Start your day with a fresh-squeezed juice from the extensive menu at Juiceland, such as the Rosie Cheek (watermelon, raspberry, lemon, rosewater) or Ninja Bachelor Party (pineapple, celery, kale, parsley, spinach, jalapeño, Himalayan sea salt).
Brunch is a huge ordeal in Austin. The buffet at Jack Allen’s Kitchen is totally worth the hike out to Oak Hill. Choose from specialties like their tomato pie and green chili pork and eggs to chicken fried proteins (chicken, steak, and pork) to fresh grilled farmer’s market produce, and a display of handcrafted pastries. Just south of downtown, Odd Duck offers creative takes on breakfast like corn dog with chorizo verde, fried egg foam and spicy maple and carrot cake doughnut with coconut rum raisin ice cream, cajeta and pecans.
Work off brunch with a visit to the Barton Creek Greenbelt, another urban oasis minutes from downtown. Its eight miles of trails twisting around the city are ideal for hiking, climbing and mountain biking. And after enough rainfall, rock formations throughout the Greenbelt turn into natural pools and swimming holes, with Sculpture Falls and Twin Falls being two of the most popular.
A visit to Barton Springs Pool is essential, no matter what time of year you visit. Even at the peak of winter, you’ll find devoted regulars doing laps in the water, which remains 68 degrees year round. But the triple-digit days are the best ones to linger by the spring-fed canal.
Barton Springs Pool
Photo: Flickr/Wally Gobetz
After you’ve recalibrated, investigate one of the craft breweries that have been popping up all over Central Texas in the past few years. Jester King Brewery is a farmhouse-style brewery and tasting room about twenty-five minutes drive into the Hill Country. Take a free tour, relax on their spacious grounds and purchase a bottle or two of their limited-release beers to pack into your suitcase.
For dinner, make a reservation at one of the many restaurants showcasing central Texas farmers, ranchers and producers. For instance, Jacoby’s Restaurant & Mercantile raises their own beef on a ranch in Melvin, Texas, and incorporates it in various ways onto their menu of Southern comforts, including their perfectly seasoned signature stuffed hamburger steak. An attached mercantile sells a variety of handpicked housewares ranging from antique dishware to hand-woven dog leashes to high quality soy candles. The restaurant and grocery sit on the bank of the Colorado River, making the patio perfect for a sunset gathering.
The Continental Club, a bar and venue on South Congress, hosts legendary country band Heybale, who packs their tiny dance floor every Sunday night (but a variety of acts play each night of the week, from blues to indie to soul). West of downtown, The Oasis Austin features a live salsa by The Brew and free dance lessons each Sunday night. Enjoy locally brewed session beers (Slow Ride Pale Ale, Luchesa Lager) from Oasis Brewing Company on the expansive deck as you look out across the lush green landscape and the blue waters of Lake Travis.
Sunset at The Oasis
Photo: Flickr/Drew Kolb
Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Air, American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways, and Virgin America all operate out of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, located just seven miles east of downtown.
The Driskill Hotel, ($299)—once a meeting ground for Texan politicians and cattle barons—is a historic hotel located in the heart of downtown, on Sixth Street.
The Hotel San Jose ($245) and Hotel Saint Cecilia, ($295) both located in the South Congress neighborhood, are undoubtedly already Austin icons. Both boutique hotels exude vintage chic and bohemian luxury.
HomeAway, which was founded in Austin, allows travelers to rent an entire bungalow for the price of a single hotel room. Especially convenient when traveling with a group of friends, this option allows visitors to experience the city more like a local would.
Veronica Meewes is an Austin-based journalist who specializes in food, beverage, travel and lifestyle.