“There’s a certain freedom you feel the closer you get to Austin, Texas.” — Willie Nelson
The Austin secret is definitely out. With an average of 100 people moving to Austin per day, everyone who visits Austin has something wonderful to say about this city. Austin is the capital of Texas, and is also known as the live music capital of the world for its legendary live music experience. It is overflowing with activity, adventure, and a feeling of unbound freedom. The laid-back, bohemian vibes mixed with a vibrant foodie and outdoor scene are ever-expanding. Austin has something for everyone and embodies a fusion of coordinated individualism – yogis, tech superstars, dogs in strollers, international travelers, hippies, creatives, and business men and women alike.
If you haven’t been to Austin, I urge you to put it on the top of your USA city list, even if it’s only for a Sunday. Although 24 hours would never be enough time, it would allow you to scratch the graffiti-painted surface of Austin. You’ll be sure to find new developments of chic restaurants, organic-grown everything, outdoor adventure, and the pervasive Texas culture of cowboy boots, Lonestar tallboys, and a town permeating with ease.
7 a.m. Wake up and walk
I know 7 am is super early, but when you only have 24 hours in one of the fittest cities in America, you have to use every minute. Walk or bike the Lady Bird Lake loop (townlaketrail.org) which grants some of the best skyline views, and you can even stop off for a quick paddle board session, or coffee at Alta’s Cafe on the lake to get you going.
Austinites take breakfast, brunch, coffee, and tacos very seriously. It’s impossible to nail down the best of the best because there are so many options, but I would suggest the food truck Paperboy for an authentically Austin experience. This swanky-hipster food truck dishes out the best sweet potato hash in town, and don’t miss their fresh to death OJ.
11 a.m. Get wet
The most iconic watering hole in Austin has to be Barton Springs. The refreshing, cool waters of Barton Springs will bring you back to life after a night of too many tequila shots, and it is the perfect spot to take a dip on a melty, hot summer day. They are open all day, from 5 AM to 10 PM so you can hop in for a sunrise swim, or take a dip under the moonlight!
1 p.m. Picnic with a view
Head to the Flagship Whole Foods to stock up on all the snacking essentials. This Whole Foods has four different internal restaurants serving up everything from Texas BBQ to sushi and sweet treats. Take your picnic to the 360 Bridge which is sometimes referred to as the PennyBacker Bridge. The hike to the lookout is fairly short and it only takes about 10 minutes before you’re standing on top of the bluffs overlooking the beautiful Austin skyline and hill country.
3 p.m Explore Austin eye candy
Whether you are cruising along the boutique-filled streets of South Congress or the dive bars of East Austin, you will find art, graffiti, and colorful mirages painted along most walls. Be sure to head to the HOPE Outdoor Gallery (pictured below) to experience the only paint party of its kind in the United States. The walls are an ever-changing artistic experiment and often have current political paintings, inspirational quotes, and you may even find a few Pokemon…
5 p.m. Get your thirst-quenching patio fix
With over 230 sunny days per year, the chances it will be nice out are pretty high, and the best place to head in the evening is an outdoor patio. Austinite’s love their patios – and for good reason. The options are endless depending on which hood you’re in. Head to El Alma for a killer happy hour and one of the best margaritas in town, other hot spots include Doc’s Bar and Grill for a laid-back, sports bar vibe, or enjoy a summer treat of Frosé (frozen rosé) at San Jose’s pool-side patio which is prime-time hipster people watching.
7 p.m. A Texas Cinema Experience
I would rarely recommend indulging in the movies when on vacation, but the Alamo Drafthouse delivers a unique movie experience that you simply can’t find anywhere else. The theatre is a retro twist of old school movie theatre with food and drinks served to you throughout the movie! Think fried Texas pickles, chocolate milkshakes, and specially crafted movie trailers to match the genre of every flick. Bonus: head next door to Highball, a karaoke bar with stand-up comedy Sundays.
Rainey street is the perfect place to end your Sunday funday in Austin. Rainey is a small strip overflowing with bars nestled into various cottages and retro houses. My favorite late-night spot is Icenhauer’s as they always have great jams and a crowd ready to dance. Banger’s (pictured below) is a sausage house and beer garden offering up some of the best brunch, brews, and late night bites in town.
Most things in Austin revolve around eating, drinking, enjoying, and playing in the surprisingly natural beauty surrounding the city. Everything does seem to be a little bigger, and a little bit better in Texas, especially in Austin. I promise, a Sunday in Austin is a Sunday well spent.