There’s a famous slogan of the city of Austin in Texas and that’s “Keep Austin Weird”. This slogan was actually created in hopes of promoting small businesses and indeed, in Austin, you will run into many small businesses that are worthy of visiting. But rest assured, Austin is not ALL that weird. Austin, Texas is a city known for its eccentric scenery with nightlife, outdoor art gallery, parks, river access and experiencing live music that excites just about anyone.
This city will show you that Texas isn’t all of what you’ve seen in movies: a huge vast area of deserted or farm land. It is a city that shows the biggest state in the country is diversified and has a lot of urban scenery to it. In fact, when I traveled here in December 2019 when my best friend Karan invited me to go to his work company’s holiday party as his plus-one, I was surprised just how nice the city actually was.
I also did some solo exploring in the city (by foot) and I do recommend traveling to this city too if you are planning a solo trip.
1. Waller Creek and Lady Bird Lake
Waller Creek is a tunnel that helps to reduce flooding in downtown Austin and it connects to Lady Bird Lake where the floodwaters are released. Why would you want to visit a water system? Well, it’s got a small area where you can sit around and relax around too and you can walk around the tunnel.
On the other hand, Lady Bird Lake is fantastic for water activities as it is a reservoir on the Colorado River (no, not the same Colorado River in Arizona). You can do (and rent) some paddling, kayaking, and run around the park with the downtown city in the backdrop.
2. Zilker Park
Zilker Park is one of Austin’s many parks and also one of the most known one or “most loved”. This park is 351 acres and it features a few of its distinct areas like the Zilker Botanical Garden (it has a $10 admission fee), Barton Springs Pool (a natural spring-fed pool that is warm as 68 degrees all year round), a golf course, a recreation center, Zilker Hillside Theatre, and more.
3. The Texas Capitol
This is definitely a must-see when you’re in the city of Austin. Austin is the capital city of Texas and the Texas Capitol is a beautiful building filled with history and the rooms are really beautiful. There is no admission fee to tour the capitol building and you are free to self-tour it.
Outside of the building, it has a lot of open space that people can sit outside to enjoy the grassy front yard. Going into the building, you will see there are 4-stories with steep stairs, but as you get up, you can see below of what’s happening in the lobby and you’re given the opportunity to explore most of the rooms in each floor.
4. Explore downtown on Congress Avenue
Congress Avenue is a six-lane street and this is a place to explore before or after the Texas Capitol since the Texas Capitol can be found here. You can find a lot of restaurants, bars, stores (don’t forget to get your Austin, Texas souvenirs here!), and food trucks, the best part of it all.
5. Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge
Congress Avenue connects to the Congress Avenue Bridge too. The Congress Avenue Bridge is a park that overlooks Lady Bird Lake. This is a good place if you are planning to go for an exercise in some nature after having been downtown a lot. This is also one of the largest bat colonies ever with 750k to 1 million bats emerging out of it by dusk time.
6. Rainey Street
Rainey Street has a lot of historic homes in this street, bungalow style, and it is also home to nightlife with bars, clubs, and restaurants. Everything is super walkable and it can get so busy during the hours after dark.
I suggest checking out Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden if you want to experience some crazy good live music and crazy good barbecue foods or brunch. I also suggest to party it up at Unbarlievable (which has a fun adult slide built inside) and Lucille.
7. Explore 6th Street
6th Street, also referred to by locals as “Dirty Sixth”, is an entertainment district and one of Austin’s drivers to tourism. On this street, you can find an array of restaurants and bars where you can easily find live music that Austin is known for.
There are also upbeat clubs here where you can go from one club to another. If you’re craving to hang out at a bar and get your drink on, check out this list that Thrillist made from the best 6th Street Austin Bars ranked from best to worst. Don’t forget to check out “Museum of the Weird” on 6th Street too to see some quirky oddities (like shrunken heads) and even their gift shop merchandise is quirky.
8. McKinney Falls State Park
This state park does contain falls that run throughout boulders. This pretty nature place has a few easy hikes you can do. In warmer weather, swimming here would also be a refreshing idea.
Some trails you can do are Onion Creek and Homestead Trail Loop (6.5 miles long, 387 feet elevation gain), Lower Falls and Homestead Loop Trail (3.0 miles long, 170 feet elevation gain), and Homestead Trail (3.1 miles long, 157 feet elevation gain).
9. Eat, eat, eat!
Like in a lot of big popular cities, you can find food that you won’t find elsewhere and you’ll be stuck with several options. There are too many good places to eat in Austin.
To start off with, I suggest going to East Austin for a few restaurants. My favorite was Ramen Tatsu-Ya as their ramen dishes are just perfect portions and their dessert options are perfect too (like the Gotcha Matcha), not to mention their place is super cute and makes you feel right in Asia. Check out this comprehensive list by The Infatuation on more East Side eats.
Austin, Texas is also known for their breakfast tacos and burritos because there’s a lot of them to be found. You can find options from vegetarian to a meaty breakfast taco/burrito. Some of the places I recommend are TacoDeli, Taco Xpress, Counter Cafe.
10. Mount Bonnell at Covert Park
One of my favorite places I’ve seen in Austin! Also because it’s the highest point in the city. This short hike through a 106-steps staircase leads to a historical monument and then a view of the Colorado River (NO not the one in Arizona). Check out my whole blog post on this trail and park.
Don’t forget! Find a place to stay in at Austin, Texas
Watch me explore this city!
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