When it comes to talked-about cities in the US, it’s no surprise that Austin is usually at the top of the list. With live music every night and funky bars and restaurants on every corner, Austin makes for an epic weekend away for anyone looking for a city-escape. Max and I spent two nights in Austin and it was the perfect mid-winter getaway from San Francisco. Here are our recommendations for a weekend away in Austin.
Start your day by exploring the South Congress neighborhood. SoCo is home to a vibrant stretch of restaurants, bars, shops and hip hotels with stunning views of the state capital as its backdrop. As you start your day, check out JoAnn’s Fine Food right at the start of SoCo. Sit in the beautifully decorated, 70s inspired diner and enjoy one of the all-day tacos or Californian inspired sandwiches.
Personally, I’m a fan of just popping into various shops that call to me, but here are some of the highlights in South Congress:
Catch an instagram moment at the famous mural at Jo’s Coffee
- You can’t miss the “I love you so much” mural on the wall outside Jo’s Coffee. Typically crowded with people taking photos, it’s a great “insta-moment”. There are also a number of cool murals up and down South Congress so don’t forget to stop at them!
- Seemingly endless rows and shelves full of candy. I can attest to their chocolates being delicious and it was worth checking out, if only for the nostalgia factor. It reminded me of the candy shops that used to exist when I was kid.
- This Kendra Scott flagship store is unlike any jewelry shop I’ve ever been to. Not only is it an adorable little house at the top of the hill, but it’s got a Frosé machine inside and a small cafe! You could spend hours wandering the shop, buying pretty things and drinking frosé. What more could you ask for?
- We stumbled upon the stunning, and slightly hidden, Hotel San José tucked away right on the main drag. This beautiful little hotel has a courtyard patio that serves food and drinks from noon onwards. It was like a little oasis in the middle of the hustle and bustle of SoCo.
After a day of shopping and exploring, head to the “Dirty 6th”, or the 6th street bar district to check out our favorite bar/speakeasy. Our recommendation? Come for the speakeasy vibe and stay for the empanadas and live music at Milonga Room.
- Speak Easy’s are kind of Max’s and I’s jam, so we were so excited to experience the Milonga Room, hidden under the Buenos Aires Cafe. Reservations are pretty necessary because they give you a password to enter. The whole experience is very authentic and makes me feel like I’m in the 1920s. The empanadas, cocktails and live music are to die for and we would totally have stayed all night if they’d let us.
- Stay for the live band – the artist they had the night we went was absolutely phenomenal. I can’t wait to come back to this gem in Austin- do not skip it.
Brunch at Geraldine’s
- Geraldine’s is another don’t-miss in Austin. The energy, decor and delicious cuisine are just half the fun, as dining with fantastic live music adds a whole other level of fun.
- The southern-inspired cuisine paired with delicious cocktails makes for a long, delicious brunch. On a nice day, grab your cocktail and head to the pool bar.
Stroll along Lady Bird Lake
- When you’re sufficiently full, make sure you stroll down to Lady Bird Lake, just a short 5 minute walk from Geraldine’s at the Van Zandt. There are endless trails along the river to explore the natural beauty highlighted by the modern structures surrounding it.
Chill in a hammock at the Four Seasons Austin
- Along the lake, you’ll also find the Four Seasons Austin, with lovely outdoor seating areas and hammocks strewn throughout the property. Max and I hung out in one of those hammocks most of the day, reading and relaxing.
Grab some Barbecue at Franklin
- While the line is usually very long, it’s worth the wait at Franklin. How’s that old saying go? When in rome…?
Where to Stay
We stayed at the Kimpton Van Zandt in downtown because we were looking for the hipster, funky vibes that Austin is known for. The Kimpton did not disappoint and I highly recommend checking it out if you’re looking for something central and high quality.
If you’re looking to stay in South Congress, here is what I would recommend based on what I saw:
Overall, Austin was a really beautiful city and you could spend days just wandering the streets and looking at the beauty and weirdness that make up this eclectic town. Have you been to Austin? What was your favorite part? Let us know in the comments below!