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Guidebook for Austin

Tiffany

Guidebook for Austin

Food Scene
Torchy's has a HUGE number of locations, so find the one best for you. The best thing at Torchy's is their QUESO! It's to die for. All the tacos are great, but we usually enjoy trying their "Taco of the Month" to mix it up
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Torchy's Tacos
3005 South Lamar Boulevard
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Torchy's has a HUGE number of locations, so find the one best for you. The best thing at Torchy's is their QUESO! It's to die for. All the tacos are great, but we usually enjoy trying their "Taco of the Month" to mix it up
BEST BREAKFAST TACOS! and cheap! Iconic "hole in the wall" taco joint. Get the Don Juan, it's what they are famous for, and plan to take some home. This place gets PACKED on weekends, but don't let the crowd dissuade you, they move people in and out pretty quick.
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Juan in a Million
2300 East Cesar Chavez Street
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BEST BREAKFAST TACOS! and cheap! Iconic "hole in the wall" taco joint. Get the Don Juan, it's what they are famous for, and plan to take some home. This place gets PACKED on weekends, but don't let the crowd dissuade you, they move people in and out pretty quick.
Iconic Austin Coffee Shop with great views of the lake. Nice place to sit and relax or read a book. You'll find lots of students studying here.
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Mozart's Coffee Roasters
3825 Lake Austin Boulevard
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Iconic Austin Coffee Shop with great views of the lake. Nice place to sit and relax or read a book. You'll find lots of students studying here.
My favorite east Austin coffee shop. In a very unassuming spot. Relatively new but a really cool vibe. They host live music every now and then so drop by and check out the schedule.
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Café Crème
1834 East Oltorf Street
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My favorite east Austin coffee shop. In a very unassuming spot. Relatively new but a really cool vibe. They host live music every now and then so drop by and check out the schedule.
I can't NOT recommend Whataburger. It is basically a food group in Texas. If you are from out of state, you have to try it. My recommendation for breakfast is the HONEY BUTTER CHICKEN BISCUIT. For lunch or late night, a simple Whataburger or their chicken strips will hit the spot.
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Whataburger
2305 Burleson Road
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I can't NOT recommend Whataburger. It is basically a food group in Texas. If you are from out of state, you have to try it. My recommendation for breakfast is the HONEY BUTTER CHICKEN BISCUIT. For lunch or late night, a simple Whataburger or their chicken strips will hit the spot.
Absolute best pizza of my life!
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Via 313 Pizza
3016 Guadalupe St
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Absolute best pizza of my life!
One of my favorite happy hour or dinner spots. There food is DELICIOUS and they have lots of fun drinks. Very happening happy hour and dinner spot for a semi-fancy night out.
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Salty Sow
1917 Manor Road
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One of my favorite happy hour or dinner spots. There food is DELICIOUS and they have lots of fun drinks. Very happening happy hour and dinner spot for a semi-fancy night out.
In my humble opinion, this is the best BBQ you can get without sitting in line for 10 hours. The pork ribs are going to be my request for my last meal on earth. The location in Driftwood is also just wonderful and charming. They often have a wait but its not usually too terrible. I'd recommend calling in advance or not going at peak times. They often have live music, and this location has a live BBQ pit to watch the action and a wine cellar/bar.
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Salt Lick BBQ
18300 Farm to Market Rd 1826
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In my humble opinion, this is the best BBQ you can get without sitting in line for 10 hours. The pork ribs are going to be my request for my last meal on earth. The location in Driftwood is also just wonderful and charming. They often have a wait but its not usually too terrible. I'd recommend calling in advance or not going at peak times. They often have live music, and this location has a live BBQ pit to watch the action and a wine cellar/bar.
My go-to suggestion for good food if you're going downtown. Really quality food and a nice atmosphere. They can get busy so I would call ahead, but the wait is not impossible (unless there's a convention). Food is not too pricey either, maybe $25/person.
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Moonshine Grill
303 Red River Street
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My go-to suggestion for good food if you're going downtown. Really quality food and a nice atmosphere. They can get busy so I would call ahead, but the wait is not impossible (unless there's a convention). Food is not too pricey either, maybe $25/person.
Drinks & Nightlife
Hip, weird bar AND coffee shop. They regularly host live music in the evenings and serve AMAZING brunches on the weekends. Very chill place to hang and have a nice conversation with friends.
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The Buzz Mill
1505 Town Creek Dr
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Hip, weird bar AND coffee shop. They regularly host live music in the evenings and serve AMAZING brunches on the weekends. Very chill place to hang and have a nice conversation with friends.
Very trendy (new) spot serving both food and drinks located at spot of my favorite restaurant that's now closed (East Side Showroom). But this place is cool too. Located in the trendy East Austin area. Great date location. You could really just walk up and down east 6th St, eat at the food trucks, bar hop and have a really great night!
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Ah Sing Den
1100 East 6th Street
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Very trendy (new) spot serving both food and drinks located at spot of my favorite restaurant that's now closed (East Side Showroom). But this place is cool too. Located in the trendy East Austin area. Great date location. You could really just walk up and down east 6th St, eat at the food trucks, bar hop and have a really great night!
Three reasons I love this bar/lounge: 1) You enter through a hidden bookcase door (!!!!!SO COOL!!!!!) if you enter through "Hostel" entrance. 2) Good jazzy music most of the time 3) It's directly across street from the HAUNTED (!!!eeeek!!!!) Driskill Hotel. After you have a drink at Firehouse, run across to the Driskill and check it out and have a drink at the hotel bar.
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Firehouse Lounge
605 Brazos Street
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Three reasons I love this bar/lounge: 1) You enter through a hidden bookcase door (!!!!!SO COOL!!!!!) if you enter through "Hostel" entrance. 2) Good jazzy music most of the time 3) It's directly across street from the HAUNTED (!!!eeeek!!!!) Driskill Hotel. After you have a drink at Firehouse, run across to the Driskill and check it out and have a drink at the hotel bar.
A few recommendations in one here: 1) This place serves smores! Like with a real fire. It's fun and exciting. Also, this is an all ages cafe, so you can bring the kids here. They love the smores and italian sodas. 2) This is next door to Fado's a great Irish pub (also great for brunch) 3) This is in the 4th Street warehouse district. Great for late night dancing, like at the club RAIN.
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Halcyon
218 West 4th Street
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A few recommendations in one here: 1) This place serves smores! Like with a real fire. It's fun and exciting. Also, this is an all ages cafe, so you can bring the kids here. They love the smores and italian sodas. 2) This is next door to Fado's a great Irish pub (also great for brunch) 3) This is in the 4th Street warehouse district. Great for late night dancing, like at the club RAIN.
Best place for dancing hands down. Young crowd but the music is usually really fun, like 70s or 80s jams. Fun, accepting atmosphere. It is also located on Red River which is home to several notable live music spots including Mohawk and Stubbs.
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Barbarella
615 Red River Street
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Best place for dancing hands down. Young crowd but the music is usually really fun, like 70s or 80s jams. Fun, accepting atmosphere. It is also located on Red River which is home to several notable live music spots including Mohawk and Stubbs.
Essentials
Has everything...food, clothes, toiletries, probably a kitchen sink.
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H-E-B plus!
2508 East Riverside Drive
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Has everything...food, clothes, toiletries, probably a kitchen sink.
Parks & Nature
Zilker has everything for a nice day outside! Picnic in the main Zilker park for a nice view of the city. The botanical gardens are really wonderful (and very cheap). Famous Barton Springs is also very cheap and really cold. Right down the trail from barton springs is a kayak rental booth that I HIGHLY RECOMMEND. It's about $10/hr for a double kayak and its just a wonderful experience; you can see the Austin skyline while also immersing yourself in the natural environment of the lake. Zilker is also the start of the famous Barton Creek Greenbelt which you can hike for about 8 miles, one way! Last tip: Pack your own food, there is not a lot of food options once you get to Zilker.
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Zilker Metropolitan Park
2100 Barton Springs Road
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Zilker has everything for a nice day outside! Picnic in the main Zilker park for a nice view of the city. The botanical gardens are really wonderful (and very cheap). Famous Barton Springs is also very cheap and really cold. Right down the trail from barton springs is a kayak rental booth that I HIGHLY RECOMMEND. It's about $10/hr for a double kayak and its just a wonderful experience; you can see the Austin skyline while also immersing yourself in the natural environment of the lake. Zilker is also the start of the famous Barton Creek Greenbelt which you can hike for about 8 miles, one way! Last tip: Pack your own food, there is not a lot of food options once you get to Zilker.
This is one of my favorite stretches of the Barton Creek greenbelt, as you can see two pretty waterfalls (when the water is high enough) and its easy parking on the access road off 360/Hwy1. Popular trail though so I recommend going as early as you can, which also helps beat the heat!
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Sculpture Falls
Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail
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This is one of my favorite stretches of the Barton Creek greenbelt, as you can see two pretty waterfalls (when the water is high enough) and its easy parking on the access road off 360/Hwy1. Popular trail though so I recommend going as early as you can, which also helps beat the heat!
One of my favorite trails in Austin. It's a small preserve but has a good variety of trails that loop around each other so you can get a good 2-4 mile hike without too much overlap. There's an adorable little waterfall and good elevation changes with scenic overlooks.
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Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve
805 North Capital of Texas Highway
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One of my favorite trails in Austin. It's a small preserve but has a good variety of trails that loop around each other so you can get a good 2-4 mile hike without too much overlap. There's an adorable little waterfall and good elevation changes with scenic overlooks.
My FAVORITE hiking trail in the Austin area. This is a TOUGH trail too. There is a lower trail where (when there is water) is just pure magic and has a rainforest feel. The upper trail takes you through a HUGE elevation change. I've heard people train for the Grand Canyon by hiking here. It is intense, but worth it!
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River Place Nature Trail
8820 Big View Dr
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My FAVORITE hiking trail in the Austin area. This is a TOUGH trail too. There is a lower trail where (when there is water) is just pure magic and has a rainforest feel. The upper trail takes you through a HUGE elevation change. I've heard people train for the Grand Canyon by hiking here. It is intense, but worth it!
I have to plug this state park because it's only a couple miles from my house and it's a little bit of a hidden gem. There are some historic ruins along one path that are interesting, but the standout feature are the upper and lower falls. Just gorgeous! Additionally, this is my favorite place for bluebonnet photos during March-May of each year, they have giant fields in bloom.
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McKinney Falls State Park
5808 McKinney Falls Parkway
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I have to plug this state park because it's only a couple miles from my house and it's a little bit of a hidden gem. There are some historic ruins along one path that are interesting, but the standout feature are the upper and lower falls. Just gorgeous! Additionally, this is my favorite place for bluebonnet photos during March-May of each year, they have giant fields in bloom.
Part of the larger Zilker Park area, Austin's own botanical gardens are just wonderful and charming. Very relaxing, but diverse gardens. Fun for kids and adults. Entry is only a couple bucks. Highly recommend, I loooove this place!
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Jardín Botánico Zilker
2220 Barton Springs Road
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Part of the larger Zilker Park area, Austin's own botanical gardens are just wonderful and charming. Very relaxing, but diverse gardens. Fun for kids and adults. Entry is only a couple bucks. Highly recommend, I loooove this place!
Entertainment & Activities
If you've never been to an Alamo Drafthouse theater, you should really check it out. They serve delicious food and drinks inside the theater and you can pick your seats before you arrive. They also often do special events and screening of special movies (classics).
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Alamo Drafthouse Cinema South Lamar
1120 South Lamar Boulevard
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If you've never been to an Alamo Drafthouse theater, you should really check it out. They serve delicious food and drinks inside the theater and you can pick your seats before you arrive. They also often do special events and screening of special movies (classics).
Sightseeing
I've seen the bats myself several times and from several vantage points and still find it a magical experience. My opinion is the view from Congress Bridge is the best (better than a boat or under the bridge). You can hear them getting ready to fly and are super close but still a safe distance and the view you get as they fly away is just beautiful from the bridge. It is definitely a "touristy" thing to do, but its so enjoyable. Good for kids and adults, a one-of-a-kind experience. Oh, and its totally free, just find parking and walk out on Congress bridge, you'll see the crowd!
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Austin Bat Tours
100 S Congress Ave
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I've seen the bats myself several times and from several vantage points and still find it a magical experience. My opinion is the view from Congress Bridge is the best (better than a boat or under the bridge). You can hear them getting ready to fly and are super close but still a safe distance and the view you get as they fly away is just beautiful from the bridge. It is definitely a "touristy" thing to do, but its so enjoyable. Good for kids and adults, a one-of-a-kind experience. Oh, and its totally free, just find parking and walk out on Congress bridge, you'll see the crowd!
Shopping
Wandering South Congress is a really fun activity for a few hours. The shops are super adorable and quirky. The restaurants are all delicious (Hop Doddy for burgers, Home Slice for pizza, Amy's for ice cream). My favorite shops are Tesoros (unique gifts), Uncommon Goods (weird antiques), and Lucy in Disguise (so many great costumes and clothes). Jo's Coffee Shop has the famous "I love you so much" wall beloved as a photo opp. It's easy to break the bank here, but just spending the day window shopping and eating food you will have a great time!
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South Congress Avenue
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Wandering South Congress is a really fun activity for a few hours. The shops are super adorable and quirky. The restaurants are all delicious (Hop Doddy for burgers, Home Slice for pizza, Amy's for ice cream). My favorite shops are Tesoros (unique gifts), Uncommon Goods (weird antiques), and Lucy in Disguise (so many great costumes and clothes). Jo's Coffee Shop has the famous "I love you so much" wall beloved as a photo opp. It's easy to break the bank here, but just spending the day window shopping and eating food you will have a great time!