This is your cheat sheet for the best things to do in Austin.
If there are any places you love that we missed—let us know! Thanks for your unique contribution to our amazing community of Hosts and Renters!
Uchi – We cannot emphasize how good Uchi is. If you like sushi, you’re going to love this place. If you don’t like suchi- you’re probably still going to like this place. It is hands down the best sushi in Austin— and easily rivals other top sushi joints like Nobu. Uchi is situated in a fun yet intimate bungalow that transports you to Japan. The uni and toro is on point, but you literally cannot go wrong with anything on the menu.
Perlas Seafood Bar – Think: Rose and oysters and you have Perla’s. This fun seafood eatery is located on South Congress among a variety of other old school Austin shops and restaurants. The legendary Anthony Bourdain once visited. Perla’s has a beautiful patio that gets packed. Be sure to either make reservations or get there early. Highly recommend for #roseallday!
Truluck’s Seafood Steak and Crab House – Yes, it’s a chain, but the seafood is great and so is the happy hour from 4:30-7:00, 7-nights a week. Half off all mixed drinks, specialty drinks, and liquor as well as discounted wine and bites. If you’re looking for a romantic night out or just a trendy bar scene- piano player included every night of the week- consider Truluck’s.
Zia 313 – If one of the most pressing questions you have when moving to a new city is, “where can I find the best pizza?” Then, Zia 313 is your answer. Seriously, don’t ask questions—just go now! You’re welcome.
Food for Thought: Try the thinner crust pizza too.
Ah Sing Den – In case you’re looking for a cozy cocktail bar in an opium den-like setting this evening – look no further! Ah Sing Den serves up delicious signature libations on Austin’s East Side. We loved the Tally Me Banana (mezcal & banana), but you can’t go wrong.
Garage Bar – Hidden in a parking garage, yes, a garage—this dimly candle lit cocktail bar is great for dates or a small intimate group of friends alike
Midnight Cowboy – Considered one of the best speakeasies in Austin, this former brothel turned craft cocktail bar tucked away on 6th street takes you back in time. Unlike most other bars in the city, reservations are a necessity.
Whisler’s – Sorry for the blurry picture below (it was after a cocktail), but that’s Whisler’s. It manages to be grand yet inviting. They also have a fun patio that gets a good crowd on the weekends.
Franklin’s BBQ – Millennials – UNITE! Franklin’s BBQ is a must when it comes to this American classic. From slow cooked brisket to refreshing craft beers, there’s something for everyone. Not convinced? Legendary food critic, Anthony Bourdain, raved about their brisket. That’s all you need to know.
Stiles Switch – Only one word needed – YES! Seriously, this place is good. Their open-pit smoked meats are cooked to perfection and their BBQ sauce is divine. They know balanced BBQ, with the perfect combination of smoky and rich.
Terry Black’s – Talk about old school. Terry Black’s is as authentic old-school Austin BBQ as it gets. Servin’ up the classics Monday through Sunday, these guys are dedicated to their food. Dine in their inviting, family oriented atmosphere, or take your food to Lady Bird Lake for a nice picnic. These guys are so dedicated to quality, that they offer “pit tours” so customers can see the quality of their work first-hand.
Taco Deli – If you’ve been in Austin and haven’t tried Taco Deli’s breakfast tacos, have you really been to Austin? From their breakfast Migas Taco to The Otto (refried beans, bacon, avocado, and cheese), you cannot go wrong. What pushes this place really over the top? Their variety of homemade salsas from verde and habanero to a smoky roja salsa.
Café Medici & Houndstooth Coffee – Both coffee shops offer perfectly crafted home brewed coffees and teas and both places are great to setup shop to get a bit of work done. Oh yeah, did we mention they also both offer Taco Deli breakfast tacos?!
Life Time Fitness Downtown Austin – Life Time fitness’s downtown location isn’t your average lifetime. It’s nicer than your typical Life Time Fitness, and they charge a bit of a premium because of that. It’s clean, bright and open, and has all the equipment you need. Gold’s Gym works well too and is a lot more affordable- it’s definitely not as clean or nice, but it certianly gets the job done.
SoulCycle – This spinning class doesn’t feel like you’re at the gym at all. And SoulCycle Downtown Austin is the best SoulCycle in the country (humble opinion!). Imagine being in a dimly lit nightclub with forty of your closest friends dancing rhythmically all at the same to the beat of the music—sweating (not on each other) and having fun. That’s SoulCycle—and we’re obsessed.
Best instructors: Christy, Chris Chandler, and Issaiah.
Crush Fitness – If you’re moving from a city where you had a Barry’s Bootcamp or you’ve just done Barry’s Bootcamp and loved it, this is the closest we have to it right now.
Best instructor: Nyck teaches at Barry’s Bootcamp in Miami, but splits his time in Austin. Take his class!
Leaf – This self-described “healthy, quick, and fresh alternative” to other local restaurants is one of our go-to places for a great lunch. Leaf uses fresh and often local ingredients. Our favorite: “Scott’s Creation”—mixed field greens, tomatoes, olives, bacon, chicken, lots of feta, and a citrus vinaigrette. If that doesn’t sound good, order another salad off the menu or create your own!
JuiceLand – If someone would have told us before we met JuiceLand that a quick and healthy vegan restaurant could taste this good—we wouldn’t have believed them. This Austin staple is particularly awesome for smoothies and juices. If you haven’t tried it yet, be careful, you’re going to love it!
Jeffrey’s – Elegant. Classy. Cozy. Modern. Not only is this Austin’s best steakhouse, but you can only find it in Austin, which makes it special. Ready for a 3-martini dinner made in a warm steakhouse atmosphere? Ok, well maybe a 2-martini dinner, then? Jeffrey’s is your answer. It’s perfect.
#LocalTip: Jeffrey’s is one of the most expensive restaurants in Austin, but Monday’s is half off all bar food and $2 off all drinks. These same specials are available during happy hour, Tuesday through Sunday from 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM.
Eddie V’s – Yes, it’s a chain and you can find it in other cities, but it’s still really good. They also play live music in the bar most nights. You can catch us at Eddie V’s happy hour on Sunday’s (and Monday’s).
Wu Chow – Farm to table Chinese food- Dim sum style. Only in Austin. Checkout their highly coveted dim sum brunch on Sundays. Reservations highly recommended.
Expert Tip: Try their famous soup dumplings!
Fredericksburg (cute German town) – Located just roughly one and a half hours from Austin, Fredericksburg is perfect for wine lovers! Best known for their large selection of wines, you may need a couple of days here to really enjoy all this town has to offer! From local restaurants to spas, this place is the ultimate ‘mini-vacay’ spot!
Enchanted Rock – Located just about two hours from Austin, Enchanted Rock is America’s largest pink granite monadnock. Spend a weekend camping in one of their many campsites and hike the weekend away!
Jester King Brewery – Jester King brewery offers an original farmhouse brewery experience. While you’re there, you may find yourself taking a tour of the brewery, or tasting one of their many fine brews in their tasting room.
Austin in general is LGBTQ friendly, so you will feel comfortable in most places. 4th Street downtown is where the vast majority of bars are. There are quite a few, so bounce around and feel out the vibe. Typically, if you’re heading out on 4th street, the night starts at Rain and the crowd moves to Highland around 12:00 AM to continue dancing the night away.
In addition, Dirty Bills is a fun LGBTQ friendly dive bar (not on 4th street) and Barbarellas (not on 4th street) is also fun and gay friendly and has a famous Tuesday night, aptly named: Tuezgays.
6th Street is where a lot of young professionals tend to venture on the weekends. West 6th Street is fun street with a lot of bars. It’s a professional crowd and is a lot cleaner than it’s counterpart Dirty 6 (see below).
Recommendations on West 6th include: Parlor and Yard, Kung Po, and Green Light Social, which is best known for their Carpi Sun Adult Beverage.
East 6th Street a.k.a. “Dirty 6” is where you’ll find a lot of college students (and it gets messy as the night goes on). Although, there are some fun bars and live music, so it’s definitely worth checking out- at least once, to say you’ve been.
Rainey Street is another famous street with a lot of bars close together so you can walk everywhere. It’s known as a young professional hangout and is a lot of fun for Sunday Funday.
Pro Tip: Icenhauser’s on Rainey is a must on Sundays for the live band and sangria.
Austin’s East Side also has a lot of chill bars that we like a lot. Recommendations: Whisler’s (see above), Native Hostel, and Nickel City.
****Green Belt – This place is a gem and is located just 10-15 minutes outside of downtown Austin. This nature reserve is perfect for adventure seekers looking for a nice hike or dip in the creek!
Congress Bridge – Checkout what all the hype is about: 1.5 million, yes million, bats emerging from underneath Congress Bridge at sunset. It’s quite a site. If you’re looking for a nicer experience, watch it from the patio at the Four Seasons Hotel down the street.
Barton Springs Pool – Located in Zilker Park, Barton Springs Pool is the crown jewel of Austin. Measuring three acres in size, this public pool is sourced from underground springs averaging 68-70 degrees – perfect for year round swimming!
#LocalTip: Coolers for drinks are not allowed inside. Prepare accordingly.
Mount Bonnell (Sunset Hike) – Don’t be scared! This isn’t much of a hike at all. While you do have to put in some effort to climb the hill, this primarily tourist area has a well-established trail leading to a beautiful 775 ft overlook of Austin. Be sure to stay for the sunset – it’s beautiful!
Lady Bird Lake – Runners, kayakers, walkers, power walkers, and paddle boarders rejoice! Lady Bird lake next to downtown Austin has something for everyone. Take a long run or walk around the lake or rent a paddle board or kayak. Lady Bird Lake has something for everyone and it’s literally perched next to downtown. Not a lot of cities can say they have access to nature like that.
Hamilton Pool – Spilling over limestone outcroppings to create a beautiful waterfall, this nature preserve is a MUST SEE. Swim in this pool year round, rain or shine!
Umlauf Sculpture Garden – Browse acres of beautiful gardens and sculptures in this art-rich destination. Packed with hundreds of beautiful sculptures and art-pieces, you’ll be amazed at the beauty of this place.
Best Salon: Ron King downtown // Milk + Honey (2nd choice)
Best Pools for a Pool Party: W Hotel Pool (open to public); Westin Pool (Sometimes they’ll let you in and sometimes they won’t- call ahead. Rooftop pool overlooking the city and open during specific hours– ask the front desk for a roomkey to the pool.)
Best-priced spa: Hiatus Spa + Retreat
Grocery Store: H-E-B is the main grocery store in Austin, but Whole Foods started in Austin, and we have a Trader Joe’s too!
Royal Blue If you moved to Austin and are seeing “Royal Blues” everywhere and wondering what the heck it is, it’s a gourmet Austin grocery store that has all the essentials (at higher prices), but is great for quick bites including sandwiches, salads, and pizzas on-the-go.