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Austin is an eclectic and artistic city known for its live-music scene, energetic culture, inspiring cuisine, and stunning natural beauty. The “keep it weird” attitude here makes this town so much fun to explore. You can find plenty of family-friendly activities, beautiful hiking paths, hipster cafés, and vibrant nightlife hotspots. Check out why Austin is one of the hottest cities to visit in the US right now.
Mount Bonnell provides terrific sweeping vistas of downtown Austin, Lake Austin, and the surrounding hills. It is one of the highest publically-accessible points in Austin, with the elevation at its peak about 775 feet. Getting to the top of Mount Bonnell isn’t too difficult, even for beginners. It is a 102-stair climb that you can take at your own pace. Once at the top, you can rest at the view deck and pavilion before making your way down. Bring water and wear sunblock and you will be fine! This is a great outdoor activity to do with the whole family or even as a romantic date. There are plenty of terrific picnic spots at the top with amazing views of the city.
Austin is serious about its food truck scene and the local chefs have really raised the bar on quality. The food trucks here are known for hand-crafted, locally-sourced, and seriously delicious plates. There are lots of official (and unofficial) food truck parks around Austin, which makes it easy to try from a range of different vendors. Many of these gastronomical gatherings are available for brunch, lunch, dinner, or a late-night bite. No matter where you go, you are sure to get an incredible meal. But if you’re looking for recommendations, check out The Picnic near Barton Springs, the South Congress Food Truck Park, and 5000 Burnet in the Rosedale neighborhood.
South Congress, or ‘SoCo,’ as Austinites call it, is a fun-filled road that showcases the city’s famous quirky culture. It is a favorite of locals because it is easily walkable and there is so much to see and do. If you’re a brunch person, then you should definitely come down here for Torchy’s, which is famous for its scrumptious breakfast tacos. After brunch, you can walk down the street to shop in quirky stores, funky boutiques, and local art galleries. Then, take the South Congress Bridge down to see the beautiful Austin skyline, the lake, and maybe even the bats if you’re there on a Thursday. Don’t forget to take a picture with the famous “I love you so much mural” outside of Jo’s Coffee. To top off your day, head to one of the local bars, restaurants, or clubs and enjoy an amazing meal with fun live music.
Austin refers to itself as the “Live Music Capital of the World” and this claim is probably true! There are more live music venues here per capita than anywhere else in the US. Since the 70s, Austin has been known for its eclectic music scene that embraced country, rock, blues, punk, soul, and roots. Famous legends like Willie Nelson, Townes Van Zandt, and the Big Boys spurred on the growing club scene and the Austin City Limits live music show truly placed Austin on the map. One of the classic dancehalls is the Broken Spoke, where country music legends Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, and George Strait have played. Jump in on the fun and learn how to do the Texas Two-Step!
Barbecue has long been a way of life in Texas, and this is especially true in Austin. The pièce de résistance of Texas barbecue has to be the brisket. Nowhere else in the US is cooking up brisket quite like they do here in Texas. Other classics include pork ribs, sausage, and chicken. Barbecue is typically a lunchtime meal and many places aren’t open for dinner or they will sell out of certain items by dinner time. If you have researched barbecue at all, you most certainly have heard of Franklin BBQ. The head pitmaster, Aaron Franklin, won a James Beard award (like a culinary Oscar) for his legendary brisket. Be aware though, if you want to eat lunch here, you should probably get in line around 9 am. It takes hours to get to the front of the line and they usually sell out within 4 hours. If you’re not willing to stand in a line that long, don’t worry, there are still hundreds of excellent barbecue places around Austin.
Sixth street is known for its live music, dancing, singing, and cheap drinks. The street is closed to traffic Thursday through Saturday nights so expect this vibrant area to be filled with people looking for a good time. There are several places with fun rooftop bars or you can search out a hidden speakeasy. Also, check out the fun entertainment options like comedy shows, magic shows, or dinner and a show. Some of the local favorites are the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz, a sing-a-long type dinner and a show, or Esther’s Follies, a comedy and magic show with political overtones.
Kayaking and paddleboarding in Austin is so delightful because the foothills of central Texas provide a scenic backdrop and a diverse ecosystem. The Colorado River runs through Austin and there are also several lakes like Lake Travis, Lake Austin, and Ladybird Lake that are perfect for water sports. Kayaking and paddleboarding are refreshing activities to enjoy the surrounding splendor of this great city. Paddle along the pristine waterways and soak in the beautiful views with a full moon tour to see the bats on Congress Avenue Bridge, a serenity tour in the gorgeous nature of Austin, or a stunning sunset tour with the lovely colors reflected on the skyscrapers. Lone Star Kayak Tours offers fun, picturesque, and ecologically sensitive kayak/paddleboarding tours to show you some of Austin’s most unique sights.
I am sure you have seen several of the funky Austin murals pop up on your Instagram. The city is covered in artistic and eclectic murals that are just begging to get their picture taken. Snap a picture in front of this colorful “Greetings from Austin” mural to get the perfect memento from your trip. It’s located near South Congress on First Street, on the left side of Roadhouse Relics. You can also find a great list of all the Austin murals here. Street art is always changing, so you never know when something new will come up. If you want to find all the original Austin murals, take a Brewery & Murals tour for a fun and unique look at the city.
Hamilton Pool Preserve is a historic swimming hole with a cascading 50-foot waterfall. The bright blue waters and lush surrounding flora makes this a magical oasis. There are giant trees, overgrowth, and cliff walls that provide plenty of shade to shelter you from the scorching Texas sun. The only way to reach this incredible oasis is via a nature trail. It’s a short easy hike (about a quarter-mile long), although it may provide some difficulty to those with mobility issues. Schedule this activity in advance as reservations are required to enter during peak summer months, May-September. Swimming is sometimes restricted due to the bacteria levels, so be sure to check the current status before you arrive.
Photo Credit: Austin Brewery Tour Facebook
The craft beer scene in Austin is exploding. There are so many local places that are a must-visit that it will be hard to visit them all in one trip! If you want to get the most out of your trip, then book an Austin Brewery Tour. The tours are a unique blend of education, group camaraderie, storytelling, and of course, lots of beer! You will go behind the scenes and learn the rich history behind each brewery you visit. Austin Brewery Tour is all-inclusive and includes transportation, tastings, and facility tours. If you are a passionate beer drinker, then a brewery tour is for you!
Zilker Park is a large park that is great for outdoor sports and other recreational activities. There are large green spaces sports fields, picnic areas, hiking and biking trails around Lady Bird Lake, Barton Springs Pool, and the Zilker Botanical Gardens. Barton Springs Pool is a recreational outdoor swimming pool that exists within the channel of Barton Creek. The pool is filled entirely from nearby natural springs, which maintain a constant temperature between 68 °F (20 °C) and 74 °F (23 °C) year-round. Zilker Botanical Gardens is 26 acres of beautifully and independently maintained gardens. It is often called “the jewel in the heart of Austin.” There are themed gardens such as the Taniguchi Japanese Gardens, Riparian Streambed, and Rose Garden. There are streams, waterfalls, and koi-ponds throughout. The Zilker Botanical Gardens is the perfect spot to relax and take some stunning pictures.
Photo Credit: Keep Austin Wet
Lake Austin is only 5 miles from downtown and has excellent views of the 360 bridge, so it’s a top choice for visitors. It’s home to some of the most amazing waterfront homes and restaurants. Popular activities on the lake include fishing, sailing, and boating. You will definitely see a lot of boaters out on the lake, which makes for a fun atmosphere. If you want to get out on the lake yourself, then you can rent a boat (with a captain!) from Keep Austin Wet. Boat rental can include wakeboarding, tubing, wake surfing, paddle boarding, chilling in the 360 “Party” Cove on an aqua lily pad, hitting up one of the local waterfront restaurants, or just cruising up and down the picturesque 21-mile lake.
There is so much to see in Austin and we don’t want you to miss out on any of it! Take an Austin Bike Tour to learn about the history and culture around the city. You’ll visit the famous Treaty Oak and learn about Austin’s long history with various Native American tribes. Then, you will take a ride through the University of Texas Campus and then down to the State Capital. You will learn so much on this trip and it will give you great ideas for places you will want to go back and discover!
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Seattle is an urban adventure surrounded by stunning natural beauty. The “Emerald City” has been the birthplace of several important companies that have influenced the entire world. Feeling inspired? Check out our list of favorite things to do in Seattle!
Charleston is a port city known for its gorgeous historic district, pastel antebellum houses, and elegant plantations. The city was founded in 1670 and is brimming with historical significance. The rich history, well-preserved architecture, distinguished restaurants, and hospitable people make Charleston a top tourist destination.
If you are planning a vacation to Orlando, you may not be able to visit a theme park every day of your vacation. That is why we created this list to inspire you to experience Orlando outside of the theme parks. Orlando is an exciting city and it is surrounded by lovely natural beauty.
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