Take it from a local, Austin is a cultural hub that seamlessly blends country and contemporary. Having lived here for over a decade, I love it because it’s a big city with a small town feel. Ranking high on travel wish lists, Austin has it all – taste bud tantalizing food, electric nightlife, unique shopping and everything in between. If you are planning a trip to Texas’ capital city, check out my list of go-to hotspots for an authentic Austin experience.
A Place to Hang Your Hat: Check in at the modern South Congress Hotel, designed by local architecture icon Michael Hsu. Depending on the time of your arrival, grab an espresso at their café or a specialty cocktail at the bar staffed by veteran mixologists. Now hop outside! This hotel is located on South Congress Avenue, a must see, where the shopping is unbeatable, the people are bustling and the energy is contagious. Stop by Jo’s to take a pic at the famous “I Love You So Much” wall and taste their delicious iced Belgian Bomber coffee.
City Lights and Fun Nights: Catch the perfect pairing of nightly live music and cocktails at Cedar Street Courtyard the perfect spot to see why Austin is considered the live music capital of the world. Another nightlife option is Rainey Street – I’ll stop by here with my girlfriends for an evening full of people watching, hip bars, and tasty food trucks.
A Foodie’s Dream: Ah yes, Austin cuisine. I love Elizabeth Street Café a colorful noodles and bahn mi boulangerie. You simply can’t go wrong with their pho. Juniper is the ultimate brunch destination when you’re craving Italian fare, and I also can’t get enough of Uchiko’s ham and eggs roll with fried milk for a decadent dessert.
Get Active: Between Austin’s pleasant climate and plethora of outdoor attractions, it’s hard not to get outdoors in this city. Lady Bird Trail makes for a wonderful hike or bike ride along the iconic river. For an adrenaline rush, rent a jet ski and cruise around Lake Austin to see the landmark 360 Bridge. And if you want (or need…) to be enveloped by nature, relax at the Barton Creek Green Belt.
Hot Shops: Estilo is my go-to clothing store for all things fabulous. This boutique houses hand-selected items from over 30 designers. I always find a variety of stylish pieces for every occasion, from a night out, to pitching a client, to weekend chic, to comfy casuals. If you lean towards an edgier, modern style, you will love ByGeorge. The shop is packed with statement clothing and accessories.
Why not stay awhile: Part of the reason why Austin is growing so rapidly is because of all of the tourist turned residents who have relocated after experiencing the ATX lifestyle. If you find yourself wanting to call Texas’ capital city home, you might consider Fifth & West Residences for a complete boutique, high-rise, downtown Austin experience. For families who desire laid-back, luxury living within reach of the city’s most coveted attractions, I suggest The WÄLSH. This modern townhouse neighborhood infuses Scandinavian-inspired architecture into Austin’s famed Westlake Hills.
While this list contains my personal highlights of the 512, there are new and exciting spots popping up on a daily basis. Though I am a seasoned Austin veteran, I am always discovering hidden gems tucked around every street corner. In a city this vibrant and culturally charged, the exploring truly never ends. Cheers to your next adventure!
Maria Orozova is a veteran Austinite and President of The MOD Studio, an award-winning marketing and design firm. For more insight into the best of the city, follow her on Instagram @mariaborozova and her agency @themodstudio. Happy traveling!
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Images via A Piece of Toast.