Should you visit Austin? That’s a rhetorical question, right? 🙂 As you plan your trip, use this Austin Travel Guide to figure out where to eat, play, stay, and more.
There is so much to do in Austin! I’ve taken my 12+ years of living here and condensed all the things I’ve seen, done, and
Why Visit Austin
Austin is one of, if not the, coolest cities in Texas. There’s a vibrant, young energy in this town, probably fueled by tacos and the proximity of ambitious college students. The city is thought to be more liberal and accommodating than the rest of Texas.
There are lots of things to do in Austin and a great variety of things. Art, culture, food, outdoors, shopping, nightlife – there’s something for everyone. Speaking of food, Austin is a foodie town with SO MANY options! More on that further in this post.
When to Visit
In short, visit Austin in the spring or fall. That’s March, April, May, September, October, and November. You’ll find the most tolerable and pretty consistent weather in these months. Here and there we’ll have rain and cold snaps. If you don’t mind sweating A LOT, visit in the summer – June, July, and August.
Check out this post for more on when to visit and what events happen throughout the year.
How to Get to Austin
If you’re flying in, you’ll land at our only airport, Austin-Bergstrom Airport (AUS). It’s about 9 miles or 15 minutes to downtown. Even with its recent expansions, the airport is fairly small. You’ll eat well in the airport as a handful of Austin restaurants have location there. You might even catch some live music playing.
If you’re driving in, it’ll take three hours from Dallas and two hours and 30 minutes from Houston.
How to Get Around Austin
If you’re planning to stay in and near downtown, you can rely on bikes and rideshare to get around. If you want to visit breweries in the hill country or take a day trip to Hamilton Pool, you might need to rent a car.
In Austin, helmets are only required for kids under 18 years old.
Ride Share: Ride Austin (local rideshare), Uber, or Lyft
- B-cycle: look for red stations around downtown. $12 for a 24-hr rental or $18 for a 3-day access
- Jump Electric Bike: look for red bikes with a basket. $1 for the first 5 minutes, 15 cents for every minute after. Reserved through the Uber app.
- Lyft: look for black scooters with pink and purple stripes. $1 to unlock a scooter, 15 cents for every minute. Reserve through the Lyft app.
- Jump: look for red scooters. $1 for the first 5 minutes, 15 cents for every minute after. Reserve through the Uber app.
- Bird: look for the black scooters with a white box that says BIRD. $1 to unlock a scooter, 15 cents for every minute. Reserve through the Bird app.
- Lime: look for the lime green scooters. $1 to unlock a scooter, 15 cents for every minute. Reserve through the Lime app.
Rail: Austin Metro travels north to south, from around the Domain area to downtown
Bus: though it takes time, Austin has an extensive bus system
Where Should I Stay in Austin
Where you stay depends on what you want to do in Austin. If you want to enjoy restaurants and nightlife, aim for downtown and Rainey Street.
Downtown Austin will have the majority of hotels and they’re all fairly close to each other. If you’re visiting Austin for the nightlife, stay downtown or on Rainey Street.
- Big Hotels: Hotel Van Zandt, JW Marriott, Fairmont Austin, Westin Downtown, Omni Austin Downtown, W Austin
- Hostels: Native Hostel, Firehouse Hostel, HK Austin, Drifter Jack’s Hostel
- Boutique Hotels: Hotel San Jose, The LINE, Hotel Saint Cecilia, Hotel Ella
Best Things to Do in Austin
When in Austin, I encourage you to enjoy the outdoors, take in the culture, explore landmarks and street art, and of course, indulge in all the good food!
This “Best Things to Do in Austin” post will be very helpful for you. It highlights my top 10 favorite things to do in Austin along with some other recommendations.
Where to Eat in
We are a foodie city, meaning we have plenty of great restaurants. To start your planning, check out my Ultimate Austin Foodie Bucket List. You don’t want to leave Austin without sampling our barbecue and tacos.
I have an abundance of food posts on my blog. Check out these posts:
- My Favorite Austin Restaurants
- 30 Best Cold Treats in Austin
- Best Food Trucks in Austin
- Food Trucks that Now Have a Brick-and-Mortar Restaurant
- Best Pastries in Austin
- Where to Eat Noodles in Austin
- Best Cupcakes in Austin
- Bubble Tea Shops in Austin
- Best Restaurants in North Austin
Where to Drink in Austin
Breweries, distilleries, wineries, and bars – we have plenty of them! Here’s a quick snapshot.
- Jester King Brewery – this is the most well-known brewery and for good reason. It’s about 30 minutes outside of downtown, which isn’t convenient if you’re not wanting to make a day trip out of it.
- If you’re looking for a great brewery in Downtown Austin, try Zilker Brewing, Lazarus Brewing, and Oddwood Ales.
- Some of my favorite breweries are a bit outside of downtown but are located in Austin’s “brew-bor-hood,” about 20 minutes from downtown. I would recommend Adelbert’s Brewery and Austin Beerworks.
- See my full brewery guide in this post.
- For great bars with plenty of local beers on tap, go to Banger’s, Craft Pride, Easy Tiger, Hopfields, or Draught House Pub & Brewery.
- Austin has two urban wineries: Infinite Monkey Theorem and The Austin Winery
- If you want to try mead, go to Meridian Hive Meadery.
- The best wine bars are House Wine, APT 115, Vino Vino, Aviary Wine & Kitchen, and Winebelly.
If you’re ok with traveling, there are a few distilleries 20-40 minutes from Downtown Austin.
- A few recommendations: Half-Step, Whisler’s, Peche, Nickel City
- Somewhat hidden in parking garages: Small Victory or Garage
- Speakeasy: Midnight Cowboy (make a reservation), Red-Headed Stepchild (which has Floppy Disk Repair Co. as its front), or Firehouse Lounge (behind a bookcase)
Nightlife in Austin
This section is for everyone who will stay up until
Keep reading for more on Dirty 6th, West 6th, Rainey Street, East 6th, and Rock Rose. (Quick tip: West and East refer to which side of I-35 the area is and Dirty and West 6th are both on the west side before Mopac.)
6th Street / Dirty 6th
If you’ve never been to Austin, you might have an inkling to visit our “famous street” – 6th Street, also known as Dirty 6th. From 10 pm to 3 am on the weekends, 6th Street is filled with partiers bar-hopping the places that line the street. The street is blocked off for cars during this time. Dirty 6th runs from Red River to Congress. Go to The Library, Maggie Mae’s, and The Chuggin’ Monkey.
West 6th runs from San Antonio to West Avenue. This is thought to be a little more grown-up 6th Street. The street is not blocked off from cars here. Stop by Stereotype, The Ranch, or The Dogwood.
A few blocks away from 6th Street is Rainey Street. This area is great for a nicer dinner before drinks. Half-Step, Container Bar, and Lustre Pearl are recommended stops.
East 6th is for a low-key time out. You’ll find drinks, dancing, and less flashy vibes than Rainey or Dirty and West 6th. Go two-stepping at White Horse before dancing to hits at The Eastern next door. Go to The Volstead or Shangri-La for drinks. There are two breweries on this street if you’re into craft beer – Lazarus Brewing Co. and Zilker Brewing Company.
Rock Rose is what happens when you take Dirty 6th and West 6th and move it up north. Though it seems to have fewer bars, it has the Rose Room, a big dance club with a lighted escalator entrance.
I hope this guide helps as you plan your trip to Austin, and I hope you love Austin as much as I do!
Be sure to follow me on Instagram at WanderlustAnita to stay updated about all the new things going on in Austin. Feel free to message me if you have any questions or need specific recommendations.
P.S. If you’re planning an Austin bachelorette party or girls weekend, I have the perfect post for you! See it here.
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