. Though I’ll admit, I did have to get a few shots in front of the “I love you so much” mural. Know that if you do go to the more popular murals, you will have to wait in line. There’s also the ATX sign, near the flagship Whole Foods downtown. I love that sign so much, it’s very colorful and fun.
What I most enjoyed about Austin is that there’s something unique for everyone to do there. If you haven’t been yet, make sure to add Austin to your places to visit!