Austin in a flash
Only 24 hours in Austin? Make the most of a quick getaway
With perfect temperatures in the air and the craziness of South By Southwest out of the way, it’s a great time for a short weekend trip to one of the most versatile cities in Texas. Visiting Austin on non-football weekends is a different experience, with activities and restaurant choices for everyone.
An itinerary can be crafted in many different ways to focus on outdoor activities (rent a canoe on Town Lake, throw a Frisbee at Zilker Park, grab lunch at a South Congress food truck), museum tours (there’s the Blanton, Capitol, Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum), or a shopping tour (2nd Street area, South Congress, The Domain).
Here is one way to spend 24 hours in Austin on a beautiful spring weekend. Don’t forget it’s almost bluebonnet season, too, which makes the trip all the more enjoyable.
(9 a.m. – Noon): Leave Houston early on a Saturday morning and arrive before lunchtime. Check in at a downtown hotel or stay with friends. Don’t spend too much money on lodging; you won’t be there long.
(Noon – 2 p.m.): Drive to Shady Grove on Barton Springs Road for lunch. Grab a drink at the bar and wait for a table outside. Choose from their giant salads, Hippie sandwiches, and add on the green chile cheese fries. Don’t worry, you’ll walk it off later.
(2 – 5:30 p.m.) Here’s your chance to explore. Take in a few museums, as many are close together near campus. If museums aren’t for you, venture to South Congress to browse some eclectic shops, get great photos of the Capitol from across Town Lake, and enjoy one of Austin’s funkiest areas. Head north to The Domain, an outdoor shopping mall far less congested and easier to park at than The Galleria. Grab a snack at the flagship Whole Foods on 6th Street and Lamar (80,000 square feet of foodie heaven) or grab an afternoon pick-me-up juice at Daily Juice off of Town Lake.
(5:30 – 7:30 p.m.) Head back to your hotel to rest and gear up for the night. Nothing in Austin is too dressy, jeans are appropriate most everywhere. Start off the night with drinks at any bar you see on 4th-6th Street, then head to dinner.
(7:30 – 9:30 p.m.) Austin has great restaurants to suit large parties, intimate tables for two, authentic Mexican food, BBQ outside of the city, and even a winery with restaurant and wine tastings. Lambert’s on 2nd Street is great for upscale BBQ featuring brisket, ribs and quail, served with more than just drippy corn kernels and green beans. The Achiote Seared Chickpeas with Goat Cheese is an amazing appetizer, as is the smokey gumbo soup of the day.
(9:30 p.m. – 2 a.m.) Whether you are ready to hit the club scene, a relaxed bar, or find some live music, Austin has variety. Try Halcyon, a fun dessert/coffee shop on 4th Street, where you can make your own S’mores served over an open fire with a Hershey’s bar, marshmallows and graham crackers. If you are ready to leave downtown, Amy’s Ice Creams or Mozart’s on Lake Austin are perfect for dessert. The W Hotel is newly opened and has three bars/lounges of different styles.
Check Antone’s, La Zona Rosa, or Esther’s Follies for live music/shows to reserve ahead of time. It’s a smart idea to keep your dinner and bar scene all downtown to avoid needing your car. Pedi-cabs are all over Austin to help scoot you along too. West 6th Street (Star Bar, J. Black’s, Molotov, Little Woodrow’s) is a popular strip of bars for the non-college age crowd.
(2 – 9 a.m.) Sleep.
(9 a.m. – Noon) Get some exercise with a walk around Town Lake or head over to Jo’s Coffee on 2nd Street for a quick coffee or breakfast before hitting the road.
A great cure for a hangover is TNT’s (stands for Tacos and Tequila) Sunday Mexican-style brunch buffet for $17.95/person. It includes made-to-order huevos rancheros, omelets, and choices of sugared donuts, corn soufflés, migas and more, so you'll be well-fed on your way out of town. Don’t forget about their dozens of tequila choices for the non-drivers in your party.
(Noon – 3 p.m.) Back to Houston. This itinerary just scratched the surface, so it's a good thing that Austin is just about the right distance for visiting regularly.