Austin, Texas has a quirky spirit that locals are always trying to keep alive. When planning a trip there, make sure you get a well-rounded itinerary that encompasses nature, art, amazing food, views, comfort and the weirdness of Austin that we have all come to love.
Where to Stay
Since Austin has boldly proclaimed itself the Live Music Capital of the World, The Otis Hotel, located close to downtown, is doing their part to keep this culture alive.
This fancy new spot has a collection of over 1,000 vinyls. They also have a record player in each guest room, making for some awesome dance parties. Guests can bring records up to the room, listen throughout their stay, and even buy them at checkout for $25 each.
Be sure to reserve your spot at Acre 41, the hotel’s restaurant, where you can expect fine dining and great service. For dinner, we recommend the Elote Street Corn appetizer and the Cilantro Seared Halibut.
Austin Paddle Shack Bat Tour
After jamming out to records and dining at Acre 41, book your spot on a sunset kayak tour to see the bats fly with Austin Paddle Shack. Our group was led by Connor Champagne, who was very knowledgeable about all things Austin, from the history of the skyline and local celebrities to tons of fun bat facts.
The best time of year to see the bats fly is August, when 2.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerge around sunset, greedily munching their way through 10,000 pounds of insects nightly. During their sorties, they can reach an altitude of 10,000 feet and fly at over 60 mph. These speedy creatures remain under Congress Avenue Bridge until late October or early November, then ride the winds of the cold front back to Mexico.
Cold Cookie Co.
Reward yourself for working the kayak at Cold Cookie Co., a cookie and ice cream food truck near The Otis. Open until midnight, they have tons of tempting creations, but we suggest the S’mores cookie.
Murals and UT Campus
Around The Otis and near the University of Texas campus, you’ll find many beautiful murals. These murals are part of the Austin culture that keeps people coming back. Take it easy this morning by taking a walk around UT’s campus, where you can visit the turtle pond, have wonderful views of the bell tower with the Texas Capitol building in the near-distance and learn about the many statues on the famed 40 Acres.
Just blocks from the Capitol, in the heart of downtown, sits the Mexic-Arte Museum, where the exhibition “Mexico, The Border and Beyond: Selections from the Juan Antonio Sandoval Collection” is on display until August 22. Juan Sandoval, who passed away this January, was a retired librarian and Chicanx studies art specialist at UT El Paso. He travelled to Oaxaca, Mexico every summer and avidly collected art from Mexican, Mexican American and Latinx artists.
Walking through the creaky floors of the museum, visitors absorb beautiful multimedia arts and learn about both sides of the 1,254 mile border that Texas and Mexico share. After viewing the impressive art, check out the gift shop which has beautiful jewelry, books, and lots of other fun souvenirs.
Lunch at The Corner, JW Marriott
Some of the most delicious food you will have is at The Corner located in the JW Marriott, an easy stroll down Congress Avenue from Mexic-Arte. We highly recommend the House-Made Zucchini Cornbread and the 7-Layer Salad.
Otopia Rooftop at The Otis
Work off your lunch in the high-quality gym on the top floor of the Otis, adjacent to their rooftop area called Otopia. With a refreshing pool, this hangout space has amazing views over the city and a full-service bar. Open till 10:30pm, guests are welcome to relax by the pool or the fire, and enjoy light bites and cocktails, such as the coffee-infused “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone.”
Dinner Upstairs at Caroline
The unofficial dress code is floral Upstairs at Caroline, a cool rooftop bar and restaurant that has a fun backyard hangout vibe. Jenga, billiards, chess and other games decorate the area. The food is excellent, too. We recommend the Lime Guacamole and the Quinoa Cauliflower Tacos for a healthy and light dinner.
Dessert and More Music
Mike’s Bikes Tour
After checking out of The Otis, (don’t forget to purchase any vinyls you may want to keep!), take the 7.5 mile Lady Bird Lake tour with Mike’s Bikes. The tour feels like a bike ride with friends, and takes you along Austin’s famous urban trail, including the must-visit boardwalk. Mike has loads of fun facts about Barton Springs Pool and Creek, including the two salamander species Austin is trying to preserve — the endangered Barton Springs salamander and the Austin blind salamander. Tip: Don’t make my mistake of not wearing sunscreen. You will need it, though there are breaks in many shaded areas. A perk of this tour is that it is totally safe. Even though we were downtown, there was a guarded bike lane, and helmets are suggested, though the terrain isn’t too rough.
These activities are sure to give you an all-encompassing authentic experience of Austin, showing you why everyone is striving to keep the city’s music and nature alive, and keep the ATX weird.
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Cover photo Gracie Watt
Gracie Watt is an Editorial Intern at Texas Lifestyle Magazine and a senior at St. Edward’s University in Austin, studying Journalism. When she’s not writing, Watt enjoys singing, playing the guitar and doing volunteer work. @gracie.whatt