• September 8, 2023
  • Lauren Critzer
  • 0

The Ultimate Weekend Getaway in Austin: Experience it Like a Local

Deep in the heart of the Lone Star State, a city filled with charm, vibrancy, and a sunny disposition awaits: Austin, Texas. Known for its live music, outdoor beauty, and irresistible food, this capital city promises a perfect weekend getaway. Welcome to your local guide to a weekend getaway in Austin—something we affectionately call #ATX’ing.

Hooked on Austin: #ATX’ing a Weekend Full of Wonders

A weekend in Austin is perfect if you’re seeking culture, music, outdoor activities, and distinctive Texas charm. With 48 hours in hand, it’s truly the place where you can get a taste of everything: lush greenery, delicious eats, live music, and creative art. And you’ll experience it all like a true local.

Day 1: Embrace Austin’s Outdoor Abundance

Austin’s natural beauty is unmistakable, and there’s no better way to start your getaway than by diving right into it.

Morning: Kayaking on the Serene Lady Bird Lake

Begin your Austin adventure by visiting Lady Bird Lake, a reservoir on the Colorado River. Just a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of downtown Austin, Lady Bird Lake offers a peaceful retreat for locals and visitors alike. You can rent a kayak or paddleboard from Rowing Dock, a local outdoor recreational rental store located right on the banks of the lake. As you paddle your way, you can enjoy bird-watching, catch a glimpse of Austin’s skyline, and, if you’re really early, see a stunning sunrise glazing the city with golden light.

Afternoon: A True Austin Experience at Zilker Metropolitan Park

By the time afternoon rolls around, move east of Lady Bird Lake to discover Zilker Metropolitan Park. This 350-acre recreational area is a gem nestled in the core of Austin. To get the most of your time here, plan the following activities:

  • Visit the Zilker Botanical Garden, which boasts a variety of themed gardens, waterfalls, koi-filled ponds, and even a prehistoric dinosaur habitat.
  • Explore the Barton Springs Pool – a massive, spring-fed pool where the water stays a refreshing 68-70 degrees year-round. Remember to pack your swimsuits!
  • Enjoy a relaxed picnic on the Great Lawn, taking in Austin’s skyline views, or delve into exploring hiking trails and disc golf courses.

Day 1 Evening: Feel the Pulse of Music at its Epicenter

If you’ve heard that Austin is the Live Music Capital of the World®, rest assured, it wasn’t just a catchy moniker. Evening is when you grasp Austin’s true soul – its music. With over 250 venues, you could catch live shows any day of the week, but weekends especially buzz. Here are two classic stages to check out:

  • The Continental Club: Since 1955, this South Congress icon has showcased a variety of blues, rock, and country performers. It serves as a launchpad for young musicians as well as a favorite haunt for experienced artists.
  • Antone’s Nightclub: A legacy club known for helping establish Austin’s music scene, it has hosted greats like B.B. King, Muddy Waters, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Day 2: Relish the Culinary Delights and Cultural Quirks

After restful sleep, brace yourself for another day filled with cultural exploration and culinary delights.

Day 2 Morning: Basking in SoCo’s Eccentric Mood over Brunch

Begin your day at South Congress Avenue (SoCo), a lively neighborhood that perfectly summarizes Austin’s eccentricity. SoCo offers an eclectic mix of boutique shops, art galleries, and food joints. Here’s a suggested plan:

  • Head for brunch at Perla’s, where you’ll find Austin’s freshest seafood flown in daily. Enjoy their oyster bar, oak-grilled entrees, or for a true Austin brunch, taste their lobster omellete or Gulf Crab Florentine.
  • Following brunch, explore several uniquely Austin murals, most notably the Greetings from Austin postcard mural, an iconic photo spot.

Day 2 Afternoon: Dive into Texas History

Visit the Texas State Capitol located in downtown Austin. A National Historic Landmark, it houses the offices and chambers of the Texas Legislature and the Office of the Governor. With a rotunda taller than the US Capitol’s by almost fifteen feet, it’s a strong symbol of Texas pride. Free guided tours of the Capitol are available daily.

Day 2 Evening: An Austin Original – Barbecue and Comedy

As the sun starts dipping, brace yourself for culinary nirvana – Austin’s famous barbecue. Two highly recommended spots are:

  • Franklin Barbecue: Recognized as one of the best barbecue joints in Austin (and quite possibly the world), Franklin Barbecue’s brisket is legendary. Note: The line starts forming early, so be prepared!
  • La Barbecue: Often listed as one of the best BBQ joints in America, its succulent brisket and tender pulled pork will have you salivating.

Post a meaty meal, wind down your evening with laughter at Esther’s Follies, a 40-year-old comedy and magic staple on Sixth Street.

Celebrating Austin’s Nightlife

No guide to a weekend getaway in Austin is complete without tapping into its vibrant nightlife.

Experience the Congress Avenue Bridge’s Bat Flight

Perhaps one of Austin’s most unusual attractions is the sight of bats flying out from the Congress Avenue Bridge at dusk. Home to the largest urban bat colony in North America, the spectacle of approximately 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats taking flight is a must-see.

Dance and Drink the Night Away

Austin’s buzzing nightlife scene has an arsenal of bars, breweries, and even dance halls. Two recommended venues are The White Horse, known for its live country music and roomy dance floor, and The Broken Spoke, one of Texas’s oldest dance halls.

In Conclusion: Austin’s Spellbinding Spirit

Experiencing a city like Austin is akin to discovering a new song—you find yourself humming along even when it’s over. This exciting, dynamic, and wonderfully offbeat city pulls you in with its promise of adventure, culture, and entertainment. Austin’s unique spirit is felt in the melodies strummed on guitars, witnessed on eclectic murals, tasted in smoky barbecue bites, and echoed in the flapping wings of bats. We hope this guide to a weekend getaway in Austin helps you tune into its rhythm and understand why locals say, “Keep Austin Weird”!

So, are you ready to embark on a weekend getaway in Austin? This handy guide should leave no stones unturned in your plans! With a little bit of everything, Austin is the perfect place to plan your next trip. But remember, the real Austin can’t be found within the guide; it’s found within its people, its food, its music, and its soul. You just have to come and feel it for yourself.

Lauren Critzer

I was born in Charlottesville, Virginia and after college, I moved to San Francisco to explore new opportunities and broaden my horizons. I fell in love with the city's vibrant culture and unique atmosphere, but eventually, I moved again, this time to Austin, Texas.

As much as I loved living in different parts of the country, having a baby boy brought me back to my hometown in Charlottesville, where I now live with my husband, our little one, and two furry friends. I enjoy going to wineries, taking my pups everywhere, and spending quality time with my family.

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