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What to do in Austin: Food, Drink and Travel Guide

We had a lovely time in Austin last week, so I thought I’d share with you some of my favorites if you plan on going in the future! While we were there for four days, I feel like we saw and did so much!

We didn’t do any formal tours, but I got some great recommendations on tours and felt like we covered a good amount of ground on our feet.

Austin Travel Guide

Here is a list of things you should do in Austin, Texas.

Austin Tx Travel Guide

Walk into Allen’s Boots

Just walk in and smell the leather. They have a wide selection of leather boots, and it’s fun to go see how delicately each pair has been crafted and decorated.

Some of the boots were upwards of $1,000!

Austin Tx Travel Guide

Explore “SoCo” (South Congress Street)

SOCO is just South of the downtown area. The Ladybird lake and Congress Bridge separates North from South Austin.

We spent a few afternoons just gallivanting along SoCo.

Austin Tx Travel Guide

We grabbed Torchy’s Tacos (you MUST eat them!) one day, stopped in the little Saturday market, ate at South Congress Café (known for the 3rd best bloody mary in America and their carrot cake french toast!), and visited the famous “I love you so much” mural.

Austin Tx Travel Guide
South Congress Cafe, Austin
Carrot Cake French Toast from South Congress Cafe

Check out Ladybird Lake

This ended up being our go to. We stayed at the Radisson, which backed right up to the Ladybird Lake.

There is a 10 mile trail that borders the lake, filled with runners, walkers, and bikers.

At any time of day, you’ll find lots of people out and about. You can even rent canoes and kayaks at spots throughout the trail if you’re itching to get in some water activity.

Austin Tx Travel Guide

The trail is well maintained and it’s a pretty way to see views of Austin from different angles.

Austin Tx Travel Guide
Austin Tx Travel Guide

Walk along East 6th Street and listen to live music

There are endless bars to walk in and out of to check out the live music. Some spots are more eclectic and divey than others, but it’s a great mix of foods, fusion and atmospheres.

We spent the afternoon walking along 6th street, stopping in a few happy hours and trying some new cocktails. At night, there are a bunch of homeless people, so you’ll just have to be aware of that.

Austin Tx Travel Guide

Have Brunch at Moonshine Grill (All you can eat)

You can usually expect to wait 1-2 hours here. Fortunately, it’s a beautiful building connected to an old house, with a front porch and back porch area where you can have coffee, bloody mary’s or mimosa while you wait for brunch.

We got lucky and found a spot at the bar right away. The all you can eat brunch was just what we were looking for after the half marathon.

They had things ranging from French toast and cinnamon buns, to muffins, bagels, fruit platters, fish, sausage, bacon, 3 types of egg scrambles and more.

They also have $5 bloody marys and mimosa’s on Sundays, so get your money’s worth!

Austin Tx Travel Guide
Austin Tx Travel Guide

Do Happy Hour Right

Do I need say more? Anywhere that celebrates happy hour is a good find in my book.

Like Portland, there are so many options for happy hour snacks and drinks daily.

Austin Tx Travel Guide
Happy Hour at Parkside

Check Out the Whole Foods’ Headquarters

This is a cool place to check out if you’re a WF nerd like me. They even offer free fitness classes throughout the week there – barre, cycling, yoga, etc.

They have a few mini restaurants inside the Whole Foods, and a bar/lounge area where you can watch sports games.

Ice Cream At Amy’s

I learned that Amy’s has a pretty good reputation throughout Austin. It’s a cute, eclectic local chain.

The insides are very colorful and kid-friendly. You can get crunchy “add in’s” mixed into your ice cream (kinda like they do in Coldstone). I liked that they offer a Mystery option, where they pick the ice cream choice and toppings for you!

I don’t think I’d be brave enough to do that though because I pretty much always need a cookie dough/cookies and cream/chocolate base. Fruity ice creams don’t do it for me.

Amys Austin

Check Out Rainey Street

Rainey Street was such a cool area. I’d describe it as very hip and trendy, and the spot where younger professionals hang out.

Rainey Street is a street of bars that are in old houses. These houses have been transformed to fun hang outs (the Container Bar is made out of containers!), with open areas, front porch hangouts, and backyard patios with games.

Austin Tx Travel Guide

Most of the bungelows had food trucks behind them, too! We loved hanging out here.

Photo taken from Banger’s

Grab Texas BBQ     

The BBQ places recommended to us were Saltlick, Franklin’s and Stiles Switch. We didn’t make it to any of them, unfortunately. But, next time! And if you like barbeque, you should definitely aim to hit up one of these.

Check Out the Bats Under the Congress Bridge

We actually found out about this “attraction” while at the Marathon Expo on Saturday morning.

It comes up on Travel Advisor and Yelp as one of the top things to do in Austin. It is actually really neat! Since we were staying right near the Congress Bridge, we walked out back and grabbed a seat, noticing that many other people were out there for the same reason.

Just as the sun was setting, we saw crowds and crowds of bats fly out from underneath the bridge into the sky. It was crazy how many of them there were!

Photo taken from Austin City Guide

Check out Lance Armstrong’s Bike Shop

It’s called Mellow Johnny’s and it’s attached to a coffee shop. Ed wanted to see it, so we did.

It was cool, but you would never know Lance owned it, which maybe is a good thing. 

Do a Double Decker Tour or Tour the Capital

We did not do either of these, but they both have amazing reviews.

Apparently, the State Capitol is taller than the US Capital, but not the tallest.

And the Double Decker tours have great reviews. If we ever go back, I do want to do this tour to learn a little bit more about the history. We also heard good things about the Duck Tours. 

Texas State Capitol

The Visitors Center is your friend

They have a great listing of all the bands playing each night and at what venue. It was very helpful to have an organized list. You can’t come to Austin without checking out some live music!

Austin Tx Travel Guide

Tour the University of Texas Campus

We sort of had an “in” with this one, since we know an athletic coach there.

We got an inside tour of the athletic facilities and locker rooms. They have an underwater treadmill they can use – amazing!

University of Austin
University of Austin

We didn’t explore too much else on campus, but just seeing the athletic facilities was quite stunning.

Where You Should Eat

There were so many places on my list that we didn’t get to make it to. But here are some of the recommendations, and some of my favorite dishes!

Brunch at Forthright
Brunch at Forthright Cafe
Eureka Austin
Brussel Sprouts and Lamb Lollipops at Eureka
Acai Bowl at Blenders and Bowls
Acai Bowl at Blenders and Bowls
Crispy Wings and Avocado Cheese Dip at Second Kitchen and Bar
Crispy Wings and Avocado Cheese Dip at Second Kitchen and Bar


  • Frank’s hot dogs
  • Salty Sow
  • Saltlick
  • Moonshine
  • Eureka
  • Easy Tiger
  • Perla’s (seafood)
  • Hop Doddy’s (burgers)
  • The Grove
  • The Domain
  • Barley Swine
  • Vox Table
  • Parkside
  • 24 Diner
  • Geraldine’s
  • Odd Duck
  • Jack Allen’s
  • Pinthouse Pizza
  • Free Birds (burritos)


  • Saundersalt (cocktails)
  • Garage Bar
  • Ginger man (100 beers on tap)
  • Firehouse lounge
  • CU29
  • Vox Table
  • Anywhere on Rainey Street


  • Houndstooth
  • Halcyon
  • Seventh Flag
  • Jo’s Coffee
  • Cuvee
Austin Travel Guide with text overlay | Bucket List Tummy

I definitely recommend walking around the city to explore. Our vacations always seem to be pretty active. We didn’t rent a car and just walked everywhere. Our daily steps were upwards of 15,000 from all of the walking and active exploring.

Plus, you get to see so many more hidden, secret areas when walking, not to mention restaurants and happy hours!

I hope you find this helpful if you ever get a chance to explore Austin. I definitely plan on going back some day!

Do you prefer relaxed or active vacations?

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  1. Sarah-I love this post!

    Being a native Texan who used to live in Austin, I can say that you’ve hit all the buttons of what makes Austin such a great place! I only stop in briefly on my way to College Station now, so I haven’t been to any of those restaurants! But I know I must try Torchy’s–passed by there on my last trip and the line was around the building.

  2. I wouldn’t of thought of going to Austin to vacation, but now I think I may! I love how colorful it is and that it is so walkable. Exploring local areas is my favorite way to vacation. I don’t really care to see attractions or wait in long lines, but I do like to stay active by walking through natural areas or through downtown.
    Also, I’m not sure what carrot cake French toast entails, but it sounds amazing!

    1. It’s very walkable, and there is so much to see. It’s quite eclectic! If you go, promise me you try the carrot cake French toast! Ed said it made the whole trip worth it 🙂

  3. Wow I’m seriously shocked and amazed at how many places you hit in just a short time; I LOVE finding new running places in cities; river side running is one of my favorites.

    That ice cream? YUM! I’m more of a chocolatey icecream girl than a fruity ice cream girl. 🙂

  4. Okay this just made me want to go to Austin! I’ve heard really good things about the city but have never been to Texas before so I’ll have to add this to the list of cities to visit:) And I definitely prefer active vacations! I love the process of planning for a trip and looking up things to do!

  5. I have always wanted to visit Austin for the food and it seems like there are plenty of other fun activities to choose from! Only one I’m not sure if I could do is the bats, birds totally freak me out. lol.

  6. I had seen that mass departure of bats before on TV but didn’t realize it was in Austin. Musta been cool!

  7. Austen looks really cool! I’ve definitely heard it is a good place for both music and theatre, so it is on the list Dan and I have going for our States road trip. Never heard of the bats though – how cool is that! It actually looks beautiful… though a tad eerie, too? I love any city that you can just explore on foot. Walking is the best way to see things you wouldn’t otherwise see.

  8. Wow thanks for putting this together! My husband’s cousin’s family just moved there last summer and we were thinking that after the baby is born we will have to go visit them. I will definitely use this as a guide. I love that the city seems so walkable and family friendly! Also…you know tacos are my life and I must eat them all! 😀