Growing up, my family moved around a TON. I mean, I went to 13 different schools in 12 years and we had even more houses than that without being in a military family. Drew had the exact opposite upbringing living in the same house since he was 2 years old, so a few years ago he started encouraging me to look for opportunities outside of Kansas City within the company we work. We both knew I was ready to take the next step, but I was not interested in another move because KC was home and I’d done it so damn many times before. When a mentoring meeting led to a similar encouragement from someone I trusted and a job opportunity was emailed to me a day after it, all of the signs pointed me to an opportunity in Austin, TX. When I got it, we made the move with the pugs down to the great state of Texas on an adventure that I will cherish forever. Professionally and personally, Austin changed me for the best.
Drew and I spent our two years there exploring the city and trying what felt like hundreds of new restaurants. I am shocked didn’t gain more weight there because we never once had a bad meal no matter where we went. While we ended up moving back to Kansas City, we both continue to love Austin and have shared our favorite spots with friends and family that have visited both with us and on their own trips to the Texas capital.
Now I’m sharing our favorite haunts with you! Whether you are planning a bachelorette weekend or a your next adventure, Austin has a slice of fun for anyone and everyone.
Torchy’s Tacos – It’s an Austin staple and a big reason why I flew down to Texas summer 2019 after we’d been back in KC for a few months – had to get my fix! They have a bunch of locations around the city and have expanded in Texas, CO, LA, and OKC. Their very first Kansas City location opened last year and I have been frequenting it ever since! There is one right downtown near Zilker Park (and it’s one that has a bar – solid mixed drinks). Other favorite taco spots: Veracruz (North of Austin a bit) or Taco Deli.
Koriente – Best Asian food ever! They have really healthy options that taste amazing. Their bowls are so good! It is a bit of a hole-in-the-wall place on 7th and Sabine downtown.
Summer Moon Coffee – The original location is a little bit south of the Colorado River on the south side of Austin, so if it is a drive it will be worth it. (They do have a number of other locations around the city/suburbs). Hands down best coffee I’ve had in my life. They had a location up north near Cedar Park where we lived. Drew doesn’t like the taste of coffee and even he was hooked. They offer really good donuts, too, if they aren’t already sold out when you get there. They get them delivered fresh every morning from another local spot, Bougie’s.
Culinary Dropout at The Domain – The Domain is a huge outdoor shopping spot about 10 mins north of downtown on the highway. This spot there in the center of The Domain has lawn games and a really nice patio with great upscale bar food and even better mixed drinks. There is a strip of bars and restaurants in this area including a taco spot called Velvet Taco that a lot of people in Austin like.
Hopdoddy – Great burgers and the parmesan truffle fries are the best! There is a location on South Congress (SoCo as the locals call it) which is a strip of shopping, restaurants, coffee spots (including Jo’s Coffee which has the ‘I love you so much’ mural that everyone always wants to stop by for pictures).
Gourdough’s Big Fat Donuts – The kids would like this! You can build your own crazy donut with all sorts of toppings. This is my sister’s fave when she visits Austin. Worth the sugar rush.
24 Diner – Downtown Austin and a breakfast must! It has a classic diner feel with a good-sized patio that serves breakfast and lunch. Their breakfast food is killer! We took nearly everyone that came to visit us and it got rave reviews from all.
Fast food options to say you’ve done it: In n’ Out or P. Terry’s
The Domain – Outdoor shopping, bars, restaurants, and more. The weather is amazing for most of the year in Austin, so it’s a great place to walk around and soak up the sunshine while you check out the mix of designer and local shops.
W 2nd and Colorado – There is a strip of shops on W 2nd that are super cute and it is a beautiful area of the city to walk. One of my favorite spots is Luxe Apothetique at that corner. They carry boutique clothing, gifts, skincare, and other fun goodies. Plus, you’re right by Zilker Park and some of the other great areas of downtown.
Ladybird Lake – downtown Austin has a pretty lake called Ladybird. You can rent paddleboats or kayaks and get out on the water to check out the city!
360 Lookout – When you GPS this, you come up on it quick and have to snag parking along a decently busy highway-type roadway. You hike up a quick little cliff side (not too difficult – I recommend tennis shoes but was ok wearing sandals when I went for the first time) and it opens onto an amazing view of the Colorado River and the 360 Bridge. You’re decently high up have a great vantage point of the city.
Mt Bonnell – Similar to the 360 Lookout is Mt Bonnell. It is a little south of Lookout and overlooks the Colorado River. Bit more hiking available in this area. You do drive through neighborhoods with steep inclines to get there and then climb a LOT of stairs, but the views are fantastic and the houses around it along the river are worth the hike. This may be my favorite spot in the city.
Seeing the Bats at Congress Bridge – This is so cool! The whole city has a ton of bats for some reason. Every night around dusk between April and October, hundreds of bats fly out from under this bridge. Some people rent kayaks to sit on the water under the bridge to see it happen but most just hang out along the sides of the streets around it to watch.
Wineries in the Hill Country – There are a few out and about. The Hill Country is an area of beautiful rolling landscapes outside the city. If you are interested in trying some wine, the wineries out there are a good excuse to head that way. Some people just drive around out there.
Lake Travis – There is a restaurant built into the cliffs around Lake Travis called The Oasis. Huge restaurant! 5000 sq ft huge. The food isn’t amazing, but you go more for the views. There are obviously water activities you could look into on the lake and they have a great zip line if you’re feeling bold, too. It is about 30-45 mins outside of Austin depending on where you are.
Bike Tours – Biking is HUGE in Austin. If you enjoy it, they offer bike tours or rentals so you can ride around as you want.
South Congress – Locals call it SoCo. Long strip of street that has shopping, restaurants, coffee, murals, etc. Great experience. We always saw live music there at any given time of day.
Didn’t see your favorite Austin spot on my list? Tell me what it is so I can give it a try!