ACL or Bust! 24 Hours in Austin

by Marika Flatt on October 5, 2023 in Living Texas, Austin,

ACL Fest kicks off this weekend bringing a buzz of excitement and thousands of visitors to Austin. Although ACL takes center stage for the next two weeks, here are some additional fun activities you don’t want to miss while visiting downtown Austin.


Cruise, Blues and Snooze Downtown

One of our favorite things to do on a beautiful Austin day is to head down to Lady Bird Lake trail to Capital Cruises (just under the Hyatt near the Congress bridge). We love to rent stand up paddle boards ($20 per hour) but they also have one and two person kayaks, swan paddle boats, and even electric donut boats. This is the best vantage point to see the skyline. It really is a beautiful illusion to see bustling Austin from the calm and tranquil waters of Lady Bird Lake. Bonus: The customer service could not be better.

Grab a seat at Walton’s Fancy & Staple, temporary hours are 8 a.m.- 4 p.m. Photo Dani Parsons.

For a few years now, we have wanted to have lunch at Walton’s Fancy & Staple on W. 6th St. Created by owner and actress Sandra Bullock, this vintage diner has tons of Austin appeal and is very approachable, whether coming in straight from the trail or the lake in workout clothes or a cover-up over a swimsuit. As you walk in the doors that epitomize an old general store, you’re greeted with an array of colorful sweets, such as a funfetti cheesecake, a s’mores dessert, or a beautiful multicolored cake.

Enjoy your meal in person or at home as Walton’s is both Dine-In and To Go! Photo Dani Parsons.

On the weekends, they offer breakfast until 2 p.m. which seems to be the crowd favorite. Try their homemade biscuits drenched in delicious sausage gravy, or a layered breakfast sandwich on a biscuit. If you’re leaning more towards lunch, the reuben or the Waltons burger are huge hits. One thing that I wanted to try that sounds delicious was the trio of salads to include their unique chicken salad among other tasty choices.

Pair lunch with a coffee, a sparkling lemonade, or even a delicious Pinot Grigio from a can (Underwood) if you’re really enjoying your weekend brunch.

Book a room in the heart of Austin at Hyatt Centric. Photo Anne Ousey, Courtesy Hyatt Centric Austin.

Conveniently situated at 8th and Congress is the new Hyatt Centric Austin hotel. Right next-door to the famed Paramount theater, this new high-rise hotel landed some amazing downtown real estate.

Take a seat after a long day in Hyatt’s outdoor patio and enjoy the beautiful views of downtown Austin. Photo Anne Ousey, Courtesy Hyatt Centric Austin.

Valet park and head up to the eighth floor for check in at the lobby. The hotel stretches up to 31 floors, which offers the most amazing view of the Texas State Capitol, UT campus, and other aspects of the Austin skyline.

Las Bis also allows bookings for private events on their website. Photo Anne Ousey, Courtesy of Las Bis.

Enjoy a relaxing happy hour at Las Bis, their small lobby bar that opens up to a fantastic outdoor courtyard overlooking bustling Congress. Sip on a local IPA while you enjoy a tasty truffle sandwich. This spot offers a most unique blend of relaxation amid the busy streets of the capital city.

Las Bis also allows bookings for private events on their website. Photo Anne Ousey, Courtesy of Las Bis.

Dine at Luminaire on the first floor of the Hyatt Centric, captained by Chef Steve McHugh. He’s well known for his delicious culinary creation at The Pearl in San Antonio, Cured. If you’d like to take advantage of their tapas happy hour from 3 to 6, you can get a great deal on apps such as a goat cheese or chicken and fig empanada (only $5) or pan con tomate, a dish of smoked tomato with crispy bread (also only $5). Also on the happy hour menu is their house red or white wine or a Frose (also only $5).

Steelhead Trout, one of the many signature dishes at Luminaire. Photo Anne Ousey, Courtesy Luminaire.

This is an absolutely ideal place to dine with their outside patio overlooking 8th Street, it has a European feel. Of course we love to dine alfresco in the fall here in Texas to take advantage of the cooler temperatures. The menu features a wide variety of stand out dishes.

Favorite beginnings include the smoked tomato tartare, which is a complete surprise (not beef tartare), but instead a fabulous concoction of smoked tomato tartare on grilled sourdough.

Super sides include the summer squash gratin, the cauliflower bravas and the black truffle macaroni and cheese!

Try Luminaire’s famous dinner board with the perfect side of wine. Photo Anne Ousey, Courtesy Luminaire.

Our two favorite entrées were the smoked Parisian gnocchi, featuring shaved Montego, and the shrimp and hominy, sitting on a bed of smoked Tasso ham, tomatoes, and chipotle adobo.

They open for dinner at 5 p.m. every day, and the rest of the dinner menu is quite extensive, to include their Delgado chops (lamb, pork beef, veal, goat, and boar); a stellar dinner board featuring caper berries, marinated olives, purple grapes, and various selections of cured meats and festive cheeses.


Cover Photo Courtesy Capital Cruises.

Marika Flatt, Outstanding Austin Communicator 2021, is the Travel Editor of Texas Lifestyle Magazine. She began her travel writing career in 2002, and can be seen as a contributor on TV shows across Texas, such as KVUE, Daytime (FOX), San Antonio Living, Good Morning Texas, and KXAN!  Marika spent five years as the voice of the “Weekend Trip Tip” on NPR’s Texas Standard pre-Covid.