48 Hours in Austin, Texas
From the trails of Town Lake to the boutiques dressing South Congress, the rooftop of El Alma to the bars along Rainey, the secret is out. Austin is no longer Texas’ hidden gem. It’s outgrown the role of the quirky, mid-sized sister city to the metroplexes of Houston and Dallas. And whether it’s because of the good music, the great food, or the fabulous weather, Austin is a destination in its own right.
While we hope you have more than 48 hours to spend in our favorite city, here’s a fail-safe guide to experiencing the best Austin has to offer in two days…
WHEN TO VISIT // To beat the heat, plan a visit just before or after Austin’s triple digits months. Aim for May or October. And to those here for SXSW, March is splendid, too.
WHERE TO STAY // In the past few years, Austin’s hospitality scene has exploded to meet the demand of discerning travelers. In other words, Austin boasts many fabulous hotels and resorts to choose from. Our advice? Visit often to experience a new hotel every time.
Miraval Austin (13500 FM2769, Austin, TX 78726) Perched among the hills overlooking Lake Travis, Miraval is an award-winning spa and resort facilitating balance, healing the whole self, and engaging in the present moment.
Austin Proper (600 W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701) For a downtown experience design-lovers will love, the Kelly Wearstler-designed property is a must. This world-class luxury boutique hotel is just steps from Austin favorites: Lady Bird Lake, Zilker Park, and the UT campus.
Hotel St. Cecilia (112 Academy Dr, Austin, TX 78704) A longtime favorite of in-the-know locals, Hotel St. Cecilia is a quintessential hotel tucked off South Congress. It boasts the best lobby bar in the city and a year-round heated pool (you’ll recognize it from Instagram, promise).
South Congress Hotel (1603 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704) Conveniently located on the street after which it’s named, South Congress Hotel is the ideal spot for a trip centered around eating, drinking, and shopping. Start your day with brunch at local favorite, Café No Sé, and don’t forget to pick up the hotel’s signature scent (it’s incredible) in their lobby boutique.
WHERE TO DINE // Come for the Tex-Mex and tacos, stay for the world-class culinary experiences. Pro Tip: start your day with an iced turbo and breakfast tacos at Jo’s Coffee (1300 S Congress Ave | 242 W 2nd St | 1000 E 41st St)
Jefferys (1204 W Lynn St, Austin, TX 78703) Nestled in a quiet neighborhood (Clarksville) just west of downtown, Jefferys is a posh destination offering a lively bar, three distinct dining rooms, and a menu offering featuring dry-aged prime beef and French American classics.
Comedor (501 Colorado St, Austin, TX 78701) Enjoy inspired modern Mexican from chef Philip Speer in the chicest downtown building designed by Tom Kundig. Order the bone marrow tacos and ask for tequila to wash it down!
El Alma (1025 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704) For a vibrant, homespun take on the authentic flavors of Mexico, El Alma is a go-to.
WHERE TO DRINK // Whether you’re seeking the revelry of Sixth Street (we recommend West Sixth),
Whisler’s (1816 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702) This East Austin watering hole is a favorite for tequila lovers. Enjoy bites from their food truck and prioritize a visit to their “secret” mezcal bar.
Deep Eddy’s Cabaret (2315 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703) This is a local favorite steeped in history. Opened in 1951, Deep Eddy’s has only gotten better with age. Enjoy pool and beer up top or venture to Pool Burger for burgers, tiki-inspired drinks, and soft serve. We recommend visiting after a dip at Deep Eddy Pool.
Swedish Hill (1120 W 6th St, Austin, TX 78703) The newly revived bakery with the coziest of outdoor seating is the perfect place to grab a bottle of bubbles and split it amongst friends. The best part is their famous cake is available in pre-sliced form. Champagne and sprinkles, anyone?
Rainey Street (Rainey Street Historic District) We’d be remiss not to direct you to the famous (or infamous, depending on your experience) Rainey Street. Lined with bars and food trucks, Rainey Street is the perfect place to spend day or night sipping local libations.
WHERE TO SHOP // From boots to high-end bags, here are our favorite boutiques around town.
ByGeorge (524 N Lamar Blvd, Austin TX, 78703 | 1400 S Congress Ave, Austin TX, 78704) ByGeorge is a luxury fashion and lifestyle store established in Austin in 1979. Shop for home, men, and women in their two locations. For higher-end finds – think The Row and Brunello Cucinelli – head to their Flagship store. At their South Congress location, you’ll find everything from Ulla Johnson to Golden Goose, plus fabulous Home & Apothecary and Beauty options.
Estilo (2727 Exposition Blvd #121, Austin, TX 78703) Estilo is our destination for a highly-curated collection of men’s and women’s styles. Expect lots of locals and a highly personalized experience.
Allen’s Boots (1522 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704) If you’re coming to Texas, you better bring your boots. Or, shop for your first pair at Allen’s Boots, which stocks over 4,000 boots, as well as every other western-wear item you might have on your list.
Editor Tip for Dressing Like a Local: To dress the part, we recommend the following: Hat from Maufrais, Dress from Estilo, Shoes from Huma Blanco, Jewelry from Korman Fine Jewelry, Swimsuit from Wood & Rose, Handbag from ByGeorge.
WHAT TO DO // Although Austin is known for live music and the Longhorns, the city boasts world-class art and outdoor spaces galore, too. Here are a few of our other favorite activities…
The Continental Club (1315 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704) The “Granddaddy” of all local music venues, the Continental Club has enjoyed a coast-to-coast reputation as the premiere club for live music in Austin since 1955. Conveniently located on South Congress, it’s well worth a visit.
The Blanton Museum of Art (200 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Austin, TX 78712) from European works to Ellsworth Kelly’s highly Instagrammed Austin, The University of Texas’ Blanton Museum is a world-class art experience.
SUP on Town Lake (2418 Stratford Dr, Austin, TX 78746) Whether you call it Lady Bird Lake or Town Lake, you should allocate time to experience it. Rent a kayak, canoe, or – our favorite, stand-up paddle board, for a morning or afternoon on the water and take in the best views the city has to offer.
INSIDER INFORMATION // For a successful visit to Austin, you need to know two things:
1) Hats are the microcosm of Austin wardrobes
2) reservations are few and far between, make ’em early, travelers!