In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the world to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, Aimee Pruett of The Sleeper Car shows us the sights in Austin, Texas.
5 Things: Austin
I’ve lived in several cities, but Austin is the place that has always felt like home to me, which is why I’ve lived here for eight years. The laid-back culture, friendly people, and outdoor patios and pools just can’t be beat. In the summer, there are lots of places to cool down; and in the winter there are lots of places to warm up. Even as the city keeps growing, Austin strives to maintain its uniqueness, urging people to shop local and “Keep Austin Weird.” I love strolling around the city with my husband and dog, and seeing what fun things we can find to do!
Hillside Farmacy, 1209 E 11th Street, (512) 628-0168
Fabi & Rosi, 509 Hearn Street, (512) 236-0642
Contigo, 2027 Anchor Lane, (512) 614-2260
East Side King, Various Locations, (512) 407-8166
Peached Tortilla, Various Locations, (512) 330-4439
Sno-Beach, 801 Barton Springs Road, 3402 Guadalupe Street
Gelateria Gemelli, 1009 East 6th Street, (512) 535-2170
There are a lot of fantastic dining options in Austin. For brunch or happy hour, I love heading to Hillside Farmacy over in East Austin. The interior is so instagram-worthy and their punch is delicious! Fabi & Rosi is a hidden gem of a restaurant just west of downtown serving European dishes with a modern twist. And Contigo is the perfect restaurant to dine at when you want to spend some time outdoors on a patio while eating delicious, fresh food. They even have their own garden to grow a lot of their own veggies!
If you’re looking for more budget-friendly options, I suggest heading to one of Austin’s many food trailers. I personally love East Side King (launched by Paul Qui of Top Chef fame!) and Peached Tortilla. Both of those also have physical restaurants now, but I prefer the trailer experience!
For dessert, in the summer it’s hard to go wrong with a snow cone from Sno-Beach. For gelato that tastes like you’re strolling the streets of Italy, I always head to Gelateria Gemelli for a couple of scoops and a cocktail!
Big Top Candy, 1706 South Congress Ave, (512) 462-2220
South Congress Books, 1608 South Congress Ave, (512) 916-8882
Uncommon Objects, 1512 South Congress Ave, (512) 442-4000
Allens Boots, 1522 South Congress Ave, (512) 447-1413
Friends & Neighbors, 2614 East Cesar Chavez Street, (512) 524-1271
Take Heart, 1111 East 11th Street #100, (512) 520-9664
I adore places that are walkable, which is one of the reasons I love heading to the shops on South Congress so much. It’s so nice to stroll along the street, looking in windows and popping into different shops. Big Top Candy is a place that not only sells so many different types of candy, but they also have a soda fountain! Stop by and get an egg cream and sit at the counter. South Congress Books is fun to browse around, and Uncommon Objects is a must-see for any person who loves little vintage trinkets. If you’ve come to Austin and find yourself needing a pair of cowboy boots (though not necessary, I’ve lived in Texas most of my life and never owned a pair), Allens Boots is the place to go. Even though I’ve never bought a pair, I love browsing all the unique styles. And it would be a great souvenir!
If you find yourself in other areas of the city, a stroll along the Second Street District downtown will allow you to pop into a lot of clothing, toy and furniture shops and the east side of town holds the hip shops of Friends & Neighbors and Take Heart.
Hotel San Jose, 1316 South Congress Ave, (512) 444-7322
In the heart of Austin lies the Hotel San Jose. If you’re headed this way, it’s hard not to pick the Hotel San Jose to stay in. Not only are the rooms gorgeous, but the downstairs lounge area is perfect for a relaxing dip in the pool or a refreshing drink. Also, a step outside allows you to take in all the music and atmosphere of South Congress.
Of course, if you’d like a different experience, there are always a lot of unique Austin listings on Airbnb!
In the hot Austin summers, Barton Springs is the place to be. It’s a giant spring-fed pool (that means no added chlorine!) that stays a chilly 68-70 degrees year-round. I love to bring a towel, lay under the shade of a tree, and people-watch. Then, when it’s too hot to stand, I’ll take a dip in the pool and watch people doing acrobatics off the diving board. Intimidated by Barton Springs? Deep Eddy is another one of my favorites—and it’s a little smaller and not so daunting.
But there’s a lot of fun things to do other times of the year too! The Thinkery is a children’s museum in Austin and it has a lot of interactive exhibits, perfect for kids of all ages. Are you a movie lover? For a great movie experience, head to one of Alamo Drafthouse’s locations for one of their special movie events. I recommend their sing-alongs and Master Pancake Theater. Most of their theaters do have age limits, so keep that in mind if you’re travelling with little ones and call ahead!
Most of the year in Austin it’s warm and above 80 degrees. A pair of stylish, yet comfortable sandals are a must. Always bring a swimsuit because you never know when you’ll be near a pool! Sometimes we get cloudy days in Austin, but most of the time you’ll want to have a good pair of sunglasses on you. In the summer, I also like to spend as little time on my hair as possible, so I like the Verb Sea Spray from Austin’s Birds Barbershop to give it that beachy feeling. And don’t forget about how hip Austin is. You’ll want to make sure you have your phone handy so you can Instagram all those great places you are visiting and take selfies with all the friendly people you meet!
Thank you so much, Aimee! I’ve always wanted to go to Austin—this just further confirms my suspicion that we need to make plans soon!
P.S. See the entire 5 Things Series.[All photos by Aimee Pruett]