Here it is, here it is! A complete guide to your weekend in Austin, Texas. I’m sharing everything you need to know, from how to get there to where to have a cocktail in this article. Book your flights and keep on reading, friend!
Oh, Austin. This might be one of my favorite cities ever. It’s lively, it’s fun, it boasts charm and character. It’s a sizeable city but not too big, it’s walkable and driveable. (I drove right through downtown on a Friday afternoon without having a heart attack, so it’s definitely easy to drive!) Southern charm with a bit of hipster tendencies are what make this city so lovable. It’s a big tourist attraction, of course–it is the capital of Texas, hosts one of the biggest musical festivals in the country, and is just downright fun. I’ve been to Austin twice now and I could go back 100 more times and still not get enough! Lucky for me, my sister lives not too far from Austin so I see myself making several more trips back.
I think a weekend in Austin is the perfect amount of time to explore. However, it deserves the caveat that I am definitely more of a mountain/hiking/off-the-beaten path traveler and naturally gravitate towards national parks and outdoor adventures. So if you’re more of a city-loving traveler, you may want to stay longer. For longer itineraries check out these articles:
If you’re headed off for the weekend and not sure where to start, look no further! This weekend guide has everything you need to plan a 3 day stay in Austin, Texas.
Table of Contents
How to get to Austin
Austin is the capital of the state of Texas and is conveniently located towards the center of the state. Make no mistake though, Texas is HUGE. I mean you’ve heard the saying: everything’s bigger in Texas. This includes the state itself. Don’t expect to land in Houston or Dallas and have a short drive! The big cities do tend to be a bit closer to each other, but if you’re driving from a neighboring state expect to have a road trip ahead of you.
– Drive: Austin is about 3 hours from Dallas, 2.5 hours from San Antonio, and 2 hours 45 minutes from Houston
– Fly: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is pretty large and services local and international flights. If you’re in NC, you can get direct flights from both RDU and CLT.
– Train: AmTrak runs to Austin from most major cities if you’re looking for a leisurely trip across the country!
Where to Stay in Austin:
– South Congress Hotel: this hotel is right above Cafe No Se and is in an awesome location right in the middle of the action of South Congress St!
– The LINE Austin: located right in the heart of downtown, this hotel is biiiiiig with 428 rooms decorated to perfection.
– Native Hostel: A nice budget option for solo or couple groups. This is probably where I would’ve chosen to stay had I not had accommodation with my sister!
– Airbnb: you know I love a good Airbnb, no matter what city or country! Look for stays in these neighborhoods:
– Cherrywood: a slightly hipster neighborhood with laid back vibes. Walk amongst the beautiful trees, stay in a cute bungelow, and the French sounding names.
– North University: It’s near the University of Texas at Austin but don’t let that stop you from staying here… it’s also near some of the best restaurants, bars, and coffee shops.
– South Congress: Obviously.. I mean it’s where South Congress is, so there’s lots to do around here!
Where to Eat:
If I’m honest, this is one of the first (and often only) things I really research when heading to a new city. So you can rest assured these recommendations are top notch for your weekend in Austin.
– El Alma y Cafe: A tex-mex delight! This is where we had brunch and I can’t recommend it enough. The drinks were also delicious. Try to get a reservation on the patio for views of the city.
– Snooze, an AM eatery: This is definitely a chain but it boasts straight up delicious breakfast food so it’ll please you + the whole fam.
– South Congress Cafe: Very trendy, slightly overpriced (and delicious, it wouldn’t make it on the list for no reason) but it’ll sure look good on your Instagram.
– Texas French Bread: Another straight up breakfast classics place. Try the French toast!
– Biderman’s Deli: the classic bagel place. Thank me later.
– Launderette: This is on almost every “best brunch in Austin” list I’ve seen on the Internet. Soooo it’s gotta be good, right?!
– Cafe No Se: it’s on South Congress and very trendy (read: slightly overpriced) but the atmosphere is amazing and the food is too. The tuna poke was devine! Can’t go wrong with a glass of rose either.
– Forthright: For American fare like soups and sandwiches, they also have an amazing patio space right in downtown.
– Buenos Aires Cafe: an Argentinian cafe serving up delicious chimichurri and meats as well as empanadas.. mmmm.
– Loro Asian Smokehouse: 2 Austin greats came together to form Loro Asian, which is an Asian-fusion BBQ restaurant. Is anyone else’s mouth watering?
– Franklin BBQ: This place is downright famous. Get your authentic Texas BBQ here, just be prepared to wait.
– Perla’s: Perla’s is great for fresh seafood and luxurious outdoor dining
– Seoulju Korean Kitchen and bar: Look no farther for authentic (aka delicious) Korean food
– Ramen Tatsu-ya: What can I say? I’m a big fan of Asian food. Get your noodle and ramen fix here!
– Bufalina Due: Given the name, I would’ve never guessed but this is actually a pizza joint serving up tasty Neapolitan style pies.
– Nixta Taqueria: a casual taqueria for delicious Tex Mex and good vibes
– Suerte: another Mexican inspired eatery with fresh made tortillas… yes please!- Odd Duck: this is another restaurant that pop ups on all of the “best places to eat in Austin” lists. It’s American dishes with a Texas vibe.
Where to Drink:
Head over to 6th Street or Rainey Street for the best “going out” and bar scenes in Austin. Otherwise, here are some good stops sprinkled throughout the city:
– The Container Bar: On Rainey Street, it’s made out of old shipping containers (no shit, right?) and has a cool vibe.
– P6 at the LINE Austin: I mean does it get any better than a hotel rooftop bar? No, it does not.
– Yellow Jacket Social Club: A good mix of beverages and a beautiful patio area… perfect for the spring or summer!
– Zanzibar: For when you need a drink in a tropical setting without actual going to the tropics.
– Better Half Coffee and Cocktails: This is another that has been on almost every list I’ve seen about where to eat and drink in Austin. So you better hit this one!
Things to do in Austin:
Okay, now that we got the basics down what do we actually DO on our weekend in Austin?! I got you covered to fill those hours in between meals.
– Jones Contemporary Art Center: This art museum is super small but the intimate setting makes a statement. Usually only two exhibits are here at a time, so it’s a good way to take a short trip if you just need a bit of culture.
– Blanton Museum of Art: Bigger of the two, this is another main art museum downtown.
– South Congress murals: Influencers unite! Don’t miss your chance to take picture for the gram on the “I love you so much” wall and other murals on South Congress.
– South Congress shopping: Meander down the streets and hit some of the vintage and locally owned shops. In nice weather, there’s often an outdoor market with a few vendors as well.
– State House: In the center of downtown, the state house is large and in charge–just like things should be in Texas. It’s beautiful with tons of historical statues around. You can take a self-guided tour of the grounds and inside the building, as well!
– Museums: If history is your thing, don’t miss the Bullock Texas State Museum and the LBJ Presidential Library.
– UT at Austin: Y’all know Michael and I are sucker for college campuses, so I had to hit this one while I was here. I have to be honest… I didn’t actually find it? The campus blends in with the city so you actually have to get out of your car and do a little walking to see the true college vibey areas. But it’s worth it!
– Barton Creek Greenbelt: Oh my gosh, this was one of my favorite places in Austin! If your weekend in Austin lands in late spring or summer, you have to hit Barton Creek. It’s near Zilker Park just outside of downtown and gives you a GREAT view of the city skyline. Here you’ll find a beautiful green creek and a walkway. Pack some brews and your bathing suit so you can dip into the creek in one of the many cut offs. There’s also places to rent tubes, paddleboards, and kayaks!
– Lady Bird Wildflower Center: Don’t miss the blue bonnets and other wildflowers that bloom in the spring!
Best Day Trips from Austin:
– Waco: If you’re a FIxer Upper fan, Waco is only a short 90 minute drive away to get your Magnolia-Chip-and-Joanna fill.
– Fredericksburg: Wine in Texas? Yep. Enjoy an afternoon on the wine trail and then explore this historic town just ** from Austin.
– Blue Hole: Located in Wimberly, TX, Blue Hole State Park boasts a beautiful swimming hole. It’s often closed for seasonal reasons and it gets crowded fast, so go early and make reservations if need be.
– Hamilton Pool: Another beautiful swimming hole, you need reservations to get into this area. It’s worth a trip in the winter, but you’ll get the most from this trip if you can dip into the beautiful blue green water in the summer!
– Lake Travis: One of the BEST travel photos (in my humble opinion) taken outside of Austin is at the Oasis on Lake Travis Restaurant. Enjoy a day on the lake and then snap this Instagram-worthy photo. They even host an annual competition to see who can take the best picture of the restaurant at sunset in the summer!
And there you have it. Your guide to a weekend in Austin, Texas. Let me know in the comments if I left anything out or if you’ve done anything in this guide!