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Ultimate Austin Travel Guide

Austin Mural

Austin has been an up-and-coming city. From great food to a couple of party streets to tons of outdoor actives, all wrapped up into a low cost of living (aka, $4 cocktails!), it makes a great place to have a Bachelorette Party. And, we weren’t the only ones! Over the course of the 4 days we were there, we ran into 24 other bachelorette or bachelor parties, no joke! It started to become a fun game for us (spot the bride to be!)

HOLD UP! If you aren’t traveling to Austin for a party, don’t leave just yet! While this guide is heavily tailored to nights out on the town, this trip had a lot of travel in it, too, and I’ve made sure to include as many Austin travel tips as possible.


Quick Glance:


Top Bars: Un-bar-lievable, Container Bar, Handlebar rooftop

Top eats: Torchy’s Tacos, Bangers, Elizabeth Street Cafe

Top coffee: Jo’s Coffee

Top Murals: You’re My Butter Half, Austin Mural

Top Shopping District: South Congress

Top Swimming: Barton Springs Pool


THURSDAY


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8am: We all grabbed an 8am flight from San Francisco to Austin. Note that, since Austin is still low on the national radar, there usually aren’t as many flights going in every day, same with going out. The airport is pretty tiny! Keep this in mind when hunting for flights, as you may have to pay a little extra just because there are less flights to choose from.

2pm: We landed at 2pm Austin time to 80 some degrees and sunshine! Instead of taking Ride, Austin’s Uber/Lyft, we opted to take the Airport Flyer 100 for $1.25. Yup, you heard that correctly. Most airports charge a lot to get out of the airport via public transportation, but not Austin. This bus dropped off a block from our hotel and got us there in about 30 minutes. If you opt to take Ride, it’s cost you about $20-30 instead and will take pretty much the same amount of time. Just follow the signs for the stop. Make sure to have exact change.

Travel tip: Take the Airport Flyer 100 from the Airport to Downtown Austin!

3pm: faceWe quickly headed to the bar at the Raddison after checkin. Most hotels were totally booked up due to a lot of events happening that weekend (a motor racing, a comedy fest and those 24 other bachelorette parties). If I had my choice, I would have stayed at the W or the Van Zandt or have booked a cool Airbnb (use THIS link to get $35 off your first night!) But the Raddison was in a great location, which was a bonus. So, with luggage at our feet, we started the party off with two drinks. We were waiting for our last girl to arrive on a different flight.

Cocktails on woodAustin Texas El Alma Austin Texas

5:30pm: Dinner time! A coworker suggested El Alma, a cute little Mexican place with a beautiful rooftop patio hidden among some trees. It was about a .7 mile walk from our hotel, so we took this chance to soak up some sunshine, stretch our legs after the flight and explore Austin a bit. On the way, we passed Yeti Cooler’s HQ (the best coolers in the world, I swear). El Alma is a place that you probably would drive right back. It’s very unassuming from the front, but the rooftop – man, look at how beautiful it is! They have some fans on the rooftop for the dead of summer to help keep you cool and umbrellas if needed. We all opted for tacos, about $4.5 each, but you only need 2 to fill up quickly. I got the one with cactus and it was so interesting and good. If you haven’t had cactus before, try this taco!

Come to El Alma to get away from the crowds and relax with good food and good drinks.

7:30pm: We were on the hunt for a great bar to keep the the night going, so our server recommend Handlebar on the edge of the Dirty 6th Street section (more on that later). It’s downtown and they have a beautiful wooden rooftop, so I was in heaven. Also, drinks in Austin, in general, are incredibly cheap! The girls each got a gin and tonic for $3.25 here, and I a beer for $4.25! A live band was playing, so it was crowded, but we were able to find seats in about 20 minutes. The nights are warm in Texas, and the band was great, so we stayed here for a few rounds.

Drinks in Austin are cheap – you can find cocktails for $3 during happy hours!

9:30pm: Dirty 6th Street time! if you are researching places to go in Austin, you’ve probably heard of 6th street. It’s a street that runs through downtown Austin and is filled with restaurants and mostly bars. We found out that there are three parts to 6th Street. The West End, which is the classy part. The East End, which is a favorite for locals. And then the middle, which is near the college campus. This part is Dirty 6th Street (pretty much because it’s always full of drunk, sloppy college kids.) If this isn’t your scene at all, don’t come. I thought it was fun for one night but not more than one.

Rainey Street, Austin

Handlebar was just around the corner, so we walked down 6th Street to see a busy street full of bars to choose from. So, I’m sure you’ve heard how if a big group of girls go to Las Vegas, it’s really easy for them to get free drinks all night because the clubs want hot girls on the dance floor to entice the guys. Dirty 6th is exactly like that. At one point we had 4 different bar/club promoters clamoring to get us in with promises of free drinks. Note that the free drinks or well drinks or cheap champagne, but when you are out on your Bachelorette party, free drinks are great! We ended up hopping around to three different places and ended up at the Jackalope Bar, which has a huge jackalope you can ride on.  If you are here in Austin on for a party, make sure to have your wild night here on Dirty 6th Street.

Dirty 6th Street is like Vegas for girls – grab a group and you can probably drink all night for free!

Midnight: Right next to Jackalope Bar is a little pizza stand going that sells by the slice. We each ordered one – they’re as big as your head, I swear – and ate it as we walked back to the hotel. Probably just because I was drunk at that point, but that pizza was fantastic!


Friday


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10am: We needed an amazing brunch spot so we deduced to head to Elizabeth Street Cafe in South Congress. It’s a Vietnamese brunch spot with tons of outdoor seating and cute decor. Score! It’s about a mile away from the hotel, but there was no way we could walk that, so we ordered a Ride – Austin’s Uber/Lyft.

Everything you need to know about Ride: So, if you haven’t heard, Uber and Lyft don’t operate in Austin. Instead, they have their own ride share service called Ride Austin. The interface looks almost the same as Lyft or Uber and there are a fair amount of drivers out there, so you usually don’t have to wait too long for car. What I love about Ride is that you have the option to round up your fare – that “rounded up” portion is donated to a charity of choice. So far, Ride has raised well over 100k for local charities. It’s a great idea. My beef with Ride Share? The prices are higher than Uber or Lyft and you always get a $5 fee for canceling.It doesn’t matter if you get matched and the driver is 20 minutes away and you cancel within 10 seconds. It doesn’t matter if the app glitches. No matter what, you will be charged $5 for canceling, which I found frustrating after coming from Lyft and Uber where you usually get a couple of minutes to cancel before a charge. My other problem with Ride was that not all fares are equal. For some reason, it kept charging me crazy high prices when I used my phone to request a ride. For instance,  I requested a ride to our hotel once it estimated $16. When one of the girls requested the same ride, it estimated $8. When it came time to head to the airport, I pulled open the app and it told me it would cost $43 and my driver was 15 minutes away. When I canceled and a friend tried to request a ride, she immediately matched with a driver 1 block away and the ride was going to be less than $20. So, I’m not sure what was happening there, but keep that in mind when you use Ride Austin. I ended up venoming the girls a lot for rides because the app isn’t perfect.

red self portrait dress, blue bucket bag Elizabeth Street Cafe, Austin

11am: Elizabeth Street Cafe is a couple blocks off of South Congress and, we later figure out, almost next door to Gourdoughs Donuts.  That being said, it felt like mostly just locals came here.  We all got iced Vietnamese coffee, one of my favorite coffee drinks. I ordered the Pork Buns and Eggs, which was tasty. Someone else ordered the omelet. I do wish the portions were a bit bigger, but that’s probably just because I was so hungover!

Noon: Since South Congress Street was a couple blocks away, we walked there. This is the street that runs all the way downtown with the capitol building on end, and lots of eats and shopping along the way. We headed away from the capital down the shopping side. From hipster shops to book stores to western appears and cowboy boots, South Congress has so much good shopping! We vowed to come back the next day when we didn’t feel like we were dying. A notable shop is Allen’s Boots, which will satisfy all your cowboy boot needs. After, we headed back to our hotel and quickly changed into our swimsuits because… it was time to go swimming!


My Favorite Swimsuits


2:00pm: Barton Springs! We wanted to go to Hamilton Springs, a few miles out of the city, but they were currently closed due to something with the water. You could still enter, but you couldn’t swim, so that was no fun. Hamilton Springs is inside a cave and looks so beautiful in photos. If you are staying longer, have a car and the water area is open, make sure to head here!  Instead, we went to Barton Springs which is centrally located in Austin.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, after being let down by Hamilton, but DANG! I was so happy we came here! It took us less than 10 minutes and the pool is huge, so there was plenty of areas to stretch out in the grass and swim.

It was a high of 87 that day and sunny, so taking a dip in the cold water and then sunbathing was just what my soul needed.

Barton Springs, along with Hamilton Pool and a handful of others are swimming holes rather than pools. The water is natural spring water! Barton Springs’ floor is all natural and half of the pool area still has the natural rocks, so it’s like swimming in a river or a lake back home in the Midwest. It was a high of 87 that day and sunny, so taking a dip in the cold water and then sunbathing was just what my soul needed. Make sure to carve out an afternoon here when you are visiting Austin!

Barton Springs, Austinred squad swimsuits

4pm: We headed back to our hotel to shower and get ready for dinner and another evening out!

Wear This

6pm: Rainy Street! We walked over to Rainy Street, another street full of bars and eats, but a place that is a 180 from 6th Street. It’s tucked on the side of downtown and full of trees. All the spots are built out of old houses and have patio areas, string lights and cute decor. (I really wish I grab better photos but my mind was focused on drinking. HERE is the hashtag on Instagram, go take a look!) Our first stop was Bangers, a sausage and beer haven. It’s mostly all outdoors, with some indoor seating, on group tables, so you can be seated next to anyone. We ended up sitting next to a group in a bachelor party and had a great time chatting and mingling. I ordered the fig brat, an IPA and a flight. Their normal brat is the standard, but they have fun things like figs and bacon. I  HIGHLY recommend stopping here for a night. I could come back to this place every weekend because the vibes and food is so good. There was a little stage in the outdoor area, so I’m pretty sure they sometimes have live music as well.

7:3opm: Next up, we walked down the end of Rainy Street ago Ebony and Rye, an upscale cocktail lounge and restaurant. Apparently this is a popular spot for locals to grab drinks during happy hour. It also has a most upscale vibe and group of people if that is what you are looking for. The girls ordered me a bride’s cocktail and I don’t know what was in it, but it was tasty!

Rainey Street, Austin Rainey Street, AustinRainey Street, Austin

8:30pm: Unbarlievable next! We wandered over to take a photo and almost didn’t go in because the front is so peaceful and unassuming. You would never guess that tucked in the back is a HUGE party! Think furniture, carnival decor, a live music stage, a second bar and string lights over a grass dance floor. This was my favorite bar that we went to and we spent a couple of hours here. Austin is a very dog friendly city, so we even got to hang out with a few pups, so I was in heaven!

Unbarlievable was my favorite bar that we went to and we spent a couple of hours here.

10:30pm: Container Bar was last on our list. This spot is made of shipping containers! You can walk through them around a huge outdoor dance floor. Everything is pretty much outdoors in Austin, I loved it. Make sure to wear comfy shoes and head here if you like dancing!

Midnight: Pizza truck! There was a food truck selling pizza at the end of the street, so we treated ourselves to a slice and head back to the hotel. I now wish that we returned for a second night here because there are just too many cool bars to check out. Make sure you give yourself more time to explore them all!

Beauty Tip: I always bring Olay Daily 4-in-1 cloths on trips – it feels SO good to wash everything off your face after a long day and they pack dry!

Rainey Street


Saturday


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10am: Time for breakfast! We got up, got ready, put on our comfy shoes and headed out to South Congress across the river. Luckily, our hotel was right on the edge of downtown on Congress Street, so we didn’t have to hike there. We were on a mission for a good breakfast and good shopping! As mentioned before, South Congress is full of cute shops and since we were all still a little drunk from the night before, we wanted a second go. We stopped in a few stores and I got a colorful apron to wear while cooking!

11:30am: We slowly meandered up Congress to Jo’s Coffee, or better yet, that place with the “I love you so much” wall. I actually really wanted to grab tacos here, not sure look at the wall, but they ran out of tacos! So, if you come here to eat, make sure you go early enough to beat the crowds! Instead, we grabbed their house coffee, which was sugary and delightful!

Travel tip: come early to the I Love You So Much wall to actually get breakfast tacos!

12:30pm: After checking a few places out on the way that all had VERY long lines, we ended up at Torchy’s Tacos at the end of South Congress. It’s one of those “famous” Austin places you hear about, so I was a little unsure about how the food would be. HOT DAMN guys, they have good tacos! I’d recommend first ordering a round of chips and queso for the table (so nom nom) and 2 tacos per person. My favorite was the Democrat. Brianna really loved the Migas. Really, you can’t go wrong, but I’d start with one of those for sure.

At Torchys, order a round of chips and queso for the table!

1:30pm: We really wanted to find the famous Austin wall and saw it about .6 miles away, so we headed off through a residential neighbored to Mary and 1st Street. It’s on the side of a small art store, but you’ll be able to know if you are getting close to the right place because there will probably be a lot of people and cars around it.

Jo's Coffee in AustinTorchy's Tacos

1:45pm: Keep walking down the street and you’ll find the cutest little vintage shop called Bloomers and Frocks! Here I scored a beautiful 80’s dress for only $10! The owner is really cool and only stocks high-quality vintage items (no Goodwill quality stuff here) Half the house is attached to a modern store that carries things like Lulu Lemon, so you can shop the past and present all at once. Even if you don’t want to buy anything, it’s really fun to walk around this place.

2:30pm: Donut time! Gourdough’s Donuts was just down the block from Bloomers & Frocks, so we headed there for a little sweet treat. It’s out of an airstream and guys – the donuts here are SO GOOD! There’s probably as big as my head and they come in crazy flavors. We got the peach donut which tasted like we took a bite out of Georgia.

3:00pm: We had gloomy weather this day (think mid 60’s and windy when all we packed for was 80+), so we headed back to our hotel to rest a bit and get ready for our last night on the town. If you wanted to stay out doing things, I’d recommend taking a walk in the park or taking an evening cruise along the river. We stumbled upon a few yachts that take people out for a skyline cruise and then to this bridge that’s famous for bats (yes, bats). It’s a thing, here. There is this one boat (here) that you can bring our own booze on so, do that one.

Gourdough's Donuts Austin Austin donutsaustin muralEberlyAustin TexasRainey Street

6:30pm: We took a Ride to Eberly bar for a fancy cocktail. This place is upscale dining so I’d recommend coming here just for a happy hour drink. The interior is amazingly beautiful and they have a great outdoor patio that would be perfect to sit on during a warm summer evening. This time, we cozied up to the bar. Cocktails are about $12, which is almost cheap by San Francisco standards.

7:30pm: We almost went back to Rainy Street (and I now wish we did because I think the bars are more fun there.) Instead, we wanted to see a different part of Austin, so we headed to the nice part of 6th Street closer to the capital. We were starving so we found a little bar that was a tad overpriced, but had food. It was ok, I don’t think I would recommend coming here, though. There was a big comedy festival in town dominating this area of the city, so most bars were crowded. I think this section of the city would be more fun on a weeknight at happy hour instead of the last night of a Bachelorette party.

Skip West 6th Street and head back to Rainy Street instead for better bars and better company

8:30pm: But, we kept on and headed to a rooftop bar called the Salon (I think) and played a big game of jinko which was fun. This vibe was way more relaxed and saloon feeling. Make sure to play some games here, we had fun. Next, we went across the street to another bar, also a rooftop, because it has a dance floor. But, people in Austin apparently aren’t big dancers and we were the only ones dancing.

10:30pm: By this time we were starting to get hungry, so we went around the corner to a food truck lot and ordered hot dogs. Not pizza – I kind of wanted to keep that streak going!

Midnight: Back to the hotel!


Sunday


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We were slow moving this morning and didn’t leave the hotel until Noon for checkout time. If you get up earlier, I’d suggest making a beeline to Jo’s Coffee to try their famous breakfast tacos before they sell out, or try your hand at a water sport like kayaking or paddle boarding on the river. It looked like there were a few spots you can rent at along the river.

Noon: Check out and headed to Hillside Farmacy, a cute little brunch spot in Hillside area of town. It was nice to get our of the downtown area. This spot is called the “Farmacy” because it used to be a pharmacy back in the day and they’ve kept that theme going but in a chic, modern way. Think subway tile and old timey cupboards. Note that the wait was LONG. Close to an hour. I’d come back here in a heartbeat, but I’d make reservations first. We, sadly, did not so we waited. While waiting I ordered a virgin house soda – the strawberry balsamic one is so tasty. The perfect thing to sip on a hot summer day. After an hour’s wait, we were seated outside and – had to wait about 40 minutes for food. Not the best service here, but again, it’s a cute spot and I’d go back on a weekday and only with reservations. I got the grits and ham. Have to eat a little bit southern before we leave!

blue vintage dress You're My Butter Half Mural in Austin

2pm: Our last stop was the ‘Your My Butter Half” wall. This one is deep in a residential area and looks like it’s even on the side of a school building. It’s not very crowded at all, but I’d take a Ride there instead of walking.

3pm: Off to the airport! Bye Austin!

I hope this Austin travel guide helps you make the most of your trip to Austin, Texas! Leave a comment below if you have any questions or have more recommendations to add!

Make sure to follow me on Instagram for daily travel inspiration! 

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Teryn
    July 5, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    I’m from SF and went to Austin about a month ago! This post is so well formatted and captures Austin so well, following for more!! 🙂

    • Reply
      Teryn
      July 5, 2017 at 7:12 pm

      Also my site is terynstravels.com

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