As the Live Music Capital Of The World, it may come as no shock that there are open mics and live bands seemingly performing around every corner in Austin, Texas. As the fourth largest city in Texas and the 11th largest city in the United States, there is truly no shortage of enjoyment to be had, whether it be through live entertainment, spending time in nature, or indulging in some of the best food imaginable.
Situated on Lavaca Street in vibrant Downtown Austin, discerning travelers should opt for a stay at the buzzy, art-adorned Hotel ZaZa Austin. True to the Hotel ZaZa trademark, the property boasts “Magnificent Seven Suites,” a collection of bespoke themed suites that make for a unique stay. Snag a spot at the rooftop pool well in advance of the sunset, as the deck provides the most sweeping sunset views of the city. Group Therapy, the adjacent indoor bar, offers some of the best happy hour cocktails and noshes to enjoy before a night on the town.
Outdoor lovers and adventure seekers should book a stay at the Carpenter Hotel for an off-the-beaten-track experience. This renovated union hall––just an 11 minute walk from Ziker Park––offers 93 rooms with individual terraces. Spend the day lounging by the pool sipping a Lady Bird Latte from Hot L Coffee, the hotel’s café. Later, dine on farm-fresh fare at Carpenters Hall, the property restaurant designed to simultaneously feel like both a mess hall and your chic Southern aunt’s patio.
This inventive East Austin taqueria has been a watering hole for Austinites for years. Like the maiz that is made daily in-house, the restaurant prides itself on fostering creativity, community, and reciprocity and exchange. The restaurant operates entirely under the idea of first-come-first-serve, and if you manage to snag a spot at the picnic tables, more power to you. Operating out of a 100-square-foot kitchen with one 8′ flat top grill, it’s not guaranteed that the tacos will be ready at the same time, but diners will be dazzled by the artful creations one-by-one.
Farm-to-table concepts reign supreme in Austin’s City Limits, and this homey Italian spot on E Cesar Chavez is no different. What is different, however, is the use of whole, seasonal and provenant ingredients from Texas in their entirety while implementing Italian cooking sensibilities and techniques. (After all, “intero” directly translates to “whole,” in Italian.) There aren’t many elevated or fine dining concepts in Austin, but this is about the closest travelers will get, despite the restaurant’s casual nature. Everything is made on-site, from the pastas to the pizzas (the wagyu beef confit pie is absolutely not to be missed). Round out the meal with a little something sweet: the team specializes in house-made artisanal Italian chocolates––ranging from truffles to barks to sipping chocolates.
Famous for their masa, Suerte’s menu is rooted in traditional Mexican cooking techniques. Those that manage to lock in a table at this East 6th Street hotspot will enjoy an expertly-curated evening by the restaurant team, who partners with neighborhood farms to bring the best produce and meat right to your table. Each Monday evening, select agave spirits from Mexico are highlighted in the form of flights at a palatable price.
Named after the owner of East London’s most famous opium dens where writers such as Charles Dickens sought inspiration, this East Austin lounge serves craft cocktails and Asian fusion bites. Allow the host to walk you from a nostalgic bar room to the secret garden, then order any of the mouthwatering shared morsels.
This laid-back yet sophisticated wine bar has somehow perfectly fused the hipster Brooklyn wine bars, Parisian cafés, and Spanish tapas bars to create a spot that is buzzy all day long on South Congress Ave. The classically-styled interiors are juxtaposted with neon lights snaking the ceiling, leather banquette seating, a long marble bar, and a vintage jukebox. Breakfast, brunch, grab-and-go pastries and bistro fare are expertly complemented by the playful, ever-changing wine and cocktail program.
Tucked away in downtown Austin’s historic Warehouse District stands this speakeasy-inspired spot set in a building constructed in 1929. Classic design elements with modern touches come together beneath low lights. Here, guests share their favorite flavors and spirits with the expert bartenders, who will then serve up one of the bar’s fifty-three craft cocktails with a custom twist.
The “Midnight Cowboy Modeling Oriental Massage” on East 6th Street may not immediately catch your eye. But for those who do decide to venture inside, it won’t be massages they’ll be getting, but an intimate cocktail experience curated by the team at Midnight Cowboy. Converted from a former brothel masquerading as a massage parlor until 2012, the team at this 15-seat lounge whips up Prohibition-style cocktails in this lounge behind a secret door.
Austin loves a speakeasy-style lounge, so it is no surprise that someone thought to open a lounge inside of a parking garage on Colorado Street in Downtown Austin. This unassuming spot serves inventive mixers in a converted, midcentury-inspired space.
Rainey Street Historic District
Despite continued construction efforts to accommodate the influx of people who have moved to Austin in recent years (and numerous bar closures), Rainey Street Historic District persists on as one of the best areas for nightlife. Just a stone’s throw from Downtown Austin, this area is made up of renovated bungalows turned into bars. String-light-laced patios, food trucks, drinks, and of course, live music are all around. Sip on sangria in a jar at Icenhauer’s, or take a ride down the colorful slide at Unbarlievable.
Lady Bird Lake
Life seems to center around the water in Austin; Lady Bird Lake is the river-like reservoir that allows for recreational swimming and water-sports all year round. In the spring and summer, the lake is overrun with kayaks and paddle boards, as Austinites try to beat the heat. Lady Bird Lake is perhaps known for the bat-watching, as they fly from their perches below the bridge and dot the sky; opt for a spot on the bridge, but for the best views, book a table at P6, the rooftop bar at The LINE Hotel Austin. After bat watching, board the Lone Star Riverboat for scenic nighttime views of the Downtown skyline at river level.
South Congress has some of Austin’s hippest boutiques, hotels, and homegrown eateries. Here, you’ll find Allen’s Boots and some of the most iconic street art the city has to offer, like the “Willie For President” and Jo’s Coffee “I Love You So Much” murals. Some of the best shopping can also be done here, ranging from local boutiques to chic designer brands.
The University of Texas at Austin
Founded in 1883, UT Austin is the oldest institution in the University of Texas system. The campus happens to house a number of historical landmarks, ranging from Ellsworth Kelly’s, a peculiar stone building and art installation on the grounds of the Blanton Museum, Skyspace, and the LBJ Library and Museum. After a day of wandering the campus knolls, visit Scholtz Garden, a legendary German bar and restaurant for students and Texans alike.
Known more colloquially as simply “Zilker,” this 361-acre park is nestled in the heart of Downtown Austin, right off of Lady Bird Lake. Since its founding in 1917, Austinites flock to this park to picnic, play sports, and of course, watch live music and theatrical performances. Zilker Park is also home to Barton Springs, a watery oasis fed by a spring; running groups and hikers often end their workout here with a plunge, clothes and all, and it is filled to the brim on the hottest days of the summer.
Other articles you may like: