For years, I’ve been hearing how cool Austin, Texas is. Frequently mentioned on lists of the best cities to live in, the city is booming in popularity. When I finally had the chance to spend a weekend in Austin, I jumped on the opportunity.
My expectations were high, but Austin is one of those places that lived up to its hype. I had so much fun exploring the quirky neighborhoods, eating all the street food, finding secret bars, and cooling off in the natural swimming holes.
If you’re planning a weekend trip to Austin, I’ve got you covered. Here’s a jam-packed Austin 2-day itinerary to help you make the most of your time there.
Table of Contents
Weekend in Austin Itinerary
Day 1 Weekend in Austin- Explore South Congress and See Live Music
After landing in Austin, you’ll likely be hungry, so head out to one of the food truck areas to grab a quick bite before exploring the city. It’s some of the tastiest and most affordable!
Some of the best food truck parks are Rainey Street Food Trucks, East Riverside Food Trucks, and The Picnic, which are close to Barton Springs. I had a Mexican-style “mighty cone’ which was just as tasty as the food in Puerto Vallarta.
For your first afternoon in Austin, take some time to explore the South Congress, one of Austin’s most popular neighborhoods. It’s an excellent place for shopping, with cute vintage shops, costume stores, and local boutiques.
South Congress is also a great place to snap some Insta-worthy pictures of the murals along the street. It’s home to the famous ” I love you so much!” mural on the side of Jo’s Coffee (1300 S Congress Ave).
A short walk away is my favorite, the “Greetings From Austin” mural that looks like a postcard (1720 S 1st St.)
For dinner, check out one of the restaurants on South Congress. We stumbled upon Aba, which is a lovely Mediterranean restaurant. They have an awesome patio, and the artichoke hummus is super tasty!
Before heading out for the night, take advantage of your first sunset in Austin and head to one of these three spots to watch the sun go down.
- Witness thousands of bats flying nightly on the Congress Avenue Bridge. It’s the largest urban colony in North America, so it’s quite a sight.
- If bats aren’t your thing, there’s another bridge you can visit just for sunset – the 360 Bridge (you’ll need a car to get here). You can’t stop on the bridge as traffic flows through it, but you can park nearby and climb up a small ledge next to it for a view above.
- Alternatively, hike to the top of Mount Bonnell. It’s just a small hill that takes about ten minutes to climb, with lovely city and lake views.
For your first night out in Austin, it’s time to see some music since that’s what the city is known for! There are always shows at the countless venues on 6th Street and Rainey Street, or you can check out what concerts are happening at the larger venues.
If you’re lucky enough to visit Austin in October, you can attend the famous Austin City Limits music festival.
The Rainey Street Historic District was my favorite spot to go out in Austin. All the bars there are historic bungalow homes; walking around is so charming.
Day 2 Austin Itinerary: Explore the Natural Side of Austin and Speakeasy Hunt
Cure your hangover from the night before with a greasy brunch! Austin has a great brunch culture, which is the perfect way to kick off the day. I loved the Driskell 1886 cafe – their egg benny is fantastic!
For day two, it’s time to embrace Austin’s natural side. Start with a visit to Zilker Park, a vast recreational area with botanical gardens.
If the weather is warm, head to Barton Springs nearby. It’s a swimming hole filled with water from nearby natural springs. It’s cold but so refreshing in the summer heat.
Tons of people come here with paddleboards, dogs, and drinks, so it’s a great vibe. It was my favorite memory of Austin!
If that’s not your jam, there are other water activities. You can go boating at Lake Travis or paddleboarding on Ladybird Lake in the city! It’s super popular among locals on the weekend; you’ll see hundreds of kayaks and paddleboards.
In case of rain or if you want to learn about Austin’s history and culture, head to one of the museums like the Bullock Texas State History Museum or the Blanton Museum of Art.
You can also check out the Texas State Capitol, the tallest one in the United States! It’s impressive to see from the outside, but you can also visit the inside of the building until 8 pm on weekends.
For dinner that night, embrace Austin’s BBQ scene. Franklin BBQ is one of the most popular spots for a meat-heavy meal. Vegans can enjoy the BBQ, too! We went to the Beer Plant, where I had the most delicious “pulled pork” sandwich.
For your second night out, explore East downtown Austin. The vibe here is more grungey, but I loved it. Start at Central Machine Works, a microbrewery beer hall in a spacious converted machine works. It has a cool vibe and great pizza.
After leaving East Downtown, go on a speakeasy hunt throughout the city. They aren’t the easiest to get into, but they are worth the effort. My two favorites were Red-headed Stepchild, fronted by the “floppy disk repair co” on 119 E 5th St. You’d never know it was a bar from the outside!
You’ll need a passcode to get in the door lock, which we eventually got after asking around at non-speakasy bars. Another great one is Here Nor There (612 Brazos St), which also requires a password. I can’t tell you what they are because they change frequently, plus what would be the fun in that?
Where to Stay in Austin
To complement your weekend in Austin, you’ll want to find somewhere to stay that’s as cool as the city, and there are plenty of options.
We stayed downtown at the heart of the city on 6th Street in an Airbnb across from the Driskell Hotel. This had its ups and downs. It was nice to walk out my door with unlimited restaurants, co-working spaces, and bars nearby.
But on the flip side, it meant I could hear a lot of noise from the apartment. So, if you’re looking for something quiet, I’d recommend somewhere else, or at least not directly on 6th Street.
Across the river, South Congress is a great area to stay. It’s quieter than downtown, but there’s still plenty to do. Another popular neighborhood to stay in is East Downtown. It’s a district that has experienced growth in recent years and has some very cool bars.
Luxury: The Driskell Hotel – Where luxury meets Texas charm! This famous 1886 hotel is located downtown on 6th, so it’s an excellent place to stay if you want to be in the heart of the action.
You’ll fall in love when you enter the grand columned lobby, featuring marble floors and stained-glass domes. It’s worth checking out even if you aren’t staying here!
Mid-range: South Congress Hotel – this gorgeous boutique hotel features three unique restaurants, a coffee and bake shop, a lobby bar, and two locally-owned shops. The rooftop pool surrounded by lush gardens is perfect for cooling off from the Texas heat!
As the name suggests, it’s conveniently located in the South Congress neighborhood, so more shops and restaurants are steps outside your door.
Budget: Firehouse Hostel – Firehouse may be the only hostel in the central downtown area, but it’s also a solid choice. It’s within walking distance of everything you need and is in a funky converted firehouse. The best part is the attached speakeasy you enter via a bookshelf. So cool!
Arriving and Getting Around Austin
If you’re flying into Austin, you’ll be glad to know that the airport is just a 15-minute drive from the city. An Uber is the quickest way to get from the airport into the city center.
Getting around Austin is relatively easy as the neighborhoods you’ll be spending time in are pretty close to each other. And within each one, you can walk to bars, restaurants, and shops.
The easiest way to get between places is Uber or a scooter, which you can rent from Uber or Lyft. I wasn’t sure about the scooters at first, but they are actually really fun and efficient for getting around the city.
That said, if you plan to do a lot of sightseeing, renting a car may be worth it as some attractions are spread out from each other. While having a car is convenient, it isn’t necessary for a short weekend in Austin.
I loved my weekend in Austin- it was so much fun. It’s well worth planning a trip there; the city lives up to its reputation. I hope this Austin itinerary could help you discover some of the best parts of the city.
Guest Bio: Lora is a full-time digital nomad on a quest to visit every country and pet as many dogs as possible. Over the last 15 years, she has traveled solo to 70+ countries and six continents. She currently calls Puerto Vallarta, Mexico home, where she runs the website Take Me To Puerto Vallarta.